How Bobby Williamson reflects on Plymouth Argyle's QPR title-clinching win of 2004

Bobby Williamson holds a unique place in Plymouth Argyle history after the Pilgrims secured a promotion and league title in his very first match after being appointed as manager and tomorrow (Wednesday) is the 20th anniversary of that memorable moment.

A crowd of 19,888 packed into Home Park on Saturday, April 24, 2004 and saw the Pilgrims beat Ian Holloway's Queens Park Rangers 2-0 to pip the visitors to top spot in Division Two (now referred to as League One) after goals from Mickey Evans and David Friio.

Even 20 years on, the commentary by the late, great Gordon Sparks on BBC Radio Devon of Friio's goal remains fresh in the memory of many who were at the Theatre of Greens that afternoon. "Two-nil, that's it, Argyle are up', Sparksy summed it up in an instant.

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Former Kilmarnock and Hibernian boss Williamson had taken charge of the Pilgrims only a few days earlier. He was appointed after a 4-1 defeat away to Oldham Athletic on the previous Saturday, bringing to an end a nine-match spell with coach Kevin Summerfield as caretaker manager following the departure of Paul Sturrock to then Premier League club Southampton at the start of March.

Williamson was introduced to the Green Army before kick-off against QPR and 90 minutes of football later he could add a league title to his CV! Now aged 62 and living in Kenya, he recalled the events of that day, and his 16 months at Home Park, in an interview with Plymouth Live.

Williamson said: "What I remember is the atmosphere was electric and we won the game against QPR, who were also a very good team managed by Ian Holloway at the time. That was a tremendous day, and the day afterwards in the Civic Centre was fantastic as well.

"I remember the goals. 'Chucky' Norris crossed the ball in from the right and big Trigger scored. David Friio got the other one. The game kind of passed me by because I was taking in the fans' commitment and passion.

"I wasn't in charge really. I wasn't even going to sit on the bench. I only got there on the Tuesday or the Wednesday so I never had much of an impact. I spoke to the players about the desire to win the game and get the promotion, and gave a little team talk."

Just days into his tenure as Argyle manager, Williamson was more than content to take a back seat and watch the players, staff and supporters celebrate the promotion and title success.

Williamson said: "I tend to do that anyway. I have won a few trophies in my time, especially in Africa. I won four CECAFA Cups with Uganda and a league trophy in Kenya, I kind of sat in the background and took it all in, and enjoyed the occasion. I'm not one for jumping about all over people, and stuff like that.

"I remember I got presented with a medal and I said 'This isn't my medal' and I gave it to Jacko (the late Ian Pearce) the kit man at the time. He was a lovely man and a good part of the dressing room. The players used to take the mickey out of him and he used to give as good as he got. I'm sure he's sadly missed."

Argyle went on to finish 17th in the Championship under Williamson the following season, three points above the relegation positions, but a poor start to 2005/06, with just four points picked up from the first six games of the campaign, led to his dismissal and Tony Pulis was brought in to replace him a short while later.

Williamson said: "I didn't think I did a bad job to be honest. I spoke to (Argyle chairman) Paul Stapleton when we got promotion and asked him what the aim was and he goes 'Stay in this league (the Championship), whether it's by a point or a goal, just stay in this league' and we did that comfortably.

"We were never in the bottom three, and at the start of the season we were around the top three for a while. With teams newly promoted they start off on fire but then the other teams begin to recognise where weaknesses are, and you start to find your level.

"I think we punched well above our weight. The wages we were paying compared to everybody else in that division, I think we were probably the lowest. So that was a season for me to settle in and see if these guys could do it at this level.

"Going into the Championship they were playing against Premier League players who had just been relegated, and quite a lot of the clubs were on parachute payments. It was a year to discover who could play at that level and who couldn't. It would have been difficult for me to move those guys after winning two championships in three years and not giving them an opportunity.

"I gave them an opportunity and I decided to get more experienced players in who had played at that level. We signed a few but I never really got a chance to work with them as long as I would have liked.

"Six games into the season, and we were not even in the bottom three, and I got sacked. That was disappointing. It was my first sacking - not the last, but the first one anyway!"

Williamson was appointed as Chester City manager a couple of years later but did not see out the season and later in 2008 he made the move to Africa, which is where he remains to this day.

He had five years as the head coach of Uganda, and then led Kenyan side Gor Mahia to their first league title in 18 seasons before taking charge of the east African country's national team - the Harambee Stars - from 2014 until 2016.

Now retired and living with his wife and their 11-year-old daughter in Kenya, Williamson has no plans to work again in football.

"I do miss the game," he said. "When I watch football on TV and I watch how teams defend I think 'How are they being coached?' But when I really think about it, with VAR, the referees, the social media and the way players are behaving nowadays, I think I'm better off out of it."

Reflecting on his time at Argyle, and on life in Devon and Cornwall as a whole, Williamson said: "I really loved the place. Okay, it's a bit far away from everywhere else but the place is beautiful.

"You go down to the harbour, you travel into Cornwall, I really enjoyed it. I got to see a whole part of that area while I was there. I was disappointed not to see my contract out.

"I would love to be back in Plymouth, whether just as a fan or whatever. I wouldn't hesitate if that opportunity came around. The fans are special.

"To drive up from St Dennis up to Home Park for a game is a journey and a half, and away games are obviously even further to go. I thought they were very loyal, very passionate and I appreciated their support. I used to go down to St Dennis for club events and I really enjoyed their company. I thought they were fantastic people."

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