WE are sad to hear of the death of former Argyle Player of the Year Ernie Machin, aged 68.Ernie, who the Green Army voted into the Argyle ‘Team of the Century’, in 2004 was easily the supporters’ choice as best Pilgrim in the 1973-74 season.
The classy midfielder joined Argyle just before Christmas 1972 and the impact his play and style had on the team can be seen in the statistics.
From the August-December before Ernie joined, Argyle managed only six wins and amassed a mere 16 points from 21 matches.
In the 25 matches up to the end of the season, Argyle won 14 matches and lost only five, obtaining 34 points to finish eighth in the third tier.
He took control of the midfield and helped the team rise up the league table, just like he did with his is previous team, Coventry City.
He helped the Sky Blues to climb from the third to the first division, in the process becoming recognised as one of the top midfield players in the country.
Ernie was born in Greater Manchester, on April 26, 1944, and started his youth career with non-league Nelson before moving to Coventry under Jimmy Hill in 1962.
A year later, he made his first-team debut, and went on to make 257 appearances for the Sky Blues, even though he missed most of the 1964-65 season with a leg injury that cost him an England Under-23 call-up.
Tony Waiters signed Machin on a three-year contract in December 1972 for £35,000, describing him as “a model professional”.
At the age of 28, he was still at the peak of his game and Argyle considered themselves fortunate to attract a player of such class.
At the end of the 1973-74 season – Paul Mariner’s first season – Machin left to join Brighton for £30,000 after 70 games and seven goals for the Pilgrims.