How things have changed since this encounter between Plymouth Argyle and Norwich City. This match was a Championship fixture only four years ago, but now three divisions separate the teams – Norwich City riding high in the Premiership while Plymouth Argyle find themselves in the middle of a battle to avoid relegation from League 2. It was suggested that Argyle’s emphatic victory over Norwich that day might have been predictable, yet you couldn’t have foreseen current standings by the result on the 10th November 2007 – the Pilgrims beating the Canaries 3-0 at Home Park to extend Noriwch’s winless streak to a staggering twelve games. Further to the disparity in the current success of the two clubs, this match is significant as it turned out to be Ian Holloway’s last game in charge – the eccentric manager leaving for the greater riches of Leicester City. How did things fall apart so quickly, what has happened to the Plymouth team who took to the field that day versus Norwich – a day where things were far rosier than fans dare to dream of today?
Romain Larrieu (Goalkeeper)
Romain Larrieu is the only player from the team that beat Norwich that day who is still playing for Plymouth Argyle. He has been an integral part of the Pilgrims side for the last twelve years since his arrival at the club from Valence. He has found himself elevated to legendary status at Home Park due to his loyalty and determination, with another reason being his staunch commitment to Argyle’s cause, despite many financial difficulties and two successive relegations. Alongside his playing duties, he is now also first team coach at Plymouth.
Lee Hodges (Defender)
The 2007 – 2008 season proved to be utility man Hodges’ last season at the club after seven years service at Argyle, during which he amassed 195 appearances, scoring 11 goals in the process. He left for Torquay United after being released by Plymouth, but after two seasons with the Gulls, he was released. He then started his managerial career at Truro City and he got them promoted to the Blue Square South in his first season in charge. He is currently in his second season at Truro, and they find themselves in 11th place in the Blue Square South.
Krisztian Timar (Defender)
Centre back Krisztian Timar signed for Plymouth from Hungarian side Ferencvaros in 2007 after a successful loan spell at the club. His first full season at the club saw him named as the Pilgrims ‘Player of the Year’. This form saw him called up to the Hungarian national team, in which he gained four caps for his country. However the next two seasons saw Timar fail to rediscover his form from the 2007 – 2008 season; which resulted in him being sent on loan to Oldham Athletic. During that season in League One, Timar only managed two appearances, and, after failing to secure another deal at Argyle, Timar signed a contract with Vietnamese Super League side SHB Da Nang.
Marcel Seip (Defender)
Dutch centre back Seip signed for Plymouth in September 2006 from Heerenveen, where he was a Intertoto Cup finalist in 2003, and became a fans favourite immediately due to his defensive abilities and consistency. The arrival of Paul Sturrock as manager saw Seip in and out of the team due to constant disagreements with the Scotsman. Seip endured three loan spells away from the club at Blackpool, Sheffield United and Charlton Athletic before finally leaving Argyle in July 2011 after five years service at the club. He is now playing for League 2 side Bradford City.
Paul Connolly (Defender)
The Norwich match saw Connolly grab his only goal in a Pilgrim’s shirt in his 162 league appearances for the club. The 2007 – 2008 season proved to be Connolly’s last for the club, with the right-back departing for Derby County. The arrival of Nigel Clough at Derby saw Connolly lose his place in the side and this resulted in him going out on loan to Sheffield United. He left the club for Leeds United in the 2010 – 2011 season, but he has only managed 47 league appearances during his injury-hit spell at the club.
Peter Halmosi (Midfielder)
Like his Hungarian compatriot Krisztian Timar, Halmosi signed permanently for Plymouth after impressing during a loan spell at the club in the 2006 – 2007 season. He built on that form by scoring 8 goals in 43 appearances for the club, in what turned out to be his only full season at Plymouth. Halmosi attracted interest from the then-promoted Hull City and joined the Tigers during July 2008 for what was reported to be a £2million deal. However, much like the most of Phil Brown’s promoted side, he failed to set the Premiership alight and after a loan spell at his first club Haladas, he left Hull by mutual consent to sign a permanent deal with the Szombathely club, where he remains today.
Lilian Nalis (Midfielder)
Journeyman Lilian Nalis became a fans favourite with the Home Park faithful – his performances in his debut season at the club (the 2006-2007 season) saw him awarded ‘Player of the Year.’ His second season at the club proved to be his last however, with starts becoming less frequent, resulting in his release Plymouth. He subsequently signed for Swindon Town but returned to his native France to sign for Bastia after only one season at the Country Ground. Much like his time with the Robins, he left Bastia after only one season at the club, announcing his retirement shortly afterwards, aged thirty-eight.
David Norris (Midfielder)
After six seasons at the club, Norris controversially handed in a transfer request to force a move away from Plymouth in January 2008, eventually signing for fellow Championship side Ipswich Town for an undisclosed fee. He was fined £25,000 by Ipswich after his handcuffs celebration in support of his ex-Plymouth team-mate Luke McCormick, who was convicted of the death of two young children while drink-driving. He rejected a contract extension from Ipswich as they didn’t want to renew Norris’ contract for the amount of years he hoped for. He is now a key part of the Portsmouth team staving off relegation in The Championship, having scored 5 goals in 25 appearances for the club this season.
Lee Martin (Midfielder)
Winger Lee Martin joined Plymouth on loan from Manchester United on a three-month deal in 2007 and despite his impressive performances during his stay at Home Park, the club failed to agree an extension for his services. He had further loan spells away from Old Trafford at Stoke City and Nottingham Forest, before joining Ipswich Town for £1.5million in 2009. He struggled in his first season at Portman Road, which saw him shipped out on loan to Charlton in his second season. He is now a key part of the Ipswich team under the new management of Paul Jewell.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (Striker)
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is one of only two players from the side that faced Norwich to now be playing Premier League football. He quickly became a key part of the Plymouth side in his second season at the club, scoring 11 goals in just 25 appearances for the club before departing to Wolves for £1.5million. He carried his form from the West Country to the Black Country, resulting in him win the Championship’s Golden Boot that season. The 2008 – 2009 season saw him retain the honour as his return of 25 goals in 43 league games helped Wolves win promotion back to the Premier League after five seasons in the second tier. He has since struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League, and Ebanks-Blake finds himself playing the understudy to other Wolves strikers Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher.
Barry Hayles (Striker)
Lovingly nicknamed ‘Ox in the Box’ at Plymouth due to his ability to out-muscle almost any opponent, Hayles’ first season at the club was very successful, but he departed for Ian Holloway’s Leicester City midway through his second season at Home Park. He was largely unsuccessful during his spell at the Foxes, and soon left for Cheltenham Town after two previous loan spells there. He got released by Cheltenham in the summer of 2010 and he signed for Truro City, now under the management of his ex-Plymouth team-mate Lee Hodges: where he finds himself also in his second season at Treyew Road.
Dan Gosling (Midfielder)
One of many players to come from the Plymouth youth academy, Gosling was in-and-out of the first team from his debut in 2006 to his departure in January 2008. Gosling signed for Premier League side Everton during the winter transfer window, but saw his chances in the first team limited in his first season and a half at the club. After three years at Everton, he decided to leave under the Bosman ruling to sign for newly-promoted Newcastle United, where he only made one appearance in his first season because of a reoccurrence of a knee injury. He is now a back-up player for The Magpies during his second season at St. James’ Park.
Jermaine Easter (Striker)
Welshman, Jermaine Easter signed for the Pilgrims from Wycombe Wanderers in January 2008 after a successful loan spell at the club. He struggled for form at Plymouth and asked to be transfer listed due to homesickness. After loan spells at Millwall and Colchester United, Easter left for MK Dons in July 2009. He impressed at MK Dons and after an unsuccessful loan spell at Swansea, he signed for fellow Championship side Crystal Palace, where he has scored 6 goals in 38 games for the club.
Holloway left Plymouth for Leicester in November 2007, with his last match in charge being that 3-0 thumping of Norwich. His spell at Leicester ended in disaster as the club got relegated into League 1 ultimately sealing his departure from the club. His next port-of-call was Blackpool, where he led the unfancied Seasider’s to promotion to the Premier League. Blackpool gained plenty of fans during their short stay in the Premier League due to their attacking style of play, but it didn’t stop them from getting relegated on the last day of the season after losing 3-2 to Manchester United at Old Trafford. He is now leading the Blackpool charge for an immediate return to the Premier League, with the club being in a play-off place at the time of writing. Holloway is a cult figure within English football due to his humorous quotes and eccentricity.
Since that result on the 10th November, 2007, the fortunes of Plymouth Argyle and Norwich City couldn’t be further apart. While Norwich are performing well in England’s elite division, Plymouth Argyle find themselves clinging desperately to the Football League. They have endured seasons of financial difficulties, resulting in player’s being failed to be paid on many occasions and administration, which itself has led to point deductions. These troubles has seen Argyle’s plummet from The Championship to League 2 in only two seasons, with the club now relying on youth team players at the start of this season. Despite their current position, the club has seen a rejuvenation of recent times and the chance of Football League survival is now a real possibility. It’s not only the team that seems to have declined since that day in November 2007 though, the fortunes of almost of all of the players who played that day have fallen also, with only six at the thirteen players who faced Norwich that day playing at a Premiership or Championship club.