Plymouth Argyle | The Pilgrims

Plymouth Argyle | The Pilgrims

The city is home to Plymouth Argyle football club – ‘The Pilgrims’. Like their forefathers, they are a rebellious and highly determined team!

A few of their star players include Jack Leslie in 1921, playing 400 games and scoring more than 130 goals. He is often named as Argyle’s greatest centre-half.

Paul Mariner joined the Pilgrims at the age of 19 and quickly became a South-West legend, sought by Ipswich manager Bobby Robson, and went on to play at Arsenal.

Visit their ground or if you’re lucky catch a home match. Get to the Home Ground by taxi from the train station (1.5 miles), or – by car – take the A386 and follow the signposts. There is ample free parking. Match details and tickets from www.pafc.co.uk.

Since their very first professional match in 1903, the Plymouth Argyle Club has captured the heart of the city. The community has followed their ups and downs, from a triumphant victory against Brazil in 1975 to Peter Shilton’s dramatic resignation in 1995. The Pilgrims, as they’re affectionately known, can certainly lay claim to part of Plymouth’s heritage. 

An introduction to Plymouth Argyle.

Since their very first professional match in 1903, the Plymouth Argyle Club has captured the heart of the city. The community has followed their ups and downs, from a triumphant victory against Brazil in 1975 to Peter Shilton's dramatic resignation in 1995. The Pilgrims, as they're affectionately known, can certainly lay claim to part of Plymouth 's heritage.

Why Pilgrims?

Rebellious, persecuted, and highly determined - the Pilgrims are a perfect namesake for Plymouth's home team.

The Pilgrims' nickname comes from a group of religious devotees who broke off from the Church of England in the 17 th century.

Setting up their own congregation, the 'Scrooby group', as they were first known, lived peacefully in England for many years. But religious persecution led the group to consider a move, and they decided to emigrate to America in 1617.

In 1620 the Mayflower carried the Pilgrims from Plymouth to America , where they founded 'Plymouth Harbor' in Cape Cod Bay. The rest is history.

The History of Plymouth Argyle.

Founded by two men in a pub (like many of the best ideas), Plymouth Argyle was named after the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, an Army team formerly based in Plymouth . (Their tartan strip was the inspiration for the Argyle green-and-black kit.)

Founders Grose and Pettybridge recruited players from local public schools, and their first match took place on October 16th, 1886 - against Caxton, a Cornish team. They lost.

The next 8 years were dismal for the team, which dwindled through the 1890's until Clarence Spooner, a local businessman, saw fit to invest. The Home Ground was purchased in 1901 and Spooner recruited a Royal Artillery Lieutenant, Frederick Windrum, to lead the Argyle's bid for professional registration.

Windrum had been instrumental in registering Portsmouth as a professional team - and was experienced enough to see real potential in the Argyle team. He found them a professional coach and brought teams including Arsenal and Stoke to the Home Ground. Finally, on the 30 th May 1903 , the Argyle team obtained professional status.

Their first professional game was a marvellous victory: they beat West Ham 1-0. "The Argyle team has been somewhat criticised by persons in the Three Towns," remarked a journalist in the Western Morning News the following day, "and frequently styled a team of old crocks, but this cannot be said again after the brilliant display put on by the Green and Blacks yesterday."

The Argyle team enjoyed several years of success, winning the Southern League in 1912 and coming runner-up twice more: and in 1920 Plymouth Argyle joined the Football League (Division Three).

It wasn't until 1929 that Argyle managed to climb to Division Two, where they stayed for 20 years.

During this time, World War II brought damage to the Home Ground and disrupted play. The team was relegated in 1949, but by 1954 they were back in Division Two and the Home Ground was being treated to a makeover. Floodlights were installed and Plymouth Argyle enjoyed the biggest ever crowds.

The sixties was a disappointing decade for the team, who hung around in Division Three despite two great managers (Allison and Bingham) and reaching the League Cup in 65.

In 1973 the team enjoyed a moment of fame when the Brazilian team (the reigning world champion) played Argyle as part of their European tour - and lost 3-2. The following year, the team were back in Division Two. Paul Mariner and Billy Rafferty worked hard to keep the team on top, and they narrowly missed out on the top spot. However, they were about to enter a long stretch back in Division Three.

The Pilgrims' Finest Moment.

Under manager John Hore, Argyle reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1984. The match was nail-bitingly close, but Watford won 1-0.

New manager Dave Smith and prolific striker Tommy Tynan gave fans something to celebrate the following year, and Plymouth Argyle was back in Division Two - aiming for Division One.

In the 1990s the Pilgrims were taken over by a local businessman, who fired the manager and brought in Peter Shilton, with high hopes for the team. But he failed to work any magic, and the team was relegated again. Shilton left, supposedly after arguing with the chairman.

In 1995 the team made an appearance at Wembley - the only time they've been there - where they beat Darlington, much to the fans' delight. But it was the start of another black period for the team, who were placed 13 th in Division Three in 1998.

2001 saw the Home Ground being rebuilt with support from Plymouth Council, a new manager, chairman, and board - and the Pilgrims' triumphant return to Division Two. The following year they were champions, and promoted to the Coca Cola Championship.

The Pilgrims' Greatest Players.

Jack Leslie, often named as Argyle's greatest centre-half, arrived in 1921, when black players were still enough of a rarity to be commented on. He was believed to have been considered for the England team, but dismissed when his father's Jamaican origins became an issue. Leslie was an Argyle legend, playing 400 games and scoring more than 130 goals.

Paul Mariner is another contender for the title of Argyle's best player. At 19 he joined the Pilgrims and quickly became a South-West legend. Soon he was sought by Ipswich manager Bobby Robson, and went on to Arsenal years later.

Tommy Tynan was brought to Argyle in 1983 but his first season was a disappointment. Fortunately he soon regained his goal-scoring reputation and won favour with Argyle fans. He moved away from the city to appease his Northern wife, but eventually rejoined the Pilgrims. Today you'll find him running the Stoke Social Club in the city!

Visiting the Home Ground.

You can get to the Home Ground by taxi from the train station (1.5 miles), or - by car - take the A386 and follow the signposts. Ample, free parking. Match details and tickets from www.pafc.co.uk.

Photos Courtesy of www.pafc.co.uk

  • Plymouth Argyle Team
  • Plymouth Argyle Away to Swindon
  • Plymouth Argyle 1903-04
  • Plymouth Argyle at home to Swansea
  • Plymouth Argyle verses Sheffield Wednesday
  • Plymouth Argyle 1929-30
  • Plymouth Argyle Goalkeeper
  • Plymouth Argyle Score

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