#PilgrimsAtWembley - Part One

FOOTBALL owes a lot to its fans. I heard someone say once that...

...if you were in a relationship with your football team, then you would have left it years ago – because of all the agony that it has caused. 

Fortunately, all the heartache, the pain and the money spent to follow your team can be forgotten in moments of magic. But how far would you go to pursue the moments of magic?

Take Argyle at Wembley, for example.

On May 25, 1996, Argyle beat Darlington 1-0 at Wembley - up until next Monday, Argyle’s only ever visit to the Home of Football. Roared on by supporters from all over the globe, Ronnie Mauge fired the Pilgrims to promotion.

Twenty years and five days later, the Pilgrims have their second chance at Wembley victory. Inspired by a tweet from an Australian fan who is travelling from Down Under to watch the Pilgrims play AFC Wimbledon in the Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final, we asked which of our fans are making the most effort to watch the #PilgrimsAtWembley this time round.

Play-off semi-final hero Peter Hartley will select his top five Pilgrimages, and the winners will be given an Argyle play-off gift to add to what is already going to be a special occasion.

In the build-up to Monday’s game, we will be presenting a selection of the best #PilgrimsAtWembley stories for the Green Army to share in the lengths that some of our supporters will go to in order to see the mighty Greens under the famous arch.

Michael Godwin, who says he is proud to be a member of the Green Army, is travelling from Canada to witness Argyle’s game against the Wombles.

“I was born in 1951,” said Michael. “My mother and grandfather took me to see Argyle from the age of about five onwards. My first real memory, though, was seeing Argyle beat West Ham 3-0 in the cup in 1962. I was a season-ticket holder and a few times I went alone to London on the Pilgrim Express, at the age of just 12 years old. My mother and I moved to Canada in 1965 for a year and then permanently in 1968.

“I visited the UK a number of times and I always made sure I saw Argyle as much as possible. As I got older, I married and had a family which meant my visits got less often. However, I was still an Argyle fan, and listened to BBC shortwave for the results.

“I made a vow to myself that, if Argyle ever got to Wembley, I would go to the game. Unfortunately, in 1996, though, due to circumstances, I could not make it. With Argyle in the play-offs once again this season, I made that vow once more. When Peter Hartley scored that last-minute goal, I started to make plans to be at Wembley.

“I fly over on Thursday evening and arrive Friday morning. I will spend the whole time in London and fly home on Tuesday, May 31.”

Also coming from Canada is Andy Gigg, who was at Wembley the last time Argyle were there. 

“I am travelling back from Canada for the game,” said Andy. “I was there in May ’96, when we beat Darlington 1-0, courtesy of Ronnie Mauge’s goal. I travelled back from Northern Ireland for the game whilst serving with the British Military. This journey, however, is somewhat further and will take me slightly longer to get there! 

“Having watched the play-offs via the internet and chewed my fingers to pieces, I am looking forward to another great day out at Wembley. I will be there with my daughter Danielle, her boyfriend Ryan, and my best mate Trevor.
“It’s going to be a great day and I am convinced we are going up. I have another good friend of mine who is a Pompey fan and we were texting each other all through the play-offs. I believed, before those games, that whoever won out of us, Pompey or Argyle, they would go up. My mind hasn’t changed. No disrespect to Wimbledon, but this is our year.
“I know you will give it your all fellas and the Green Army will be there on mass, to cheer you on.”
The final of our trio of Canadian commuters is Gordon Shallard-Brown.

“I’m flying in from Toronto for the weekend,” said Gordon. “I am originally from Cornwall and moved out here with my Canadian partner last year. I’m arriving Friday morning then leaving on Tuesday; I’m a massive Argyle fan so couldn’t miss it!”