Plymouth Argyle face their first League One away game of the season this weekend against AFC Wimbledon. For our Opposition View, we spoke to Stuart Deacons of the 9yrspodcast, who can also be found on Twitter.
First of all, how did you get into supporting Wimbledon?
I lived about 15 minutes from Plough Lane and went to my first game when my best friend was a steward on the turnstiles. This was a 1-0 home win vs Arsenal in January 1990.
Are there any Wimbledon players in particular we should be looking out for this weekend?
Alex Woodyard and Ryan Longman have been good additions to the squad from last season. Too early to tell yet, however I am happy with the recruitment Glyn has done in the summer.
Obviously, world events have significantly altered the football schedule. How has the upheaval affected things from a Wimbledon point of view?
With us moving back to Plough Lane, the pandemic caused big challenges for the club. Financially we have always been reasonably state and being a fans club, we don’t have any owner pumping money in. The challenge was ensuring Plough Lane was completed and ready for us to move into the ground in the first few months of the new season.
The club sent surveys out to fans in the summer about some financial options and on the back of this a Debenture scheme was launched in early August which allowed fans to purchase a seat at Plough Lane and this would be your seat for 11 seasons. You would still need to purchase a season ticket or matchday ticket for each game, however that seat was reserved for you. You receive discounts on matchday tickets or a 5% discount each season on your season ticket.
Additional feedback from the survey suggested that fans would be willing to purchase a non-refundable season ticket to support the club during this difficult time. The club announced that we have had 2,500 purchase a mixture of debenture and season tickets which is excellent news considering we are yet to launch any of these tickets on general sale and still to launch normal season tickets when fans are allowed back in stadiums.
What would you say your ambitions are for the season ahead?
Obviously staying in League One is a priority for the club, however our ambition is just a strong off the football pitch. Moving back to Plough Lane allows us to further increase our presence in the local community and also to grow our fanbase. With the addition of significant hospitality capacity at Plough Lane, financially we should be able to increase our income and allow us to, in time, be more competitive in the league.
To add some context, we can fit a sellout crowd at our old ground at Kingsmeadow, into our new West Stand at Plough Lane. We couldn’t attract new fans, especially families as the only matchday tickets available were in the Rygas Stand which is terracing and if you were under 6ft, you would see an awful lot. Now we can offer tickets to local schools and allow to experience league football in Wimbledon.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?
We like to play with three centre halves, however we are not one dimensional with a strict 3-5-2 and can adapt with holding midfielders or be more adventurous with an attacking midfielder.
We don’t seem to be as direct as last season and have some technically gifted players going forward, which has been exciting so far this year.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
If I was, I wouldn’t tell an opposition fan!
I may be setting myself up for a fall by asking this, but what first comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?
Plymouth is a lovely place and I have been to Home Park many times over the years. We have had many recent encounters and our playoff final win over Plymouth in 2016 brings back great memories of over 50k fans at Wembley for a League two game.
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
I have always liked the look of Danny Mayor, especially in his Bury days.
What are your predictions for League One in general this year?
Very difficult to predict what is going to happen this season due to the pandemic. My biggest hope is that we lose no more league clubs due to finance and that we are all allowed to go back into stadiums when it is safe.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
It’s a tough game for us, however I feel you should always be confident of a win when you are at home and I fancy a win albeit a very close game.