npower Football League Two
Final Points: 46 Position: 21
Testimonial Season: Romain Larrieu
Player of the Year: Maxime Blanchard
Young Player: Luke Young
THE SEASON IN PICTURES
A selection of 125 photos from nearly 6,000 in the season's match pages, telling the story of the season.
After two consecutive relegations and many months of company administration, Plymouth Argyle's staff, players and fans endured a summer of serious doubt and confusion. With Peter Ridsdale at the day-to-day helm and Peter Reid remaining loyal to the club, a team of free-transfers, loanees and unready youngsters muddled through pre-season training, wearing the shirts of the previous sponsors. Yet the professional club's under-heralded 100th season began with a creditable draw at Shrewsbury, despite a team comprising nine Argyle debutants and six with no Football League experience.
Off the pitch, a four day and night candlelight vigil at the end of August drew in the cameras and ended when Ridsdale delivered a message from the Devonport End steps to the weary faithful: a deal with Bishop International Ltd to save the club was to be signed within days. Cue the understandable but, as it turned out, wholly inappropriate champagne. Days turned into weeks, and with the administrators, The P&A Partnership, sticking to the increasingly doubtful BIL bid, it was down to the Fans' Trust and Pasoti to lead the way. After threats of strike action from the players, an online petition and a green card protest were just two of many combative actions by grassroots fans to champion the overlooked bid from James Brent's Akkeron Group, an almost universally popular option despite being told "there is no alternative".
By mid-September, the club was rooted to the bottom of the Football League, with just one point from the first nine games and first-time exits from two cup competitions. Ridsdale sacked the much admired Peter Reid and appointed team captain Carl Fletcher as temporary player-manager, and club captain Romain Larrieu as his assistant, both without any coaching or management experience. It was a huge risk but it also had an immediate effect; the new boys' first game in charge was also the first win of the season, on Fans Reunited Day, a heart-warming demonstration of support from clubs all over the country. Off the pitch, the mist was gradually clearing. Any lingering interest in the club from also-rans evaporated and the official line, in support of BIL, crumbled in the face of common sense. The self-styled Contingency Group, a combination of James Brent and representatives from the Trust and Pasoti, were ready to step up to the mark, and by the end of the month an agreement between P&A and Brent was announced.
In early October the 125th anniversary of Argyle's first game came and went with little of the celebration originally planned for the day; hardly surprising under the circumstances. Ten days later came the historic Council Meeting, which agreed to buy back Home Park, a rare event when all political parties came together to support the club and its vital importance to the city. Inevitable 11th-hour brinkmanship with secured and football creditors ended positively, and at 12.27pm on Monday, 31st October 2011, it was announced that Argyle was officially out of administration, with the club's share of The Football League transferred to the new company, owned by James Brent. Oh happy day; ten months of administration, with liquidation a very serious threat, was at an end. Carl Fletcher's position was made permanent, and a week later, Peter Ridsdale left for pastures new.
For the first time in many years, a real sense of unity and purpose descended on the club. Brent introduced his impressive new board of directors at a packed Guildhall meeting in January, and gave an inspiring account of his vision for the club's governance and business principles. However, the battle was only half won. Still languishing in the relegation zone and with severe financial restrictions imposed by the League, the only answer was unity. The team, which earlier in the season averaged less than 21 years old (possibly the youngest in the club's history) was strengthened by the solid experience of Darren Purse and the returning Paul Wotton, which inspired the young 'uns to fight tooth and nail for every point, supported by a remarkable Green Army both home and away.
Sue Pollard's* award as Football League Fan of the Year was not only well deserved, but said everything about a whole range of people who would not let the club die. From the amazing Green Taverners and their fund-raising efforts to accelerate staff repayments, to individuals who gave their all in the fight for survival, to the collective Green Army who cheered the team through the battles for every point; this was extraordinary unity in support of a club at the lowest league position in its history. And so it came to pass - a much improved defensive record in the second half of the season was enough to secure Plymouth Argyle's Football League status with just two games remaining. Joy was unconfined; never had survival felt so like promotion.
* ... more about Sue's award
Arrivals: (came & went in italics) Will Atkinson, Durrell Berry, Paul Bignot, Maxime Blanchard, Nick Chadwick, Jake Cole, Luke Daley, Warren Feeney, Steve Fletcher, Ben Gibson, Jamie Griffiths, Ashley Hemmings, Tom Hitchcock, Conor Hourihane, Simon King, Joe Lennox, Alex MacDonald, Darren Purse, Ladjie Soukouna, Craig Sutherland, Juvhel Tsoumou, Robbie Williams, Paul Wotton
Youth debuts: Ollie Chenoweth, Jordan Copp, Matt Lecointe, Jared Sims, Isaac Vassell
Departures: (came & went in italics) Kari Arnason, Will Atkinson, Paul Bignot, Yannick Bolasie, Luke Daley, Carl Fletcher, Steve Fletcher, Ben Gibson, Jamie Griffiths, Ashley Hemmings, Tom Hitchcock, Damien Johnson, Simon King, Romain Larrieu, Alex MacDonald, Joe Mason, Bondz N’Gala, Rory Patterson, Craig Sutherland, Juvhel Tsoumou, Stephane Zubar
Click on the icons below for photos, commentary clips
and full match details of the games against
1-Shrewsbury (A), 10-Macclesfield (H), 12-Accrington (H), 13-Dagenham & Red (A), 15-Oxford (A), 16-Cheltenham (A),
19-Northampton (H), 22-Bristol Rov (A), 26-Burton (H), 31-Accrington (A), 35-Wimbledon (A),
42-Aldershot (H), 44-Oxford (H), 46-Cheltenham (H), FAC1-Stourbridge (H) and FAC1R-Stourbridge (A).
Football League Two 2011-12
starting appearance appearing substitute goals cautioned sent off
Click on name
for pen picture
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