END OF SEASON REVIEW 2018/19
TUST promotes good governance and seeks to ensure the long-term sustainability of our club for the benefit of current and future supporters and the wider community.
Dear members and supporters,
We have already congratulated TUFC, Gary Johnson and his team on the wonderful season culminating in winning the Vanarama National League South championship. I was very pleased that some of the exiles who were unable to make it down to Plainmoor last week, and who attended the match at St.Albans, had another opportunity to celebrate in style!
After exactly 51 years of waiting, last week, witnessing the championship celebrations and such support for our beloved TUFC at Plainmoor brought a tear to my eye... The family members and many friends, some long gone, who have shared times together with me there were remembered.
I must also thank and congratulate the TUST board and volunteers who have achieved so much in supporting our club over the past season. They are a brilliant and multi-talented team! As you will see from the review that follows, many successful initiatives have been undertaken. It is hoped that we can continue to develop and build on these in the future. Many have focussed on connecting TUFC, not only with our regular supporters and visitors, but also with the wider local community, business fraternity and friends from further afield.
As you will see from our main mission statement above, 'to ensure the long-term future of our club for the benefit of current and future supporters and the wider community' is our main remit. I remain sure that developing positive community and supporter engagement, both with each other and of course with the club, is an important foundation for this.
Best wishes to all,
As well as the on-field success, TUST has gone from strength to strength throughout the season. Its board has increased in both numbers and the range of complementary professional skills of its members. We now have ten volunteer members including two co-optees who all have something to contribute to our strategic direction and operational activities. This has enabled us to review the Trust’s purpose and clarify our core objectives as follows;
Representing supporters: Being the democratic and representative voice of supporters and strengthening the bonds between the Club and the communities which it serves.
Promoting supporter influence: Achieving the greatest possible supporter and community influence in the running and ownership of the Club.
Community engagement: Promoting responsible and constructive community engagement and encouraging the Club to do the same.
Good governance: Operating democratically, fairly, sustainably, transparently and with financial responsibility and encouraging the Club to do the same.
Being inclusive: Being positive, inclusive and representative.
The board has worked hard to deliver these objectives with a number of initiatives, supported in some cases by other TUST members and the Torquay United Community Sports Trust (TUCST) as follows:-
PLFF TUFC Fan Zone
TUST, together with the Torquay United Community Sports Trust, has held no less than 9 Fan Zones before home matches this season (2 more being cancelled due to the weather). The launch of this initiative was on 8th September v Chippenham Town and the final one being at the last home game v Hungerford. We have met many friendly people, both from our local community and visitors alike. Many times, adults with the children have told us that it was their young ones' first visit to Plainmoor! Activities have varied, ranging from the Speed Goal and Bubble Football to the FIFA Playstation challenge and other indoor games, from colouring to face painting! Badges, stickers and sometimes balloons have been enthusiastically received.
Many thanks goes to everyone who has volunteered to help, from TUST, TUCST and the girls' community outreach group from the Grammar School. Particular mention should go to our very committed steering group, including John Downer (Project Co-ordinator), Robin Causley, Ali Bryant, Jamie McInnes and Tim Herbert.
PLFF TUFC Community Outreach Hubs
As above, TUST and TUCST have worked together to hold these outreach hubs at no less than 7 different community venues. We have met many people from all walks of life, supporters and friends of Torquay United, as well as those in our community developing or rekindling an interest in our local football club.
The enthusiasm and involvement has been extremely encouraging and positive. Our Fan Zone Speed Goal, in particular, has been visited by many young children, teenagers and adults alike. Ages have ranged between 5 and senior citizens aged 85, both gentlemen and ladies! It has been a great advert for TUFC.
Venues have included: 'Living Longer' at Newton Abbot racecourse; 'Ageing Well' at Paignton Community College; Coombeshead School; KEVICS at Totnes: the Acorn Centre at Barton and Newton Abbot Easter Market.
Further outreach events are planned for: The Denbury May Fayre, 6th of May and The Glas-Denbury Music festival, 6th of July.
Matchday Ambassadors – a report by Nick Brodrick, TUST board member
Last August, with the club at its lowest ebb – waiting to kick-off in National League South – there was, not surprisingly, an air of despondency but also a little glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, a corner could be turned. After all, the owner had given the manager a pretty competitive playing budget and said the sole objective was instant promotion.
At the instigation of TUST there had been a move to introduce a Supporter Liaison Officer back in 2017 and although this came to nothing, it was the then Club Secretary Tim Herbert who offered TUST the opportunity to support the club to trial a version of an SLO during pre-season, August 2018.
And so the Match Day Ambassadors were born. Initially three of us, on the Popside and at the Bristows/Family Stand entrances – were joined later by a fourth. My thanks to Michel, Jon and Rob for all your hard work.
Throughout the season the Ambassadors have welcomed fellow supporters into Plainmoor with good humour and banter, also helping to deal with seating/ticketing issues and generally coping with any problems to take the burden off hard pressed club officials.
Our role from the outset was to support the club in a positive fashion to enable supporters young, old and new to have a trouble free match day experience.
For my part, it's been great to meet and talk with supporters young and old; especially children enjoying the excitement of their first ever professional football match at Plainmoor – so important to encourage them to grow into lifelong fans of the future and to hear stories from supporters who have been coming for over 50 years.
I've also met visitors to Plainmoor, who were on holiday in the Bay, whose first love clubs included Leicester, Wolves, West Ham, Charlton, Southampton, Barnsley and Spurs.
We've handed out balloons, stickers and badges. It's been a great season, full of wonderful memories and ending with a special TUST Champions 2019 badge to give out.
We would love to have more on our team to go into next season in the National League.
Various funded outreach initiatives
TUST has produced a 'Uniting Torbay' brochure: This has now been distributed to many local people, businesses and supporters, including those who now live further afield. The main aim was to outreach to the community in illustrating the heritage and value of our local football club, as well as the purpose of TUST. We have distributed around 1,500 brochures, the cost of printing being totally covered by our 8 business sponsors (currently up to 10).
The Disabled Supporter Fund: We initially held a successful TUFC Legends evening to raise money for this fund. A full team of 11 legends attended! More recently, we have sponsored Sam Balsdon, both on behalf of members and the board personally, on his brilliant marathon run to raise more funds for the disabled supporter ground improvements.
TUFC Ladies team: The proceeds of the Legends evening were split between the above and the TUFC Ladies team, who need help and support.
The Ian Twitchin Award: Some members suggested an annual award would be appropriate which would complement the recent naming of the Ian Twitchin suite by the club. This TUST proposal was first discussed with Ian’s family and TUFC soon after the sad loss of one of the club’s most loyal servants.
The TUST board, with encouragement from the Twitchin family, has agreed to purchase an award to be presented to the player, appropriately, who has made the most first team appearances each season. The majority of the cost has been covered by members' personal donations already. This year's first winner, Liam Davis, was very pleased to hear that he had won the award and it will be presented during the pre-season build up.
Structured Dialogue and Liaison with TUFC
We are still striving to re-establish a productive and effective relationship with the club's senior off-the-field management. We had previously enjoyed a year of purposeful engagement, which resulted in many of the initiatives described above, as well as a structured dialogue agreement that included looking at appointing a Supporter Liaison Officer, as is required in the EFL.
However, it is disappointing that this engagement and full co-operation has not been forthcoming of late. We only wish to see where and how we can help the club, improve the club's standing within the community and also be able to give some supporter based feedback to ensure their needs are being met.
With a view to the future, and any plans our club may have, we see the need for a great deal of community and supporter engagement if the club’s aims are to be realised, thereby creating a 'win win' situation for everyone.
We are pleased to learn that during this close season more money is being spent on new drainage and a new playing surface. With the ‘First Stage’ of the club’s plan achieved – promotion – we at TUST look forward to playing our part in the next stage of the club’s rejuvenation in the National League.
We wish all Gulls supporters a relaxing and enjoyable Summer!