Spanish Steps

THE word Mayor, in Spanish, loosely translates to ‘superior.’ On Saturday morning in La Manga, Argyle’s new number 10 lived up to his name by anyone’s definition.

During the week’s pre-season training block near Alicante, a great deal of Ryan Lowe’s considerable coaching hours have been devoted to defensive shape and team cohesion. The skills required for Danny Mayor’s opening goal, though? I am not sure those can be taught.

On the whole, the extremely solid performances of the back three of Niall Canavan, Scott Wootton and Gary Sawyer against Sky Bet League One opposition will go down as the most important elements of the game from a Pilgrim perspective. However, it was Mayor’s pair of telling first-half contributions that got the sizeable travelling Green Army contingent off their seats in the heat of the La Manga morning.

With the game finely in the balance at the half-hour mark, I felt, from my commentary position in the middle of the bleachers-style stand, that Wimbledon were slightly edging the territorial battle. That was until Mayor made something out of nothing.

Cutting in from the left flank, he left Scott Wagstaff waggling in his wake, bought himself a couple of yards to tee off, and belted one into the top corner past Nathan Trott. A few minutes later, Wimbledon ill-advisedly gave him the opportunity to run at them again. Instead of shooting this time, his inch-perfect through ball left Joel Grant, playing as a centre-forward, the easiest of finishes to kill the game off. 2-0. Clean sheet. Job done. Back on the bus.

I was an Argyle fan long before I started working for the club – for as long as I can remember, actually. Having often wondered from the outside what the inner workings of the football club were like, it has surprised me to learn that players, and management, rarely spend a long time reveling in their successes. It’s always on to the next challenge, the next training session, the next opponent.

Just take the few minutes following a game as an example. Players need to refuel quickly, take ice baths, see physio Paul Atkinson, and attend their media obligations. It can be a lot to process - even more so when the 30-degrees sun is beating down on you and you have run for 90 minutes.

Which is why it was so very pleasing, as both a fan and a member of the media team, to see Lowe place the travelling Green Army front-and-centre in his mind immediately after the game ended. As soon as referee Mark Halsey blew his whistle for full-time, the Pilgrims’ manager made a bee-line for the dozens of green-clad Argyle fans located on the right-hand side of the stand. He beckoned his players along with him, and each side applauded the other in a moment of mutual appreciation.

Moments later, we were choreographing a group photo of players and supporters together. Moments like these, and some Danny Mayor magic in the first half, are what football is all about.

The ‘proper’ season has not even started yet. Here’s hoping that we can make some more memories on August 3, and beyond.