Plymouth Parkway need monster mentality to get wins to avoid relegation

-Credit:Dave Crawford
-Credit:Dave Crawford

Plymouth Parkway manager Lee Hobbs feels it will be the greatest achievement of his managerial career if he can keep the club in the Southern Premier League this season. Monday’s 3-0 home defeat to promotion-chasing AFC Totton means Parkway remain in the relegation zone and are two points adrift of safety ahead of their game in hand against fellow strugglers Hayes & Yeading at Bolitho Park tonight.

The Londoners are a point clear of Parkway with the two clubs occupying the last two relegation places to be decided this season. Parkway then end the season at Beaconsfield Town, who they could climb above with victory tonight, in the final round of matches on Saturday.

This has been the most challenging of seasons for Parkway, who have endured issues with their pitch, which has led to 24 postponements home and away this season. As a result, they have had to play their final 18 games in just 50 days, whilst relying on the same group of players.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s match, Hobbs said: “It is an absolutely huge game because what we need to do first and foremost is win it and secondly, we need to bounce into Beaconsfield.

“We feel that four points is required, so hopefully we use home advantage to win on Wednesday night and then go to Beaconsfield and not lose - and they will also need to win it, or not lose.

“The stakes are high. We have had 49 weeks of football and been together for ten months, we have had blood, sweat, tears, not too many highs and a lot of lows and to finish the season off by staying above that parapet would be my biggest achievement in football.

“You see all past the league titles, the long national cup runs – this would be undoubtedly my biggest moment in football and I know I speak on behalf of every one of them too. It will be huge because everything has been against us, we have had no home and I wouldn’t even like to think about the amount of miles we have travelled. We have played at multiple grounds and if we do it, or when we do it, it will be an achievement which will be hard to replicate.”

It is hard to say whether tiredness played a factor against Totton. The simple truth is that Parkway were beaten by a hugely impressive team, a fact not lost on Hobbs. But the scheduling of the fixture left him seething.

“It’s the biggest game of the season by a country mile and for me, the result on Wednesday will dictate everything. We have got to win the game,” he added.

“By hook or by crook, however we find it, we have to come here on Wednesday night with a monster mentality where we have to give everything we’ve got. We haven’t got a lot left at the minute, but we are still fighting.

“As you have seen over the last however many games, no one has chucked the towel in, no one has downed tools, no one has moaned, although I am going to moan about the date of this (AFC Totton) fixture. For the last four weeks, we have played Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday and for whatever reason, the (Southern) League makes us play Saturday-Monday-Wednesday. Why? I have no idea, it doesn’t help us and all it helps is Totton because they have five days in which to recover before they play again on Saturday and the play-off the week after.

“I haven’t moaned about anything once – the travel, the schedule, playing at different grounds. But I am moaning about that. Who makes that decision to make us play on a Monday night when we have played as much as we have played and the travel we have done? It beggars belief and we should be playing Hayes & Yeading on Tuesday and Totton on Thursday night, but again, little old Parkway get ran all over the top of, don’t they?”

The challenge for the Parkway players is to pick their weary limbs up for two huge challenges, starting against Hayes & Yeading tonight. It is hard to fathom just how tiring it must be – to play on top of working their normal day jobs – but if character can get them through, then this Parkway group have that in abundance.

“I said before the game they are a credit to themselves as footballers and to their families. Not once has anyone moaned about what we are doing,” Hobbs said.

“It would be way too easy for the dressing room to be turned on its head and everyone ripping each other’s throats out and moaning and whining, or hiding away in treatment rooms, but I haven’t had one.

“We had 16 ion the squad tonight and that is testament to them as human beings. It is absolutely magnificent and if we stay up, it will be nothing more than they deserve because this season has been so turbulent and so erratic. We have played 18 of the last 21 on the road and it’s a season that will never get repeated and it’s been torture.

“But we haven’t moaned. I haven’t moaned, the staff haven’t moaned and the players certainly haven’t moaned. We just keep patching them up and putting them back out and that is credit to them as men.”

Parkway really do need all the support they can get tonight and fans are encouraged to head down to Bolitho Park and get behind the team. Admission is just £11 for adults, £9 concession, £6 for Under-16s and Under-10s are admitted for free.