Auld Acquaintances

IN the first five games of the season, pending transfer activity later in the summer, we are not scheduled to meet any former Pilgrims.

After that, barely a game goes by without saying ‘hello’ to an old face. 

Our first chance to meet up with a former player comes when we visit Stevenage on September 5, in our sixth game of the season. Dean Parrett, who played ten times for Argyle in 2010, scoring one cracking goal against Bristol Rovers, is set to start his third season at the Lamex, this time under new manager Teddy Sheringham. 

A trip to Wycombe the following week sees us meet up again with Wanderers captain Paul Hayes (2013; seven games, no goals), who played an integral part in knocking Argyle out of last season’s play-off semi-final, before Bristol Rovers visit Home Park on September 19.

Rovers boast Jermaine Easter in their ranks these days, with the Welshman now plying his trade at the Memorial Ground, having played for Colchester, Milton Keynes, Swansea, Crystal Palace and Millwall since leaving Argyle. Easter scored six goals for Argyle in 39 games from 2007-08.

Next, we play Mansfield Town away; the Stags recruited Nathan Thomas in the summer, after the winger left Argyle last season for Motherwell. Nathan scored one goal in 24 games as a Pilgrim, although 20 of those appearances came from the substitutes’ bench. 

The former Pilgrims keep coming as Argyle host Barnet on September 29, who are likely to bring former Argyle centre-back Bondz N’Gala with them, Bondz pulled on an Argyle jersey 37 times, finishing the 2009-10 season with the Pilgrims on loan from West Ham, then signing permanently in the summer. Former Argyle goalkeeper Graham Stack, who made six appearances between the sticks in 2008, is also at Barnet, as a player-coach. 

Four days later Crawley are the visitors, and the Sussex side feature Ryan Dickson within their squad. Left-back Dickson played 39 times for Crawley last season – his eighth club since he left Home Park. Ryan only made seven appearances for Argyle – five from the bench – before leaving in 2008, although he did briefly return on trial two summers ago. 

After Crawley’s visit we set off for Notts County, where we may well encounter former Argyle loanee Ronan Murray. The Irish forward was one of John Sheridan’s first recruits after joining Argyle, coming in on loan from Ipswich and playing 13 times. After the Tractor Boys released him, Ronan joined the Magpies, and has played over 50 times for the Meadow Lane outfit. 

After the visit of Former-Pilgrimless Accrington Stanley, we head to Oxford, now the home of Alex McDonald. We played against Alex twice last season; on the first occasion he scored Burton Albion’s goal in a 1-1 draw, but later in the season moved to Oxford United, for whom he started when Argyle drew 0-0 there in March. 

Four days later we travel to Luton Town, where Scott Griffiths now resides. Scott played six games on loan from Peterborough in 2012, and has now played over 100 games for the Hatters. 

Morecambe are the visitors the following Saturday, and are the new home for Lee Molyneux. Lee played 12 times for Argyle at the beginning of the 2010-11 season, and has subsequently represented Accrington, Crewe, Rochdale and Tranmere before moving to Morecambe this summer. 

We are off to York on November 14, where Luke Summerfield is about to begin his second season. Luke scored six goals in 91 appearances for Argyle having progressed through the Home park youth system, then represented Cheltenham and Shrewsbury in League 2, before moving to Bootham Crescent. 

After we welcome Exeter to Home Park (no former Pilgrims in their ranks), our next opponents at Home Park are Leyton Orient, who these days boast Shane Lowry in their defence. Shane played 13 games for Argyle whilst on loan from Aston Villa in 2009-10, then had loan spells at Leeds, Sheffield United and Millwall. He signed on a permanent basis for the Lions and played nearly 100 games before moving to Orient last summer. 

We head to East London the following Saturday, where a Dagenham & Redbridge side managed by former Pilgrim Wayne Burnett, who has another ex-Argyle man, Darren Currie, to assist him. In the squad is Ashley Hemmings, who signed a new contract with Daggers this month. Ashley played 23 times for Argyle whilst on loan from Wolverhampton in 2011-12

The 23rd team we will play this season is Yeovil Town, who we meet on Boxing Day. They do not currently have any ex-Pilgrims in their playing ranks, but they are managed by legendary Argyle manager Paul Sturrock, who was the mastermind between Argyle’s last rise through the divisions, after joining the club from Scotland, having his first crack at management in England. 

What’s that about history repeating?