The Admirable Nelson
WHEN Curtis Nelson was told...
...he was returning to Plymouth Argyle’s starting 11 against Cheltenham Town, he would presumable have been delighted.
When he was handed the suspended skipper Conor Hourihane's captain’s armband to wear over his green shirt, he must have been flabbergasted.
“It was a great honour," he said. "You are proud to be a captain at any time. To be a captain at such a young age...I wasn’t expecting it.
“I wasn’t expecting it because you have got people like Wottsy [Paul Wotton] and Brano [Guy Branston] – Wottsy, who has played 600-odd games, and Brano, who has got years of experience. Obviously, you are going to be surprised.
“I don’t think it really matters who is captain – it was great to get the win, that’s the main thing.”
Nelson, at 19 years and 320 days, became the youngest skipper in Argyle history, edging out Norman Piper who was three days older, a veteran in comparison, when he captained the Pilgrims on the opening day of the 1967-68 season. On that day, Argyle drew at Cardiff; on this day, they took all three points.
Captain Curtis marshalled his men to a 2-0 win over Cheltenham, giving him an unbeaten, 100% record as skipper. Although, admittedly, it is early days.
“It was an unbelievable win,” he said. “We played really well. We are three points clear [of the relegation zone] with a game in hand. The main thing is to keep winning games and picking up points. I believe we’ll get out of it.
“I’ve not been involved for a while, so to come in and get a result is a massive boost, for me personally and for the team.
“It was a tough decision to pull myself out, because you don’t want to pull yourself out, but I think you have to make the right decision and be sensible.
“I think knowing that you’ve got players that can come in and do jobs is nice. Credit to the boys who have been doing really well for the last few months since the gaffer has come in.”
Not only was the captaincy a surprise to many, but so was the position Nelson returned in. He and Luke Young filled in in the centre of Argyle’s midfield in the absence of Conor Hourihane and Lee Cox through suspension and injury respectively.
“I’ve played there a few times before,” said Curtis. “It’s a change from playing at centre-back or right-back but you just do your job. The gaffer told me to do a job and you can’t really do more than that. It’s not a natural position for me.
“For me, centre midfield is still a defensive role. I’m not going to go bombing on like Conor would do. I’m just happy we got the result, really.”