Graham Hambly – Telling the Argyle Story

Graham Hambly – Telling the Argyle Story

Graham was born in Plymouth during World War II and educated at the private Warran School off North Hill. He was taken along to Home Park by his parents whilst still at primary school and recalls attending the two Third Round FA Cup ties against the mighty Wolves in the early 1950s. He became a staunch Argyle supporter and season ticket holder and witnessed Jack Rowley’s team win the newly formed Division 3 title in 1958-9.

On leaving school, Graham enrolled on a secretarial course at the old Technical College in Plymouth with an eye to becoming a sports journalist. His dream was realised when, shortly after his 18th birthday, he joined the Western Evening Herald as a junior reporter.

Initially, Graham learned his trade by undertaking a wide range of journalistic tasks, but his first love was always sport and he eventually began reporting on Plymouth’s speedway team and Argyle reserves’ home matches in the Football Combination League.

In 1968, a momentous decision was taken to have separate Argyle reporters for the Western Evening Herald and its sister paper, The Western Morning News. Ray Head, who had been reporting on the club for both papers, became the Morning News’ reporter, with Graham taking over at the Evening Herald.

Graham was to continue as The Herald’s Argyle correspondent for almost 30 years, stepping down from the role to take early retirement in 1997. He would later make a comeback as the Argyle reporter on the Sunday Independent.

He now lives a happily retired life near Ivybridge, where he voluntarily acts as pressman for the local football team, Ivybridge Town.

PAHA would like to record their grateful thanks to Trustee John Eales, and Callum Forwood, a second year BA (Hons) History student and Argyle season ticket holder, for all their valuable help with this project.

Part 1: Childhood Memories

Graham recalls supporting Argyle in the 1950s, including the cup ties against the then might Wolverhampton Wanderers and the two promotion seasons of 1951-2 and 1958-9. He remembers our great players of that era, such as Pat Jones, Neil Dougall, Maurice Tadman, George Dews, Gordon Astall and Alex Govan.

Part 2: Into Journalism

Graham shares his memories of being a junior reporter on the Western Evening Herald and Western Morning News, starting from 1961. These include covering speedway at the old Pennycross Stadium and reporting on Argyle Reserves’ home matches in the Football Combination.

Part 3: Argyle Correspondent

In 1968, Graham became the Argyle reporter on the Evening Herald. He tells the story of getting banned from both the tea room and travelling with the team in 1969, following a minor disagreement with the then Chairman of the club, Robert Daniel. He also reminisces about the Saturday Football Herald which could be bought from vendors in the city centre 20 minutes after Argyle’s match had ended.

Part 4: The 1970s

Graham remembers the run to the semifinals of the League Cup in 1973-4 and the promotion season of 1974-5. He recalls our star players from that decade, including Jim Furnell, Ernie Machin, Paul Mariner and Billy Rafferty. Some of the matches from 74-5 are particularly memorable, including Blackburn Rovers home and away and the game against Colchester United at Home Park where Mariner’s goal sealed promotion for the Greens. Graham reflects on his mixed feelings that night: delight that the club were back in the second tier, but concerns about doing the triumph justice in the next day’s Herald.

Part 5: The 1980s

Graham recalls the run to the semifinal of the FA Cup in 1983-4 and the promotion season of 1985-6. He talks about some of his favourite players of this era: Gordon Nisbet, Kevin Hodges and Tommy Tynan. He also discusses the impact of the great Dave Smith’s arrival as manager of the club in 1984 – a man who Graham describes as “putting a smile on the face of Argyle”

Part 6: The 1990s and Retirement

Graham remembers Peter Shilton’s time as Argyle manager and the great football played by the 1993-4 team with the likes of Steve McCall, Paul Dalton, Steve Castle and Dwight Marshall exciting the Home Park faithful.

He goes on to recall being banned from the press box by then Chairman, Dan McCauley, and having to report on the team from a seat in the Lyndhurst Stand.

He also reflects on Neil Warnock’s spell as manager and the club’s first visit to Wembley in May 1996, the triumphant 1-0 win over Darlington to secure promotion.

Finally, some of the characters around the club are remembered, including Michael Foot, who once got stuck in the car park at Stoke City along with Graham.

Also in the Argyle Archive Collection: