Plymouth Argyle’s FA Cup Magic

Author:
Publish date:

This article originally appeared in the January 13th issue of our newsletter, The Raven. Subscribe HERE.  

Last week lowly fourth tier Plymouth Argyle fought a heroic rearguard action against mighty Liverpool to earn 0 - 0 draw at Anfield, and force a third-round replay with Jurgen Klopp’s mob. The League Two side are part owned by a GFOP, Pennsylvania based Simon Hallett, who invested in his boyhood club after listening to Men in Blazers Pod Specials with the likes of Barry Hearn [Listen to our Pod with Simon HERE]. We caught up with Simon after his team's result for the ages...

SIMON.jpg

Simon Writes: Liverpool FC is the iconic football club. Excellent in all respects, but provincial, not metropolitan, working class and tough, not elegant and sophisticated. I grew up in their glory days. So this game was always going to be emotional on a personal level.

Immediately before kickoff, when the Kop sang, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” an intensity flowed through the traveling Plymouth fans, and we were quiet, as at worship. Argyle’s Green Army of nearly 9,000 fans listened with respect. But when the song ended, we got on with building a raucous backdrop to Argyle’s day in Liverpool history.

Early on in the game, we asked the Kop whether we were in a library, and enquired whether they’d like us to sing a tune for them. Our fans knew what we were up against. But we didn’t care. We were there for a day out. Buoyed by manager Derek Adams’ defensive plan (six at the back, with 10 men lying deep behind the ball), we broke into ironic cheers when we strung three passes together, and chanted, “We’ve had a shot,” when Graham Carey’s free kick plopped harmlessly into Loris Karius’ hands.

It was all great fun… until it occurred to us that we could get something from the game. That transformed it into the usual agonizing affair. We became desperate for the 0 - 0 score to hold. When it did, we were in tears at the triumph of a scoreless draw.

Our memories will be of a defensive performance that was as superbly-crafted as it was executed; the wonderful welcome of our hosts; the quality of everything LFC produces off the pitch; and the support of our fans. Not just their numbers, but their sense of humor, their commitment to the team, and their joy. We drew on the pitch, but the battle between the fans wasn’t even close. The Green Army swept all before it.

We’ll now have LFC at Home Park [Editor’s Note: Wednesday, January 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, America!]. Already the City of Plymouth and the counties of Devon and Cornwall are abuzz. We’ll make some more money. But this wasn’t about money. It was about glory, and making history. We have ambitions at Argyle. To restore our infrastructure. And to restore our league position. What we don’t need to restore is our pride.