Standing by city's team in good times and in bad
READING an article about Plymouth Argle (Saturday, August 10) made me think of some of my memories (although I wish my memory was a little bit better to remember more detail).
My first visit to Home Park was in the early 1930s as a five or six-year-old sitting on my father's shoulders alongside what used to be the old Oxo Hut at the corner between Lyndhurst Road and Barn Park end with a packet of Weekes Cough-no-mores to suck on.
At one game with a crowd of over 40,000 I was passed over all the heads of the crowd in front of my father to be deposited inside the railings for a perfect view of a thrilling cup match, (I believe v Aston Villa but not sure). No crowd trouble in those days and every one made sure I was reunited with my dad after the event.
In the late 1930s I played for my school in Central Park which often ended at about half time at Argyle.
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So we would wander up to Home Park, still in our football kit and walk through the big double doors at the Ballard entrance which were always opened at half time for free entry. (Well, we assumed that).
By the time we got to the 39/40 season start we had a team which we were all sure would get us to the top Division. (Div 1 at that time).
Then came the war and the football stopped.
Home Park got hit first I believe, by a bomb on the pitch itself. So the grandstand was used as a depository for furniture salvaged from bombed housing.
This was then fire bombed so the whole stand went down. Not many of the pre-war players were available after the war, so the club had to virtually start from scratch again.
In 1941, I joined the RN as an apprentice but always kept up to date by various means.
After the war, on a carrier in the Med, we were kept in touch by a broadcast over the tannoy system by another Argyle fan who seemed to get all the latest info somehow.
Home leave I recall first of all standing on railway sleepers used to make the banking. Gradually the ground took shape as a proper football stadium.
Later, stationed in Cornwall, every Saturday during the season a bus (with slatted wooden seats, I recall) ensured we arrived in time for kick off – most times.
If the ferry queue was long we made a dash across on foot to catch a city bus on the other side.
Originally during the season it was every Saturday to Home Park regardless either for a first team game or reserve matches against reserves sides of Spurs, Arsenal etc.
Then suddenly, having not any warning, turned up at the ground to find no game on – we had opted out of the reserves league. Worst move Argyle every made!
Great forwards are always remembered, Jack Leslie and Sammy Black were starters for me, followed by other great partnerships such as Maurice Tadman and Gordon Dews.
We always seem to have been blessed in those days with great goal keepers such as Foley, Cann and Bill Short.
I recall listening to a Scotland Wales international commentary extolling Bill Short who stopped a certain goal by giving away a penalty, then saving the penalty to ensure Wales won 1-0. Can't get that happening nowadays.
The goal I remember most vividly to this day was scored bya player called Hunter. I was behind the goal at the Devonport end. He picked up the ball on the left wing near the centre line beating his immediate marker he headed for the goal area, rounded several other defenders and to this day I am sure he beat the first one again near the penalty area. Got to the spot and placed an unstoppable shot into the right hand corner. no wonder I remember it!
Can't remember anything else about that match though!
Soon as I came out of the Navy (1966) it was a season ticket and have not missed many matches since.
I guess you can call this season 'my' third start from the bottom. Onwards and upwards as the new man said!
Here's to some new memories to come.
L R WILLIAMS