PAUL Wotton is the senior member of Argyle’s play-off chasing squad – and just two games away from reaching a significant milestone in the club’s history......but remains as keen as he was when he made his Pilgrims’ debut as teenager in 1995.
Now 36, Wottsy is raring to go ahead of Good Friday’s important Sky Bet League 2 game at Bury. With only three more games to come after the visit to Gigg Lane, and Argyle lying two places and four points away from the play-off positions, margin for error is slim.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said the green-blooded Plymothian, “but we’re in a similar situation as we were after the Burton game – we had to go to Newport and get a win. We have to go to Bury and get a win.”
If he plays at Bury and in Easter Monday’s home game against AFC Wimbledon, Wottsy will draw level on the club’s all-time appearances list with the legendary Sammy Black, whose mark of 491 games between 1924-38 has been surpassed only once by the 998 Pilgrims who have played before or since.
“That would be tremendous, but that’s not the be all and end all,” said Wottsy. “It’s something that I’m aware of, but it would be great [to reach the mark] simply because it would mean that I’m playing another couple of games.”
Sammy’s last game for Argyle came when he was 32 years old, four years younger than Wottsy is currently. Not that the man who captained Argyle to the Division 3 and Division 2 titles between 2002-2004 is planning on giving up any time soon.
“I’ll be the first one to say I can’t do it anymore,” he said. “But at the minute, I feel like I can.”
PAUL WOTTON is especially proud of playing for his hometown club. After rising through the youth ranks, he became an inspirational leader and cult hero in his home city.
After initially starting his career as a centre-back, he made the transition into central midfield, building a reputation for his trademark powerful free-kicks and penalties, and a remarkable record from the spot.
As club captain for the 2001-02 season, he played every second of Argyle’s Third Division title triumph and was named in the PFA Division 3 Team of the Year. He was the fans’ Player of the Year in 2002-03 and again in 2004-05, when he was also the club’s top goal scorer.
He remained faithful to Argyle despite losing his place in the starting line-up twice to Hasney Aljofree during the 2003-04 season when Argyle won the Division 2 title, and went on to lift his second trophy as Argyle skipper.
After a testimonial season in 2005-06, when he was an ever-present and finished the season as top scorer, he suffered a knee-ligament injury in December 2007 season and did not return to the first team for 14 months. He went on to make just eight more appearances before he was released after 14 dedicated seasons and joined Southampton.
Wottsy made a remarkable return to Argyle during the 2011-12 season and played a large part in Argyle’s fight for Football League survival, proving that he still had the passion and ability that was a hallmark of his first spell.
At the start of this season, manager John Sheridan picked him for the starting XI for the opening fixture, away at Southend United. However, he broke a rib following an accidental clash with goalkeeper Luke McCormick, which kept him out for the early stages of the season.
With four games remaining this season, Wottsy has a chance of breaking Sammy Black’s appearance record at the final home game of the season against Hartlepool United.
How fitting an occasion it would be for him to write his name into Argyle folklore in front of supporters who have avidly followed the career of one of the most outstanding captains in Argyle history.
SAMMY BLACK is revered as one of the greatest players ever to don an Argyle shirt. An Argyle legend, Black holds a club record that will most likely never be surpassed: in his 491 appearances for Argyle, he became the Pilgrims’ all-time leading goalscorer with 182 goals.
For those two reasons, Sammy was an inaugural member of the club’s Hall of Fame and was selected by the fans for the Argyle Team of the Century.
Born in Motherwell, Sammy was discovered by manager Bob Jack whilst playing for Kirkintilloch Rob Roy in Glasgow and arrived at Argyle in 1924, when he scored on his debut during a 7-1 thrashing of Brentford. At 5ft 6in, Black epitomized the art of being a classical winger as he was small, fast, tricky, and possessed incredible skills.
Dubbed by Argyle fans as “The Mighty Atom”, Sammy enchanted the Argyle crowd by reliably scoring with either foot, with the majority of his goals coming from unlikely angles that would stun the crowd.
When Sammy was rumoured to be leaving the club, it sparked a “Sammy Must Not Go” campaign, leading to public meetings and demonstrations. With such support, he looked destined to stay at Argyle for life, yet he finally left during the twilight stages of his career for Queens Park Rangers.