After back to back relegation’s amid a lengthy administration, Plymouth Argyle found themselves starting this season in League Two and before ten games had even been played, we had been written off by most and looked doomed to non-league football for the first time in our history.
We took one point from our first nine games this season. One solitary point from a possible 27. We were also still in administration and liquidation was a very real possibility.
Fast forward to the 21st April 2012 at approximately 4:53PM and the biggest roar heard at Home Park in years went up as the final whistle was blown. A point taken from a 1-1 draw with Oxford United combined with results elsewhere, meant that the Pilgrims, once relegation certainties, secured their football league status with two games to go. Players and fans united as one, as the squad that had kept us up did a lap of honour around the pitch. It was at this exact moment that you could literally feel the years of pain peeling away from the ground. All the fighting we did to save the club, all they money was donated, all the staff and players that went months without pay would agree; it was worth it for that moment.
The survival party got off to the perfect start for the Greens really. In only the second minute Luke Young won a free kick about five yards outside the Oxford penalty area. Robbie Williams, who has been unlucky with his free kicks lately, stepped up and finally got the rub of the green. His strike was on target anyway, but a cruel deflection off of the Oxford wall sent the ball spiralling towards goal leaving U’s keeper Wayne Brown totally wrong footed.
The Pilgrims dominated proceedings for most of the first half, with the visitors having ‘keeper Brown to thank for keeping in the game with a couple of fine saves. His resistance eventually paid of, as just past the half hour mark Asa Hall unleashed a thunderbolt from 35 yards to level the tie. It was a strike of the highest quality and truthfully the only time Oxford threatened the Argyle goal.
The second half was a rather strange affair. With neither side looking likely to grab a second, attention turned to scores elsewhere; a draw would see us a safe if both Macclesfield and Hereford failed to win, and with 25 minutes to go the news that Macclesfield and fallen behind at Bradford was greeted with great cheers. Still, a Hereford winner would see our football league status still unsecure heading into the final games of the season.
As the clock wore down the game fizzled out a bit. Oxford, for all their attacking prowess, could not find another way past the Argyle defence who seemed happy to sit back and soak up the pressure. With every minute that passed, the noise levels increased as the game at Edgar Street remained goalless.
At Home Park the final whistle blew, greeted with a roar the shook the rooftops. Just seconds later the results of Macclesfield and Hereford came over the tannoy, we were safe. The players walked a lap of honour to raptuous applause, and the looks on their faces echoed those in the stands – elated.
So we head into the final two games of the season with our football league status firmly intact. We are a normal football club again, and in pre season this year we can look forward to the things that most clubs take for granted. Last year we did not release season tickets until a few weeks before the season kicked off, and the shirts that players wore on the first day of the season were only hand printed the day before the game.
That terrible situation that we were in is now all in the past now, and we can look forward to the future.
I cannot wait for next season. I cannot wait to look at the table and not worry about relegation. I cannot wait to see us compete properly in the FA Cup, the League Cup and even the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – there were plenty of times when it looked like we would not be gracing those competitions next season. I would welcome a season of mid table mediocrity with open arms. It has been one hell of a roller coaster ride, but we have made it.
We’re Plymouth Argyle, we’re back from the dead.
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