Little Things, Big Differences
ARGYLE coach John Harbin has added his voice to the chorus of thanks to the Green Army for boosting the Pilgrims chances of playing in a Wembley final.
As the club’s Performance Manager, John’s Home Park brief includes the psychological side of football and he is convinced the Argyle players were lifted by Home Park’s response to seeing the Pilgrims fall 3-0 behind Wycombe Wanderers in the first leg of the Sky Bet league 2 play-offs last Saturday.
Despite the deficit, the 14,000-plus crowd got behind the team, encouraging them by chanting the refrain from Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds – ‘Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright’ – and holding up smartphone torches to create a superb atmosphere.
Their support was rewarded by two late Argyle goals which brought the score back to only 3-2 in Wycombe’s favour and leaves the tie delicately balanced for Thursday, with the winners going on to play either Southend United or Stevenage at Wembley in a battle for promotion to League 1.
“From what I’ve heard, it was started by a small group of fans and it just carried on right around the ground,” said John. “It really was spectacular.
“We are so grateful to the people who started it and not only the people who started it, but to the thousands who joined in at what was a crucial time for us. It is the sort of thing you expect to happen when you are winning 3-0 and the fans are delirious, but we were down 3-0, our backs were against the wall on our own turf in a crucial game, and to know that the fans are behind you when that is happening is so important.
“Little things like that can change a game. After the event, we talk about substitutions; that Wycombe were getting tired; and things like that. But one of the key factors was the support of the fans – if anyone wants to know what a 12th man is…that was a 12th man.
“Anyone who wants to talk about the benefit of booing or supporting your team only had to be here that night. It was fantastic; it was a great night.
“I’ve been around a bit – probably more due to my age, than anything else – and been to a few big games when there’s been 70,000 there, and that was probably the best I’ve seen. The song was good; the way it started was good; the torches – it was spectacular.
“The most important thing for us was it came at a time when we were down 3-0. It’s like the old cliché – you know who your friends are when you’re in trouble, and we were were in trouble when we were 3-0 down and the fans started.
“The only time I’ve encountered something like that was when I went on pre-season with Charlton to Valencia and it was their launch that night – they were singing hymns and there were candles and here was 30,000 there. That was good, but the other night was spectacular and very inspirational. “
More than 2,000 Argyle fans are heading to Buckinghamshire for Thursday’s second leg, in which John promises the Argyle players will give their all for the Green Army in the all-or-nothing game.
“We’re prepared to go one more round; we’re prepared to go the distance,” said John.
“We’re not quitting at any stage.”