Liverpool v Plymouth: Argyle legend Tommy Tynan recalls unusual Anfield trial

Tommy Tynan
Tommy Tynan began his career at Liverpool after entering a newspaper competition to get a trial

If you get into a taxi in Plymouth and the voice behind the wheel has a Scouse accent, there's a good chance you are in the presence of greatness.

Tommy Tynan, now transporting people around the streets of his adopted city, is one of Plymouth Argyle's most revered strikers.

Sunday's FA Cup third-round tie between Argyle and Liverpool at Anfield will be something special for Tynan. He began his career with the Reds in the early 1970s after entering a local newspaper competition to get a trial.

"You had to collect 20 tokens, and once you had them you sent them off to the Liverpool Echo," Tynan, now 61, told BBC Sport.

"They came around different areas in Liverpool, took trials and it was whittled down to 22 lads who went to Melwood.

"[Youth development officer] Tom Saunders watched me in the trial game and they had some five-a-side games, we won 5-0 and I scored all five goals.

"The next night, he sent his assistant around to the house and they asked me to come and train. Bill Shankly signed me six months later and I played in the same youth team as Phil Thompson, David Fairclough and Jimmy Case."

While Thompson et al went on to form the backbone of the Liverpool side that dominated England and Europe for almost two decades, Tynan failed to make the grade at Anfield and left without playing a first-team game.

The route to Plymouth

Watford v Plymouth
Plymouth reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1984 but lost 1-0 to Watford at Villa Park

The goalscoring ability he showed during his trial at Liverpool never left him. His goals helped Newport County to the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1981, where he scored twice in a first-leg 2-2 draw at East German side Carl Zeiss Jena before the Welsh side lost the home leg 1-0.

His goals, coupled with Newport's need to sell players to stay afloat, caught the eye of then-Plymouth boss Bobby Moncur in 1983.

"He always liked me," said Tynan. "Every time I played against Plymouth I'd always score. I think we played four times and I scored six goals, so he was quite a fan.

"When I first came down it didn't work out too well to begin with. I went 20 games and only scored two goals, but by the end of the season I ended up getting 22, which wasn't a bad return."

Tynan's goal return is the third best in Plymouth's history - 145 from 310 games over two spells.

His first season at third-tier Argyle coincided with the club making the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1984, when they lost to Watford, having beaten top-flight West Bromwich Albion and second-tier Derby County along the way.

"It was a decent run and we were unlucky to get beaten in the semi-final," Tynan said.

"The fans were brilliant, and it helped our league form as well. It was the underdog against everyone else and we were beating teams - it was absolutely brilliant."

Tynan's football journey

  • Liverpool (1971-76)
  • Swansea City (1975, loan)
  • Sheffield Wednesday (1976-78)
  • Lincoln City (1978)
  • Newport County (1978-83)
  • Plymouth Argyle (1983-85)
  • Rotherham United (1985-86)
  • Plymouth Argyle (1986, loan)
  • Plymouth Argyle (1986-1990)
  • Torquay United (1990-91)
  • Doncaster Rovers (1991-92)

'If Argyle play well, it can happen'

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Highlights: Newport County 0-1 Plymouth Argyle (aet)

Never before in Tynan's time as a player or supporter have his hometown side and the club in his adopted city ever met - not since 1962, in fact.

"I wish it would have happened while I was playing for Plymouth," he said.

"In some ways you've got to be very envious. It's a great atmosphere at Anfield. I am a little bit envious because I wish it could be me."

Up to 9,000 Plymouth fans are expected to travel to Liverpool for Sunday's tie and Tynan believes he will not be the only observer with split loyalties.

"There are a lot of Scousers living in Plymouth," said Tynan. "They call us the Scouse greens - we support Liverpool but watch Argyle.

"A few weeks ago there was a function on and Jimmy Case and Terry McDermott were there along with 200 Liverpool supporters, but they were all Argyle supporters as well, so this game has created a lot of atmosphere within the town."

So how might Argyle, second in League Two, fare against the five-time European champions?

"Liverpool might play a weakened side, but on the day you just don't know," said Tynan. "If they don't play as well as they can, and Argyle play well, it can happen."

Tynan will be in the stands to witness the first meeting between the two clubs in 55 years - one wonders what Argyle fans would give to have him in his pomp leading the line on his former home turf.

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