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SOUTHERN IRELAND TOUR 1969
 

Argyle's entire first team squad of 18 players, accompanied by Manager Billy Bingham, trainer Bob Stewart and chairman Robert Daniel flew to Southern Ireland for a brief pre-season tour. They played three matches, drawing with Shelbourne 0-0 in Dublin on the day of their arrival, beating Limerick 2-1, and then losing - sensationally - to Waterford 3-8. Trevor Shepherd and Mike Bickle got the goals against Limerick. Shepherd again scored first for Argyle against Waterford, who then bounced back with three goals in a shattering five-minute spell. Argyle, fielding their strongest side, were trailing 2-5 at the interval. They introduced three substitutes, but still couldn't stem the tide. Bickle and a Waterford defender obliged with the other two goals, but by the finish, the embarrased Argyle party couldn't leave fast enough!

No one was more delighted about it all than ex-Argyle leader Danny Trainor, who had signed for Waterford after failing to settle in Plymouth earlier in the season. Danny, still recovering from a broken ankle, missed the fun but couldn't resist pulling the legs of his former colleagues. "We'll play you at Home Park next season and give you a four goal start," he wisecracked. Argyle players, however, didn't see the funny side of it. The tour was not a success. Besides the unsatisfactory results, the crowds were poor, the pitches were well below par, there was too much travelling in too short a time and the hospitality from the Irish clubs left a lot to be desired.

*Re-produced from the 1969-70 Argyle handbook
 

ARGYLE 0 SHELBOURNE 0

Irish Part-Timers Hold Argyle

Forwards Fail To Impress 

Plymouth Argyle manager Billy Bingham certainly has problems ahead if this scoreless draw against Shelbourne's part-timers at Tolka Park, Dublin, last night is anything to go by. The home club, still struggling to rebuild, fielded a very inexperienced side whose average age is under 20, yet and even with the less of the play they well deserved a draw. Overall, however, it was a dreary affair. Plymouth fielded their three close season signings, defender Winston Foster, Trevor Shepherd and Don Hutchins, but in fact the new forwards reaction to some fine promptings by left-half Richard Reynolds was sluggish and inept.

Argyle's best chance of scoring came just before half-time and fittingly it was Reynolds who was the instigator of the move. He laid on a perfect opportunity for Shepherd, whose shot was pushed out by the goalkeeper to Dave Burnside, who promptly lifted it over the bar from a few yards range. At half-time Bingham brought on John Tedesco for Stephen Davey but there was no great improvement until the closing stages, when Argyle tried desperately for a face saving score. Shepherd almost made it on a couple of occasions, but in general Shelbourne kept control of the situation, with the defence remaining surpisingly cool against their far stronger and experienced opponents. Bingham, no doubt, will be hoping for better things in their Irish games against Limerick on Saturday and Waterford on Sunday.

Shelbournes Youngsters Hold Argyle

Plymouth Argyle made a disappointing start to their tour of Southern Ireland last night when they were held to a goal-less draw by a young inexperienced Shelbourne side in Dublin. On the credit side this was the first match in the pre-season training programme which has so far been designed primarily at getting the players to peak fitness. Manager Billy Bingham admitted "It was a good exercise as far as we were concerned but our finish was not good. I will be looking for something better when we play Limerick and Waterford over the weekend". The fact that the game ended in a scoreless draw was a pleasant surprise to the home officials who feared that they were in for a real trouncing.

Inexperienced

It must have come as a most unwelcome shock to Bingham, who, after the game, was torn between admiration for the inexperienced Shelbourne youngsters and concern about his own men. "They moved the ball well", he remarked, "and especially near the end of the game, when Shelbourne tired, we were unlucky not to score. But no manager is satisfied when his team is not winning and we will have to do something about our finish". Bingham put his finger right on the outstanding problem with that last comment.

Feeling Way

Argyle, with newcomers Winston Foster, Trevor Shepherd and Don Hutchins only feeling their way in the side, will have to work very hard indeed to make their mark in the coming season. The defence was competent, but if Irish international Pat Dunne was never called on to make any spectacular saves, the same could be said for his opposite number, Willie Byrne, one of the many Shelbourne youngsters who were elated by the result. Richard Reynolds did all he could to inject some energy into the Plymouth forwards, who only made any real headway when the opposing part-timers and amateurs ran out of steam in the last quarter.

 
 

ARGYLE 2 LIMERICK 1

My Doubts About Argyle Attack

In the shadow of Limericks impressive cathedral, Argyle yesterday overcame the fighting Fitzgeralds and Fitzpatricks of the city to chalk up the first win of their Irish tour. They won 2-1. Newcomer Trevor Shepherd smashed in a glorious rising shot to open Argyle's account after only six minutes and Mike Bickle steered in the second twelve minutes later. But after these match facts there's little else to enthuse about Argyle's progress over here yet. Manager Billy Bingham had stressed that he wanted to use these matches to give all his players an outing and now all 18 players have made an appearance. The matches have been useful workouts for the players but on the two peformances to date there has been no evidence that Argyle will be catching the Third Division on fire this season. Again and again their marksmanship has been highly suspect. At times it has been feeble and this recurring deficiency must be rectified if Argyle are going to be a powerful force bidding for promotion. Shepherd - apart from his welcome goal yesterday - is still very much settling in. He didn't waste openings because it was not that often that he had any. It would be a shame if Argyle are to suffer yet again from this old weakness in front of the post.

It seemed all too easy yesterday. Having pierced the Irish battlement twice inside eighteen minutes, Argyle should have been heading for a massive haul of goals. Imstead, they were led into a false sense of security. They couldn't regain their convincing superiority and their confidence to hold the ball waned against Limericks robust tackling. Argyle found themselves playing on one of the bumpiest pitches they will encounter. Yet they overcame this disadvantage extremely well in that dominating spell. Suddenly, as chances went begging, they fell to pieces and almost came unstuck. Bingham drafted in three substitutes - Johnny Hore, Colin Sullivan and Stephen Davey - but Argyles organisation continued to deteriorate. The man who did most of their shooting was Richard Reynolds. He blasted four efforts wide and when he was on target goalkeeper Kevin Fitzpatrick excelled. New man Winston Foster played for the first half only and looked as if he could form an effective partnership with Molyneux, and Don Hutchins, who didn't play yesterday, has not made enough impression yet to make any clear assessment of his value. But there have been no outstanding tour successes so far. The biggest test comes today against Waterford. Victory here would do much more for confidence and morale.


 

ARGYLE 3 WATERFORD 8

Poor Argyle In A Real Irish Stew

Crash to 8-3 Defeat

Argyle took a disastrous nosedive in the final match of their Irish tour yesterday when they were well and truly thrashed by Waterford, the current League of Ireland champions. The 2,000 Waterford fans went wild with delight as their team ripped massive holes in Argyles paper-thin defence. Argyle defenders were easily enticed out of position and sloppy marking and tackling let the Waterford men in again and again. Skipper Fred Molyneux could never get his back division organised sufficiently to cope with the tearaway Irishmen, who plunged them into inexplicable chaos. Yet in the opening phases there was no hint of the slaughter to come. Trevor Shepherd, quickly on target again, put Argyle in front in the third minute, with a swiftly hit angle shot on the turn. Waterford goalkeeper Peter Thomas was taken by surprise and the ball rolled to the far side of the net off his fingertips. Five minutes later Mike Bickle had a perfectly good-looking goal disallowed on a highly doubtful offside decision. Still, there was no sign of anything but a comfortable Argyle win. Then, in a searing five minute spell, Waterford struck with goals on the 9th, 11th and 14th minutes. On each occasion they sliced open Argyle's defence with passes in the penalty area before delivering their humiliating blows. Phil Buck slotted in the first from close range. Johnny Matthews, a lively outside-left. tapped in the second after a Buck header had rebounded off an upright and Seamus Coad made it three after more casual work by Argyle.

Bickle's Goal

Argyle, although at full strength, continued to deteriorate and Al Casey had Pat Dunne groping with two more goals in the 31st and 42nd minutes. Between Caseys successes Bickle had pulled one back after a cross from Don Hutchins had been back-heeled to him by Norman Piper. Argyle manager Billy Bingham took off Richard Reynolds, Winston Foster and Duncan Neale at the interval but the introduction of John Tedesco, Johnny Hore and Colin Sullivan brought no improvement. Within five minutes of the resumption Coad had cashed in on another bad error to make it six and Jim McGough gifted Argyle their third goal by slicing a corner by Hutchins into his own net. With the rain pouring down and making conditions treacherous Bickle missed an open goal and Hore, careering clear from the halfway line after outwitting Waterfords blatant offside trap, wasted a great opening by firing over. While Argyle slithered about to little effect, Waterford, without ex-Argyle man Danny Trainor, still recovering from a broken ankle, continued to find the room to pierce more openings.

No Excuses

Not content with six, the menacing little Matthews rammed two more shots past Dunne to complete the grand slam. Manager Bingham refused to make excuses for the debacle. "We just took it far too easy after getting an early goal" he said. "You cannot blame Pat Dunne. The back four were never in command and the changes made no difference". On the tour overall Bingham added ruefully: "I have learned a few things".

 

Irish Humiliate Casual Argyle

Irish eyes were smiling yesterday - and small wonder  - after the way little Waterford smashed Plymouth Argyle to a shattering 8-3 defeat. Argyle could hardly conceal their embarrasment. They were at full strength and can really have no excuses for this humiliating debacle. This might have only been just a friendly, but the ease with which the Waterford forwards sliced open the Argyle defence poses a new and critical problem for manager Billy Bingham. His defence crumpled under a fierce Waterford onslaught that left Argyle trailing 5-2 at the interval. Three goals in a five minute spell did the damage and Argyle, lacking discipline and understanding, never recovered. Their casual approach was just not good enough to contain the lively Waterford attack. And remember that they achieved all this with only five of their seven full-time profressionals on duty.

Opportunist

One of them, of course, is ex-Argyle's Danny Trainor, who is still recovering from a broken ankle. When Trevor Shepherd found the Waterford net with a sharply taken opportunist goal after only three minutes Argyle took things too much for granted. They became far too relaxed and, when Phil Buck equalised with a simple goal from close in after nine minutes the initiative switched and eventually stayed with the Irish. Within five minutes, Johnny Matthews and Seamus Coad had made it 3-1. Now Argyle touched rock bottom and Al Casey flattened them with two more goals - both from powerful drives on the run. Mike Bickle, having had a doubtful decision rob him of a goal early on, made sure when he steered in after a back-heel from Norman Piper. But any thin hopes of a revival quickly evaporated when Coad made it 6-2 within only two minutes of the restart.

Elusive Matthews

Manager Bingham had replaced Winston Foster, Richard Reynolds and Duncan Neale with Johnny Hore, John Tedesco and Colin Sullivan at the interval yet still Argyle struggled to get a grip on the game and could never hold the fast-running, chase-a-chance Waterford side. Jim McGough put a Don Hutchins' corner into his own net to present Argyle with their third goal but the free gift ended there. Matthews, an elusive little winger who was formerly with Coventry City, made sure of that by beating Pat Dunne all the way again in the 75th and 84th minutes. The problems the League of Ireland champions exposed so ruthlessly were ominous enough for Bingham not to want to discuss them after the match. "I don't want to talk about it", he said. "I am naturally upset about it but I am not going to make any excuses either. The lads just took it far too easy after getting that early goal. The back four could not get organised at all and I wouldn't blame Pat Dunne at all".

Team: Dunne, Reeves, Neale, Foster, Molyneux, Reynolds, Shepherd, Piper, Burnside, Bickle, Hutchins. Subs - Sullivan, Hore, Tedesco.

*match reports re-produced from the Evening Herald.
 
 

When Plymouth Argyle came to Kilcohan Park they had the new 'superstar' of English football in their ranks, one Norman Piper, and it was also among Billy Bingham's first games in charge of the Devon side. Waterford won 8-3, still a record for an Irish team against an English league team in a friendly.

*Extract from an article by Matt Keane in the Munster Express, June 13th 1997.
 

TOUR RESULTS

Date

Opposition

Score

Scorers

July 30th Shelbourne 0-0  
August 2nd Limerick 2-1 Shepherd, Bickle
August 3rd Waterford 3-8 Shepherd, Bickle, McGough o.g.

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