Our premiership status, doesn’t allow us the opportunity to play Plymouth much these days so trying to choose a player for this weeks feature was always going to prove difficult.
More so given that so many have passed between the clubs during the years. So with Pompey seeking to sign a goal scorer in the current transfer window I thought I’d look back and focus on just a few players who have hit the back of the net wearing the Pilgrims Green as well as the Pompey blue.
There are a number of ‘heroes’ who fit easily into the goal scorers category, but top of my list is a player who although not employed as one managed roughly 1 in 6 during his career with both clubs. Norman Piper.
Having joined the Pilgrims as an apprentice Piper signed pro terms in 1965 and quickly established himself in the Plymouth first team where he stayed for 5 years scoring 35 times in little over 200 appearances. In 1970 he was recognised for his ability and called up to the England U23 team for the game against Bulgaria.
Whether it was his international recognition or his consistency for Argyle that prompted Pompey Manager Ron Tindall to break the club transfer record and shell out £50,000 that summer we will never know, but Tindall had signed a player who would serve Pompey with great distinction.
In just over 8 years, the sensationally creative midfielder, who didn’t always get the credit he deserved, played over 300 games and scored 51 games for Pompey and whether he was wearing the number 2 or 4 or 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 or 11 shirt always managed to stay on top of his game – Seriously Norman Piper is the player I have seen wear the most different numbers on the back of a Pompey shirt!
After Pompey’s relegation to the 3rd Division Piper began to lose form and was eventually dropped. Ironically, in February 1978 his name became embedded in Pompey folklore forever when he became the subject of one of the most commonly known Pompey quiz questions. Does anybody know what it is?
Another product of the Plymouth youth scheme who was already at Pompey when Piper arrived was fleet-footed little winger Nicky Jennings.
Jennings had played nearly 100 games for Plymouth before he was signed by Pompey’s George Smith in January 1967. Smith had a policy of plucking youngsters from the lower divisions and paid Argyle £25,000 for their nippy winger. It proved money well spent.
Playing just a few days after his 21st birthday, Jennings scored on his debut at Fratton Park in a 3-2 win over Rotherham United and soon became a firm favourite with the fans.
Known as ‘Topper’, Jennings became the regular occupant of the number 11 shirt and despite his 5ft 6in size, scored 50 goals for Pompey in just over 200 appearances, his displays of tricky wing play and runs down the Fratton flanks earned him Pompey player of the year in 1971
Also at the club at the same time as both Piper & Jennings was Pompey player of the year in 1972 – Ritchie Reynolds.
In all Reynolds made 131 appearances for Plymouth scoring 24 times before moving to Portsmouth in the 1971 close season. ‘Baldy’ stayed at Fratton for 5 years and although other strikers came and went during what was a turbulent time at the club, Reynolds remained committed and loyal and played on until the disastrous relegation season of 1975/76. When he ended his Pompey career he had scored the exact same number of goals for Pompey as he had for Argyle.
A player that often gets forgotten in discussions about great Pompey goal scorers is Billy Rafferty. After starting out at Coventry and Blackpool it was Plymouth were ‘Raffs’ really made his name scoring 35 times in 90 appearances as Paul Mariners (another to play for both clubs) strike partner.
A move to Carlisle proved successful but when transferred to the bigger clubs (Wolves and Newcastle) he was unable to recapture the form that made him so prolific, until that was a £80,000 move to Pompey where he has to team up with Alan Biley.
Biley’s prowess in front of goal is legendary but most forget it was his excellent understanding with Billy Rafferty that helped the pair of them terrorise back fours in the old division 3. A partnership, which proved critical to Pompey’s continued upturn in the 1980s. All in ‘Raffs’ netted an impressive 40 goals in 100 games for the blues.
Another hugely popular player to play for both Pompey & Plymouth was David Kemp.
Kemp began his professional career with Crystal Palace in 1975, but moved to Fratton in November 1976. Although he was never to play a full season for Pompey he was the leading goal scorer in two 1976-77 and 1977-78.
To say Kemp was a legend is an understatement his 1 in 2 strike rate made him the darling of the Fratton End, which in turn earned him a exposure in a well-known boys comic, where he was featured photographed alongside his fictional goal-scoring counterpart ‘Roy of the Rovers’.
Cash strapped Pompey cashed in on Kemp very quickly and sold him to Carlisle where for two and half years he ‘did the business’ for them before returning south to Plymouth where between 1979 & 1982 he scored 39 in 84 games. Not quite as prolific as he was at Pompey but good enough to get an entry in the book ‘the best 101 players to have played for Plymouth’.
Since hanging up his boots David Kemp has also had spells as Assistant Manager at both clubs too, which luckily doesn’t share the same curse as that encountered by Messer’s Pulis and Gregory who both actually managed (debatable) both clubs.
Others too have played for both clubs. A couple of years ago Redknapp signing & and member of the championship winning squad Vincent Pericard donned the Green during a loan spell and scored 4 in 15 games. Although 3 were in one game!
Pie man, Fratton idol and now Talk Sport presenter Micky Quinn also had a spell on loan at Plymouth but unfortunately for Argyle he was unable to find the net.
Then there’s ‘Trebs’ of course who played and scored for Plymouth on a regular basis before his ‘unsuccessfully brilliant’ move to Everton prior to coming to Pompey. He totalled 60 goals in just under 200 appearances between the clubs.
Alan Rogers was another. A nippy winger purchased by Pompey from Plymouth and although never prolific he too notched up over 200 appearances between the two clubs.
To send time writing about Lee Chapman or Ian Baird the two ‘flops’ Pompey purchased from Leeds would be a waste of time, but needless to say neither did either club justice during their spells at Home Park & Fratton respectively.
So there you have it a quick run down of some of the strikers that have graced both Pompey and Plymouth. With the exception of the last two (and the loan players), I’d go as far as to say that most, if not all that have served both clubs in ‘attacking’ roles have been a success and most have their names in the Halls of Fame for one, if not both of the clubs.
I wonder if Harry has considered a trip to beloved Devon to see what’s on offer at the moment? You never know he might come back with a Piper, Jennings, Rafferty, Kemp or Reynolds… You just never know!
I wonder how much they want for David Norris!!
Written by Chix.
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