I was in Odessa on the night of April 19th 2010 and so, like the video, most of what I can remember of the game itself comes from YouTube links. The euphoric, guttural roar from the away end at the final whistle, bodies streaming on to the pitch, players mobbed, ‘I get knocked down but I get up again’ blasting out over the Home Park tannoy. Before the game a group of Plymouth fans had unveiled a banner congratulating Newcastle on their promotion. Now, the club’s PA system belted out ‘Local Hero’ and ‘Blaydon Races’. What made the gestures even more remarkable was the fact that Newcastle’s 2-0 win simultaneously confirmed Plymouth’s relegation. “Fantastic hosts,” goalkeeper Steve Harper said. “They played their parts and it was just a fantastic place to be at the end of the game.” Newcastle fans agreed – “We’ll never forget” was just one of many posts on the Argyle message board the next day.
We haven’t. There are a surprising number of bonds between Newcastle and Plymouth, geographically remote one-club cities with fanatical local support and a history of underachievement. Scottish striker Jack Peddie, whose goals helped Newcastle United to their first ever promotion, later played for Plymouth in their first season as a professional club. Bobby Moncur, the last Newcastle captain to lift a major trophy, managed Argyle in the early 1980s. John Carver, assistant to Sir Bobby Robson and now Alan Pardew, was on the Home Park staff last year. Dan Gosling made his first Plymouth appearance against Hull City at the age of 16.
Despite the sacking of Chris Hughton and the lack of an adequate replacement for Andy Carroll – whose season in the Championship propelled him from reserve forward to England international – Newcastle have since consolidated their place in the Premier League. For Plymouth, who survived two winding-up orders before they entered administration in the first week of March, the season culminated in a home defeat to Southampton and a second successive relegation. Around 50 members of staff have been working without salary since January. Despite the Argyle Supporters’ Trust helping to raise money towards a hardship fund, many are now in debt and struggling to afford even the petrol to get them into work. There are real fears that Plymouth Argyle Football Club may not survive at all.
The video made by Newcastle Fans United nearly didn’t happen at all. Together with FNA Films I first approached Sky TV about footage “for a short 30 second video to try and raise funds for Plymouth Argyle”. They passed us on to another company who, like Sky, said they would be happy to help but didn’t own the rights to the pictures from the game. We were passed on again, explained the situation – and were told we would have to pay £800. “It’s a short, non-commercial video to help a football club that might go out of business,” we explained. “Our rates are £800 per minute,” was all we received in reply. We tried YouTube, but most of the footage was shaky and blurred. One – from a Newcastle fan who was at the game - was better than the rest. “Can we use your video?” we asked. Ten minutes later we got a reply. “No problem. Anything I can do to help.” Compare and contrast with the (unnamed) TV company.
The video went live last night and will be plugged on Newcastle United blogs and websites. It’s a small gesture but one we hope will remind Plymouth fans that they do not stand alone. I urge all football fans to contribute whatever they can towards helping the Argyle Supporters’ Trust keep
their club alive.
Special thanks go to www.phil.im for the footage we used in the video.