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Plymouth v Boro
 

Plymouth v Boro

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Powmill-Naemore
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Plymouth v Boro

Home Park, Plymouth

Saturday 4th November 2023, 15h00

 

  Played W D L GF GA PTS POS'n
BORO 14 6 2 6 19 20 20 10th
Plymouth 14 4 3 7 23 22 15 19th

 

Here it is then [and thank goodness for the traveling support it will be a Saturday] the footballing equivalent of the longest day. A mahoosive 380 miles door to door, which is:

    6½ hours non-stop by car;

or

   7½ hours by train departing Middlesbrough 5.48am, arriving Plymouth 1.15pm

   [ with changes at Darlington, London Kings Cross and London Paddington ];

or

   12¾ hours by coach [Flixbus] departing Middlesbrough 1am, arriving Plymouth 1.45pm

   [ with a change at London Victoria ].


…all that and then back home again!

Hats off to the Boro faithful (yet another away-day sellout) undertaking this marathon. Of course, some eleven hundred or so have already enjoyed a trip to near-by Exeter this week to see the team in action for the first ever time at St. James Park (as distinct from the much more local St. James’ Park which is a much more familiar territory). I would not be surprised to hear some folk had decided a mid-autumn break in Devon was a good idea in order to take in both games. Regardless of how they get there, let’s hope their traveling will not be in vain.

I have long held a soft spot for Plymouth Argyle, ever since I was a young teenager. Why that might be is really down to me having fallen in love with the green version of Arsenal’s red shirt with white sleeves that Plymouth were using in the early seventies. There was no other Football League club using green in England at the time and I just thought it was brilliantly different. Yeovil Town were non-league at that time; Forest Green Rovers were definitely in the “Accrington Stanley, who are they?” category; as for Norwich City with their own hint of a tint – well they didn’t get nicknamed ‘The Canaries’ because canaries are green did they (see footnote *1); and Lincoln City, who you might reasonably have expected to be sporting Lincoln Green shirts, only ever dabbled with that colour between 1897 and 1900 and have played mainly in red and white both before and since!

Of course, all the newspaper photographs from the early seventies were black and white so just how could I know what the kit really looked like? Thank goodness for Shoot magazine with its full colour prints to refer to as I carefully painted my Subbuteo stars in green shirts with white sleeves, alternatively being Plymouth Argyle or Hibernian, depending as much on my prevailing mood as on the opposition.

I do remember seeing Plymouth on Match of the Day in an FA Cup 4th round tie at Home Park against Everton in front of a sellout crowd of some 38,000 people. The tie was lost by 3 goals to 1, but I was hooked on the passion their support displayed, even though by now they had reverted to green and white striped shirts. This season they are playing in a plain green shirt with gold-coloured trims.

How is it though, that Plymouth come to play in green?

Well, as the story goes, when they formed in 1886, originally as “Argyle” (without the Plymouth bit), they adopted the colour green of the flag of Devon to be the club’s colour.  

And why “Argyle”?

I have seen a couple of explanations covering this. The first of these informs us the club was founded at a meeting of a dozen or so rich and influential men who gathered on Argyle Terrace,  (perhaps they were having a tripe supper…😉) and so they became the Argyle Football Club. This sounds absolutely plausible until you read elsewhere the club’s name was actually adopted at a meeting held in Bedford Street! So we are none the wiser and I think that is the way it has to be, unless…

 The second explanation is that one of the principal founders was so enamoured of the successful and highly talented Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders army football team that the new club was named to be inspired by them. There is no explanation of why “Argyll” might have been transcribed as  “Argyle”, perhaps it was another Victorian wordsmith’s Middlesborough/Middlesbrough moment. Whatever the truth is, no one today knows for certain, but Argyle Football Club it was and only to be renamed as Plymouth Argyle Football Club when it turned professional in 1903.

You will often hear Plymouth Argyle referred to as "The Pilgrims". This came about because the ship Mayflower was added to the club’s badge in the late 1960s at a time the city was gearing up for the 350th anniversary celebrations of Mayflower setting sail in 1620 for North America out of Plymouth harbour. Mayflower is remembered for having carried the Pilgrim Fathers (or "The Pilgrims") to the New World where they could be free to practice their brand of Christianity without fear of persecution. So it is only really since the late sixties the club was nicknamed "The Pilgrims". Prior to this the team was better known as "The Gyles". Today, most locals choose not to use "The Pilgrims" name, instead preferring to refer to their team as "The Greens" (no explanation needed!).

BORO first crossed paths with Plymouth Argyle in a 1954 Division 2 fixture at Home Park which ended all square at 2-2. Saturday’s fixture will be the 36th meeting of these clubs in any competition. To date BORO has had the better of the Greens on 15 occasions, has lost 9 times and has played out 11 draws. Apart from 5 clashes in one or other of the cups, BORO has only ever met Plymouth in the Second Division [or Championship as we now know it].

Our league record at Home Park is favorable, having won in 5 of the 15 encounters and only losing in 3. Interestingly none of those 15  games ended without at least one goal being scored. If quirky statistics mean anything to you, there has been an average of exactly 2 goals per (league) game at Home Park between these teams, with each team averaging exactly one goal a game! The highest score came about on 9th February 1963, when BORO ran out winners by 5 goals to 4.

Plymouth, of course, was worthy to finish top of League 1 last season and also made the final of the Football League Trophy, though soundly beaten in that match 4-0 by Bolton Wanderers. The team started this campaign quite brightly, beating Huddersfield Town 3-1 at Home Park, but since then it has been a bit of a mixed bag. At home there have been four league wins out of seven. Quite early in the season Plymouth lost at home to Southampton 2-1, with more recent successive home defeats by Millwall and then by Swansea in October. Plymouth has also been scoring quite freely at home in the league with 17 of its 23 league goals so far hitting the net at Home Park, including 6 in one game that demolished Norwich. It has been more of a struggle on the road, where only 3 points have been won out of a possible 21.

As we all know, Plymouth was interested in taking Josh Coburn on a season long loan to bolster the attack after losing second top scorer Niall Ennis to Blackburn Rovers in the summer. Plymouth was also involved  in a record million pounds deal with Swansea to take previous loanee Morgan Whittaker, a wide forward, on a permanent basis. Despite losing out on Josh Coburn, last season’s top scorer Ryan Hardie and Whittaker have scored 6 goals apiece in the league already this season.

Whittaker usually lines up on the right of a three pronged attack, meaning that Lucas Engel will need to be on top defensive form if we are to contain him. Hardie plays more centrally, but injured his thigh last time out against Ipswich Town, having to be substituted after only 20 minutes as Argyle went down 3-2 at Portman Road. As if to rub salt into an open wound his substitute Mustapha Bundu also had to go off with an injured thigh late in the second half. The club is keeping tight-lipped about the status of these injuries and we may not know until Saturday if either of these are able to play. It will be unfortunate for Plymouth, but possibly good news for BORO. Bali Mumba, who was signed from Norwich in another million pounds deal after a highly successful last season on loan with Plymouth, provides the width to the attack on the left. Despite being almost ever present this season, he has only registered one goal and one assist to date.

Defensively Argyle has leaked almost as many goals as it has scored. Coupling that with the rather pleasing statistic that BORO has only failed to score in one of the last eleven games we should be confident of hitting the net at least once in the game on Saturday. Should Hardie be declared fit, I might be concerned that him and Whittaker could give our back line a torrid time and would lead me to think there is a good chance of goals in this game for both teams. If Hardie is not available, perhaps we will be able to record what will be only the second clean sheet at Home Park for a visiting team this season.

Plymouth manager Steven Schumacher, who is in his third season at the helm, has demonstrated this season he is prepared to adapt his lineup depending on how he wants to play against different teams, whether at home or away. At times he has gone with 3 at the back, with Mumba and Whittaker operating more as wing backs and at other times 4 at the back. In Plymouth’s eye-catching defeat of Norwich he went 3-4-2-1, with the midfield 4 deep to protect the back 3 and the wide forwards withdrawn to provide the link to Hardie on his own up front. It is important to note that Whittaker scored a hattrick in that game coming in from a little deeper. It will be interesting to see how Schumacker will set up his team to combat Carrickball. I have a suspicion it might look similar to the shape he used to demolish Norwich.

“At last!”, I hear your exasperated cries, we have got to the focal point of all my ramblings: how I think we will fare on Saturday afternoon.

I fully expect the statistical quirk that this league fixture has never ever ended goalless will be continued. I am also inclined to adopt OFB’s Boro3 concept for this match, although with a dangerous and potentially potent Plymouth team keeping it uneasy for us until the end.

Plymouth 2, BORO 3 if Hardie plays.

Plymouth 0, BORO 3 if Hardie is sidelined.

Over to you for your thoughts and predictions.

 

 *1 Since originally writing this and intimating that Norwich are known as “The Canaries” because their shirts are the same colour as a canary, I have learnt that wild canaries actually tend to appear more green than yellow … described as having a yellow base colour but with plumage containing lots of melanin creating greens and blacks. You can also get canaries in hints of orange and of red and of white and silver and agate and blue (though that is strictly a trick of the light on certain types of white-plumed birds) and more …….. who knew?

This topic was modified 6 months ago by Powmill-Naemore

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@Powmill-Naemore - I really enjoyed reading that Starter piece, the stats and the club's name and shirt colours over the years.  I doubt anyone has ever painted a wall canary green, though. I hope Boro can win to make it a Devon Double Cream for the week. To win 3-0 would, I guess, require Boro to be playing at a much higher level than was on display at Exeter, but I'd be very happy to take that score.  I think it will be tighter than that.


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Powmill-Naemore, thanks for an excellent opener, hopefully we may have a player back for Saturday but if not we have a decent squad to choose from. I was impressed by “Cruyff” Dijksteel last night and good goals from Rogers, Silvera plus a very calm confident penalty by Lath.

Come on BORO.


Pedro de Espana
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@powmill   Brilliant Headliner, with an interesting history lesson on things Plymouth.

They have performed quite well at home, scoring plenty of goals. So, no clean sheet from us down in Devon.
But if we can start the game at a better pace than the last two games, improve our passing and get more crosses into their box, than we may get a result. 

Of course I think we all expect to see a number of changes from last night and possibly from Saturday. I would hope Dijksteel gets a start at RB. After that, it may be whether Coburn or Latte Lath lead from the front.

We also need a better display from the midfield. Will that be HH and Barlaser or Howson.

So, for the travelling fans, we need a result as a minimum.

 

 

resting 


 gt
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How long before MU come in for Carrick and his staff, what do we do


   
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Powmill

 

Just one word !

 

absolutely fantastic !

 

err

 

just one word 

blooming great !

 

err 

 

sorry

just one word !

brilliant !

 

OFB


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Away to Port Vale.

Come on BORO.

 


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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Thank you for the kind words everyone.

Just wondering. Has any team ever won the EFL Cup without having played at least one tie at home?


   
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If we beat Port Vale we are guaranteed a home game, as it is two legged semi finals.

Come on BORO.


Powmill-Naemore
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@exmil  thanks for pointing that out. Werder had mentioned earlier the potential windfall of a semi final at Wembley, but you are right. There will always be at least one home game to get to the EFL Cup final. It was the FA that sold-out the soul of their competition and watered down the allure of a final at Wembley by scheduling FA Cup semi finals at Wembley....


   
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jarkko
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@jarkko Elsewhere, Connor Ripley was in goal as Port Vale made history by reaching the quater finals for the first time in their history. The 30-year-old keeper was born in Boro and started his caree at the Boro, too.

And of course his father Stuart was an England international winger and part of the famous class of 1986. Stuart is a solicitor nowadays and very seldomly on the news anymore.

I wouldn't mind a home draw in the next round. Especially against Port Vale. But let's hope we get a home draw at least. Seems that we have got an away match in the EFL Cup in recent seasons, though.

Up the Boro!

So it will be the Ripley derby then. Not a home tie I hoped above but at least we have a chance to get to the semis, if we played to our best. More mental than ability test for us as we are kind of favourites because of the league positions.

Port Vale are in the Sky Bet League One, just a point above Exeter after 15 matches. Port Vale have 18 points and Exeter 17. Both team have gained just one point from their last five league matches. So their form is not that great at the moment, but the Cup match will be played a week before Christmas,  though.

Port Vale FC is based in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, England. Burslem is one of the six towns that along with Hanley, Tunstall, Fenton, Longton and Stoke-upon-Trent form part of the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

Our recent record is not that good against another team from Stoke! Up the Boro!

 


   
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jarkko
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Carabao Cup quarter-finals

Everton v Fulham
Chelsea v Newcastle
Port Vale v Middlesbrough 
Liverpool v West Ham

Only three of the remaining eight teams - Chelsea, Liverpool and Middlesbrough - have won this trophy, with Everton, Newcastle and West Ham each losing in the final on two occasions apiece.

Up the Boro!

This post was modified 6 months ago 2 times by jarkko

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@powmillnaemore 

Yes my mistake - I quickly googled Carabao Cup share of gate receipts and prize money and clicked on this article and it had a table saying semi-finalists at Wembley get 45% of gate receipts. 

Since I'm not a big follower of the Carabao Cup it didn't register as odd but that was a schoolboy error by not going to the primary source for information. Just goes to show that misinformation on the internet, no matter how neutral or uncontroversial, is easily spread unless you remain diligent.

I apologise to anyone who has already booked a hotel at Wembley for the semi-final in anticipation of seeing off Port Vale...


   
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Anyway, many thanks for a great match preview Powmill with a very interesting delve into the history of Plymouth Argyle. Hopefully, the storms will have subsided by the weekend and Boro can blow away the Pilgrims instead - looking forward to the game after missing the last three.


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Great headliner Powmill, including a footnote no less; the quality of this blog just gets better and better and long may it continue. 

If we have aspirations of being top six then this is a game we should expect to take at least a point from but ideally three.  

It won’t be easy, Boro don’t do easy, but if we get back to our solid defence and midfield then we should be good enough to beat the pilgrims by the odd goal.  

I would expect to see the return of Engel, Crooks, Howson, Coburn and Greenwood with Dijksteel being retained at RB.  CoB. 😎

 


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What a great opener, Powmill.

The combination of thorough research and readable, entertaining style is difficult to pull off, but you achieved it brilliantly.

Congratulations and thanks for all of the hard work that went into producing such a professional piece.

Apologies for not responding earlier. I'm doing something wrong as your article originally came up in a format that did not allow a reply. 


   
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jarkko
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A brilliant opener, @Powmill. Loved it.

Sorry for being late in congratulating you, too. I was too exited about the draw of the EFL Cup. But let's go back to the bread and butter of Championship Football and Plymouth.

For me the word 'Plymouth' brings a car into my mind before a city. As I have never visited Devon (I prefer Yorkshire for a holiday) and never lived in the UK, it is the car that comes to my mind. Especially so as I worked for the Finnish importer of Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler in the early 1980's before starting to study automotive engineering.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_(automobile)

I remember my brother saying to me as a kid that Plymouth Barracuda (or'Cuda) was fast! See my attachment. I hope the Greens won't be too fast for us on Saturday, though.

Up the Boro!

This post was modified 6 months ago 2 times by jarkko

   
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@Powmill-Naemore

Brilliant memories about the marvel of watching an entire team wearing green shirts.

Even more memorable for me was the sight of Willie Wigham in a blue goalkeeper's shirt. It really felt like we'd moved into a technicolour world where anything was possible. That feeling was only heightened by Boro winning 5-0.

This post was modified 6 months ago by Peter Surtees

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Powmill,

Just a brilliant opener. Superb. When is the DiasBoro Christmas Annual of Headliners coming out? These headliners are on a different level to most of the journalism out there. I really enjoyed that, so much so I made a second cup of coffee and read it again.

Boro do need to turn it on for the travelling fans, that is a long drive from Teesside, crikey it's a long drive from anywhere!

All the best everyone.

UTB,

John


   
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Martin Bellamy
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Another brilliant opener - putting more pressure on those of us still to publish one! 
Has anyone checked a weather forecast for Saturday’s game? Will the storm have passed? 


   
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@exmil and @Powmill-Naemore -  Looks like I was wrong about the lucrative Wembley Semi-Final against one of the Premier League Big Boys, then.  Home and away against one of them instead (IF the result is right against Port Vale). Never mind....


   
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The ref on Saturday will be Darren England:

https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/sport/football/plymouth-argyle-vs-middlesbrough-premier-8872805

Given his track record from the Liverpool-Spurs match, I'm not sure that that's good news.


   
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@stircrazy - Same for both teams though.


   
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Middlesbrough must pass a tough test if the Teessiders are to take the win this weekend against a Plymouth Argyle side that’s earned 12 out of a possible 15 points at home since the start of the Championship campaign.

Reassuringly, Michael Carrick’s side have scored more than double the amount of goals on enemy territory than they’ve managed at the Riverside this season but they’ll need to tighten up defensively if they’re to come away with all three points.

After a turbulent 13 years for both clubs — including four promotions, four relegations and an administration — Middlesbrough and Plymouth lock horns again on Saturday.

The fixture boasts all the hallmarks of a highly entertaining game as two talented sides look to put respective Championship defeats behind them. We compare the data behind both sides this season and take a look at the Argyle dangermen most likely to demand the attention of Dael Fry and co.

READ MORE: Aitor Karanka on Middlesbrough 'paradise', Steve Gibson faith and Sir Alex Ferguson like regret

What the data says

Football isn’t played on paper but the wealth of modern-day analytics available to football fans has never been so trusted and, indeed, referenced. Gone are the days of the ‘our striker is better than yours’ argument between rival fans — now it’s often a more informed case of ‘our striker has got a better xG than yours’.

 
 

So what’s the data telling us in relation to the kind of game we can expect in Devon? According to Opta Stats, Argyle are seventh in the league in goals per game with a 1.6 average.

Boro, meanwhile, are only bettered by Leicester City and Leeds United when it comes to expected goals (xG) this season with 24.1. And when you pair that with Plymouth’s fourth highest 23.4 xG conceded, whoever gets the nod up top for Boro should be licking their lips.

Both sides regularly test the opposition goalkeeper, with Plymouth’s 5.9 shots on target per match only bettered by Ipswich Town this season with Boro following closely behind in fifth (averaging 5.4 shots on target per game).

The two clubs both sit in the bottom half of the table when it comes to goals conceded per game — Middlesbrough’s 1.4 average placing them in 15th with Plymouth’s 1.6 putting them down in 17th. 0-0 it is then!

Morgan Whittaker

Argyle’s £1m record summer signing has started the season in stellar form and is the hosts’ joint top scorer in the Championship this term.

The 22-year-old has registered six goals and three assists in the league, predominantly operating in a central role just behind the striker. Whittaker’s also played on the right hand side — a position that allows him to cut in on his favoured left foot.

The former Swansea City man has rediscovered his scoring touch to grab goals in both of his last two games. This comes after a four-game drought during which Plymouth failed to win a match — illustrating just how critical Whittaker is to Argyle’s threat in front of goal.

Ryan Hardie

Plymouth have reimagined their style of play under Steven Schumacher and that appears to have worked wonders for Argyle’s 6’2” striker as the club adapts to life in the second tier.

The Pilgrims have moved away from last season’s tried and tested approach of employing a narrow attacking midfield two behind Hardie. Using two wingers appears to have opened up more space for the Scot and his six goals and three assists in 14 league games shows this tactical tweak is bearing fruit.

However, the number nine was forced to withdraw after just 19 minutes of Plymouth’s last outing after picking up a hamstring injury at Ipswich Town. No update had been provided at the time of writing but Schumacher’s pre-match press conference should shed some light on whether Hardie is fit to face Boro.

A graph with different colored bars Description automatically generated

Finn Azaz

Plymouth’s midfield maestro lit up League One last season with eight goals and eight assists in 34 games and extending his Aston Villa loan was a huge piece of business for the club.

Azaz has already proved invaluable to Argyle’s respectable start this season — according to Opta Stats the 23-year-old’s 7.3 average rating per game is only bettered at the club by Whittaker’s 7.6.

The Pilgrims will look to Azaz to get on the ball early and dictate play for the home team. Boro would be wise to lock in on the all-action playmaker and not afford him the time or space to be the creative spark he can be.

 


Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @malcolm

Middlesbrough must pass a tough test if the Teessiders are to take the win this weekend against a Plymouth Argyle side that’s earned 12 out of a possible 15 points at home since the start of the Championship campaign.

...

That'll be the Gazette aka TeessideLive again won't it!

Plymouth have 15 points from a possible 21 at home since the start of the campaign.

 

Who does their research? 🙄

 


   
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Powmill-Naemore
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Posted by: @powmillnaemore

Posted by: @malcolm

Middlesbrough must pass a tough test if the Teessiders are to take the win this weekend against a Plymouth Argyle side that’s earned 12 out of a possible 15 points at home since the start of the Championship campaign.

...

That'll be the Gazette aka TeessideLive again won't it!

Plymouth have 15 points from a possible 21 at home since the start of the campaign.

 

Who does their research? 🙄

 

Aaaarrrrrgghh!

I am catching TeessideLiveItis.

 

 

Plymouth have 12 points from a possible 21.....not 15!!!

 

This post was modified 6 months ago by Powmill-Naemore

   
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Posted by: @forever-dormo

@stircrazy - Same for both teams though.

True, but imagine how we'd feel if he wrongly ruled out a goal which would have given Boro the lead & Plymouth then went on to win the match by the odd goal?

 


   
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Clive Hurren
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That was a terrific starter, Powmill, very informative and enjoyable. Thank you.

Like you, I’ve always had a soft spot for Plymouth, again because of the green shirts. As a lad, I used to get those brilliant football league ladders from some football magazine or other, where they gave you a cardboard league table and you put in little cardboard tabs with each club’s colours and name on them, for all 4 divisions, moving the tabs around weekly as results came in. Great fun. I wish they were still around now - but I suppose TV and the internet killed all that. Anyway, I grew to love Plymouth’s green. Do their fans really sing, ‘ Green Arrrrrmy!’ as on the PaddyPower advert? I hope so! 

I was very happy when Argyle finally returned to the Champo last season (and as Champions, to boot!) They had a terrific home record, too. It’s not yet as good this season as they adjust to the  higher level, but it’ll still be a very tough game. Norwich will testify to that. I’d settle for a point. 


Powmill-Naemore
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@clive-hurren 

I'm glad its not just me Clive!

I remember those card league table trackers too. Genuine fun as you say and innocent too.

I suppose it is true of each generation but the older we get the more we are able to remember with a fondness how things used to be and how we want that for our children's children.

This post was modified 6 months ago by Powmill-Naemore

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@stircrazy 

He likes to give out cards does Mr England, 34 in 6 games this season including 11 in a 4-4 draw between Southampton and Norwich. He hasn’t refereed us since 21/22. He was in the middle for our cup win against Spurs and gave out 10 cards in a 1-0 defeat at Blackburn.

Forgot to thank Powmill for the opener.


   
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