Saturday 9th July 2016
Pre Season Friendly
ST BLAZEY 0 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 9
Attendance: 800 Head count, no stats currently available
Programme: £1 Decent effort, not just launderette adverts
Grub Stuff: Nil, massive queue of cheesy chip monsters
Weather: Dull and dreary, intermittent fine drizzle
Parking: Local car park 500 yards from the ground
This was about a 20 mile trip for me. The Match Shed took its place coasting along the A390 amidst the long haul tourist caravanettes and bulky local tractors, the slate grey sky worsened to mist on the higher stretches, the fine drizzle dictated a dreary damp setting that had little place in summertime July.
Football was here again, hip hip hooray! I've never been one for televised women's tennis and the endless rantings about glorified pitch and putt. It felt good to be going to a game again.
St Blazey appeared out of the gloom like a film set ghost town with not a local in sight. Then within ear shot of the ground a surprise troupe of green and white fanatics appeared like lost souls caught fatefully in time. They ambled in polite procession towards the clubhouse like casual casualties cursed in the memory of that sordid Argyle non performance at Wembley. Their loyalty to the cause spurring them on to seek a cure for their torment, surely the serenity of Blaise Park would bring a welcoming end to this summer long entrapment. Derek Adams certainly hoped it would? He'd brought in almost a complete new team of summer signings. Gone was the lack lustre culture of little competition for places, this new bunch would be chomping at the bit to make a mark, from now on every player would have to fight hard for their place. All good stuff but could the proposed formula gel, today was purely a training exercise, a ten quid leg stretcher, the real deal starts with the Luton Town gang show in early August.
With the Match Shed safely parked outside an unmanned police hut I made my way to the ground. It was early, there was well over an hour to kick off. The clubhouse adjacent to the turnstile was doing a roaring trade with locals and Argyle fans soaking up the ale. Gone was the look of gloom on those twin-towered faces, they were now lit up like slot machines as the continuing pints brought fresh optimism and cheer.
Ten quid could be argued to be a tad steep for a first outing friendly in the West Country but Plymouth are like Real Madrid down these parts of Cornwall so who could blame St Blazey for generating some welcoming income.
I was 50/50 about engaging in tea hut grub, I'd had a big dinner and could take it or leave it. The fact that the tea hut had a long snaking queue of greedy punters put paid to my temptations. Almost everyone seemed to be ordering cheesy chips smothered in economy ketchup? Perhaps its a sign of the times? I'd be into the more heavy duty goods such as pasties, pies and burgers given the chance.
Blaise Park is a really nice little non league ground. Alongside the decent sized clubhouse there is a fully seated main stand, some covered viewing behind one of the goals and a well kept grass bank down the far side of the pitch, this offers some good views of the action. Nice to see the bank being put to practical use as too many fickle non league clubs nationwide have gone health and safety bonkers with ridiculous banking restrictions when there is minimal risk to the spectator. St Blazey also provided a well presented playing surface, it appeared more than adequate for the proceedings in my opinion.
By kick off there was a fair old crowd in attendance, the loyal Green Army were keen to get a look at the new signings and it was positive to note that Argyle had sent a strong first team squad along. The St Blazey side who performed so well in turning last seasons form around would be up against it but who could turn down the chance of playing against such salubrious opposition. Perhaps it was the fact that St Blazey play in similar colours to Argyle, green shirts, black shorts etc, that some young lads near me actually thought Blazey were Argyle in the opening minutes such was the degree of new faces for Plymouth. Must say that new Argyle away kit is absolutely stunning and a welcome throw back to the seventies kits I had in my subbuteo collection (even though I lived 300 miles away then).
The game itself has already been excellently reported on various Argyle outlets so I'll cut to the chase. Plymouth were too quick and too organised for the home side. I'm taking into consideration that Plymouth are tipped for promotion this season and St Blazey are Step 6 in the non league pyramid but some of the Argyle approach play was phenomenal. It was 0-5 at half time and Jake Jervis already had a hat trick. The passing and movement looked a whole lot better than some of the stuff Argyle stuttered with during the latter part of last season.
As one could expect, the second half witnessed quite a few substitutions but eventually the visitors regained a head of steam to easily coast through to a 0-9 victory. I must add praise to the way St Blazey never gave up in this game and had their spells of good quality passing and creativity themselves, not forgetting spirited defending when the chips were down. They have some good players and I shall doubtless catch up with them again over the course of the coming season. A good friendly club with impressive non league facilities, many a more well financed club would have been put to the sword by this resurgent Plymouth squad, the fact the home side held together as a unit and played decent football bolds well for their upcoming campaign, I wish them well.
I enjoyed getting my football fix back again.