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There is a long connection between the Plymouth Argyle Football Club and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Our latest blog by Darrin Pierce, an Internship student from Stirling University, explores the history.

Current Team Logo [1]

 Where did it all start?

It all started in 1886 but before it was a football only organisation they were originally called Argyle Athletic since it wasn’t just football but many different sports throughout the complex. However in 1903 the club wanted to focus more on football and formed the Plymouth Argyle FC. There was a nickname for the club called ‘The Pilgrims’ which was taken from the Pilgrim Feathers that were left behind for America from Plymouth in 1620. This nickname is almost never used since it doesn’t have anything to do with being and Argyle. [2]

1903-04 Team Photo [3]

Team Colours

The team colors for the Argyle FC are very different from other teams in England as the main colour is green. Green is known as being an unlucky color but Plymouth stuck with it and when joining the Southern League they added a touch of black. “The first kits were green and black quarters because it was as close as they could get to the green and black (diamond) tartan the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders wore,” says Chris, who writes the popular ‘Back In The Day’ feature in The Herald.[4] Up to this day supporters refer to themselves as the Green Army. It wasn’t until 2003 when Yeovil Town were promoted into the Football League who also had a main colour of green.

Where Does ‘Argyle’ Come From?

There are many different opinions based on who you ask around Plymouth and many people don’t know where the name comes from. The spelling may be different but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Some fans think that it was named after Argyle Street since it’s where the committee of the club would meet. Another is the Argyle Hotel since it’s placed directly where the road used to be and it points straight towards Home Park. The last and most convincing one is from Sam Rendell, who has been the president of the club for a number of years. He stated that the Argyle name comes from the original founders of the Argyle Athletic since they admired the very good footballing skills by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders that were stationed in the Plymouth area at the time. Even more evidence to back this claim is there was a letter written from a founder of the team, Howard Grose. It reads:

I recollect holding forth on what our club should aim at achieving in the football world viz: to emulate the style of play adopted by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who I believe in the previous year won the Army Cup. I then explained that anyone who had watched them play would have been struck with the excellent team work shown, the fast low passing from backs to forwards, wings to centre followed by short swift shooting at the opponents’ goal and we should endeavour to play on the same lines. Then someone said ‘Why not Plymouth Argyll? That’s the name that could be applied locally.’ When put to a vote it was adopted almost unanimously. [5]

Football History

Early on the Argyles were struggling to draw big crowds throughout the first professional season in 1903 even if the year in many eyes was fairly successful. Part of this was due to the fact that there were two rugby teams in Plymouth as well. It took many years but finally In 1913 they one upped themselves and won the competition by two points overall from Swindon and West Ham. The twenties were a fairly good time for the Argyle as the league was expanding in 1920 and the Argyle was the best choice to join Division Three. It was later named Division Three South. Under coach Robert Jack the Argyle were powering their way through having themselves in second place finishes for six years in a row (1921-1927). Despite the great finishes consistently only the winners of the division were promoted. 1930 was the first season the Argyle finished first in Division Three South and were seven points up on second place and secured a promotion. Once promoted to Division Two they struggled but ended up finishing fourth in 1932. It was clear that the strength on Division Two was overpowering and the Argyle couldn’t compete with that kind of competition. The club was known as the struggling team in the division then in 1950 the club was moved back down to Division Three and spent ten years up and down between both divisions. The division was re-organized into two brand new national divisions. Division Three and Division Four. The year 1958 they finished well enough to be the founder of the new Division Three. 1968 was the year a pattern would begin for years. There was a short period where they were in Division Two but it took a very long time to get out of Division Three and it was a vicious cycle. 1973-74 Argyles managed to get to the semi finals of the League Cup but came up short losing to Manchester City 3-1. The year 1986 the Argyles avoided yet another fall to the dreaded Division Three it was only avoided since the Premiership Swindle in 1992 where all of the big teams formed to make the Premiership League and in turn the Football League was renamed. But in 1995 the club was once again back in Division Three and now they were at the bottom of the entire league. But the players put their heads down and played very great football and shot straight up to the top with a playoff final victory at Wembley Stadium that was half filled with green. That success lasted only Two years as the club was one again in the Third Division. Paul Sturrock helped the Argyles win the first championship in the 21st century and he also set the foundation for the second championship in two years since they won Division Two in 2003-04 season. But Sturrock left for Southampton in 2004. [6]

After the clubs success over the years the club was never really cut out to play in the top Premiership. They had a few bright spots but could never overcome that hill they worked so hard to climb. The club may never get to the Premiership League but from where they started it’s very unique and not many other clubs have that same story to tell. It’s great to think of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders played a role on influencing the club on the name and even the colours even if they were just stationed there.

Plymouth Argyll Football Club Home Park [7]

References

[1] N. (2012, October 20). Plymouth Argyle v Rochdale, follow it live. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/plymouth-argyle-v-rochdale-follow-live/story-17134541-detail/story.html

[2] H2G2, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition. (2003, February 17). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://h2g2.com/edited_entry/A954209

[3] Plymouth Argyle 1903-04 Team Photo, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Plymouth_Argyle_1903-04_Team_Photo.jpg

[4] Herald, P. (2014, February 21). From Argylls to Argyle. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/argylls-argyle/story-20677520-detail/story.html

[5] H2G2 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition. (2003, February 17). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://h2g2.com/edited_entry/A954209

[6] H2G2 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition. (2003, February 17). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://h2g2.com/edited_entry/A954209

[7] Herald, P. (2012, April 18). Plans revealed for 1,500-seat ice arena next to Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park stadium. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/plans-revealed-1-500-seat-ice-arena-plymouth/story-15848622-detail/story.html

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