Where are they now? Plymouth’s third division runners-up 1975

by Neil Fissler

BILLY RAFFERTY admits that he never had another strike partner like Paul Mariner after they contributed 47 goals to help Plymouth Argyle finish Division Three runners-up.

The pair spent only two seasons together, but it is still a partnership that lives long in the memory of Argyle fans of an older generation.

Rafferty was a journeyman who was out of favour at Blackpool, but he was remembered by manager Tony Waiters from his time at Coventry City.

Mariner, who went on to play for England, was still a rough- around-the-edges youngster discovered playing junior football in Lancashire but he had an eye for goal.

The pair found the back of the net 27 times after Argyle returned to the Second Division and Rafferty wishes they had played together longer.

“Paul was still fairly raw as a player,” he said.

“Just in that first year, when we came together, you could see he had all the potential.

“He had everything, but there were still a few rough edges to him. He seemed to learn very quickly. We seemed to hit it off very, very quickly.

“I have never had another partnership like it. We just seemed to be on the right wavelength.

“It was strange because, in a lot of ways, we were very similar in our style of play.

“What I think made it work was there weren’t two centre-forwards who played just like a target man.

“We were both able to hold the ball up and bring each other into play.

“We were good in the air but also turning on players, running past players and getting in behind defences.

“The thing that made it work was that we worked really hard for each other.

“We created space for each other. It was just fantastic. I was really sad our partnership lasted for only two years because, when I think back on it, it was the most enjoyable time of my whole career.

“I had other partnerships that were very good – and I did score goals playing with other people as well – but that season was something very, very special.

“Every club has its icons and heroes, but what’s nice now is that when Paul and I go back to Plymouth, it’s Mariner and Rafferty that everybody talks about after all this time.

“Plymouth is a place that holds very special memories in my heart.”plymouth watn graphic

  1. Peter Hardcastle: Full-back who became a teacher in Tampa, in the United States, and is now the director of an educational consultancy in Alsager, near Stoke-on-Trent.
  2. Brian Johnson: Winger who lives in Plympton, near Plymouth. Worked at a police station and as a van driver before joining a small finance company.
  3. Dave Sutton: Defender who managed Rochdale and Chorley before running a market garden business he set up with his father.
  4. Clive Griffiths: Defender who settled in the States, where he became a coach. He is now living in Kansas City and travels the world promoting his company, International Soccer Program.
  5. Ian Pearson: Striker who lives in Honiton, near Exeter, and has spent many years working as a school teacher in the local area.
  6. John Delve: Midfielder who has settled in the Exeter area, where he ran a pub before taking over a couple of shops in the local area.
  7. Colin Randell: Full-back who returned to his native South Wales, where he has managed Briton Ferry Athletic and Barry Town. He also worked for South Wales Police as head of physical education.
  8. Mark Nickeas: Defender who lives in Westlake Village, California, and owns a company that manufactures security products. His son, Mike, has played as a catcher in MLB.
  9. Paul Mariner: Striker who ran soccer schools in the States, where he coached a number of a clubs. He has also managed Argyle and is now working in the media.
  10. Mike Green: Central defender who went on to manage Torquay United for four years. He still lives in the town and managed a sub-post office for many years.
  11. Jim Furnell : Goalkeeper who was a coach at Home Park until he joined the Blackburn Rovers staff, where he stayed until retiring in 1998.
  12. Milija Aleksic: Goalkeeper who spent many years in South Africa, where he sold golf equipment and office supplies. He worked for a Johannesburg golf club until his death in October 2012.
  13. Billy Rafferty: Striker who returned to the Carlisle area. He lives in Tarraby and has business interests that include health and fitness clubs and an indoor soccer school.
  14. Alan Rogers: Winger who is back living in Plymouth, where he has run the Swinton Hotel with wife Lorraine for more than 20 years.
  15. Peter Darke: Full-back who settled in Torquay, where he married the daughter of former Gulls ace Tommy Northcott. He worked for a blinds manufacturer before taking up a position at Plymouth University
  16. Phil Burrows: Defender now living in his native Stockport, where he became a chartered surveyor in the building industry.
  17. Bill Shearer: He worked as a physio at Perth Royal Infirmary. Died suddenly in May 2006.
  18. Davie Provan: Winger who has worked as media pundit for many outlets, including Sky Sports, the News of the World and local radio.
  19. John Hore: Defender who took Argyle to an FA Cup semi-final as manager then owned a fitness club with his wife in Exeter before retiring.
  20. Ernie Machin: Midfielder who became the first player to successfully challenge an FA fine and ban in the courts. Spent many years in the transport business but died in July 2012, aged 68.
  21. Tony Waiters: The England international is now a Canadian citizen and has been President and Technical Director of World of Soccer Ltd in British Columbia.
  22. Steve Davey: Defender who owned a residential rest home for the elderly in Plymouth and is co-commentator for BBC Radio Devon.
  23. Bobby Saxton: Central defender, who managed Exeter, Plymouth, Blackburn and York. He also coached at Sunderland and Manchester City and has scouted for Sunderland.
  24. Harry Burrows: Forward who ran a carpet business, a pub and then the Abbots Bromley post office in Staffordshire until retiring in June 2010.
  25. Keith Blunt: Coached all over the world and was operations director of the FA’s National Training School. He spent many years in China.

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