A Massive Club
There's been a varied selection of colourful words and phrases floating around about Plymouth Argyle FC this summer, the most commonly used being 'it's a massive club', which every new signing seems to have stored in his memory banks!
It may just be 'the thing to say' when you sign for a new club but I'm not sure of the accuracy of it, when it's applied to Argyle, so let's examine the facts:
Argyle do have a long and proud football league history (almost brought to an end these last two seasons) so in that sense they are a pretty big deal and rank with the best.
They almost went out of business a couple of times but survived. The majority of their history was spent in the old second and third divisions, and their cup record was capped by getting as far as the FA Cup semis once, quarter finals once and two League Cup semis. Argyle have had a number of promotion seasons and finished as high as 4th in the second tier.
These were all good achievements and contribute to a reasonable record, but hardly gobsmackingly successful.
They don't really put us in the 'massive' category.
The club is currently in the fourth tier after several seasons of struggle.
Be honest, they are finding it hard to make much progress.
The bookies are rating Argyle's chances as average but, for me, it's too early to be making a call on this - we have signed some decent players so far this summer and Sheridan is still hard at work constructing his squad.
Things are looking up.
By the time we get to kick off we could have a side to compete at the higher end of this division.
Sheridan seems to be able to attract players and if he could add Banton and say one other quality player, I reckon we could be up there.
Also progress depends on how well he brings the highly promising youngsters through. Sheridan himself is the best manager we've had for quite a while. Does all this make us massive? Maybe light heavyweight in L2 terms but not massive. As far as crowds and transfer fees (in or out) go, PAFC's history is again modest and neither stack up when it comes to the claim that we are 'massive'.
We once had 44,000 at Home Park but that was in pre-history, when Tyrannosauros roamed the south coast of England. We once got to Wembley, once played and beat Pele's Santos, once hosted a European match: all good stuff but not in the 'massive' category.
So, in conclusion, Plymouth Argyle is a club with an interesting, proud, colourful, eventful, sometimes tragic history but the term 'massive' is short of accuracy. Or is it? Assessments of a football club can't just be quantified in terms of money, crowds or history and our views are guided as much by passion and love than anything else.
Argyle fans are incredibly loyal with a fantastic away support.
They travel amazing distances. They follow their team through adversity. They go to Hartlepool on a cold Tuesday evening. This is the one category where I can say without hesitation that PAFC is a massive club.
Why do I follow them? Why do I proudly call myself an Argyle fan? It's because of the love I have for them, as an institution, as a place, as a part of my life. So yes, it's a massive club to me and I'm proud to be part of it, and I'm sure you readers have the same passion for them.
With that in mind let's carry on letting new players describe us as 'massive' - at least it will make us feel good and, you know what, they're right - we are massive!
Enjoy the summer.