FOR Argyle supporters with sound memories and a keen sense of direction, there should be no problem; for those, however, for the not so savvy when it comes to location, then it will be possible this evening (Friday) that amongst the most vital aids and accessories in their car will be a sat-nav, writes Ted Sherrell.
This scribe, will at the technical and practical acumen of a gerbil, fortunately does not need one – for our car, without much instruction, due to habit, will head for Home Park.
It will be, though, the first time since the night of Hallowe’en, that splendid, stormy, rain-soaked occasion when the Pilgrims agreeably ran out 4-2 winners against Exeter City – some 32 days – that the Pilgrims last trod their exquisitely manicured home turf (its quality always a credit to the groundstaff) in search of points.
If maximum can be accrued it would keep them in an automatic promotion spot in League One. This Friday night – a strange time for a set of league fixtures – the Pilgrims will be confronting Port Vale (7.45pm), who were promoted via the League Two play-offs last May.
Now a popular sporting trivia question is simply ‘in which city do the Valiants perform’. The answer is Stoke-on-Trent as most football aficionados will probably know, but the wide populace possibly not.
The fact is that both the professional clubs of the Potteries were professional in the same year, 1885, just one before the Pilgrims were formed.
Stoke City, of course, have always been the better-known outfit, and the more successful in terms of status, having spent the bulk of their existence in either the old First Division or the Premier League.
Vale have a decent pedigree mind you, though they’ve spent most of their history competing in the lower divisions.
They share, though, a common factor with their neighbours; for city’s greatest ever player (indeed, in the humble opinion of this aged scribe, the world’s greatest ever footballer) Sir Stanley Matthews who was born in Stoke, who began and ended his astonishing 35-year career as a pro with City, after his retirement from the field of play, became manager at Vale Park.
As is so often the case with illustrious players, he was not a success in the role.
The North Staffordshire outfit will travel to Devon in a lower mid-table position – certainly a side who, with a good run, could thrust themselves up to a position from which a play-off spot would be attainable.
Assuredly, though, this is a game which Argyle need to win if they are to retain the lofty position in which they find themselves at present.
After a November in which they had to fulfil only a very sparse number of league fixtures, upcoming December will be for them a far busier time.
For sure manager Steven Schumacher who has, numbers wise, a small squad of pros available for selection at the best of times, has been in recent weeks down to the bare bones with at least half a dozen players out of action at the same time – all good established professionals; some could be out for weeks (even months) to come.
For certain the Pilgrims will need to be active in the transfer market when the ‘window’ reopens on New Year’s Day for the duration of the month of January.
Having got themselves – to the great credit of all at Home Park – in a position where promotion at campaign’s end has to be a possibility (at least), it would be so desperately disappointing if pressure on the other contenders for elevation to the Championship cannot be maintained.
The Ocean City outfit are not amongst the richest in League One, but with ‘gates’ at Home Park being higher than they have been for more than a decade, one feels that sufficient finance should be available for the club to recruit players of sufficient quality to aid their cause.
In the meantime, however, the last month of the year, with five tough league games coming up, needs to be negotiated with some success.
Victory, over the team from the Potteries later would be a first class way to start.