IN football, one tends to associate ten years of service with an experienced player getting his testimonial.
It is not always so. Ben Purrington may have only made 14 first-team appearances for Argyle, but he is approaching a decade of wearing the shirt, having joined when his age was still expressed with a single digit.
The left-back has recently turned 18 and now, to cap a fantastic breakthrough season, has penned an extension to his contract, keeping him at Home Park until 2016.
“I’ve been here since I was eight or nine years old,” said a happy Ben, “I’ve worked my way through. It is nice to get the new deal and have another two years at the club.
“It means a lot. I’ve never been at another club. It was good to get in and around the first team – when you are younger, that is what you want to achieve. I’ve achieved it, got a taste of it and hopefully I can push on and get more next season.”
Purrington’s break came on Boxing Day, when he was thrust into the first-team picture as a starting left-back in Argyle’s trip to Oxford United, who at the time occupied a promotion position and drew a crowd of in excess of 10,000. Ben performed with distinction, laid on the opening goal for Caolan Lavery and played his part in a terrific 3-2 victory for John Sheridan’s men.
Ben would go on to make a further 11 starts, and make two appearances from the bench – one of which saw him nab his first senior goal, against Port Vale in the FA Cup.
Says Ben: “Getting those twelve games was really good, plus two sub appearances and scoring at Port Vale – I never really expected, at the start of the season, to achieve that much.
“When you sign your apprenticeship, you just want to try to gain your pro (contract). I didn’t expect to take that extra step, but it’s been really good.
“I think that goal in the FA Cup was the highlight. We came from 2-0 down and got a replay. That and the debut at Oxford, with a big crowd and a big game. It was good to get the win there which kickstarted us getting back up the table.”
A few years ago, the Ben’s promising career looked to take a major hit when he broke his leg, but he has recovered admirably to put the setback behind him and push on.
“I broke my leg in the under-16s, over two years ago,” he said. “When I did it, I thought ‘What if you don’t recover well, what if it doesn’t work out?’
“But obviously I have recovered fine from that, and it is fine now. It was hard to get fit again, but the physios got me through it.”
Ben had some positive words for the manager who gave him his league bow – “He gets the best out of you. He isn’t afraid to tell you what you are doing wrong, but he gives encouragement at the right times.” – before focusing on the squad Shez has assembled, and he hopes to go with Argyle.
“You look at the squad, and the signings we have made, the squad looks quite strong. We’d be disappointed if we didn’t get into the play-offs. That is the goal, and hopefully we can do it.
“Hopefully I can establish myself in the team, play a lot more games and get some experience. As a club, we can move on and get back in Championship, where we belong.”