THE HOME PARK STORY
Home Park was originally used by the now defunct Devonport Albion rugby team. Following a dispute with the owners Albion left and for three years the ground was not used. In 1901 the Argyle Athletic club obtained a lease on the ground and staged its first event, an athletics meeting, there on Whit Monday 1901. The possession of such a fine ground helped Plymouth Argyle gain entry to the Southern League in 1903 following exhibition matches against several of the countries leading professional sides.
At the time that league football first came to Plymouth the ground had only one small wooden grandstand which had a capacity of 2,000. The remaining three sides of the ground were merely surrounded by slag-heap banking and a waist high fence. When Argyle joined the football league in 1920 several improvements were required. The wooden grandstand was demolished and replaced by a much larger and more modern structure and around the other three sides of the ground concrete terracing and crush barriers were introduced. In addition to this a roof was erected along with the main entrance at the Devonport end of the ground. The new grandstand also incorporated players changing rooms and club offices. Many of these facilities were built with funds raised by the supporters club. In 1936 a record 43,596 fans packed into the ground for the visit of Aston Villa.
Unfortunately, due to Plymouths naval and military importance, Home Park took quite a battering during the Second World War. The pitch was badly cratered and the grandstand all but destroyed during bombing raids in 1941. In order to be ready for the resumption of league football in 1945 emergency measures were needed. Disused Army huts, redundant trams and buses and railway sleepers were used as makeshift changing rooms, offices and terracing. In 1952 a new grandstand was completed and floodlights were installed in the mid 1950's. In 1964 a roof was erected on the Lyndhurst side of the ground and although due to safety reasons the Devonport End covering had to be removed in the late 1970's it was replaced in 1984 to leave three sides of the ground under cover.
The ground remained relatively unchanged until the 1990's when ambitious plans for re-development were announced. Although there were a lot of false starts and talk of a possible move to a different location in the city work commenced on the re-building of Home Park. An 18,500 capacity all-seater stadium, built in two stages on the site of the current ground, was planned. Phase 1 of the project, the redevelopment of the Devonport, Lyndhurst and Barn Park stands, was completed in February 2002. Phase 2 of the re-build, the new Grandstand, has been delayed amid rumours of revamped plans and financial difficulties. As of June 2007 the Mayflower terrace can no longer be used for standing as Argyle did not succeed in securing a government exemption from all-seater stadia rules. However, the board decided to install temporary seating on the terrace, to keep the capacity of the ground around the 20,000 mark. At the same time a new public address system was installed and improvements made to the floodlights on the Grandstand side of the ground, all suggesting that a start date for Phase 2 of the re-development has yet to be decided.
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