Monday, April 19, 2010

19 April 2010: Relegation

It's a sad day when Argyle get relegated, especially from this division.

It's happened twice before in my lifetime: once in 1977 when I was too young to care and once in 1992 when I was there to see it. In 1977 a rising star striker named Paul Mariner left halfway through the season to go on to bigger things with Bobby Robson at Ipswich and then England, leaving the rest of Tony Waiters' team to flounder, going down on the last day of the season away at Sheffield United. In 1992 the culmination of two years of dreadful team-building by David Kemp (putting together a series of starting 11s who never again played league football after leaving Argyle - they were that bad) was an unsurprising 3-1 home defeat by Blackburn Rovers, who were promoted as a result and who within two years had won (bought) the Premier League title.

And today was the third. As high as fourth in the table a couple of seasons ago when Ian "hollow-words" Holloway left after promising to stay forever, and old favourite Paul Sturrock coming in to take over where he left off in 2004. But it was never the same, and despite having a team that in all actuality wasn't too bad in terms of absolute quality (for which read: they're better than David Kemp's team was and may indeed continue to play league football in their careers) they never gelled, and so many players had personal issues of some sort or another (Graham Stack, Simon Walton and thumbs-up boy Marcel Seip spring to mind even before we start getting into the Scottish contingent) that the side never settled, and probably never could. Mariner's return as coach and then manager certainly brought some life to the team - they actually won a game after going behind, which they'd not done in 2 years - but it was still too inconsistent, and too late.

So today, on a warm spring evening in Plymouth, Newcastle United came to town, needing a point to ensure their position as division champions, and happy to take a win if it came their way. Two soft goals later, that was that. Newcastle will be in the Premier League next year, snapping at the heels of the big clubs I'd wager, while Argyle will head back to obscurity for another dozen or so years. They'll think about bouncing straight back of course, and may even challenge for a year or two, but the investment isn't there (the new Japanese owners have failed to provide any money at all and indeed haven't even shown up for a single game) so maybe back down to the fourth tier we'll go.

And it doesn't seem long ago that we were celebrating two promotions in three years, with Sparksy getting cakes in the press box and Trigger and Friio making him proclaim the unforgettable: "TWO nil. THAT'S it. Argyle are UP." Now that work has gone away, phase two never happened (what a surprise) and there's little reason to hope for much for Argyle, in all honesty. Things can always change - there was little reason to hope in the Fat Dan Years - but maybe it's for the best. As John Cleese once wisely opined: I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand.

Surely there can't be a better quote for a Plymouth Argyle fan.

Postscript: Having said that, Rob just sent me a ringtone version of a Dalek saying "would-you-care-for-some-tea" from Saturday's Doctor Who, and that's not a bad quote either. Solves everything, PG Tips.


Anonymous said...


DuncMcRae said...

Me too. Can't decide if this feels worse than that playoff game we went to see against Burnley?