John Hore – Player, Manager, Legend

John Hore – Player, Manager, Legend


PAHA’s John Eales interviewed Argyle great John Hore in the Players’ Lounge at Home Park on Monday, September 25th, 2023, two days after our wonderful 6-2 win over Norwich City. John E was assisted by a final year history student from the University of Plymouth, Callum Forwood, who helped particularly with the technical aspects of the interview. We were joined by first team coach Kevin Nancekivell for most of the time and at one point the then Argyle manager, Stephen Schumacher, dropped in on us.

Part 1: Beginnings

We discuss John’s early life in the china clay villages near St Austell. He starred for East Cornwall and Cornwall Schools and was eventually offered an apprenticeship by Argyle after trials in the Potteries with both Stoke City and Port Vale. Football apprenticeships in the early 1960s were somewhat different to nowadays and John has some good anecdotes to tell of his time under George Taylor and Pat Jones. Malcolm Allison gave John his first team debut as an 18-year-old in a match at Northampton Town in April 1965.

Part 2: Becoming a regular in the first team (1965-72)

John started to establish himself in the first team through the rest of the 1960s. He became the first ever Argyle player to come off the substitute’s bench in a match at Charlton Athletic in August 1965 – and argues the case that he was actually the first substitute to be used in the Football League. He discusses what he regards as his best ever match for the Greens, a 4-0 win over Blackburn Rovers in April 1967, and his first goal for the first team the following week at Bolton Wanderers, a strike which guaranteed our survival in Division Two for another season. He also talks about the famous win at Millwall in January, 1967 and the Rodney Marsh penalty for QPR at Home Park on Boxing Day of the same year.

Part 3: The Waiters Era (1972-76)

John recalls his time playing under Tony Waiters from 1972 to 1976. He talks about the Santos friendly in March 1973 when he was given the daunting task of marking Pele. He remembers the arrival of a young striker from Chorley called Paul Mariner and his partnership with Billy Rafferty. He goes on to discuss in depth our run to the League Cup semi-final in 1974 where he played in every single match. He then recalls the 1974-5 promotion campaign which was also his testimonial season and culminated in a friendly against the sublime Liverpool team of the mid-seventies, managed by the great Bob Paisley. He finishes this part of the interview by talking about our return to Division Two football, being dropped by Waiters and then signing for the man he was once apprenticed to, Johnny Newman, manager of Exeter City.

Part 4: Returning to Home Park as manager (1976-84)

John talks about his time in East Devon, winning promotion with Exeter and captaining the club. He then discusses his retirement from the professional game and going on to win the Western League as manager of Bideford Town in the early 1980s. His success in North Devon led another Cornishman, Argyle chairman Stuart Dawe, to offer John the manager’s job at Home Park in the autumn of 1983 following Bobby Moncur’s departure. We discuss in detail the club’s run to its one and only FA Cup semi-final in April 1984 and how close we were to taking that game to extra time.

* John mentions coming up against Bobby Moore as manager, although Bobby was not the manager of Southend United when we played them in the first round of the FA Cup on November 19th, 1983. He was manager, however, when we met them in the league on May 7th, 1984 – hence the confusion.

Part 5: The 1984-5 season

John discusses the problems he had persuading players to join Argyle in the summer of 1984 and his disappointment at losing such stalwarts as Dave Phillips and Lindsay Smith. However, he was encouraged by the signings of three men who, in their own ways, would go on to become Argyle stalwarts: Adrian Burrows, Russell Coughlin and Clive Goodyear.

We then discuss the start of the 1984-5 season in some detail. Argyle started that campaign with, incredibly, just 14 full-time professionals and a skeleton backroom staff. Unfortunately, despite some exciting matches, including a come-from-behind 6-4 win over Preston North End at Home Park and a 3-3 draw at Gillingham, the club struggled for wins in the first couple of months of the campaign. In October 1984, with the Greens second from bottom of Division Three, the Argyle Board made the agonising decision to dispense with John’s services, just six months after he had led the club to the last four of the FA Cup and just weeks after he had been rewarded with a two-year contract.

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