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Fan Zone 28/04/2023


LATE PENALTY HEARTACHE AS UNITED SLIDE TOWARDS NATIONAL SOUTH


OWNER TALKS OF FANS’ PASSION AND COMMITMENT AS GULLS REMAIN

FULL-TIME


UNITED WOMEN TO BE CHAMPIONS ON SUNDAY?



“Their fans are absolutely phenomenal; some of the best fans in the league they’ve got - an example to other clubs. They’re absolutely top drawer.” So said Altrincham manager Phil Parkinson after Saturday’s match talking about the Yellow Army.


Where to begin? After that 90th minute penalty confirmed, barring a miracle of mathematical proportions, Torquay United will be playing regional football next season, once again.


It was a heartbreaking afternoon for the loyal 354 Yellow Army who made the trip, including those who were subsidised by TUST’s donation to the Travel Club, plus many more listening to the radio commentaries or those abroad actually watching the game. That the club is almost certainly relegated is nothing to do with Saturday’s draw but is an accumulation of sub-standard displays over the course of the season barring the recent top half form.


Five wins, one draw and one defeat came about thanks to the more experienced loanees brought into the club. If only these reinforcements had arrived earlier.

With one more match to go, against champions Wrexham, now maybe is not the time to hold an inquest but surely, in the not too distant future, supporters’ concerns have to be addressed by the club’s owner and directors.


Owner Clarke Osborne went a little way to answering supporters by confirming in a statement that the club will remain full-time next season. That was a good start and he did also praise the fans’ passion and commitment but there remain many unanswered questions with TUST asking again for a meeting. Osborne’s Riviera Stadiums

Ltd runs the football operation but what are the plans for the future?


*****


Next season’s fixture list hardly bears thinking about, trips to Bishop’s Stortford, Weston-Super-Mare, Bath City, Chippenham and, of course, Somerset sides Taunton Town and Yeovil Town.


Given the circumstances of the club’s fall - two years ago a penalty kick away from the EFL - to the embarrassing decline into National South, warrants some explanation.

For the manager to say the club’s been there before and returned is surely missing the point. Why are we returning to regional football? It has been telling that in the last seven games only Shaun Donnellan and Aaron Jarvis, of all those signings made back in the summer, have been regulars.


Johnson’s ‘marquee’ signings comment has come back to haunt him as the majority of those who joined have been a big disappointment.


*****


Of those who did, how many were given two year contracts? And consider Jarvis (ex-

Scunthorpe), Brett McGavin (ex-King’s Lynn) and Ryan Hanson (ex-Dover) who will have a second successive relegation on their CV; Jarvis, mind you, will have redeemed himself with his 18 goals and he will clearly be a target for other clubs, after all every manager wants a striker who can score goals.


And how many Players of the Season have moved on the next season in Torquay’s history?


*****


Saturday’s summariser, ex-Gull Steve Woods, spoke a lot of sense during and after the match. He talked about the dejection, the fantastic fans, the poor recruitment and the inevitable question about the manager’s position.


And at his Press Call on Thursday, when asked, Johnson said he hoped to be still at the club in National South. One player who doesn’t deserve to be in a relegated side is fans’ favourite Asa Hall whose two goals on Saturday saw him in both the Non-League Paper and Vanarama’s Team of the Week. Added to Hall’s name could also be Kevin Dawson who gave his all as did Nico Lawrence.


With Torquay’s likely demotion this will be the first time four former Football League clubs - besides United, Yeovil, Scunthorpe and Maidstone - have fallen out of the National League.


Three of these are destined for National South which will mean a South team will have to move into National North.


*****


Non-League Crowd Watch: Not surprisingly 10,126 were in the Racecourse to see Wrexham receive the National League champions cup, 5,779 were at York as they drew with Aldershot and 4,016 watched Yeovil’s last home game.


Champions of the Isthmian South Central, Basingstoke Town, started their return up the leagues in front of 1,577 while Tim Sills’ Wimborne Town grabbed the last play-off place in Southern League Division South with a 1-1 home draw with Bideford watched by 1,044, a new club record.


*****


Yeovil Town’s long suffering support not only has to contend with dropping into regional football but also there were rumours over the weekend that the club could go into administration. There has for some time been a power battle between the current owner, Scott Priestnall, and at least two other interested parties. It is always disappointing when owners and supporters fall out, in most cases due to lack of regular communication.


*****


A few weeks ago it was looking as if National League footballers could go on strike as they reacted to the proposed updated player contracts which changed the current rules about sick pay should they be injured long term.


Last week the FA made amendments to the standard Non-League Player Contract to try to address the players’ concerns. This has come about as a result of discussions and consultations with interested parties, including the group of National League captains. It appears the situation is now resolved.


*****


So, the big match is fast approaching - yes, the Women’s final league match on Sunday against Royal Wootton Bassett Ladies when three points will secure the title and promotion. This game is being played at Liverton FC with a 2pm kick-off.


Meanwhile the Under-18s suffered their second successive defeat, this time 1-0 at Bath City.


*****


Best signing? It was close but the majority agreed it was Nico Lawrence who is clearly destined for greater football success.


Are you looking forward with excitement and anticipation for next season?

Send your reply to:

fanszone.tu@gmail.com or Twitter: @FanszoneT.


Promises to be a large, noisy crowd on Saturday. One last hurrah before the summer break.


COYY








 


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