FANS' ZONE 11/02/2022
TORQUAY TOM OUTSHINES THE WREXHAM MILLIONS AS JOHNSON’S MASTER PLAN PAYS OFF
There have been matches when managers have got their tactics completely wrong and suffered inglorious defeats but on Saturday when high spending Wrexham came into Torbay, Gary Johnson got his spot on.
Playing skipper Asa Hall much deeper was a master stroke but wouldn’t have worked had the rest as a whole ‘run their socks off’ because this was an heroic performance for 97 minutes.
It was fitting that Hall should not only be the match winner but also Man of the Match although many of us in the Family Stand would have given it to the ever calm and assured under pressure, Dean Moxey.
A word too about the referee, Aji Ajibola, who for the most part had a good game, not something that could be said about many match officials this season.
On that showing who would you have in your mid-field, Tom Lapslie, a free signing from Colchester United, or Tom O’Connor, £500,000 from Burton Albion? Congratulations to Torquay Tom for being included in the Non-League Paper’s Team of the Day, he’s the epitome of a professional footballer from a bygone era: a ‘proper’ haircut, shirt always tucked in, socks pulled up with black boots - and never gives up. Shaun MacDonald was in the Vanarma Team of the Week.
And never giving up is what the manager is instilling into his players as the dream of making the play offs continues. This week sees the Gulls making the long trip to luckless Dover currently on minus 40 goal difference with only one win all season but as Johnson is always keen to point out, beware the wounded animal.
National League Crowd Watch: Notts County v Grimsby pulled in 9,305 helped by an amazing 2,454 away fans, Stockport had an impressive 7,269, manager-less Chesterfield 6,063 and Torquay United 3,181 not, as might have been expected, their highest gate of the season. In National South second placed Maidstone Utd had 2,450 while Dulwich Hamlet had another full house with their regular 3,334 and in the North Hereford were watched by 2,019.
National North Kidderminster Harriers were minutes away from an FA Cup shock from knocking out Premier West Ham United but it wasn’t to be, however step forward the last non-league team Boreham Wood, with three ex-Gulls, winning 1-0 at Championship AFC Bournemouth to give them a 5th Round tie at Everton; what a performance! That’s now five cup games without conceding a goal. Let’s hope their eye is on the prize when they come to Plainmoor later this month.
Last week’s story about increasing fan mis-behaviour took another turn with alleged racial abuse of the match referee from the Wrexham fans at Plainmoor. The match was also halted following a coin thrown onto the pitch. Trouble also on Saturday in a League 1 fixture when leaders Rotherham, winning 1-0 at the time, gave away a penalty to visitors Accrington Stanley in the 88th minute. As the kick was about to be taken a home fan rushed onto the pitch to kick the ball off the spot, he was duly chased and apprehended. Once the game re-commenced, the penalty was missed with the result ending 1-0.
And on Sunday a Leicester fan ran on the pitch to confront the Nottingham Forest players celebrating a goal.
Clearly the FA and the police are going to have to start taking stronger measures.
The history of football broadcasting is about to enter a new chapter, For some time this column has been reporting that BT was about to sell off its sports section. Early favourite was the Discovery channel but more recently streaming company Dazn took over but now the word is BT is going into a partnership with Discovery.
The story of football on TV is an interesting one: initially Sky Sports had the monopoly until 2007 when the European Commission ruled that the Premier League had to sell off some of its packages.
First up to take advantage was Setanta who took on 42 Premier matches per season plus Conference (now National League) matches. But their involvement only lasted three years after running out of money. ESPN then stepped into the void before BT took over in 2013.
Discovery purchased Eurosport in 2012 covering the Tokyo Olympics and currently running a streaming service, with Dazn, in Germany.
One concern is that these streaming services have a record of increasing subscriptions. So, if this merger between BT Sport and Discovery is set to take place, let’s hope the National League, as General Manager Mark Ives told us last week, are re-negotiating their contract - and this time to include live streaming for member clubs.
All this comes at a time when watching live sport on BBC is becoming a thing of the past. Those who are reluctant to pay for their live games are, unfortunately, the losers.
Back in 1992 the BBC had the rights to 17 of the 22 elite sports and sharing three more but now they have the rights to none and only a share in eight - and it’s all down to money, or rather the lack of it.
Most of the major events still shown by the BBC are those preserved by law for free-to-air coverage.
Esme Kilburn-Thompson kept her record of scoring in every game since her transfer netting the only goal in Torquay United Women’s 1-0 victory over visitors Forest Green Rovers Women, all this on a Sunday when leaders Sherborne Town lost; it’s tight at the top of the table.
Last week’s column about match programmes has confirmed that printed ones are not only alive and well but also still avidly collected. Some even have ingenious names: Farnham ‘The Talk of the Town’, Truro City ‘The Roar’, Fawley ‘The Oilers’, Morpeth Town ‘The Highwaymen’ and Bridgnorth ‘The Meadowmen’.
So, are United likely to reach the play-offs, yes or no? Send your prediction to: email@example.com or to Twitter: @FanszoneT.
To the Yellow Army travelling, safe journey to Dover.