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Fan Zone 27/07/2023




New fans’ favourite Jack Stobbs summed up Torquay’s week on Twitter (or X) - a 1-1 home draw with Championship Devon rivals Plymouth Argyle followed by a thumping 4-1 win against League 1 Exeter City - “Hard work and good habits, all steps in the right direction. What a group we have.”

So, they might have only been pre-season friendlies, although according to Exeter manager, Gary Caldwell, “there’s no such thing as a friendly”, but United can claim Devon bragging rights.

For long suffering Torquay fans these two performances might be in stark contrast to the majority of games seen last season but nobody should get carried away until the real action starts at Dover on August 5.

Helped by both away clubs bringing over 1,000 fans Plainmoor was rocking with 3,285 for the Plymouth game and 3,014 watching the Exeter fixture.

It was a good week, too, for Gary Johnson, adding more numbers to his squad taking the total to 20 professionals, after giving contracts to Dan Martin, who has done well to recover from his injuries and Covid complications, to Trialist A/Number 15 Finley Craske, who shows a lot of promise after being released by Plymouth and, finally, taking on loan a Torquay lad, Will Jenkins-Davies from Plymouth.

With Dean Moxey and Kevin Dawson still to appear it’s looking as if there will be decent competition for places and consequently a stronger bench. With the start of the season drawing ever closer don’t be surprised if the club doesn’t announce a loan signing or two; another striker would be welcome.

No-one should be in any doubt that this is going to be a competitive league and United has no given right to finish top but there are plenty of positive signs on the pitch to make every fan hopeful.


Will they or won’t they? The Southend saga rumbles on. There was mixed news during the week with the consortium favourites to buy the club, the Kimura Group, pulling out but saying they were willing to join with any other interested parties. Current owner Ron Martin might be willing to sell the club for £1 but wants £4.5million for the ground.

Then on Friday a High Court judge gave permission for the club to pay off its football creditors to the tune of £300,000 which in theory should allow Southend to fulfil its National League fixtures.

But that’s not the full picture as they have to re-appear in court on August 23 to face a winding up petition from HMRC, needing to pay a £275,000 tax bill.

The story may have a happy ending for Southend’s loyal supporters as on Wednesday the National League issued a statement confirming that as the club had now paid its football creditors they would issue a license for them to play their fixtures, although there are conditions attached.

Should the club not pay its £275,000 tax bill to HMRC they will be docked 10 points or should the situation worsen then being expelled from the league is likely.

Meanwhile, the Shrimpers Trust held another protest outside Martin’s house on Saturday but their Hardship Fund has been given £10,000 by new York City owner Matt Uggla.


Pre-Season Crowd Watch: Dagenham & Redbridge v West Ham 4,996, Torquay v Exeter 3,014, South Shields v Harrogate 1,007, Dartford v Gillingham 884, Brackley Town v Northampton 813, Farnborough v Sutton United 445.


What a debut! Star Lionel Messi hit a wonder free kick deep in injury time to give his new side Inter Miami, owned by David Beckham, a 2-1 win. It was his 700th non-penalty goal in his illustrious career.

***** What makes a stand-out football manager? In a national newspaper it came up with seven key lessons: Focus on winning the next game and claiming another trophy; second, be an innovator, use your budget wisely; third, keep your eye on your financial state; fourth, pick players who will create your dream team; fifth, help your players to become the best they can; sixth, don’t keep players who don’t fit your future plans and finally, be a respected leader with a positive personality who can be successful and inspirational.


Next up it’s the final pre-season match with what is billed Southampton B (probably their Under-21 side) but before they come to Plainmoor on Saturday, they were at Weymouth on Tuesday night losing 5-0.

United’s Women’s team had a 2-0 win in only their second friendly as they gear up to Tier 4 National League football for the first time. England’s World Cup got off to a winning start albeit a disappointing performance with a 1-0 victory over a spirited Haiti team; looks as if they’ll need to up their game if they can stand a chance of winning the tournament.

What important qualities should a football manager have?

Send your views to: or Twitter: @FanszoneT





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