Knowing your audience. It’s a key skill when writing about just about anything, I’m told. I completely agree – it’s why I know when you click through to Argyle Life you’re hoping to see a deeply considered analytical piece about all things Argyle and not, as I seem to be about to produce, a glorified diary entry. And I respect that, but hear me out, there’s a point in here somewhere, and I’m just going to have to do a bit of digging.
The game on Saturday was certainly not a normal one, for anybody watching. Matched in entertainment perhaps only by the encounter with AFC Wimbledon just over a month ago, Argyle defeated Westcountry rivals Bristol Rovers 3-2, coming from behind twice and scoring a late penalty to win the game after missing one earlier. Blissful, and when you add in that Argyle’s Irish superstar Graham Carey scored that winning spot kick on St Patrick’s Day, party central for many fans regardless of nationality, it gets even better. I also had the added extra that Saturday was my 21st birthday, all the more reason to lose myself in the glory and celebrations.
Indeed, it was St Patrick’s Day, a Saturday, my 21st and Argyle were at home in front of a near-capacity crowd. I’ve got to be honest, this is probably the game I’d been looking forward to the most since the fixtures were released way back in June.
Far from it being a time of certain joy regardless, however, I was well aware that my mood for the entire day would be set by 11 other men running around a field wearing green. It’s safe to say the mood was not improved when Chris Lines swept a free kick past the uncharacteristically shaky Remi Matthews and into the net. Suddenly it seemed the visitors were dominating and the entire day was ruined, so it was a very welcome surprise when Jamie Ness popped up to glance Carey’s cross in the far corner. Unfortunately, at this point, I found that one of my friends had brought one of his to the game. Not a problem in itself, of course, but it became one when I began to suspect he may have a soft spot for the opposition. Great. When Ellis Harrison gave Rovers the lead again two minutes later, he wasn’t exactly the person I wanted to be around.
Anyway, that was half time, and even that wasn’t short of personal drama as the Home Park announcer kindly read my name out on the birthdays list. Or at least that apparently happened – the toilet queue was bolstered by the 13,000-plus crowd, and so I missed my 15 seconds of fame on this occasion. No matter, because the second half was just around the corner. I missed the start of it as I tried to save a friend’s bet in the concourse, and suddenly cheers went up from the Devonport End. Had we missed a goal? No, just the award of a penalty. This led to a bit of awkward standing around near the block three entrance, and walking off in a huff as Sam Slocombe was equal to Ruben Lameiras’ penalty. Now, where were we? What, cheers again? This time it was a goal, and I just looked up at the concourse TV in time to see Tom Lockyer head the ball past his own goalkeeper (we’re not seriously giving that goal to Ness, are we?). 2-2; crazy.
Compared to the standard of the day, the rest of the second half felt entirely normal, although a fascinating game was unfolding in front of us, settled with five minutes to play. More cheers emanated from all around Home Park as Argyle were awarded their second penalty, but niggling doubts must have been in the minds of every Argyle fan after the miss at the start of the half. Emphatically, Carey converted – was there ever any doubt? And that was that as Argyle emerged 3-2 winners. What a day.
But that’s enough of the self-indulgence. Some may have found that story interesting, whilst some may have been bored to tears, but the point is these sorts of days keep us going back. In a week where many may have questioned their choices after renewing their season tickets for eye-watering amounts of money, we were given a reminder of exactly why we do it. The vast majority will, at some point, have experienced incredible days at the football for many reasons above simply the action itself. There is nothing quite like this sport in providing the irresistible mania to encourage people to return week in week out.
I must however leave the final word of this piece to the team itself, because Argyle have been doing their bit to give everyone great days of their own since the turn of the year. At least 2,500 of us will head to Charlton this weekend, and whilst the day itself may not match last Saturday on a personal level – you only turn 21 once, after all – another good performance from the Greens could be the catalyst for many more good days ahead. For everyone.