Green Roots Run Deep

HOME Park is where the heart has always been for Gary Sawyer.

The 29-year-old defender has become new Pilgrims manager Derek Adams’ first signing after agreeing to return to Home Park following the expiry of his current contract with Leyton Orient at the end of June.

Speaking for the first time since his move, Gary, who played 96 times for Argyle between 2006-10, left little doubt as to how happy he was to be returning to what he considers home.

“Since I left, this has always been a place I wanted to come back to,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit and I’ve really enjoyed my time in London but I wanted to come back and I’m lucky enough that it fell right for me.

“The league’s changed but – the look of it, the people at the club – nothing else has really changed. I’m absolutely delighted to be back.”

The North Devon-based left-back will resume a defensive partnership of more than 50 matches with goalkeeper Luke McCormick after departing Home Park as the Pilgrims’ well-documented financial problems started to bite

He said: “I had a brief spell at Bristol City, then on to Bristol Rovers, then Leyton Orient; now I’m back round in a circle. It’s been enjoyable.

“When I left, for the reasons I left, it was the right time to go, but I’ve wanted to come back for a while now: this has been the one club that I’ve always kept close to my heart and I was really, really happy to get the chance to come back.

“I’ve still got some really good friends here, and a lot of the friends that I grew up with are Argyle fans. It’s horrible when you look back and you see a club that you hold so close to you – all my family support this club – struggling, and you witness it but can’t do anything to help it. It’s something you never want to see happen and I left as it happened.

“Even when I left, my mind-set was always that, when the time was right, I would come back down. I wanted this for a while, and I am delighted the new gaffer has given me the chance.”

As well as Luke, Paul Wotton was also alongside Gary when he made his Football League debut with Argyle in a 1-0 victory at Colchester in 2006; on Thursday, Wottsy was on hand to welcome his former team-mate back to the club.

“He was here when I was a kid and I played with him in the first team, now he’s helped sign me in,” said Gary. “It’s a bit weird. He was like me – he went away and came back. I think this club’s just in your blood, when you spend so much time here. It’s great to be back and the fact that he’s involved with the football club is brilliant for me. 

“I’ve always got on really well with Wottsy and now he’s trying to make it in the game in coaching. I think he’ll bring some really good things to the football club.”

With pre-season training scheduled to begin in less than two weeks, Gary will not have long to find out.

“Players don’t come back unfit now; you have to get yourself fully fit ready to do pre-season,” he said. “I feel good. I’ve looked after my body my whole life and I’m ready to go.”