Wylde About Wembley
“IN our end is our beginning.”
There is a fantastic symmetry to Argyle’s 2015-16 season in that it will have both started and finished by playing AFC Wimbledon. Argyle won the first encounter 2-0, which kick-started the Pilgrims to their highest league finish since falling back into Sky Bet League 2.
Wimbledon finished the highest they ever have in their short 14-year history as a club, despite their opening day defeat, as they finished seventh in the division, then beat Accrington Stanley in the play-off semi-finals.
Scotsman Gregg Wylde opened his and the club’s account for the season on that opening day, over nine months ago, and the winger hopes to finish the season with the same result that started it come Monday.
“It didn’t feel that long ago that we played Wimbledon in the first game of the season,” said Gregg, “and I scored my first goal. I said to Luke McCormick “we started with Wimbledon and now we’re finishing with them.” Hopefully we can go two for two and win.
“We’ve won twice there and they’ve come here and won, so we expect a very different game from them. Their manager has them playing a good style of football and we expect a hard game but we can only concentrate on ourselves and see where it takes us on Monday.”
There has been much said about the large numbers that the Pilgrims are taking to Wembley and Wylde was not surprised considering the large crowds Argyle have attracted for home and away games all season long.
“Home Park has been a good stadium to play in,” said Gregg. “and you don’t expect to come down here and have so many electric crowds against Exeter, Millwall, Oxford, Gillingham and the rest. The fans are good people to play for as well; I’ve met a lot of nice people since I’ve been here so hopefully we can pay them back.
“There’s going to be 50,000 plus and it’s going to be absolutely electric. All the boys will be nervous before but I think you play better when you’re like that.”
The additional support has only added to the magnitude of the occasion from an Argyle perspective and it was obvious how much Gregg was looking forward to playing a final at the home of English football. The 25-year-old is no stranger to playing in big games, having played in the Old Firm derby and at Hampden Park, but Wembley clearly has a special meaning to the Glaswegian, as it does to many.
“I’ve played at the national stadium at Scotland,” said Gregg, “but everybody would love to play at Wembley. It’s my first time - and Brew and the manager’s first as well - and I’ve always said to my mum and dad I want to play there. I used to watch Champions League finals at Wembley and I know a lot of the Scottish lads have played there. I’ve not played there yet so I’m looking forward to it and hoping we can tip it off with the win.”
Wylde has settled in to life well at Home Park in his first season and the fact he joined the Greens at the same time as fellow SPL players Graham Carey and Jake Jervis has played a key role in all three having such a fast start to what has turned out to be an excellent season. Personal and team success, along with the off field relationships the winger has made, means it’s not surprising that Gregg is keen to remain a Pilgrim for the foreseeable future.
“I would love to stay, there’s no question about it,” he said. “I didn’t think I would like it as much as I have. We’ve got a good morale as a team off the pitch and I’ve met a lot of good friends on and off the pitch which makes it a lot better.
“I used to play against Graham (Carey) and Jake (Jervis) up the road in Glasgow and it’s been good since we’ve come down here together. I think we’ve worked well as a front three or four. Graham especially has been fantastic this season, with the goals he’s scored this season and he won the PFA Fans player of the Season as well.
“He’s not good at golf that’s the only thing!”