AFTER the final whistle blew at Spotland, and confirmation had been received that results elsewhere meant Argyle were safe, celebrations broke out between the Pilgrims’ players and their fans.Muted in the celebrations was the club’s manager, John Sheridan, who approached the Green Army, applauded them in acknowledgement of their efforts, and then walked away.
Make no mistake, the gaffer is delighted to have kept Argyle in the Football League – his primary objective when taking the job in January – but he certainly chose to keep a lid on any over-exuberance.
“I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate,” he said, “I want the fans to celebrate more than we do. They are the ones who should be celebrating, not the players.
“It’s hard for me to celebrate, because we’ve just avoided relegation. The thing I’m most pleased about is keeping a club like Plymouth – and the support they have got – in the Football League.
“I’m proud, but, if you know me, you know I don’t think we should be celebrating too much. I understand the feeling for everyone involved in the club is relief. I don’t celebrate just for avoiding relegation.
“I’m not trying to sound harsh, but we’ve just avoided relegation by a point.
“I’m really proud of the players. They’ve done really well since I’ve come in. We always knew it was going to be hard. In the first week I came in, I said I thought we needed 52 points to stay up.
“We’ve got to set our standards and reflect on what you’re celebrating, reflect on what we’ve just done and reflect on whether we want it to happen again.”
Despite losing 1-0 to Rochdale, Argyle were safe on two counts, as to be relegated it would have taken Barnet to win Northampton and for York and Dagenham & Redbridge to draw. York won and Barnet lost, so safety was assured.
Thanks to Internet, smart phones, text alerts and good old fashioned radios, Argyle fans – and there were plenty of them – were able to keep abreast of goings on elsewhere, and it helped to set the tone of the afternoon.
But what of the dug-out? Between the management team and substitutes, were they keeping tabs on events as they took place up and down the land?
“I wasn’t asking,” said John, “but I could hear one or two of the lads [on the bench]. Once the fans were singing a bit more, you could tell one or two results were going our way.
“We heard Northampton were 2-0 up, which was pleasing with 15 minutes to go, but you just don’t know do you in this division?
“The lads have been brilliant to keep us in the league. We’re all chuffed and there’s massive relief.
“You can see the relief in the support we’ve had today. They’ve been unbelievable again; they don’t shut up for 90 minutes; they get right behind the team. You can tell when the results were going our way they were trying to get behind the team, they are positive.
“They’ve been unbelievable – and you see what you could get if you were the other end of the table. There would be thousands more watching us.”