“FIRE in the belly, ice in the head.”
That is the motto that Peter Hartley will be sticking to when Argyle take to the field opposite Exeter City on Tuesday night.
The Greens’ Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Section second round tie is a rather special one, and not just because it is the 101st meeting between the rivals. The match is Argyle’s 5,000th competitive game, and even though Peter realises the importance of the fixture, his preparations and actions on the field will remain as diligent as ever.
“It’s obviously got to be in your mind that it’s a derby,” said Hartley, “but you’ve got to play your game as well.
“You’ve got to do what you’re told to do by the manager, and what you’ve worked on in training. I think you’re up for it, but they always say that ‘fire in the belly, ice in the head’ type of thing, so I think we’ll be fully aware of what Exeter can do, and we’re working on a way to beat them, which hopefully will pay off.”
The historic fixture sees the Greens take a brief break from their table-topping start to the season, but their centre back is not interested in overlooking the cup fixture, as bragging rights and a potential trip to Wembley await the winners.
“It’s a big game, and every game we play, we want to win,” said Peter.
“We’ve got an opportunity to go to Wembley if we get far in this cup. I don’t mind whether it’s the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, FA Cup or the league; we want to win every game we play.
“A lot of people take the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for granted until they get to the semi-final or arena final. You saw from day one: we put a strong team out against AFC Wimbledon, and the gaffer showed his intentions that we want to go as far as we can in this competition, so we’re not taking it lightly at all.”
Peter has the experience of two Devon Derbies under his belt now, and he has faith that a much-altered side from those two victories last season can once again get one over the Grecians at Home Park.
“A few of the new boys have not experienced this derby before,” said Hartley, “and have been asking about it in the last couple of days. During the Everton vs Liverpool game yesterday, Jake [Jervis] texted me saying ‘is it as feisty as this?!’
“To be fair, it can be at times, but credit to Exeter: they’re not a team that comes and tries to kick you to pieces. They try to play their own way, their manager has his own philosophy, but we’ve outdone them in the last two games, so hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
Tonight's game against Exeter kicks off at 7.45pm. Tickets are £17 for adults, £12 for concessions, £7 for under-18s. See you there!