Torquay United v Plymouth Argyle
Saturday, September 9th 2012, 3pm
League Two
 By Chris Connolly

On holiday in lovely Torquay, with the sun shining and neighbours Plymouth Argyle in town, what could be better than a trip to see my first Devon derby?
First impressions are that the ground’s immediate environment is probably unique in the League; whilst Plainmoor itself is a working class area the ground could just as easily have been called Babbacombe or Ellacombe since it borders all three, and behind the North and South ends are gracious and elegant old mansions which are most unlike the kind of housing (or nowadays the supermarkets and trading estates) among which a football stadium can more usually be found. It’s a very pleasing sight, on approaching either uphill or down (and the ground is on a hillside so it’s a surprise there isn’t a fair old slope down towards the Family Stand) to see a set of four old-fashioned floodlight pylons which I am told might have originally been seen at Home park before Argyle upgraded their lights in the mid-sixties.

It is also a rare treat to be able to watch the match standing up down one side and also on the away end, which was full for this game as Plymouth’s fans took the rare opportunity to watch their team play away without having to travel hundreds of miles to do so. The new stand, Bristow’s Bench, must certainly offer the best view since it perches well above the pitch and is twice as tall as the other three sides. I was on the Popular Side where the view is not as good, being quite low, but is unhindered by any pillars. The small but noisy Yellow Army stands in this part of the ground, and their chants, sadly, are just as boring and repetitive as those of any other of the League’s armies, which is a pity since, in general, the Torquay fans are a very good-natured and friendly bunch.
There was none of the nastiness in evidence here that are associated with some other derby games. An unnecessarily large contingent of Police officers did chuck one youth out for letting off a smoke bomb but otherwise there was no trouble of any sort. Just before half time, though, a migration took place from one end of the Popside to the other as home fans set off to try and be first in the queue for the bar and chip shop in the Ellacombe end corner.
The game itself was high in perspiration but low on inspiration. Maybe it was the heat, or perhaps the nervousness associated with a local derby, but neither side did enough to win and the match had 0-0 written on it long before the end. Plymouth seemed to be all number one haircuts and stubbly chins and they battled and blocked bravely while Torquay’s centre forward Rene Howe was left on his own too often and was in any case hampered by a gormless ref who wouldn’t let him jump for the ball without giving a free kick the other way. For all that, I enjoyed the occasion very much, being well looked-after by the friendly Torquay supporters.
In summary, football at Plainmoor is something every football fan should experience at least once. Me? I shall certainly be back again soon.


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