The Curious Tale of Howard Forinton

WHAT have the following players got in common?

Craig Sutherland, Jamie Griffiths, Andre Blackman, Hamza Bencherif, Emile Mpenza, James Dungey.

The answer? They all played nine times for Plymouth Argyle.

That is not that many. Jamie Morgan played more games for Argyle than that. So did Glen Crowe and Padi Wilson and Neal Heaney and Michael Simpson and Paul Bernard and Michael Meaker and Stuart Elliott and Ozzie Lopes and Juvhel Tsoumou. We do not wish to cast any aspersions on any of the aforementioned gentlemen's footballing skills - some of them were very good players - but it is fair to say they are not on the tip of the tongue when it comes to naming Argyle legends.

But then there is Howard Forinton.

Eight starts, one substitute appearance and three goals for Argyle, between December 1998 and February 1999. That is not necessarily a resume that leaps off the page at you - however, let us talk you through his time as a Pilgrim, and you'll see why we love him.

He made his first appearance, as a sub, in a 2-0 win against Carlisle United on December 19. Howard then started the next game, on Boxing Day, against Barnet at Underhill, in which he notched Argyle's goal in a 1-1 draw.

Two days later he forever etched himself in the minds of many of the Green Army forever, when he scored his first goal at Home Park. We will be honest with you; we cannot find a replay of that game or that goal. But speaking personally, from the perspective of a 14-year-old stood on the Mayflower Terrace, there are memories of a bit of a scramble in the area taking place before a black-stockinged leg poked a spinning ball goalwards. It was Howard who had conjured the ball in. It was the only goal of a 1-0 win for Argyle. It was three points.

Oh - and it was against Exeter. Joy unconfined.

Howard only scored one more goal for Argyle, but once again he timed it well. By a quirk of the fixture calendar, Argyle visited St James Park a month later. Forinton had played three games in the interim - scoring no goals - but found his touch again against City, scoring in a 1-1 draw.

When borrowed to Home Park Howard was property of Birmingham City, having been signed up on the back of an impressive scoring record for then-non-league Yeovil Town. He only played a handful of times for the Blues, moving on to Peterborough and an injury-hit spell in Cambridgeshire. A single appearance for Torquay was his last in league football, though at the age of 38 he is still turning out in semi-pro football in the Midlands.

This Saturday, we wonder if after his game he might scan through the scores, see that we have won 1-0, and smile, remembering the month when he was Argyle's biggest hero.