Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Pilgrim Factor

In the 1920s, Plymouth Argyle finished as runners-up in Division Three (South) no less than six years in a row. In the days when pay for professional footballers was a fixed sum regardless of what division they were playing in, but were awarded win bonuses, players would make more money playing for a winning team in a lower league than for a losing team in a higher league.

Perhaps even today, some players are happier winning more often at a lower level. What other explanation is there for teams with a great chance of making the play-offs or promotion,folding in their last games? Last weekend in the Conference, Cambridge United, Stevenage Borough, Kidderminster Harriers and Oxford United all failed to win key home games, and today Dagenham and Redbridge handed a play-off spot to Shrewsbury Town by losing 1-2 at home to their rivals.

Scunthorpe almost did the same at home to Tranmere Rovers, leaving it to the 88th minute before levelling the game and notching up the one point they needed. Wycombe Wanderers and Bury both messed up home games. Wycombe lost, and Bury scored a 95th minute penalty to win 1-0, when just one more goal would have seen them promoted. So close.

Based on this evidence, a lay of Reading tomorrow is looking good value at 2.24. Cue comfortable win for the Royals.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a real shame for Plymouth that their chairman isn't fit for purpose. 2 years ago Ian Holloway left for Leicester because he was going to be paid more. Around this time Paul Stapleton decided that because gate receipts weren't enough to pay all the running costs players would have to be sold. Subsequently, the most 'skilled' player in the division (still) Akos Buzasky was loaned and then sold (he was the sole reason I went to watch Argyle when I was at uni in Plymouth - for his tricks at halftime). Following him out the door were Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, David Norris and Peter Halmosi. At the time they also had wonderkid Scott Sinclair on loan. Who knows, if Holloway had stayed and they had hung on to their best players Argyle could easily have reached the play-offs that season and in the Premiership they would have had no trouble filling out their (lovely) 18,000 seater stadium.

Now their only stand-out player is Marcel Seip, but he was a little too close to Stapleton's daughter (aswell as spending slightly too much time down in the local Stanley's) and for a long time was unwanted by the club. Its such a shame that a club who rose from nothing 5 years ago could easily find themselves back there again in another 5.