This Time Around

IT seems odd to think that a 21-year-old lad, on loan from Reading, could be seen as a senior player, but there is a cause to think that about Craig Tanner.

Of the starting 11 last weekend, when Argyle beat Exeter 2-0, only Luke McCormick and Graham Carey had played more times for the Pilgrims than Tanner. Even then Carey is only one total appearance ahead, and Luke played his first Argyle match when Craig was five months shy of his seventh birthday. 

Borrowed he may be, but Tanner seems to feel what it is about to be green. He certainly knows that it is not easy, as anyone who recalls him in tears on the Wembley pitch, following our loss to Wimbledon in the play-off final, will attest to. 

Like any born winner, though, Craig is using that hurt as a catalyst. Even more impressively, he is joining his other established team-mates in informing the newer arrivals just how much last season hurt those that suffered through it. 

“We’ve made it clear to the lads that it will not happen again,” said Craig. “Myself, [Ryan] Brunty, Luke McCormick, Gaz [Sawyer], G [Graham Carey], even Ozzie [Threlkeld] have all said ‘Look, that’s not happening again. I’m not feeling like that again, and there’s no way I’m letting you feel like that.’

“I think they are all well aware that it is not going to happen again.”

Tanner shone in last Saturday’s Devon Derby victory, being involved in both goals and generally causing Exeter problems all afternoon from his advanced role behind the striker. 

The victory was Argyle’s seventh in succession, and solidified their position on top of the Sky Bet League Two table. Craig smiled as he recalled the win over Exeter, and demonstrated his knowledge of the importance of the fixture, but showed his serious side as he considered the status of Argyle’s winning streak. 

“The Devon Derby was fantastic,” said Craig. “Last year the ratio (losing two, winning one of the derbies played) didn’t favour us; it was important to go away from home, get a 2-0 victory, a clean sheet, and make Devon green again. 

“We haven’t thought about [the winning run]. Every day we go to the gym after training, do our individual programmes, double sessions. If we let our foot off the pedal it could easily go. The longer it goes on, it becomes a bigger scalp to teams. 

“If we win again on Saturday against Hartlepool, then Leyton Orient will think they can be the ones to stop it. If not, the team after that becomes the one. It gets bigger and bigger. 

“When it does end, it’s not the be-all and end-all. It’s just a game of football, it’s three points on the line. 

“We’ll just have to go back and win the next week.”