The Devonport Effect

BEN Purrington has an appreciation for all things Devonport.

Not only does the Argyle left-back love to hear the Devonport end roaring the Pilgrims on, but a visit to Devonport dockyard this week piqued his interest in Plymouth military history and importance. 

Ben, as well as all his team-mates and management, visited the dockyard on Monday, and were take for a tour of HMS Argyll, a Royal Navy frigate that has been undergoing a refit and major upgrade, and is almost ready for redeployment. 

The ship is affiliated to Plymouth Argyle, and she was teeming with members of the Green Army, who not only showed Ben and co the workings of the vessel, but were often heard to whisper encouragement to the lads for the rest of the season. 

The two worlds come hand in hand this Saturday. Argyle meet Grimsby Town at Home Park looking to extend a 14-match unbeaten run that has taken the Pilgrims seven points clear at the summit of Sky Bet League Two. Importantly, though, Argyle will acknowledge the role the armed services play in the city and our region, with military dignitaries and serving personnel present at the game. 

“Armed Services Day is always a big game,” said Ben. “It seems to bring more people in, which is good, and the atmosphere is always unbelievable. 

“It was a good day out [at Devonport]. It was nice, with HMS Argyll’s affiliation with the club, to speak to some people down there who were Argyle fans. They showed us around the ship; it was interesting to see what they get up to during the day. 

“They seem to work hard down there, definitely!”

Grimsby head to Home Park on Saturday in seventh position, following up well on their promotion from the Vanarama National League last season. 

Although a 2-2 draw, in manager Marcus Bignot’s first game in charge, followed a 4-2 loss in the Checkatrade Trophy, Grimsby have struggled for goals of later, despite the presence of 11-goal striker Omar Bogle. Before four goals scored in two games, the Mariners had scored just once in seven outings. 

That said, their away record this season is extremely commendable. After losing their first two games on the road at Wycombe and Colchester, Grimsby are unbeaten in six on their travels, conceding just three goals in that time. 

The tight nature of Grimsby’s recent games, as well as the pattern of how teams view league leaders Argyle, suggests a tough task for the Pilgrims on Saturday. 

Purrington, though, is confident – especially if the Green Army are out in force. 

“When teams come down here, we’re top of the league, they do probably set up differently and change for us,” said Ben. “If they do sit in, then me and Gaz (Miller) have to get forward a bit more, then watch for the counter.  

“Especially when we play here, it can be noisy, particularly the Devonport End. When you play, you zone it out a bit – especially away, when you are getting stick! – but at home it is definitely a boost when you hear them getting going. 

“Recently, we started to train on the pitch once a week, which I think does help, as you get used to it a bit more. I love playing out there. It’s a nice stadium, one of the better ones in the league, with a lovely pitch.”