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  • Writer's pictureTUST

Fan Zone 05/01/2024


YEOVIL’S  CHANGE  OF  OWNER  IN  THE  SUMMER  HAS  MADE  ALL  THE  DIFFERENCE


TORQUAY  SURELY  SAY  GOOD  RIDDANCE  TO  2023


RECORD  CROWDS  AS  FANS  GET  THEIR  FESTIVE  FOOTBALL  FIX



Ring out the old, ring in the new. For the story of Torquay United in 2023 will surely go down as one of the most dismal in the history of the club. A wretched season in non-league’s top flight ended, despite a decent run in the final ten games, in relegation and back into the world of regional, part-time football.

Although United, under owner Clarke Osborne, remained full time the team have made hard work of National South ending the year 13 points behind runaway leaders Yeovil.  It is hard to believe that when Yeovil were relegated with United back in April, the club was in disarray. Then during the summer a takeover under Martin Hellier has transformed the Somerset side. Along with a number of astute signings and, importantly, a re-engagement with the fan base

it’s no surprise that supporters have flocked back into Huish Park.

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Torquay start 2024 in 7th place and yes they are in the play-offs but half the season has now been completed. Thirteen wins from 24 matches sounds ok but if only many of the others had been draws then the gap with Yeovil would be closer. But United have already lost ten times, that’s two more than in the whole season when Torquay won this division back in 2019.

Of course a contributing factor which cannot be ignored has been the increasing week on week injury list which derailed last season and, so far, has this one. Key players such as skipper Asa Hall and midfield dynamo Tom Lapslie seem to have been absent more than they have played.

And currently Kevin Dawson, who bolstered midfield towards the end of last season along with much needed leadership qualities, has yet to play a game. So, in this regard good riddance to 2023.

Interestingly, credit to Steve Harris, Torquay’s 2023 record is: P53 W26 D6 L21 For 90 Against 77.

Last Tuesday’s home loss to Truro City was like an unfunny cracker joke falling further behind Yeovil.

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In the football world in general the work done by the Fan-Led Review has seen the beginning of what many have been advocating for a long time, the introduction of an independent regulator which in turn will enable fans to have more say in the running of their clubs.

TUST’s fans forum in November plus the threat of a fans’ protest at a match in December seem to have been the catalyst to the club instigating improved communication and dialogue with supporters.

The start of this was the online forum/meet the board with Clarke Osborne, CEO George Edwards, director Mel Hayman and manager Gary Johnson answering a series of fans’ questions. At the same time there is to be the creation in 2024 of a steering group consisting of a cross section of the fan base. Both these have been an encouraging and positive development. There are also going to be updates about a site for a new stadium and another face to face forum.

The big wish for everyone connected with Torquay is a swift return to the National League and then the much promised EFL.

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For readers who may have missed this over the Christmas festivities, a landmark EU court ruling opens the way to the resurrecting of the European Super League. The court ruled that UEFA’s rules blocking competition were contrary to law. Immediately both Barcelona and Real Madrid showed interest but English clubs who were involved in the original plans - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - all issued statements saying they will not be involved.

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The end of 2023 can’t come soon enough for two managers with Torquay connections. It’s not often that managers lose their jobs twice in the same year but this has been the fate of ex-Gull Josh Gowling who lost his jobs at Hereford FC and Darlington. While Gary Johnson’s son Lee was fired at first Hibernian and then Fleetwood.

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A host of non-league clubs celebrated bumper crowd attendances over Boxing Day and New Year/end of December as supporters enjoyed a festive football fix.

Boxing Day Crowd Watch: Southend 7,909, Yeovil 6,301 (a new National South record), Aldershot 5,970 (best attendance for 15 years), Hartlepool 5,077, Bury FC 4,833 ( new North West Counties Premier record), Macclesfield 4,201 and what a turn-out for Falmouth v Heston 1,845.

Saturday/New Year Crowd Watch: Chesterfield 8,898, Oldham 7,411, Woking 5,321, Barnet 4,041, Bromley 4,031 and in Southern League Division One South Wimborne 1,229.

At the half-way point in National South these are the average home attendances for the top three:

Yeovil 3,618, Torquay 2,343, Maidstone 1,867 while in last place Truro City 242.

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Christmas Quiz Answers: 1. Nico Lawrence  2. Sutton United 3. Royal Wootton Bassett 4. Frank Nouble 5. Aaron Jarvis 6. Mangotsfield Utd 7. Mark Halstead 8. #HerGameToo Ambassador 9. Goalkeeping Coach 10. Torbay Story 11. Dover Athletic 12. Ivybridge 13. 5th Anniversary 14. Ask the Board 15. Hereford FC 16. AFC Bournemouth 17. Brad Ash 18. Ollie Tomlinson.There were two joint winners of club shop vouchers, congratulations  to Will Hrycyszyn and Robert Tovey.

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Before Christmas TUST presented Torquay home and away shirts to 20 disadvantaged children who are under the umbrella of local charity Turning Heads. The Kitmas initiative brought happy faces to the children wearing their kit. So, 2023 ended on a happy note for them.First match of 2024 sees Eastbourne Borough at Plainmoor on Saturday. With Eastbourne sacking their manager on Monday can the Gulls record a league double? Eastbourne’s owner wasted no time in appointing ex-Gull Adam Murray as the new man in charge.


TUST wishes all readers and fans a very Happy New Year, may it be a successful one.


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