Anorak News | Pilgrims’ Progress

Pilgrims’ Progress

by | 23rd, September 2002

‘IN 1929-30, Chesterfield went an incredible 46 consecutive matches without defeat. On Saturday, they visited Plymouth, winning the game 1-0 thanks to a long shot against the run of play.

And on the other side of the Tamar is…

That win came on the back of a 1-0 home victory at Wigan, which means the Spirites are just 42 games away from matching the achievements of arguably the greatest Third Division North team there has ever been.

And if they really get their teeth into it, they could push on and reclaim the current record of successive league games without defeat from Arsenal.

And while Chesterfield and the 30-odd (or 30 odd) fans regale their friends and families with tales of the long trip to Devon, Plymouth wait.

In fact, Plymouth have been waiting for quite some time. Back when Chesterfield were mighty, Plymouth were also doing pretty well.

The Pilgrims had Sammy Black, who between 1924 and 1938 scored a not inconsiderable 180 goals. He’s still the club’s record goal scorer, and even kicking a medicine ball in hobnail boots would be a welcome addition to the current team’s front line.

Goals are not Plymouth’s thing; the defence is the team’s strength. Indeed, the current back five were largely responsible for Plymouth’s own record run of games without defeat, when between August and December 2001, Argyle went 19 games unbeaten.

They stood on the threshold and duly won the third division at a stroll. And with a bright new manager in the shape of Paul Sturrock, a ground blessed with a Pilgrims Way and banks of green seats, Plymouth look like a club on the up.

But in the second division, they are just as likely to be on the down. Plymouth are a team stuck in a rut, behaving like an agoraphobic housewife, who wants to go out to the main show in town but keeps popping back to her humdrum flat to check things are as she left them.

Plymouth need a guiding hand, and with a new board there is much talk of five-year plans and cash injections.

But when the Torquay result (on Saturday they won their third division game at Swansea 1-0) is eagerly anticipated, eyes are already looking down rather than up, a feeling not countered by the pained groans that followed news of third division Exeter’s 1-0 win against Orient.

Plymouth lack the lure of a bigger rival. In any case, it is they who should be the region’s force, based as the club are in a large city with a steady influx of students and naval cadets.

And the crowds do come: this week’s mid-week game with Cardiff is expected to be an 18,000 sell out. And if Plymouth win, Home Park will go ballistic.

And although fans will hope for more, they will also know that to actually expect success requires a mentality as green as the club’s kit. And that is a rich, deep, dark green.

Posted: 23rd, September 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink