The Adams fam­ily

HADEN TYE re­flects on Ply­mouth Ar­gyle’s re­vival – and the man at the heart of it…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS - @haden­tye_sj

Ply­mouth on the up

THERE’S some­thing spe­cial about pro­vid­ing some­thing beau­ti­ful for peo­ple who are much in need of it. They are, un­der­stand­ably, much more ap­pre­cia­tive.

It’s a con­cept that the pro­gramme DIY SOS sur­vives off. In ev­ery episode, the show is a steady build up to the pin­na­cle of the show at the end, when they show the owner their much-needed new home.

Ply­mouth Ar­gyle’s pro­mo­tion from League Two last term un­der Derek Adams fol­lowed a sim­i­lar pat­tern, with a cham­pagne end­ing for ev­ery­one at Home Park.

Whilst foot­ball is an on­go­ing nar­ra­tive, and Adams and Ar­gyle will be ex­pect­ing to go higher in the fu­ture, it’s fair to say the club have come a long way from the days in which they nearly went out of the Foot­ball League. I’ve seen both sides of life for Ar­gyle. Whilst I wasn’t at the club to ex­pe­ri­ence the gloomy days in which Foot­ball League preser­va­tion was the goal, iron­i­cally, I watched my lo­cal side Stour­bridge ben­e­fit­ting from Ar­gyle’s in­com­pe­tency as they beat them over two games in the FA Cup in 2011.

Since then, I have moved to the depths of Devon and worked for Ar­gyle’s me­dia depart­ment for over two years, which has meant I have formed quite the bond with the South West’s Green and Whites.

It’s been an in­sight­ful jour­ney, one that started with the stern and proper John Sheri­dan and shifted to the charis­matic and charm­ing Derek Adams. The lat­ter of the two has been a sen­sa­tion.

That is not to dis­re­gard Sheri­dan’s work. Ar­gyle had been on the brink of ex­it­ing the Foot­ball League and Sheri­dan turned things around. He left Ar­gyle after they were knocked out of the play-offs semi-fi­nal when well­beaten by Wy­combe at the end of 2014-15.

Sheri­dan put in the foun­da­tions for the Pil­grims to be suc­cess­ful.When the wheels were fall­ing off, Sheri­dan helped put them back on. Adams has got the wheels re­ally turn­ing, though.

The 42-year-old is a com­plex char­ac­ter; and one that I am yet to truly work out. He is highly re­garded ev­ery­where he has been, though, and it is easy to see why. Per­son­ally, I’m mas­sively im­pressed. His

at­ten­tion to de­tail is in­cred­i­ble, his man-man­age­ment is phe­nom­e­nal and he is a truly kind and hum­ble man.

That doesn’t paint the full pic­ture of Derek Adams, though. There’s nor­mal Derek Adams, then there is match-day Derek Adams.

One side of him is the light-hearted warm man that has time for ev­ery­one and you could ap­proach for any­thing. Derek’s other side is se­ri­ous. All he can think about is win­ning.

I get the im­pres­sion that the play­ers don’t want to let him down on match day; not only be­cause they hold him in high re­gard, but also I think fac­ing a dis­ap­pointed Derek in the dress­ing room on match day is some­thing that would stay with you for a lit­tle while after­wards. He’s clever, too. If there’s ever any­thing that seems a bit un­usual about the way that Ar­gyle set up, it’s down to the for­mer Ross County man­ager. That doesn’t just ex­tend to his start­ing lineup, but also where they warm up, what time they come out, how long they are in the dress­ing room for and whether or not they col­lec­tively ap­plaud the Devon­port End at Home Park be­fore a game to get the crowd ex­tra-ex­cited – it’s all de­cided by Adams, to get an edge. Dur­ing the warm-up at Yeovil this sea­son, I no­ticed that Ar­gyle were train­ing just their side of the half­way line and Yeovil’s goal­keeper was kick­ing from his penalty area to an­other of their keep­ers, who was get­ting in the way of Ar­gyle’s drill. It seemed rather strange to me; an ar­gu­ment wait­ing to hap­pen. I flagged it up with one of my col­leagues, who knows Derek pretty well. He said he wouldn’t be sur­prised if Derek had set that up, to be awk­ward and get in Yeovil’s way whilst mo­ti­vat­ing his side to win. In his press con­fer-

ences, the Glas­gow-born boss plays his cards very close to his chest and gives away as lit­tle in­for­ma­tion as he can. Coin­ci­den­tally, also at Yeovil, in the pre-match in­ter­view he am­pli­fied this in hi­lar­i­ous fash­ion.

The for­mer Mother­well mid­fielder had an­nounced his team and the re­porter from the BBC asked if Ar­gyle were go­ing to set up with five at the back. “Aye, maybe,” said Derek. “But then again maybe not,” he added. “But then again it might be,” he twisted once more. “But maybe not” he said, chuck­ling to him­self.

There is an un­writ­ten affin­ity now with the lo­cal re­porters who in­ter­view him of­ten, as they ac­cept that when he laughs at what he says, it more than likely means he’s not go­ing to tell you what you have asked.

For all the mind games and mys­tery, Adams now has a pro­mo­tion be­hind him that says he is a bril­liant man­ager at Ar­gyle’s level - which is ever-ris­ing be­cause of him.

He has done a won­der­ful job at Home Park. He al­most took Ar­gyle to League One in his first sea­son, but the Pil­grims lost in the play­off fi­nal to AFC Wim­ble­don in 2015-16.

Since then, Adams has re­built a pro­mo­tion-win­ning side from just four play­ers that re­mained with Ar­gyle after the Wem­b­ley de­feat. His new side mus­tered an FA Cup sur­prise by draw­ing 0-0 with Liver­pool at An­field in Jan­uary and got the whole city be­liev­ing that Ar­gyle can rise up the Foot­ball League once more.

Whilst Derek’s big­gest crit­i­cism is prob­a­bly for his de­fen­sive tac­tics away from home, there’s no ar­gu­ing that it’s ac­tu­ally one of Ar­gyle’s big­gest strengths.

The Pil­grims have been stu­pen­dous away from home, with the draw at Liver­pool epit­o­mis­ing just how ef­fec­tive his tac­tics are.

Things are on the up for Ar­gyle and it’s re­ally nice to see. I say that not only as some­one who has a bit of a soft spot for the club, but also as a foot­ball fan.

Ply­mouth as a city have watched their club nearly go out of ex­is­tence, then nearly go out of the Foot­ball League and, fi­nally, Ar­gyle have turned a cor­ner.

League One is the next chal­lenge that awaits Derek and his men and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see just how they do. The man­ager is no­to­ri­ous for chang­ing his squad mas­sively from one sea­son to the next, and again the Pil­grims have strength­ened with sev­eral ex­cit­ing sum­mer sign­ings, in­clud­ing Dutch keeper Rob­bert te Loeke, 28, winger Joel Grant, 29, from neigh­bours Ex­eter and mid­fielder Jamie Ness, 26, from Scunthorpe.

An­other huge suc­cess for the Pil­grims is that the club con­vinced play­maker Gra­ham Carey to sign again de­spite him be­ing out of con­tract. The 28-year-old Ir­ish­man was a real stand-out player at Home Park last year and will no doubt be piv­otal in the way Ar­gyle ap­proach League One.

The Green Army are singing “Up The Foot­ball League We Go”, the tan­noy at Home Park plays “Bring­ing On Back The Good Times”, and Derek de­clares “Devon is Green and White”.

It may take one year. It may take two, or maybe three or four. But I’ve got a feel­ing that League One won’t be a glass ceil­ing for Devon’s Green and Whites.

At the end of sea­son awards, Derek made a speech that blew the crowd away.

It ended some­thing like this: “Across the coun­try, there are Towns, there are Ci­tys, there are Unit­eds and there are Rovers. But there is only one Ar­gyle.”

There’s only one Derek Adams, too.

Foun­da­tions: John Sheri­dan Party time: Ar­gyle savour pro­mo­tion

Tak­ing the ac­claim: Pil­grims boss Derek Adams salutes the sup­port­ers

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