Survival and success - Herald Sports review of 2012
2012 brought a lot of highs and quite a few lows for Plymouth sport.
Here Herald Sports looks back on an eventful 12 months
THE first month of the year was dominated by the financial crisis at Plymouth Albion.
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The 136-year-old club found itself in danger of going into liquidation and without a director of rugby.
Six weeks earlier the club, that had been struggling financially for a number of years, had sacked long-serving chairman of rugby Graham Dawe. At the time the club's board told a press conference the decision was mainly down to falling attendances at Brickfields, but it later emerged that a new backer had come forward and agreed to finance a new coaching team of Peter Drewett and Phil Greening.
However, following Albion's final match of 2011 on December 30, Drewett and Greening left after the club's new backer pulled out and the Championship club's shocking financial state was revealed.
The club needed to raise more than £200,000 to survive just the short-term.
Following an appeal, backed by The Herald, the club did raise the money and first team coach Nat Saumi took charge of the first team initially on a temporary basis.
Up the road at Argyle things were looking a lot more positive after their near collapse just months earlier.
January saw Pilgrims owner James Brent reveal the club's new board, while Paul Wotton and Nick Chadwick made returns to Home Park and experienced defender Darren Purse was signed permanently after arriving on loan from Millwall two months earlier.
At the end of the month Argyle appointed John Deehan as their director of football.
The first month of the year saw Raiders reach the prestigious BBL Cup final at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
But unfortunately, Raiders could not return with silverware as they were crushed 115-94 by league leaders Newcastle Eagles.
"We just didn't play well enough. It was as simple as that," said Raiders coach Gavin Love afterwards.
THERE were more reinforcements to Argyle's squad in February as they battled to avoid relegation from the Football League.
Strikers Alex MacDonald and Juvhel Tsoumou arrived on loan.
MacDonald made an immediate impact scoring a late equaliser against Southend on his debut.
Argyle went unbeaten during February. They drew with Southend, Barnet, Dagenham and Macclesfield while hammering Accrington 4-0 away.
At Brickfields, Nat Saumi accepted Albion's offer to become their new head coach/director of rugby. He signed a contract until 2013 after receiving assurances over the following season's budget.
But on-the-field it was not a good month for Albion, who lost against Bedford, Nottingham and bottom club Esher as their place in the relegation play-offs were confirmed.
Their long-serving Tongan centre Keni Fisilau was also banned for 18-weeks for a dangerous tackle.
Elsewhere, Central Park Pool hosted its last ever Armada Cup diving competition, while city cyclist Jon Tiernan-Locke became the first British rider to win the Tour Méditerranéen and divers Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow took bronze at the World Cup, claiming Britain's first-ever female medal at a worldwide event.
RAIDERS suffered further cup final agony when they were beaten once again by Newcastle in the two-legged BBL Trophy.
Raiders won the first leg by nine points but Newcastle overturned that deficit to win 184-177 overall.
Tom Daley won silver at the FINA Diving Series in Dubai, finishing behind China's Qiu Bo and in front of David Boudia, who went on to claim Olympic gold.
Argyle enjoyed wins over AFC Wimbledon, Shrewsbury and Bradford, while picking up draws against Bristol Rovers and Northampton. Their only defeats that month came against Gillingham and Rotherham.
Albion opened their relegation play-off campaign with a defeat at Moseley but they bounced back to beat Esher 18-11 and London Scottish 35-7.
Ruta Meilutyte, then just 14, destroyed her personal best to claim victory in the women's 100m international open breaststroke final at the British Gas Swimming championship, but there was disappointment for her team-mate Antony James who missed out on guaranteeing his Olympic place at the first time of asking by only finishing third in his event.
The first day of April brought joy for Albion who secured their place in the Championship for another year with an 11-6 victory at London Scottish.
It was their first away win of the season, but their inconsistency showed in their final two games of the 2011/12 season when they were beaten 42-17 at Esher before claiming a 54-24 home win over Moseley.
April also brought survival for Argyle, who sealed their place in the Football League with a 1-1 home draw against Oxford United.
It was a good sporting month for the city, as Tom Daley claimed the World Series title and Ivybridge booked their place in the National Colts' final for the first time in their history.
Tavistock claimed the Cornwall/Devon rugby title.
THERE was European success for city divers Tonia Couch, Sarah Barrow and Tom Daley in May.
Couch and Barrow ended Great Britain's 74-year wait for a female European Diving Championship title when they won the synchro event in Eindhoven, Holland.
Daley then followed their success by setting a new PB to claim the 10m platform individual title the day before his 18th birthday.
Plymouth Diving also showed the next generation of divers are coming through with Shanice Lobb and Matthew Dixon impressing on their GB debuts in Germany.
There was disappointment for Tavistock's 2008 Olympic silver medallist Heather Fell who could only finish 15th at the World Championships in Rome to miss out on a place at London 2012. However, she did win a silver medal at the World Series event in China at the end of the month.
Argyle goalkeeper Romain Larrieu announced his retirement from playing ahead of the Pilgrims' final match of the season against Cheltenham, which they lost 2-1.
Argyle offered new deals to Maxime Blanchard, Warren Feeney, Robbie Williams, Durrell Berry, Joe Lennox and Ollie Chenoweth.
City youngster Lloyd Jones signed a professional contract with Premier League giants Liverpool.
Albion longest-serving player Keni Fisilau held a testimonial match after completing 11 seasons at the club.
Ivybridge were beaten by Bedford Blues Academy in the National Colts' Final at Northampton's Franklin's Gardens.
THE month of June was dominated by Olympic selection.
The big story was the surprise omission of Tonia Couch from the 10m individual event for the Olympics.
Despite being GB's most successful female diver Couch was left out of individual competition by performance director Alexei Evanagulove as he wanted her to concentrate on the synchro event with Sarah Barrow.
Couch, backed by her coach Andy Banks, appealed the decision but it was not overturned and so the city diver did not get to double up like she had done four years earlier in Beijing.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Antony James did make the GB swimming team after an agonising wait after initially missing out on the qualifying time after winning the second Olympic trial in Sheffield.
Argyle signed Paris Cowan-Hall from Woking for an undisclosed fee, Albion Rhodri McAtee from the Cornish Pirates and Drew Lasker returned to the Raiders.
JULY brought international success for a number of our regional up-and-coming stars.
Tavistock College pupil Saskia Sills won the RS:X windsurfing event at the ISAF World Youth Sailing Championships in Dublin.
Plymouth Leander's Joe Patching claimed the European Junior Championship backstroke title in Antwerp and Plymouth Diving's Shanice Lobb won a European Championship bronze medal in Austria.
A more experienced campaigner, Heather Fell, helped GB to a team silver at the European Modern Pentathalon Championships in Bulgaria.
Plymouth won the Devon Games to Inspire title.
Argyle signed former Republic of Ireland Under-21 goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin on a two-year deal.
Meanwhile, Devils boss Mike Bowden made a plea for fans to support the team following a drop in attendances.
ONE event dominated August – the Olympics Games.
And what a Games it was for city athletes.
Plymouth Diving's Tom Daley won a medal at the Olympic Games after an indifferent qualifying round.
Daley, having finished fourth in the sycnhro with Peter Waterfield, battled back against some of the world's top divers to clinch bronze,having led going into the final round.
He held his nerve to win the medal after asking for a re-dive on his first dive after he was distracted by flash photography during his first effort.
Daley dedicated the medal to his late father Rob.
Double world champion Rebecca Soni tipped Ruta Meilutyte for a great career after the Plymouth Leander swimmer beat her to claim the Olympic women's 100m breaststroke title.
Fifteen-year-old Meilutyte, a student at Plymouth College, edged out the experienced Soni by eight one hundredths of a second to snatch gold.
The Lithuanian also broke the European record for the event in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Plymouth Diving stars Heather Couch and Sarah Barrow refused to be too disappointed at missing out on an Olympic medal at the Aquatics Centre.
The city duo had a realistic chance of claiming a podium finish in the women's 10m synchro after winning the European Championships and claiming a World Cup bronze medal in the run up to the Games.
But on the day their rivals hit top form in and Couch and Barrow, who were second after the opening two rounds, had to settle for fifth place.
Good news for Leander and future Olympians was that head coach Jon Rudd, the man who helped steer Meilutyte to gold, announced his commitment to Plymouth.
Plymouth marksman Rory Warlow also did well at the Games, describing his appearance for Great Britain in the shooting competition as an 'incredible experience', while fencer Corina Lawrence also enjoyed her first Olympic experience.
Having lost 5-0 to Birmingham in a pre-season friendly, Argyle went down 1-0 to Preston.
Pilgrims chairman James Brent promised manager Carl Fletcher would be given time to rebuild his team after the Pilgrims narrowly survived relegation from the Football League.
Argyle beat Portsmouth 3-0 in the first round of the League Cup at Home Park. But their League Two form was not exactly buoyant.
Defender Robbie Williams admitted they only had themselves to blame for losing 2-1 to early pacesetters Oxford United.
The Pilgrims were in 23rd position, with one point out of a possible nine and only Barnet below them in the table.
In round two of the Capital Cup Argyle unluckily went out on penalties to Burnley at Turf Moor.
PLYMOUTH'S Jon Tiernan-Locke became the first British winner of the Tour of Britain in 19 years when he triumphed in the 2012 event, which went through Tavistock.
Albion, having kept most of their squad together, enjoyed a brilliant start to the season, winning four of five matches in September. Their only defeat was a narrow 19-17 loss at the Cornish Pirates.
Alex MacDonald re-joined Argyle on loan from Burnley.
The striker insisted he wouldn't have joined Argyle if he thought they were going to struggle.
Argyle enjoyed quite a good month, losing just one game – at home to Port Vale. They beat Northampton and Morecambe and drew with Torquay and Bristol Rovers.
In cricket, Cornwood were promoted to the Devon League Premier Division for the first time in a decade, while Yelverton and Plymouth Civil Service and Roborough were both promoted from the D Division.
It was the end of an era for one city diver, as Brooke Graddon announced her retirement from the sport.
Struggling Devils finished bottom of speedway's Premier League, but Jon Rudd was named UK swimming coach of the year.
David Wetherill became an internet sensation following a stunning shot during a Paralympic table tennis match.
Plymouth's Olympic and Paralympic stars received a welcome home parade.
Raiders hammered London Lions in their opening BBL Championship match of the season.
TOM DALEY won two titles at the World Junior Championships in Australia.
Fellow city diver Shanice Lobb also reached two finals on her debut in the competition.
Argyle enjoyed their biggest win of the season when they hammered Barnet 4-1 away. They also progressed in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy by beating Aldershot.
However, they ended the month with defeats against Cheltenham and Rotherham.
Cyclist Jon Tiernan-Locke officially joined Team Sky on a two-year deal.
A consortium launched a bid to take over the Devils from Mike Bowden.
Albion's good start to the season came to an end as they lost all their matches in October, conceding more than 50 points in their league match at Bedford and British & Irish Cup game at Rotherham.
THERE was televised FA Cup disappointment for Argyle as they lost 1-0 at Dorchester Town in the first round.
November was a bad month for the Pilgrims who lost five of their six games. They only managed one point that month with a draw at home to high-flying Gillingham.
They did bring in Mark Molesley on loan from Bournemouth and Colin Sexstone joined Argyle's board as non-executive director.
November also proved another poor month for Albion, who lost three of their four matches.
Their only win came at home against struggling London Scottish.
To add to their woes Paul Bailey broke his hand in their defeat at Jersey and they were charged with bringing the game into disrepute following a mass brawl in their game against Bristol.
City-born star Anthony Rowe makes a shock exit from Plymouth Raiders and joined Leicester Riders.
The takeover of the Devils by a new consortium was finally completed.
RUTA MEILUTYTE continued her Olympic form to win two golds and a silver medal at the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul.
She is also won The Herald's Young Sports Personality of the Year award.
Fellow Olympic star and winner of three world titles in 2013, Tom Daley, claimed the main Herald Sports Personality of the Year Award.
Plymouth Raiders won the team prize.
Argyle, who put captain Darren Purse on the transfer-list, went out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on penalties when they lost to Oxford United at home.
Their only win of the month came at home to York City.
Raiders were knocked out of the BBL Trophy by Worcester Wolves at the first round stage.
Albion beat Welsh side Aberavon home and away in the British & Irish Cup but lost 9-5 to the Cornish Pirates on Boxing Day.
WHAT WILL 2013 BRING...