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Reid first visited Home Park at a notable time for Greens

By This is Devon  |  Posted: March 12, 2011

Reid first visited Home Park    at a notable time for Greens
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IT IS fair to say that in these troubled times for Plymouth Argyle, manager Peter Reid has already won a special place in the hearts of the club's supporters.

Boasting an impressive playing career, that included domestic and European honours and World Cup appearances for England, his managerial talents were formerly deployed at the top end of the Premier League.

The Merseysider first crossed paths with Argyle early in his playing days. Having signed professional terms with Bolton Wanderers in 1974, it was with the Lancashire side that he first played against the Pilgrims.

The young Reid was a member of the Bolton team that travelled to Home Park in October 1975. Argyle had won three of their opening nine games and were just below halfway in the Second Division table.

In contrast, Wanderers had played one game more but had only tasted defeat twice, lying fourth in the table and just three points behind early leaders Sunderland.

It was certainly an interesting week at Argyle, with many newsworthy stories emanating from Home Park.

It was announced that the new training ground adjacent to the stadium would be named Harper's Park. It was the board of directors' way of paying tribute to 43 years of loyal service to the club from Bill Harper.

The 79-year-old former Scotland international goalkeeper had played for Hibernian and Arsenal before arriving in Plymouth, where he made 78 league appearances.

Harper remained at the club after the end of his playing days and took on a whole host of duties including that of trainer, groundsman and, in his latter days, head laundryman.

The trees that today can be seen adjacent to the touchline of the pitch on the higher level of Harper's Park were nothing more than saplings when the first game took place on the new pitch.

An impressive crowd in excess of 400 watched Argyle's South Western League side beat Torpoint Athletic 3-2.

Mike Trusson, Tony Levy and Kevin Rooke scored the Argyle goals and, for the record, the 'third' team played in the retro kit of the 1960s with the locally famous green and black band running across the white shirts.

Money was in short supply at the club, and the opening of the new training pitches saw the football club make somewhat unusual appeal.

A tractor, or even a Land Rover, was urgently needed to pull a gang-mower from Home Park in order to keep the grass cut to a manageable level. The club hoped a well-wisher would donate, or sell cheaply, so that the time spent on the work could be drastically reduced.

It was calculated that a total of eight hours was spent keeping the grass cut, but that could be reduced to two hours if the necessary machinery could be obtained.

It was a big week for Argyle right-back John Hore, in his 11th season as a professional.

Clifford Hartley, the chairman of the John Hore testimonial committee, presented the popular player with the cheque from the proceeds of the fund.

The highlight of his testimonial year, a fixture against Liverpool, helped make it the most rewarding such year for anyone connected with Argyle.

Supporters attending the match against Bolton were asked to take part in a fans' survey.

The Supporters' Association's main aim of the questionnaire was to get to know each fan better.

Questions concerning distance travelled to the game, how much in total has been spent on the match day experience and questions concerning The Far Post Club and awareness of various fundraising activities went a long way in determining how well the messages of previous publicity of commercial ventures had been received.

Still becoming accustomed to life in Division Two after the previous season's promotion, a healthy crowd of more than 12,000 arrived at Home Park to watch Argyle, managed by Tony Waiters, field an unchanged line-up from the side that secured a 2-1 win over Carlisle United.

It was an action-packed game in which Reid certainly had his say.

Reid was not the only future manager to figure that day in the Bolton team. Also turning out for the Trotters was a defensive bruiser by the name of Sam Allardyce.

Argyle took the lead after half an hour when Paul Mariner was fouled in the Bolton penalty area by central defender Paul Jones.

Brian Johnson stepped up in his new role as penalty taker and slotted the ball past visiting goalkeeper Barry Siddall.

But Wanderers, unbeaten in their previous nine matches, waited until the closing moments of the game to stage their comeback in a frenetic finish which saw four goals scored in nine minutes.

Neil Whatmore struck a double blow when he levelled proceedings after 81 minutes. Then, within 60 seconds of the restart, the inside-forward again beat Argyle goalkeeper Milija Aleksic to put the visitors 2-1 up.

As the game entered stoppage time, Reid made his mark and seemingly made the points safe for manager Ian Greaves' team which would inflict a first home defeat for the Pilgrims since March.

But there was added drama when Johnson scored a second just before the final whistle.

The afternoon proved to be even more painful for Argyle defender Mick Horswill who suffered a broken nose in a bruising encounter.

Argyle: Milija Aleksic, John Hore, Phil Burrows, Mick Horswill (Ian Pearson), Mike Green, John Delve, Colin Randell, Brian Johnson, Paul Mariner, Bill Rafferty, Hugh McAuley

Wanderers: Barry Siddall, Peter Nicholson, Tony Dunne, Roy Greaves, Paul Jones, Sam Allardyce, John Byrom, Garry Jones (Mike Walsh), Neil Whatmore, Peter Reid, Peter Thompson

THE reverse fixture was played at Bolton's Burnden Park the following March, with Wanderers seemingly on course for promotion.

Sitting handily in second place, it appeared to be a home banker as Argyle had slipped to sixth from bottom.

There was a cause for celebration in the Bolton camp as Paul Jones had been called up to the England under-23 squad for the game against Hungary in Budapest four days after the meeting with the Greens.

Only their home record had kept Argyle out of the relegation zone as they were still in search of their first away win of the season.

Indeed, only five points had been gleaned on their travels with draws at Luton, Chelsea, Bristol Rovers, Bristol City and Oxford United.

Jim Furnell was making his fifth successive appearance in the Argyle goal having displaced Aleksic.

The only other change in the side saw Ian Pearson playing up front in place of the injured Mariner.

As expected, Wanderers made all the running in the game, but Waiters was delighted with his defence, who managed to hold firm to hold out for a draw.

The closest Bolton came to a goal was when Garry Jones slotted the ball past Furnell in the first half, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

The biggest cheer from the home crowd of more than 21,000 came when substitute, and former Scotland international, Willie Morgan was called off the substitute's bench to make his debut.

After the match, Waiters heaped praise on central defender Mike Green.

"I would say that was the best performance that he has put in for us since being part of our team," said the Argyle boss.

After being virtual certainties for promotion, that result saw the start of a poor run of form for Bolton.

With three gaining promotion to the First Division, Sunderland, Bristol City and West Bromwich Albion were elevated to the top flight with Wanderers finishing in fourth, one point behind Albion.

As for Argyle, the away win they craved failed to materialise.

But further home wins against Oldham Athletic and Southampton saw them finish five points above the relegation zone and secure another season in Division Two – and two more matches against Peter Reid.

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  • Profile image for This is Devon
    Timothy Bucktoo, Bristol  |  March 12 2011, 12:04PM

    I was there...

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