GREEN BARMY: Regis unable to match high hopes after big money deal
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE are at Underhill this afternoon to play against Barnet, a side boasting many links in personnel with the Greens.
The past player under the spotlight today carried great monetary value on his shoulders, but failed to win over too many fans during his time at Home Park.
Dave Regis was a striker of whom much was expected when he was signed by David Kemp in 1991.
It is true to say the then Argyle manager was not used to head-hunting players who cost sums of money that contained a number of noughts.
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But when Dan McCauley took over the chairmanship of the club, he wanted results – and quickly.
To that aim, he held substantial purse strings, and they were immediately loosened.
It was November 1991, and the Pilgrims were rock bottom of the old Division Two, with just 12 points from 16 games having scored only 15 goals.
Remedies were required, particularly in front of goal.
Kemp had attempted to sign defender Nicky Mohan who was unsettled at Middlesbrough.
That deal failed on the well-worn hurdle of the distance from Plymouth to the player's family home.
Kemp then moved for Jeff Hopkins, with the defender signing on loan from Crystal Palace.
But the Argyle boss did persuade another player in search of regular first-team football to fly his nest.
Regis joined Notts County from Barnet for the hefty sum of £200,000 in September, 1990.
His impact was immediate, scoring 15 goals as County surged towards promotion to Division One, the then top flight of English football.
But he fell down the pecking order in the higher tier, and dropped back a division again to sign for the Pilgrims.
Sport was certainly a big part of Regis family life.
The new signing was the younger brother of former England international Cyrille, the cousin of sprinter John and the uncle to current footballer Jason Roberts.
The Londoner had been something of a journeyman in his younger days, travelling around the non-League circuit.
Despite having trials with Watford at the age of 16, nothing materialised, and he became disenchanted with the game after playing for two local junior clubs. So much so, he gave up playing altogether for 12 months.
Upon his decision to return to the game, he signed for Dunstable where he spent a season and a half.
Confidence returned, and so did the goals.
He moved up a level to sign for Fisher Athletic, and in his first season with his new club, promotion was won from the Southern League Premier Division and were elevated to the Conference .
A complete change in direction came when he moved to Canada, but it turned out to be a brief stay.
Returning to England, Regis signed for Windsor and Eton, but again felt the need to go on his travels.
Next stop was New Zealand but he soon fell victim to a bad injury that saw him back on home ground.
When recovered, signing for Barnet proved to be a good decision as his goals helped the north London side win promotion from the Conference to the Football League.
It seemed, at last, his career had taken a positive turn.
Agreeing to an approach from Notts County, Barnet allowed Regis to leave in a deal that also involved the transfer of Paul Harding to the East Midlands club.
After making seven appearances as a substitute, his full debut was made against West Ham United.
But Regis will claim his most notable performance for County came in the Division Two play-off final at Wembley Stadium when he scored one of the goals in the 3-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion to seal promotion.
When he arrived at Home Park, it was for a club record fee. and being a striker, that tag came with the immediate expectancy of scoring goals.
Unfortunately, things don't always turn out as hoped. His debut came in a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Tranmere Rovers.
It took six league games for him to eventually get off the mark when he and Martin Barlow scored the goals in a Friday night game to beat Newcastle United 2-0 at Home Park.
The only other goal attributed to the name of Regis was in February, and that counted for nothing as Argyle were soundly beaten 4-1 at Portsmouth.
Two goals in 22 starts told its own story. Argyle finished third from bottom and were relegated. The big-money signing had failed to pay dividends.
Kemp paid the ultimate price, and the first manager sacked by McCauley was replaced by Peter Shilton.
The following season, Shilton had an expensive problem on his hands, but Regis didn't start a game for Argyle until the new season was eight games old.
That's because Shilton sent him out on loan at the start of the campaign. In a month at Bournemouth, he found the net twice. Finally, there was a glimmer of light.
Regis scored two in a League Cup tie at Aldershot in late September, and three days later hit the target in a 2-1 home win over Bolton Wanderers.
He then scored twice in his next three games, grabbing the winner to add to Warren Joyce's goal at Preston North End, and also scoring the second in a 3-2 success against Luton Town.
The big question was: Would that scoring momentum continue?
Shilton had serious doubts, and on the back of a mini goal spree, Regis was deemed surplus to requirements. and sold while some money could be recouped.
He left Plymouth for Stoke City for £150,000.
In his two years with the Potters, he bagged 15 goals in 63 appearances before slipping out of the limelight again.
A very brief stay with Birmingham City was followed by two years at Southend United, for whom he netted eight times in 38 matches before a transfer to Barnsley.
Scoring just one goal, Regis spent the best part of the next two seasons on loan.
But a total of just three strikes in temporary spells with Peterborough United, a return to Notts County, and with Scunthorpe United meant Birmingham were keen to see him off their payroll.
He signed for Leyton Orient, but met the same fate he was to experience at Lincoln City, a transfer to Scunthorpe, followed by dropping out the League to play in the colours of Wivenhoe Town.
It was a disappointing exit from the professional game. Sadly, things didn't quite work out for Regis, who arrived at Argyle as a possible saviour, but only had a relegation to remember from his time in Plymouth.