My quest to visit all 92 league grounds continued yesterday evening with a visit to the home of Plymouth Argyle – Home Park.
As it was half term week, only Conkers and myself (from the usual Dieters Bar Jacks) made the 3 hour journey down to the south west of England on what turned out to be a cold, damp and in some ways disappointing day/night out.
Leaving God’s country (well a part of it) at 13:30 we made short work of the M4/M49 and were on the M5 before we knew it – as my followers on twitter were fully aware!
Our first stop – enforced toilet break – was Sedgemoor Services (South), which brought back fond memories of another Dieters Bar Jacks trip to Yeovil a few seasons back.
After this brief stop we were once again on our way and reached our pre-match meal destination – The Dartmoor Lodge – by around 16:00. Being less than 30 minutes away from Home Park we figured it was an ideal place to stock up our food and beverage reserves without the hustle and bustle.
Our refreshments arrived promptly and were warmly received – especially mine (as pictured below)!
Poor old Conkers had to make do with a pint of local ale (the name of which escapes me) and a coke (as in Cola).
We were soon tucking into a steak with ale pie and curry respectively. Conkers has a tendancy on this trips to ALWAYS sample the curry – much to the annoyance of the air pollution fraternity amongst us. It tasted good – the food that is – but for the price I paid I felt the portions were on the small side (unfortunately). Being a big old unit, I have a big old appetite!
My dessert, a pineapple and lemon gateau (above) was refreshingly sharp (as you’d imagine). Conkers went for the Lemon Meringue Pie – which he sent a picture of to @DomJolly in response to an earlier tweet about pancake day!
You can imagine how chuffed Conkers was to receive a reply back from the man himself….. “@Rhodri007 lol”. Fancy making a well known comedian laugh at one of your gags!
It was now nearing 17:30 so we thought it best to continue with the last leg of our journey and we duly arrived at Home Park at around 18:00 and utilised the large (and free) car park right by the ground. It’s always refreshing to see other Jacks milling around before an away game and this one was no exception.
After spending the next 30 minutes or so milling around the outside of the ground in the drizzly rain, we finally made it into the ground at 18:30 when the gates were opened. I kid you not, we were the FIRST fans into the ground!! A sad but true claim to fame?
Home Park has obviously been modernised over recent years and in some ways it was refreshing to see the old style wooden double deckered grandstand still remaining – it reminded me of the old days down the Vetch Field. However, it did make the ground look somewhat unfinished and awkward.
As for the game, the annoucement of 5 changes in the Swans line-up (from Saturday’s Newcastle game) had most of the 700 odd Jacks present wondering what sort of formation we’d see. As the teams lined up for kick-off we were amazed to see that Paulo Sousa had gone for 4-4-2 instead of our usual 4-5-1.
It mattered little though as the Swans pretty much dominated the game from the start, despite what can only be described as a cow field of a pitch (for both teams).
The first half passed without much incident and little threat on our goal in particular – which was highlighted by the rather muted support from the locals. Not even a noisy away end seemed to wake them from their slumber.
The 2nd half duly arrived and before most people’s cornish pasties (including mine) had had time to settle, Darren Pratley put the Swans 1 up – cue wild celebrations from the Jack Army present and on the internet LOL.
However, with 3 points looking to be in the bag things went pete tong with only minutes remaining when Plymouth were deservedly awarded a penalty due to an outrageous ‘hand-of-God ‘ish moment from Andrea Orlandi.
I was fortunate enough to catch the penalty on video….Dorus DeVries saved the first but amongst the wild celebrations the referree orders the spot kick to be re-taken due to DeVries moving off his line.
Ok, you’ve seen them both for yourself. Yes he moved – but not a great deal – but significantly he did EXACTLY the same for both penalties. Angry and frustrated were two clean words I’d use to describe how I felt at that moment in time.
So the game controversially ended 1 a-peice and to say we were angry was an understatement. We felt robbed and the video’s merely seemed to compound our misery even further.
Our night then got even worse when upon returning to the car (in the main car park) we found a note on the windscreen….from a gentleman called Tony Kelly whom had ‘bumped’ our car whilst leaving the car park! Conkers was not impressed with the damage to his rear end (of the car that is) as you can imagine – but in fairness at least the guy had the decency to leave his contact details. Who said society had gone to the dogs?
A few wrong turns, dense fog, heavy rain and 180 odd miles later and I was home thankfully. I think I finally hit the sack at around 01:45 this morning – feeling tired and p*ssed off to say the least but not as much as Conkers I’m sure.
Until next time….