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FANS' ZONE 12/05/2022




UNITED’S IF ONLY SEASON DRAWS TO A CLOSE BUT SINCLAIR COOKS UP A GREAT IMPRESSION AS WEMBLEY HEROES MEET AGAIN


The race for the National League title couldn’t be closer after Wrexham’s Sunday lunchtime 3-0 emphatic victory in front of a whopping 10,118 (including 1,200 away fans) over a wobbling Stockport County, making it four defeats in the last six for the visitors who then faced a Torquay United side on Wednesday, the Gulls playing not only for pride but also for some, contracts.

With a slightly patched up side, well certainly in mid-field, the Gulls held out for an hour before the home side’s pressure from 9,407 paid off as £300,000 striker Paddy Madden scored the decisive goal to put Stockport in touching distance of a long awaited return to the EFL.

The destination of the title will be decided on Sunday and which of the two sides will the Yellow Army be pleased to see the end of for next season? The answer may well be, of course, both!

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United’s comprehensive 2-0 win over fast falling seventh placed Chesterfield only underlined what might have been in front of the BT Sport cameras. If only Gary Johnson’s side had ‘clicked’ well before the December resurgence taking forty-six points from twenty-four matches - that’s promotion form.

Johnson, before Saturday’s last home game of the season, underlined the importance of the players and the club showcasing what Plainmoor and Torquay could offer a TV audience and he wasn’t to be disappointed. CEO George Edwards’ meticulous eye for detail ensured all was fit for those watching at home as well as those in the 3,075 crowd as the pitch was in perfect condition while Johnson’s squad played at the top of their game. The manager always cries out for his team to entertain, well they did this royally and he could go home up the M5 proud of his team’s performance in the final home game of the season.

It was a carnival type after game atmosphere as the players, along with their children, and management thanked the Yellow Army and vice versa.

With this feel-good factor in mind the club have not surprisingly announced season ticket prices for the 2022-23 campaign and Gulls’ fans have until Friday June 3 to take advantage of Early Rate Discounts. For all the details go to www.torquayunited.com.

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Surely owner Clarke Osborne must be fired up to back Johnson for that EFL promotion push with the prospects and the momentum looking good for next season. And that seems to be confirmed with the club statement, ‘We are as committed as ever to regaining its place back in the EFL, so let’s make 2022-23 that season!’

Although it’s still speculation which players the Plainmoor faithful saw for the last time, there’s no doubt Stephen Duke-McKenna will not be seen again and he signed off with a brilliant piece of skill opening the scoring in the 70th minute with a sublime piece of skill before his left foot planted his shot past the Chesterfield keeper.

Armani Little’s 15th goal of the season from the penalty spot might have been a soft award but Jim Kellerman’s tug may have been just retribution for his earlier elbow, unpunished, into Asa Hall’s face sending him to hospital in an ambulance with a broken nose and concussion. Surely a red card offence, as shown by the TV cameras, with the referee close by and watching.

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Plainmoor was the place to be on Saturday with a Wembley Dream Duo reunion and former loanees Sam Sherring and Adam Randell in attendance watching. Which Torquay fan can forget May 17 2009? That was the date of the Blue Square Premier play-off final between United and Cambridge United played in front of 35,089.

Step forward the two Torquay legends, the goalscorers of that memorable afternoon Chris Hargreaves and Tim Sills who helped United to return to the Football League, re-united in the Family Stand.

Sills was there with his family for the weekend while Hargreaves was working for BT Sport, Sills confirmed to the Fans’ Zone that he’d had a great season with his Hamworthy United side taking them to the FA Vase semi-finals before being knocked out on penalties.

Hargreaves, meanwhile, having left his coaching role at Bristol Rovers, is searching for another job in football and speaking to the Fans’ Zone said maybe a manager’s role is not far off. Pleased to say he reads this column.

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Remembering another date? May 8 2004 was the last day of the 2003-04 season with Leroy Rosenior’s side at Roots Hall needing to beat Southend and rivals Huddersfield not to win at Cheltenham to gain automatic promotion out of Division Three.

The Gulls raced into a 2-0 lead with strikes from Steve Woods and David Graham. The hosts grabbed a goal back while Huddersfield took the lead but Cheltenham snatched a late equaliser to send United up amongst huge celebrations from the travelling 1,800 Yellow Army. It was a fantastic afternoon which will last long in the memory. Tony Cottee was there for Sky Sports Gillette Soccer Saturday reporting on the match.

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Talking of ex-Gulls Paul Hall runs the QPR academy and he has been instrumental in sending us The Duke and earlier Sinclair Armstrong, any more like them next season will be very welcome.

Armstrong told West London Sport about how his loan spell on the English Riviera helped him to cook. He admitted he had to grow up fast since moving to London from Dublin eighteen months ago but moving down to Torquay for three months was a huge step forward in his development.

“When I went over to Torquay I didn’t even know how to cook and when you are there on your own you learn these life skills that you need when you grow up.”

So, Torquay for sun, sea and cooking! Wonder what’s his speciality!

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They love their football on Tyneside, what about this for an attendance record? Newcastle Women on their debut at St. James’ Park, winning 4-0, attracted a crowd of 22,134. Neighbours Sunderland in their League 1 Play-Off Semi-Final 1st Leg drew 44,742 - another record.

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Last week we asked how you voted for your players of the season and it was too close to call, Well on Saturday after the match we found out - Shaun MacDonald as Player of the Season and Joe Lewis as Young Player. Let’s hope both will be in 1899 shirts once again in August.

Will you be renewing your season ticket? Send your yes or no to: fanszone.tu@gmail.comor Twitter: @FanszoneT

Should contracts still be up for grabs, Ali Omar did his chances no harm with a bright display which saw him in the Vanarama Team of the Week.

United finish their season at Southend on Sunday and maybe a chance for Moyse and Slough to show their potential - safe travels to the Yellow Army.

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