By Haden Tye
When Herbie Stupple pulls on his Albion shirt and takes to the Brickfields turf on Saturday, he will be making his 100th appearance for the club that has always stuck by him.
Despite injuries halting Herbie’s early progress at the club, Albion stuck by him and he stuck by Albion, with his captaincy a symbol of his value to the club that he joined from Exeter Chiefs in 2012, with the prior season being spent on loan at Brickfields, making him Albion’s longest serving player.
Still only 26, Herbie has become an integral part of Kieran Hallett’s side and he says that he is enjoying life playing for Plymouth Albion.
“[It’s been] brilliant really,” said Herbie. “I think that is probably why I have spent this amount of time here. I have been around a few clubs now and this one has always brought me back and I think it is because of the way I have been looked after. The way I have been playing has shown that I have played a lot better here as oppose to at other places.
“That’s from the enjoyment of the place. The way that we train, and living close is a massive thing as well, that I can just nip home after training because we own our own house now. It’s a great place to be really, I don’t really have a huge focus on anywhere else.”
In Herbie’s time at the club, Albion were relegated from the Championship and entered administration, but Albion’s captain is proud that the club has come out of some difficult times and is now a very positive place to be.
“It was hard,” said Herbie. “But I think the players that we have brought ourselves together and we have always managed to bring ourselves together and push through. The potential of Plymouth is huge. As for now, it’s finally starting to pick up and we are starting to see the light at the minute. That is a positive thing.
“It’s good to see, personally, on my behalf that I stuck with it and it is nice to come out firing and see that the place is in its full potential now and to see the growth that has happened in the past year. My daughter growing up has been able to come up and see me and to give something back to the fans.
“I think I am one of 175 players that have come and been in the last six years, or 120 players, it was a horrific amount. I think there were two or three seasons where the whole team changed and I was one of the only ones that stayed around. It was hard because they have done a lot for me, they always have.
“They have always paid for my surgeries and in my three year injury stint which was horrific they stood by me and managed to see me come firing through and in the last two years I have made more appearances for Plymouth than I have in my whole time here. I think I made 12 in three years at one stage, whereas now I have managed to make pushing 60 in two seasons.
“It is an amazing place and I am glad I have stuck through with it and to come out firing like we are now and have this bunch of lads that have all stuck together and to get to second in the table and being captain has been huge for me and pushing me on and progressing me as a player as well.”
With the future looking bright for Albion, Herbie is looking upwards, hoping that one day he can help guide Albion into the Premiership.
“The goal is the Premiership,” said Herbie. “It would be amazing if in my time with Plymouth that I could be part of that team that does push us into the Premiership. To me, that would be an end goal. Getting there and securing us there, but that’s a little bit later on. For next year promotion is the goal and I definitely think that the team is capable of doing it and I would love for it to happen. I want this constant good feeling and this happiness around the club to carry on.
“The St.Luke’s Hospice run we had 1,800 people. To be able to see Albion like that week in week out, that for me would be a huge plus for Albion. Getting that attendance firing and getting everyone coming here to enjoy their days out. It’s my partner and my daughters favourite part of the week to come to watch Albion on a Saturday come sun or rain, it’s huge. That will be [something we are hoping for] next season, keeping that attendance fiery and to keep it a place that is full of excitement and joy for everyone.”