Firstly if you are new to Plymouth and are about to undertake study here, welcome!
Now Plymouth can feel a bit detached from the rest of the world sometimes. It’s a big city on a peninsula, however this can create a strong local following for it’s sport and music, and maintains it’s own identity in doing so. Geographically the longest journey for any two sides to travel in the Football League is Carlisle United and Plymouth Argyle. A whooping 779 mile round journey for teams and fans alike, making midweek games for the fans incredibly difficult to get to, but true to form this doesn’t stop them. As a fanatical sports fan and long term Plymouth resident I wanted to take the time to write something for people new to the area, about what the city offers in this field. Take this as an introduction and brief overview of spectator sports, amateur and professional games in Plymouth, and the ways in which you can get involved.
Plymouth has a long sporting history and a growing future, which has seen the city produce a wealth of talent in various different disciplines, particularly since the turn of the millennium. We do have our claims to fame, good and bad, but Plymouth is a city that recently has had a bit more to shout about, namely the £46.5 million investment in the Plymouth Life Centre.
The city council funded Life Centre houses an Olympic standard swimming and diving facility which has become a training base for world class medallists from Canada, Lithuania, Ghana and of course our own Tom Daley, a Plymouth native. No doubt the success of the 2012 London Olympic Games, and more recently in Rio, has given younger athletes a chance to try out the facilities and become perhaps part of the next generation of Olympians.
The Life Centre has a fun pool open to all, indoor climbing walls, badminton, football, bowls, roller-skating and much more. Thanks to a partnership between Plymouth University, Plymouth City Council and Everyone Active, Plymouth University students are entitled to attend certain sessions each week free of charge. Please go to the Everyone Active website for more information.
Plymouth University is home to over 50 sports clubs, and over a hundred more societies featuring all your standard fare in Football, Rugby, Athletics, Cricket and Swimming. However for the more intrepid and curious of you there is Cheerleading, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Skateboarding, Lacrosse and even an Ultimate Frisbee club. Again all this information is on the University webpage. Personally I think being part of a team is an excellent way of feeling part of something greater than one’s self, there’s a last gang in town mentality, like being in a band or political movement, and is of course an excellent way to meet like minded folk.
Beyond campus, the city is home to League Two’s “greatest”, Plymouth Argyle FC. The “Greens” play their home games at Home Park, situated in Central Park, a stones throw from the centre of town, an all-seater stadium that can hold 17,800 at capacity.
Plymouth Pavilions is home to Plymouth Raiders Basketball team. The Raiders, (or Plymouth University Raiders, due to their involvement and sponsorship of the side) are a professional team that play in the British Basketball League. Now anyone that hasn’t been to a basketball game is really missing out, it’s a great atmosphere with a real essence of the stateside showmanship you see in the major leagues. Lightshow, furry mascot, cheerleaders, music, the whole nine yards. Give them a shot, no pun intended.
Now I’m not going to pretend I’m a Rugby connoisseur, I never was much of a player, however The Brickfields is home to National League One side Plymouth Albion RFC. They have an 8,500 capacity stadium, which has been their home since moving from Beacon Park back in 2003. The Brickfields also has it’s own athletics stadium adjacent to Albion. Again this is only a short walk from the city centre. Give it a try (again, sorry no pun intended).
The city also has a wealth of amateur teams which are always looking for new recruits. Plymouth Blitz is an American Football team set up by Plymouth University that compete nationally.
The Plymouth Mariners are and adult Baseball club that play as part of the newly formed independent South West Baseball League, which they have dominated in previous seasons. They play at Central Park diamond (right next to Home Park).
Several amateur field hockey teams operate in the city, the largest and most successful being the based at UCP Marjon.
For further reading on finding your local pitch, court, green, swimming pool or skate park go to the Sport & Recreation section on the plymouth.gov.uk website. This also gives detailed information on sports development in the city as well as extended information on how to get involved.
Sport is a thriving aspect of local culture the whole word over. It can transcend race, religion, gender and language, Plymouth is no exception.
Us sports fans and can get a bad name sometimes. The hooligan, the “jock”, the “know all”, but this kind of negativity is completely shunned by the huge majority of spectators and supporters I see. Loyalty, friendship, unity and a healthy dose of blind faith are prevalent. Hope to see you at a game. GREEN ARMY!
- Plymouth Raiders have an academy programme offering young players to opportunity to train with the squad and even the possibility for two inductees to progress to the first team. Information can be found at www.raidersacademy.com
- Although Plymouth Albion RFC was established in 1920 it’s roots go back much further. Albion started as the merging of two Plymouth based teams, Plymouth RFC and Devonport Albion RFC, both originally founded in 1876. Fixtures and ticket information available at www.plymouthalbion.com
- Plymouth Argyle FC is the most south westerly league club in England. They have the 47th biggest stadium in the country but sadly are the largest city in England to have never hosted top-flight football. That doesn’t mean they don’t have some of the best supporters in the country. Fixtures and ticketing information can be found at www.pafc.co.uk