TODAY marks a very special occasion for Plymouth Argyle Ladies, as they grace the Home Park pitch for a fascinating Dockyard Derby against Portsmouth in the FA Women’s National League Southern Division.
The Pilgrims have performed admirably since winning promotion to this level of the pyramid and joint-manager Dave Leonard, along with Trevor Rodd, is looking forward to putting on a real show for the Green Army this afternoon.
Argyle have trudged through some difficult playing surfaces at times this season and the chance to display their expansive football on the lush green of Home Park has everyone at the club extremely excited.
“It is a great privilege to play at Home Park, especially the magnitude of a Dockyard Derby,” said Leonard. “Ever since we told the girls, they have been incredibly excited.
“We’ve played on some horror pitches away from home this season and they are absolutely buzzing for today. I can’t thank everyone enough at the football club, the Board, manager, groundsman and staff.
“Paul Bartolini, officially our treasurer, but a man who does so much for Argyle Ladies. He has been fantastic in getting this game arranged and I just hope the girls put on a good show for them today.
“People like Paul and our secretary Andrew Bellamy are the people every football club needs. The work they do behind the scenes is amazing.
“We’ve played at Stadium MK this year and Priestfield in Gillingham, and for the quality of player that we have, it is so important to play on a good surface.
“We have international players in our squad and we are bringing up young players from our development squad to grow the club. We want to have the best possible playing facilities because of the way we play.
“Our aim is to play out from the back and play on the floor, so a decent surface allows that. It bodes well for getting good results and attracting the high-quality players we need to progress the football club to the Championship and beyond.”
While today is a great occasion for Argyle Ladies to enjoy, three points are what matters more than anything else and Leonard is focused on a push up the table over the closing weeks of the campaign.
“I am a great believer that a league table never lies,” he said. “We’ve got nine games to go and find ourselves in mid-table, but this year has been about managing expectations.
“We’ve played the likes of Coventry, Crawley and Chichester, established clubs in women’s football. If you take the likes of Watford and Oxford, they were in the Championship a couple of years ago.
“We’re matching these teams and it’s been a great challenge for the girls, for me and Trevor, and our backroom staff. I believe these girls don’t realise how good they are and my aim this year is to finish in the top four or five.
“Today is the Dockyard Derby, we beat them 3-0 away from home but there is no easy game in this league. My focus is on our team and the way we play because, on our day, we can be fantastic.
“It would be brilliant to play in front of a few hundred people today and put on a good show. Women’s football has progressed so much and those coming along today will get to see a really good game.”
Argyle Ladies v Portsmouth will kick-off at 2pm at Home Park today and there will also be a celebration of the rich military heritage of our two cities.
Entry is free to Argyle season-ticket holders and 1886 members. Otherwise, it is just £5 for adults, £3 concessions and under-18s are free. Please enter through turnstiles 11 and 13 of the Lyndhurst Stand and gates will open at 1pm.