Nau or Never

LAST weekend all eyes were on Glasgow and Manchester, as the two biggest football teams in each city lined up against each other.

Celtic and Manchester City walked away with the three points and bragging rights on offer in the games, and no matter where your allegiance lay - green or dark-blue; red or light-blue; or neutral - you could not fail to understand what Derby Day in those cities was all about. 

Down in glorious Devon, the rivalry spans 46 miles along the A38, but to those it affects, it is no less important that of those by the River Clyde or the north-west's former Cottonopolis. 

Derby days have been a little different, geographically, to Nauris Bulvitis. He is a little more familiar with Skonto v Olimps in Riga or Aarau v St Gallen in Switzerland. However, he played in a handful of highland derbies for Inverness against Ross County - with Derek Adams in the opposing dugout, and Gary Miller in the Ross starting line-ups – and as he gets ready to play in his first derby game for Argyle,  the big Latvian believes the concept of the derby is one familiar throughout the football world. 

“A derby is a derby – no matter where you are,” he said. “It is an important game for the supporters, and of course for us. 

“In Latvia, the crowd is not so big as here. It is the same: everyone looks forward to it, but it more for the players and coaches, because the crowd is not so big. 

“The boys have told me what a big game it is. Everyone wants to play in it. I know last season the scores were not the best, but I look forward to getting a good result on Saturday. That is our target. The boys are all looking forward to the game. 

“In Switzerland, when I was at Aarau, there was a couple of teams that were close. Wohlen, St Gallen. It is the same. The supporters couldn’t wait for the games, and it was important to the club as well. It is the same in every country, I think. 

“But it is for three points, the same as every game.”

Argyle go into Saturday’s fixture, which kicks off at 1pm at St James Park, on top of Sky Bet League Two, and on a run of six consecutive wins. Every derby game is used cliché-ridden, with talk of current form counting for little, but the confidence among the Pilgrims camp is surely a better thing to possess, than not. 

“That helps, of course,” said Nauris. “We have to keep going the same way. I hope we can do it, this Saturday. Everyone is ready, training hard. 

“You have to be very strong in this league. I have never been in such a tough league.  

“I think, because the league just started and everyone is so close, we just have to keep winning, then we see what happens. I don’t look at the table: we just have to win the next game. 

“Six wins gives us confidence. The main thing is that the club is winning. I hope we can do the same again.”