Once a Pilgrim

PAUL Sturrock, the last manager to steer Argyle to promotion, is among former Pilgrims backing the club at Wembley this Bank Holiday weekend.

Luggy, the brains behind the Pilgrims’ 2001-02 Nationwide League Division 3 and 2003-04 Division 2 title-winning sides, believes fellow Scot Derek Adams’ current vintage can emulate their predecessors by beating AFC Wimbledon in Monday’s Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final.

“It’s a huge game for the football club,” he said. “They have been in the Doldrums for the last few years - now it is time for a bit of joy. The fans deserve a great day at Wembley and a great result.

“We had some good times and you want to bring them back. If they play anything like they can do, I think they will have too much for Wimbledon.”

Graham Coughlan was one of Luggy’s on-field lieutenants during the halcyon days at the turn of the millennium. He is now part of the Southend United management team that tasted League 2 play-off final victory last season when they won a penalty shoot-out after drawing 1-1 with Argyle’s semi-final conquerors, Wycombe Wanderers.

“All the very best to Argyle management players and supporters at Wembley this weekend,” said Cocko. “Winners win the next game and that’s the only way you will enjoy this experience. Good luck – see you next season.” 

Good wishes from another Pilgrim to have enjoyed play-off success recently also arrived at Home Park, with former chairman Peter Ridsdale also tipping the Pilgrims for success.

“I want to send everyone at Argyle – players, management, staff and, most importantly, the Green Army – every success at Wembley in the play-off final,” he said. 

“I look back with very fond memories of my time in Plymouth and it will be the least that everyone deserves when next Monday ends with promotion to League 1.  I was lucky enough to experience that winning feeling at Wembley last May with Preston. Enjoy and have a successful day.”

England international Peter Reid echoed his former chairman’s acknowledgment of the Pilgrims’ loyal and passionate following, and praised Derek for taking Argyle to the brink of promotion.

He said: “The number of tickets bought by Argyle fans speaks volumes for the football club because a club is all about supporters.

“The manager has done a terrific job. I watched the semi-final and I saw the team’s energy and desire; hopefully they can bring that Wembley. If they can, I’m convinced that they will hold their nerve and make it a successful season.”

Reidy’s successor Carl Fletcher was a player and, later, manager during the dark days of the club’s administration and post-administration era, steering the club away from relegation out of the Football League.

He said: “Good luck to all the players, staff and fans at Argyle for the play-off final. I am absolutely delighted to see the team at Wembley. After all the tough times we went through together, no club deserves success more than Argyle.”

The only player to score for Argyle at Wembley, Ronnie Mauge, will be back at the Home of Football on Monday, watching the game 20 years after he headed the winner in the 1-0 Endsleigh League Division Three Play-Off Final victory over Darlington.

“Don’t get overawed by the occasion,” is Ronnie’s advice to this year’s Pilgrims. 

“You need to go out there and win it. Wembley is a lonely place for losers so go there with a positive mind.”

Iconic Argyle striker Paul Mariner, now with MLS side New England Revs, knows what it is like to play – and score – at Wembley, having represented England at the Home of Football after an impactful two years with the Pilgrims.

Paul, who later returned to Home Park to manage the Pilgrims, took time out from his Stateside duties to send a ‘good luck’ message to the current Green generation.  

“Please can you send the players my best wishes for the big game,” he said. “Massive well done to the coaching staff for the job they have done. 

“Congrats to the fans for turning up in huge numbers for the club and the team. Green Army Rule!”