Green Barmy: Long-serving Uzzell is part of a select band of Pilgrims
THE acquisition of Gozie Ugwu by Plymouth Argyle manager John Sheridan last week provides the on-loan striker an opportunity to join an elite band of players.
Green Barmy likes nothing more than to celebrate the club's past legends, but also to reminisce over other names which have played a part in the history of The Pilgrims.
When he makes his debut on loan from Reading, Ugwu will become only the third player to play in the Football League for Argyle with a surname beginning with 'U' – and there is a strong connection with one of the other two.
Colin Upton was born in Reading, but joined Plymouth Argyle as an apprentice.
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His debut came as an 18-year-old in November 1978 under Malcolm Allison.
In his second spell in charge of team affairs at Home Park, Allison was never afraid to blood youngsters.
A Tuesday evening fixture in Division Three saw Upton make his bow alongside three other teenagers.
Gary Megson, who made his debut 12 months earlier was in the Argyle midfield; striker Mark Graves, who was just 16 when he played at senior level for the first time in December 1977; and goalkeeper Martin Hodge, who was another product of the successful Argyle youth scheme.
A win by the odd goal in five was secured with Fred Binney and Alan Rogers on target with the winner courtesy of an own goal.
Upton had to be content with an appearance from the bench in Argyle's next game.
Playing at Lincoln City, the Pilgrims again scored three in recording a worthy draw with goals from Keith Fear, Binney and Colin Clarke.
Upton's final appearance in a short-lived career at Home Park came in April 1979 when Bob Saxton had taken over as manager.
That came in a single-goal defeat at arch rivals Exeter City.
Released by Argyle, where he had served his apprenticeship, Upton returned to the area he was born and signed for Basingstoke Town.
He then played for Farnborough Town.
In the same Argyle team at St James Park was defender John Uzzell.
Proving that the progression of youth players was plentiful, Uzzell made his debut at the age of 18 in somewhat unusual circumstances.
Playing a competitive match on the final Saturday in July is a huge clue that it was not a league match. In fact, Uzzell played in five competitive games before the Third Division season of 1977-78 had got underway.
To ensure the full and correct title is given, Uzzell's debut came in the Anglo-Scottish Cup, Preliminary Group B.
Three group matches were played, before English and Scottish sides crossed swords in the latter part of the competition.
Previously named the Texaco Cup, 16 English clubs were in four groups of four teams.
One interesting fact comes from the knockout stage of the competition in 1970, when Airdrie beat Nottingham Forest. The match itself ended in a draw, with Airdrie progressing in the first-ever domestic game in the UK to be settled by a penalty shoot-out.
With the then standard format of two points for a win and one point for a draw, a bonus point was awarded to each team that scored three or more goals in a single match.
Uzzell had the honour of lining up in Argyle's first foray into the tournament.
Terry Austin scored the crucial goal at Eastville Stadium to earn a 1-0 win against Bristol Rovers.
Austin hit the mark again as Birmingham City fell to a one-goal defeat at Home Park.
Then, Uzzell had the distinction of playing in every match the club played in the competition, but a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Bristol City saw Argyle eliminated.
City went on to win the trophy by beating St Mirren in the final.
The opening round of the League Cup followed, and that gave Uzzell more first-team experience in a two-legged affair against Exeter City.
In the first meeting at St James Park, Mike Trusson scored twice in a crucial 2-2 draw.
That was followed by a goalless match at Home Park that saw the Greens taken to a replay – no penalty shoot-outs in that competition.
A toss of a coin gave Argyle home advantage, but they didn't make it count as City stole a 1-0 win.
But before that third meeting, Uzzell made his league debut, three weeks after his first senior start.
The 0-0 draw at home saw the points shared with Preston North End, but he settled in well in defence with Kevin Smart, Mick Horswill and George Foster – all playing in front of goalkeeper Paul Barron.
Such were the performances of Uzzell, he started in 44 of the 46 league games in his first season to become a mainstay in a side that saw him make 10 appearances in cup competitions.
He also managed to get on the scoresheet during that campaign, claiming the second in a 2-2 draw at home with Chester.
The stand-out moment of his time with the Pilgrims saw him proudly line-up in the FA Cup semi-final against Watford at Villa Park.
The left-back was one of many names that became more familiar to football fans across the country as the Third Division upstarts progressed to the last four, only to be beaten by George Reilly's goal that earned Watford a place at Wembley.
Although Argyle won promotion under Dave Smith in season 1985-86, Uzzell made just eight league appearances as his campaign was blighted by injury.
His final appearance in an Argyle shirt came in April 1989, bringing an end to a 12-year stint as a professional at Home Park.
In amassing 302 league and 52 cup appearances, he certainly claims a place among the club's elite.
Turning down the offer laid before him of a new contract, Uzzell signed for Torquay United.
Sadly, his playing career was brought to an early end when he suffered a terrible facial injury in a challenge with Gary Blissett of Brentford.
It was testament to Uzzell that Brian Clough brought his star-studded Nottingham Forest side to Home Park for a well-deserved testimonial on completion of the popular player's decade with his local professional club.
For the record, Forest goalkeeper Hans Segers was busy picking the ball out his net as Argyle won 6-1.
As Uzzell was substituted late on in the game so as to receive his own personal acclaim from the supporters, Clough walked on to the pitch to greet him in a manner that was fitting for a model pro.