Home Church

SIMON Church will be hoping that his Home Park career goes considerably better than his only career appearance so far at the Theatre of Greens.

The 29-year-old Welsh international forward, who has joined Argyle as a seasoned Championship player, had visited Home Park only once as a player, although he trained with his new team-mates at the Theatre of Greens prior to joining Scunthorpe United in October.

That was just after Christmas 2009 when Reading, with who Simon began his professional career, and Argyle were struggling at the wrong end of the Championship. 

The Pilgrims, though, triumphed 4-1, with Alan Judge opening the scoring for them and setting up Iceland defender Kari Arnason for the second. Arnie’s international team-mate Gylfi Sigurdsson momentarily reduced the arrears just after the hour, only for Judge immediately to convert Chris Clark’s pass for Argyle’s third. Ashley Barnes then netted his first goal of the campaign to frank an emphatic win.

Six matches later, Simon had his revenge as team-mate Shane Long netted a last-minute penalty winner over the Pilgrims at the Madejski Stadium. 

Nearly eight years later, Simon returns to the South West having played at most points in the UK and many abroad. 

He comes to Home Park as a free agent, having left Dutch top flight club Roda JC in the summer although his time in the Netherlands was reduced to four early-season games before a hip injury that required surgery and a lengthy recovery period. 

Simon made his full Reading debut in the 2009 Championship play-off semi-final against Burnley, following League One loan spells at Crewe, Yeovil and Leyton, and another temporary spell at hometown League Two club Wycombe. 

Three weeks after his first Royals’ start, he made his full international debut in 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Azerbaijan in Baku. 

It was the first of 38 full international caps won by Simon, who has scored three times, including the only goal in a 1-0 2014 World Cup qualifier against Macedonia. 

After more than 100 games for Reading, including 31 in the 2011-12 season when the Royals won promotion to the Premier League, he joined Huddersfield on loan and then played for two seasons at Charlton before moving to Milton Keynes. 

After a spell in the Scottish Premiership with Aberdeen at the back end of the 2015-16 season, when he scored six goals in 13 matches, Simon featured in the Welsh side that memorably reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016, and then moved to EredivisieRoda JC. 

Since happily recovered from his injury, Simon agreed to join Scunthorpe United on a short-term contract as a free agent in late October. 

He started one Checkatrade Trophy match for the Iron and made six more substitute appearances in all competitions before parting company with Scunthorpe upon the recent expiry of the deal.