WE are excitedly looking forward to trying to extend our unbeaten Christmas run into a fourth game, and climb the Sky Bet League 2 table......when Torquay United visit Home Park on New Year’s Day.
We can hardly wait for our first match of 2014, which is sure to be played out in front of a bumper crowd (are crowds the only thing these days that are described as ‘bumper’?)
To keep you ticking over until 3pm on Wednesday, we proudly present:
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OUR FIRST HOME DEVON DERBY OF THE SEASON
1. On Boxing Day 1969, Mike Bickle became only the second Argyle player to score four goals in one game on two separate occasions – after Maurice Tadman – when the Pilgrims showed scant seasonal neighbourliness to Torquay by inflicting a 6-0 Third Division defeat on them. It was the Gulls’ first loss in 11 league games.
2. The last three games between Argyle and Torquay at Home Park have been played in front of five-figure crowds: 13,677 witnessed a 2-2 draw on Boxing Day 2001; in January two seasons ago, 12,836 saw the Gulls win 2-1 – their first league victory at Home Park for more than 40 years; and last season 10,003 people saw Tyler Harvey notch a late, late equaliser for us and secure a 1-1 draw.
We are expecting a similarly big crowd on Wednesday, so please do not leave it until the last minute to come to the game – you would not want to miss a minute of action, would you? Give yourself plenty of time to get to the ground and get settled in to enjoy the match.
The Home Park Ticket Office will be closed from 12.30pm on New Year’s Eve, but you can still purchase your tickets online at pre-match prices right up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. Go to www.eticketing.co.uk/pafc/ for more information.
3. Our first derby against Torquay United was on November 5, 1927. The Pilgrims won the away match 2-1, with goals from Freddy Forbes and Sammy Black.
4. Apart from a 5-2 defeat at Plainmoor during the second world war, the Pilgrims have conceded more than two goals in a game to the Gulls only three times. They won the last of these, 4-3, in an Endsleigh Third Division game – when Adrian Littlejohn claimed a hat-trick – at Home Park in October, 1995, and the first, by the same score, in a Third Division (South) match at Plainmoor in 1929. However, sandwiched in between was a 3-2 away Third Division (South) defeat on December 8, 1951.
5. We have played Torquay 55 times in all competitions, winning 25 times and drawing on 17 occasions but it is nearly 13 years since we have beaten the Gulls.
6. Percy Richards claimed a Third Division (South) hat-trick in just ten minutes against Torquay as the Pilgrims won 4-1 at Home Park on March 17, 1928. Richards netted ten times in 18 games during his first season with the Pilgrims but found it hard to displace Ray Bowden from the team and he joined Tunbridge Wells in 1931. Not, though, before he had repeated his Torquay three-timer the following season, a year and 12 days after his first hat-trick, in a 4-0 win.
7. On October 21, 1940 – a Monday – Argyle beat Torquay 4-0 in their first game in the South West Regional League, played after regular competition was suspended following the outbreak of the second world war. Charles Sargeant scored twice.
8. Our first goalscorer on Wednesday will have the honour of claiming the 100th Argyle goal in matches between the two sides. Spookily, both the scorers of the first and 99th goals have alliterative names – Freddy Forbes and Reuben Reid.
9. Argyle players have scored a hat-trick against Torquay on only five occasions. The last Pilgrim to score three times in the little local spat was Paul McGregor, who performed the feat in a Third Division clash at Plainmoor on March 25, 2000. It is the only time an Argyle player has rung in a triple in a Devon Derby at a venue other than Home Park.
10. When ‘Jumbo’ Jack Chisholm was captain of the Pilgrims in the early 1950s, his team-mates wanted to buy presents for their children, and some – to use a naval term – wanted ‘a run ashore’. Jack knew some of them were a bit short of cash, but, being the captain, went along to see manager Jimmy Rae and asked if the players could be paid their win bonus for their match against Torquay.
Jimmy was a bit puzzled and checked his fixture-list before informing Jack that, since the game had not been played, that would not be possible. Jack replied that he knew the game was still to be played, but, as Argyle always beat the Gulls, could the players be paid in advance? Jimmy saw it from Jack’s point of view and agreed to it! Jack won that day and Argyle, as promised, won the match.