HADEN Tye has a secret. He may assist in the Home Park Media Department, but he is actually a West Brom fan. So how did he feel when his adopted Argyle met his beloved Baggies...
In truth, we’re all probably hypocrites.
I remember in the build-up to Argyle’s trip to Wembley for last season’s play-off final, I collated a variety of letters that had been sent in from various members of the Green Army into five articles for the website. The letters were from Argyle fans that had put in stupendous amounts of effort to watch their team at Wembley.
Reading their stories I was questioning: who on earth are these people? It was not until Argyle’s friendly on Saturday against my beloved West Brom that I realised: I am one of these people. I even joked on Twitter about making a half and half scarf – scary stuff.
I had booked to fly out to Nice, France on Monday August 1, just two days after Argyle’s final pre-season friendly in which they played West Brom. It was no coincidence that I managed to stay for the game.
The trip is to meet my girlfriend’s family in France – coincidentally all of whom are Argyle fans. They have been there for just over a week now, but I decided to stay because of the game. I could not miss the club I watched throughout my teenage years play at Home Park, could I?
My support of West Brom is synonymous with my decision to study sports journalism, and probably the reason I am working for Argyle media team. Growing up, I was fascinated with football. My dad always used to say to me: “Are you going to get another hobby?” I never really did.
When I was 13, oblivious to any other existence of life except for a spherical shaped object being kicked around a football field, my obsession transferred from the field, to paper as I was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter’s. He sounds like a talented new Austrian signing, but unfortunately, Schlatter’s is an overuse injury from too much kicking, that meant I had to give up football for a year. I bawled my eyes out in the doctor’s surgery; however I can see now it was a blessing in disguise, although it seemed anything but at the time.
It was at this point I started making programmes for my Sunday League team, and got a West Brom season ticket. My best friend Brad used to go every week and had taken me to several games in the two years before I committed to a season ticket, but it was then that I really started to support the Baggies.
We got relegated that season. We finished bottom of the Premier League, with 32 points, and our top scorer Roman Bednar had scored a measly six goals. It did not put me off though.
I held my season ticket for the next five seasons and attended several away games a season, until I left for Plymouth to study Sports Journalism at the University of St.Mark and St.John. I did my work experience with the Argyle media team; that was about a year and half ago, and I am still working voluntarily for the club now.
In terms of ‘work experience’, I have learned more than I had ever anticipated I would in my time at the club. It is such a unique role being part of the media team at Argyle, and something I am really proud to be part of.
Chris, a uni colleague and another voluntary member of the media team, asked me before Saturday's game if a part of me wanted Argyle to win. In my time at the club I have become pretty converted. Fortunately, the score of the game was secondary to anything else for me. If Argyle had won, I’d have been happy for them, and vice-versa. I was winning either way; how often do the club you work for play the club you support, after all?
Saturday afternoon was surreal. Not many people will have said that after seeing a 0-0 draw, will they?. I, though, was in dream land. As I walked across the car park at Home Park I saw the first Albion shirt I have ever seen this side of Bristol - other than one I have been wearing. In the sunny afternoon glaze I thought it was a mirage.
I got to the office and Rick, head of Argyle media, could see my glow. He asked if I wanted to do the match report, as it was the Albion after all. I have done several Argyle match reports before, but this was a bit special.
Moments later when Rick left the office to get the team-sheets, I was just thinking to myself: “wow!” I never anticipated when I started supporting West Brom that I would get the opportunity to write an official match report on one of their games, let alone at the age of 21.
It is quite easy to go through life achieving a lot and not taking a step back to give yourself a pat on the back for the hard work you have put in. Saturday afternoon definitely gave me the chance to do that. Even if it was a pre-season friendly, even if it was 0-0, it didn't matter to me.
After the game we did interviews by the pitchside. When I arrived and there was a host of Albion players there. Working at Argyle has got me used to being around players, and realising that they are in fact only human. Part of me still wanted to kiss Claudio Yacob on the head when he walked past me though, but I thought better of it.
As if the day hadn’t been brilliant enough, Rick managed to get me a West Brom shirt signed by all the players, with the help of former Pilgrim David Kemp. It was such a lovely gesture, and I could not be more thankful. It was a truly special day for me.
I am pretty sure there is some irony throughout my life; firstly when the doctor told me I couldn’t play football and it kick-started my career, and secondly, when a 0-0 draw became a day of my life that I will never forget.