Writer: Peverell Green
Date:Monday February 18 2013
Reg Jenkins is the next former Argyle player under the spotlight for Peverell Green's Where Are They Now series.
REG JENKINS - Born 7th October 1938 Millbrook, Cornwall.
Reg may seem a strange choice to be featured here; he only made sixteen appearances for Argyle scoring three goals.
But it was reading of his sudden death a few weeks ago on 29th January that led me to read a bit more into his playing career and find out why in 2005 he achieved the ultimate accolade for any football player when Rochdale fans voted him the club`s best ever player.
A local lad, Reg was a prolific goalscorer at his primary school in Millbrook but didn't play a lot of football after that until he was sixteen and was asked to play for Millbrook as they were short of players.
After proving to be a success for his local team he moved on to Truro where he came to the attention of Argyle for his goalscoring exploits, signing for the club as a semi-professional in 1957.
In his first season he made 26 appearances for the reserve team, playing in the Football Combination league where he scored 13 goals. With the likes of Wilf Carter, Neil Langman, Jimmy Gauld and George Baker playing for the first team it was no surprise the Cornish youngster was unable to get a first team start.
His first team debut came on 28th February 1959 in a 4-3 Argyle win at Swindon with a Jimmy Gauld hat trick and Peter Anderson scoring for the Greens.
Reg scored his first goal for the club in a 2-0 home win over Chesterfield with the future World Cup winner Gordon Banks in goal, Wilf Carter scored the other for Argyle.
Unfortunately for Reg even though Argyle finished the season as champions he hadn't played the required number of games to receive a medal.
The following season saw Argyle playing in Division 2 and Reg managed to get a few more games, playing twelve times for the first team and scoring two goals, the first was the only Argyle goal in a 4-1 defeat at Anfield in September and the second, what turned out to be his final goal for the club came in early December in a 5-3 thumping of Bristol Rovers at Home Park with Wilf Carter (2), Peter Anderson and Johnny Williams getting the others.
Reg played his last game for Argyle on Boxing Day in a 4-1 defeat at Ashton Gate against Bristol City, they also beat Argyle two days later at Home Park 2-1, in both matches the Argyle goal was scored by Ronnie Waldock.
Despite doing the double over us City finished bottom of the league and were relegated.
With first team football hard to come by Reg made the decision to leave the club making the short journey up the A38 to Exeter, spending a season with the Grecians where he made twenty league appearances and scored six goals.
His next move came at the start of the 1961-62 season when the Torquay United manager, Eric Webber signed him for the club, making him part of a select group as one of only fourteen players to date who have represented all three Devon league clubs.
The day after he agreed to sign for the Gulls the Bristol Rovers manager, Bert Tann turned up at Home Park looking to sign Reg, a man of his word he turned down the offer of playing in Division 2, which at the time was the hardest thing he had to do in football.
His time at Plainmoor saw him regularly playing in the first team and between 1961 and 1964 he played a total of 95 times scoring 25 goals.
While at Torquay he met his wife to be, Norma. They were married in Saltash registry office on a Saturday morning and immediately after the service he drove to Torquay to play in a game the same afternoon. The newlyweds stayed in a hotel in Torquay that night but left in the morning as they didn't have enough money to pay for breakfast.
How times have changed for footballers now, although probably not too much in the lower leagues.
His goalscoring alerted Rochdale and a bid of £3,000 from Dale manager, the former Torquay winger Tony Collins, was enough for Torquay to let him go.
Officially Reg was entitled to 10% of the fee but Rochdale were so keen to sign him they added an additional £300 as an incentive for him to sign for them, that was soon spent by Norma on a new washing machine.
Neither Reg or Norma knew where Rochdale was and they had to get out a map and trace a finger along the newly built M6.
They both decided it was an adventure they could not refuse. The journey from Torquay to Rochdale took thirteen hours in the couples Morris Tourer, a car they later sold to the Observer sports editor Geoff Whitworth.
The £3,000 was money well spent; Reg scored two in his first game at Spotland and added another 23 goals in his first season.
He continued to score regularly for his team and the 1968-69 season saw Rochdale promoted for the first time in their history, promotion was secured in a 3-0 win against Southend on the final day of the season with Reg scoring two of the goals, one from the penalty spot.
The club would start the next season in Division 3 (League 1). It was an amazing feat for the club as they were just outside a relegation spot at Christmas, with Reg not featuring much in the first team as he was out of favour with manager Bob Stokoe, when Len Richley took over as manager Reg came back into the team and he started to score goals again, a nineteen game unbeaten run saw the team surge up the table to finish third.
Reg scored thirteen goals in the promotion season and did even better the next when he scored twenty.
After eight years at the club a succession of injuries, from which he was at times asked to play when not fully recovered meant at 36 his playing career wouldn't last much longer.
1972-73 was his last season at the club and although he only managed to play in eighteen games he still got his name on the scoresheet eleven times.
In his time at Rochdale he scored a total of 141 goals, a record that still stands at the Lancashire club so it's really no wonder readers of the Rochdale Observer voted him the clubs best player.
In 1973 the Oldham manager Jimmy Frizzell offered Reg the chance of being his assistant but he had already put down a £25 deposit to secure a plot of land in Millbrook and had asked his best friend's father to start building a house on it.
He had also been offered a lorry driving job which paid the same as the Oldham job.
He briefly played for Falmouth after returning to Cornwall, before helping to run Millbrook for the next 21 years.
Reg and Norma enjoyed taking winter breaks in the sun and with him recovering from a knee operation were enjoying their time in Tenerife when he died suddenly in his sleep aged 74.
Such was the esteem the Reg was held in Rochdale the club observed a minutes silence before the start of their next home game against Chesterfield.
Date:Monday February 18 2013
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