Plymouth Argyle
Home Park

Ground No. 45
Visited - Saturday 18th September 2004
Result - Plymouth Argyle 1-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca Cola Championship
Attendance - 18,635

Having had a long trip in midweek to Brighton, I wasn’t particularly relishing another one, this time to the team furthest away from us in the entire country, but it was another new ground, and the win against Brighton had lifted spirits a little, so it was off we set down the M5 for the long journey to Devon.

Getting down there was a bit stop-start, we would be flying the one minute, only to hit traffic jams the next, especially around Bristol which was awful getting past. It wasn’t a bad journey though, and we got quite a few waves from other Wolves fans noticing the scarf we had flying out of the window, although various coach loads of other fans, (Stevenage and Derby) gave us a few odd looks, and the nearer we got to Devon the number of cars with Plymouth Argyle stickers and scarves, etc. increased, one Plymouth car sped past us with everyone in there giving us a bit of stick, so it was quite funny to see their faces looking all miserable as we sped past them further down the motorway!

We got to Plymouth a little later than we would have liked, and a crash on the main road into the city meant we were stuck in more traffic jams, not getting near the ground until 2pm, so after finding a parking spot next to a church (it worked for us at Rochdale!), we walked the short distance to the ground. I had a brief dash around the stadium, taking some pictures, and from the outside it looks a nice ground, with the 3 new stands, although being fairly bland, looking a bit better than the likes of the Britannia Stadium, but once inside it's a bit different, with the new stands escaping the boring St Mary’s/Walkers/Madejski feel, by having the Grandstand to our left offsetting them really well. If they had have been continued the whole way around, then it would have been quite sad, as the ground really would have been soullessly boring, although the green seats were one unusual feature, with that being a colour you don’t often see at grounds (with most predominantly being red or blue). As for the Grandstand itself, it has a good-sized strip of terracing at the front, with a smaller second tier that has seats, and is covered. It’s a shame that these sort of stands are disappearing all over the country, as in probably another 10 years time there will be nothing like it, instead if not generic grounds like Southampton, etc. then it will be small stands that all look the same.

After having the chance to take some pictures, we took our seats, which offered a good view, just to the left of the goal, and the game got underway. The first-half was devoid of any real excitement, with neither team especially going for it, but in the second-half Plymouth really started to get their act together, and scored a superb opening goal from David Friio. With us looking poor again, they had more chances, hitting the post a couple of times. Dave Jones made two crucial substitutions, taking off Kenny Miller for Dean Sturridge, and bringing Kevin Cooper on for the ineffective Seol.

With that the game changed, 10 minutes later, Kevin Cooper broke into the Plymouth area, and after some superb link up play, was pushed over for a penalty. In one way, with our record, we didn’t actually want a penalty, but Carl Cort stepped up, and slotted it home with relative ease. Within minutes though, Cooper was centre stage again after a shockingly late tackle on a Plymouth defender who had cleared the ball, and quite rightly got a straight red card, making his total time on the pitch 11 minutes! It was bad luck for Plymouth though, after having bossed the game, and with us down to 10 men, Dean Sturridge picked up the ball on the edge of the area, made some room for himself and fired home an unstoppable shot past the goalkeeper. After that it was backs to the wall stuff, with 10 minutes left, it was defend, defend, defend! Despite the ref giving 5 minutes injury time (that was what went up on the board), we came through a few scares and left Home Park with another win under our belts, despite another poor performance.

We stayed behind for 10 minutes to get some more pics, before leaving, only to find the police had kept the fans outside before marching everyone back around the stadium perimeter and to the coaches/away. There wasn’t a sign of any trouble, but you felt that there could have been, although on all my travels I don't think I've ever seen the amount of police and stewards that surrounded the coaches on the car park. They were stood 4 rows deep, completely encircling about 20 coaches. The Plymouth fans had been very loud and passionate inside the ground, throughout the match, and there did seem to be a few youths looking for a fight outside, but it seemed like they had gone overkill. Before walking back to the car we actually walked around the ground again to get a picture of the distinctive turnstiles (picture 1 below), but noticed that a couple of exit gates were open in the home end, leading straight onto the pitch, so we went through, and got some more pictures, which was quite good. However, after deciding we'd got enough (and with memory on the camera running low!) we left for the walk back to the car, and onwards home.

Overall it had been a good day, I would have liked more time to see Plymouth itself, especially after the long drive, but the win lifted everyone's spirits and it looked like we had turned the corner on a bad start to the season, also like they say, two busses always come at once, we had waited 18 months to get one away win, only for two to come within the space of a week, not that we were moaning! As for the ground, it's a nice place, with lots of character, although how the redevelopment of the Grandstand will affect that I don't know, but it's one place that I'll look forward to going back to.

Ground No. 45 (return visit)
Visited - Saturday 1st April 2006
Result - Plymouth Argyle 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca Cola Championship
Attendance - 15,871

Having enjoyed my last visit to Home Park, I was quite looking forward to going back for a second time, and with the added incentive that they would be pulling the Grandstand down in the summer (possibly), then it was a trip not to be missed.

I started the day early, leaving Wolverhampton at 6:40am, and after a quick change in Birmingham New Street, we were soon on our way towards the West Country. The journey went well, having come by car last year, this certainly seemed the better way to travel, with the time seeming to fly by, and coupled with some lovely scenery between Exeter and Teignmouth it didn’t seem to take as long as expected.

We arrived into Plymouth at about 10:50am, so after leaving the station, I headed off towards the ground, passing through Central Park on the way. Once there, and after briefly going around the outside, it was still early enough for the gates to be open, so in I popped, and was able to go all around undisturbed. Inside was much as I remembered it, with the three new stands wrapping around the two ends, and Lyndhurst side of the pitch. Although they aren’t the most original design, having the single tier, bowl kind of look, they don’t actually seem quite as bland as they may do, and with the magnificent Grandstand running the length of the fourth side, the ground does have a significant focal point to take away from the similarity of the new stands. After going around the three new stands, I eventually managed to get into the Grandstand, and was able to go all over, taking pictures of virtually everything! It is a great old stand, and although it’s obvious that progress needs to be made, it will be sad when they demolish this stand, as with great views from the upper tier, and facilities that were far better than I expected, it doesn’t actually seem to be in need of immediate replacement, especially with Plymouth still to fully establish/confirm themselves as a regular long-term fixture in the Championship.

Satisfied with having seen what I wanted to, I eventually left the ground, and after a stop off in the club shop (new since my last visit), I headed off back towards town to spend some time before the match itself.

Once that was done, it was back up to the ground, and into the away end, taking my seat near to the top left hand side of the stand. As expected, the views from here were superb, and so after reading the programme through, it eventually came round to 3pm, with the players coming out. Normally I like to take as many pictures as I can, but annoyingly, my (spare set of) batteries ran out, leaving me with very few pics of the ground full, so that was quite disappointing, but worse was soon to come, with the match getting started. 
With games rapidly running out, and us sitting in seventh place, five points behind sixth placed Preston, we really needed to win to stand any chance of the play-offs, so when Plymouth could have been 2-0 up with just 5 minutes gone, the mood in the away end wasn’t the best. Right from the off, the home side came at us, only to pass the ball around our defenders like they weren’t there (literally). They eventually took the lead just 9 minutes after kick-off, this time from a corner, which after being swung outwards, came to Hasney Aljofree, who smashed the ball home, making it 1-0. Plymouth weren’t done at that and for the rest of the first-half, ran a helpless Wolves side ragged. If it wasn’t for some awful composure in front of goal, they should have left the pitch 4-0 up at the end of the first 45 minutes. We had been restricted to brief half-chances, and had never really looked like getting an equaliser, so when the ref blew his whistle, the team were booed off the pitch, having not even vaguely shown capable of putting in the minimum level of performance expected from a side of their supposed ability.

In the second half, the teams came out, and again, from the off we were inviting pressure onto ourselves, with Postma forced into a good save, minutes after the restart. The blatant errors kept on coming from us, and around about the hour mark the worst was to come when Ince and Miller managed to mess up a free-kick routine, virtually passing the ball straight to the home teams’ first man. We desperately needed changes, but with an inept fool of a manager on the sidelines, they weren’t forthcoming and so when with just 10 minutes left on the clock, Plymouth increased their lead, it was no great surprise. After winning a dubious free-kick, Tony Capaldi swung it in from the left, only for it to meet the head of Paul Ince, who put it straight into his own net, to finish the game. Ince did try to redeem himself later, hitting only our second shot of the game on target, but it was easily saved by the Plymouth keeper, and when the referee blew the final whistle, there were loud chants of Hoddle out, with him quickly exiting the scene down the tunnel.
For the neutral, they may look at our position of 7th in the table, and with the play-offs still a realistic possibility, wonder why the manager was getting the abuse he was, however having witnessed some of the most mind numbingly boring football I’ve ever seen in the past 18 months since Hoddle came, it was no real surprise to me. Even when we’ve been winning, it has for the most part been a hard thing to watch, so when a team full of current and former internationals make themselves look very genuinely like an inexperienced non-league side playing against seasoned professionals (in the form of Plymouth), then it really was the final straw. 

After leaving the ground, the walk back to the station didn’t take too long, and I managed to catch the 5:25pm train home, which seemed to take much longer than coming! 

Overall, it was nice to see the ground again, and in particular get the opportunity to go all over the Grandstand, but Wolves have a knack of putting you in a bad mood, and the game had been as pathetic a performance as I’ve seen from them since I started going to the matches, so sadly that did somewhat mar the day.

Welcome to Home Park

The Mayflower Turnstiles

Rear of the Grandstand

The Club Shop

Rear of the Barn Park End

Rear of the Lyndhurst Stand

Rear of the Devonport End

Rear of the Devonport End

The Grandstand

The Devonport End

The Lyndhurst Stand

The Barn Park End

The Grandstand

The Devonport End

The Lyndhurst Stand

Home Park Panoramic 1

Home Park Panoramic 2


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