Green Barmy: Iconic striker scored his first goals against lucky Rochdale
WHETHER it is the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool or Plymouth Argyle, supporters with good memories can put a small number of teams in one of two brackets.
The very mention of certain opponents would have followers with sharp memories labelling them 'bogey sides' or 'lucky' opposition
Today's visitors to Home Park, Rochdale, could certainly be placed in the latter category as far as Argyle are concerned.
That 'luck' includes, as the Green Army will recall, a promotion-sealing victory at Spotland 10 years ago.
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But looking back four decades, successive seasons saw the two biggest wins for the Pilgrims in the history of the meetings of the clubs.
In February 1973, the fixture at Spotland gave no indication of the 6-0 win that was to come.
The Pilgrims would go above Rochdale, just below halfway in the Third Division table.
Tony Waiters' side had not fared well on their travels, winning just twice and a few weeks earlier had suffered a 7-1 battering at Oldham Athletic.
Rochdale did not have a reputation for attracting large attendances, and just 2,622 braved what were difficult elements.
They included one official coach of Argyle fans who could have been excused for being a little travel weary, especially if they had seen the two away games in the previous 10 days.
The narrow FA Cup defeat at Leeds United was followed by a point at Shrewsbury Town.
With the supporters' coach leaving late on the Friday night on the eve of the match at Rochdale, the late winter elements took a grip as they ventured north.
Temperatures dropped the further they were from Plymouth, and ice was prominent on what turned out to be a hazardous trek.
But they safely arrived in time for a match that they would hardly want to erase from their memories.
Doing his best to keep a clean sheet would be veteran custodian Jim Furnell.
But he had fresh competition for his place as Melia Aleksic, whose death has sadly just been announced, joined Argyle from Stafford Rangers.
As it turned out, Furnell was rarely called into action that cold Lancashire afternoon. The opening 20 minutes was run-of-the-mill until the Greens stepped up a gear to demoralise the hosts before half-time with a three-goal burst ahead of the interval.
Midway through the first period, Derek Rickard hit the target with a sharp shot to give Argyle the lead from an acute angle. Gordon Morritt, the Dale goalkeeper, was left embarrassed as the ball passed between him and his near post.
Rickard scored a second, but was not the only player to bag a brace. Fellow striker Alan Welsh took his season's tally to eight.
There were further goals from captain Dave Provan and another of the long-established professionals, Les Latcham.
It was one of those matches where some fans, seeing their heroes receive a drubbing, could not take the full 90 minutes.
Spotland was virtually deserted at the final whistle – apart from the hardy bunch of travelling supporters.
Manager Waiters related the win to the defeat at Oldham which was still fresh in the memory.
A 'freak result' is how he described it.
It turned out it wasn't as seven months later they beat Dale 5-0 in Devon in September 1973.
Waiters was about to mark one year in charge of Argyle, while Rochdale had a new manager in Walter Joyce, who was unbeaten in the three games.
The mini revival included a 5-3 success over Hartlepool in the League Cup, so no doubt Waiters warned his charges of their potential.
Morritt, the hapless Rochdale goalkeeper, had flown the nest and was replaced by new signing Rodney Jones.
Joyce had been busy in also acquiring midfielder Keith Hanvey from Swansea and young defender Steve Arnold from Liverpool.
A shade over 7,000 inside Home Park witnessed a little piece of club history.
Steve Davey's awareness spotted Argyle's new acquisition from Chorley arriving late as the Pilgrims broke away, and Paul Mariner headed home the first of 56 league goals in a green shirt.
That goal came 10 minutes into the second half to put Argyle three-up, and there was more to come.
Johnny Hore scored the opener before another Argyle newcomer also scored his first for the club.
Like Mariner, making his debut was right-winger Brian Johnson as was Alan Rogers, although the left-sided midfielder had played as a substitute in the opening game of the season.
The long-haired Mariner scored a second with 10 minutes remaining to really announce his arrival.
The work of Argyle scout Verdi Godwin in the North West had paid dividends.
Godwin had implored Waiters to sign Mariner before other clubs, who also had scouts tracking his progress, stepped in and recruited the centre-forward.
Davey completed the scoring to give Argyle a handsome 5-0 win and the first return of two points for the campaign.
In the two season's meetings against Rochdale, there were goals aplenty in the reverse fixtures.
In May, 1973 Argyle wrapped up the season with a 3-2 win over Rochdale.
Neil Hague popped up to score two of the goals to pip striker Jimmy Hinch to the mantle of top scorer for the campaign with 11.
The win was completed by Hore to ensure the season finished on something of a high.
In October that same year, just a month after the meeting at Home Park, the Pilgrims came away with another maximum return from Spotland.
Alan Welsh and Davey set Argyle on their way before an own-goal sealed a 3-1 win.
So, as the teams meet this afternoon, who would bet against a goal-fest?