FANS' ZONE 18/06/2021
WHAT A PERFECT DAY AS THE GULLS SWOOP TO BRISTOL FINAL - RETURNING DANNY WRIGHT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
Just 35 seconds is all it took for the returning Danny Wright to send the Gulls to Bristol for Sunday’s National League Play-Off Final. What a brilliant return for Wright, clearly the ace up Gary Johnson’s sleeve, with his two goals at crucial times and for lasting ninety minutes.
So, how can 1709 football fans sound like 5000? Put the Yellow Army inside Plainmoor on a warm, sunny mid-day in June add in happy clappers for all, an inspired idea (maybe copied from Thea Bristow?!), allow in two drummers, ramp up the pre-match music - who doesn’t sing along to ‘Sweet Caroline’ - wear special scarves for loyal season ticket holders - another great gesture from the club - all mixed together with fans giving it their all in noise and passion from start to finish.
There’s no coincidence that the electric afternoon, full of singing and passion, was helped by the ‘relaxation’ of the face covering issues which had been debated over the previous few days.
What an occasion it proved to be and full marks to everyone at the club for organising such a special atmosphere. TUST had spent the week in helping to ‘pump up the volume’ and whilst we take no credit for what the club arranged we feel, on behalf of our loyal members, we helped to prepare for the day.
It was, though, a fantastic 100% response from those 1709 inside the ground. Gary Johnson is a canny, experienced manager who had clearly wanted the week’s build-up to be low key. When asked about the preparations he quipped back, quoting a well known slogan for a popular chocolate bar, telling us about the players ‘work, rest and play’.
He knows how to reduce the tension and pressure with his friendly banter leaving the important stuff to behind closed doors.
Of course, contract talks between club and manager and between manager and players are quite rightly private and confidential. So what a boost, on the eve of this vital semi-final, and what a great piece of timing, as the club announced Gary Johnson’s contract extension - a further two years? - which must have gone down well in the dressing room because it certainly has throughout the Yellow Army.
These are heady times in TQ1 and TUST fully endorses the manager’s extension, we are fortunate to have such an experienced boss who clearly is loving his time at Torquay fully supported behind the scenes.
That he is staying for longer does imply, no matter which League the club may be in next season, that he will continue to have the full backing of owner Clarke Osborne and the other directors George Edwards and Mel Hayman. And thanks to the tireless work of the directors and their staff for all their preparation and efforts on Saturday.
As to the match top picks: the cross from Joe Lewis for Danny Wright’s opener, Adam Randell’s sublime cutback for Wright’s second, Asa Hall, playing a real captain’s role and the BT Sport and the Non-League Paper’s Man of the Match, putting his head where it hurts and then Dean Moxey’s coolly struck penalty. And the manager’s astute use of the subs’ bench.
For those who were there it’ll live long in the memory.
Now it’s on to Bristol to face Hartlepool United whose manager Dave Challinor acknowledged the Gulls have “ individual threats all over the pitch - but it’s a one off game.”
Wonder if we’ll be hearing from Jeff Stelling during the build-up?
And has Johnson got another ace up his sleeve?
With high ticket prices not every fan will be able to get to Bristol so TUST has asking whether the match can be watched on the big screen at Plainmoor or in Boots & Laces.
National League news: Manager of the Season Matt Gray Sutton. Player of the Season Stockport’s John Rooney who won it last year at Barrow. Top Scorer Michael Cheek with 21 for Bromley.
For those who may have missed it, the EGM call for a no confidence vote against the board and chairman Brian Barwick was rejected with only seven of the thirty-three clubs backing the motion which received no support from the National League Premier clubs.
It’s also confirmed that season 2021-2022 will see the same number of clubs currently in the three leagues.
Congratulations to Connor Lemonheigh-Evans on being the Yellow Army’s Player of the Season and to our ‘Torquayfied’ on loan Adam Randell for his much deserved Young Player award. Great choices with perhaps Asa Hall just missing out but he is currently top scorer.
So, it’s on to the final and who can have been failed to be dazzled with Gary Johnson’s vivid yellow 1899 club tie. Surely this is a must for Sunday. Check out the club shop.
Would you buy and wear the club tie at the final, yes or no? Send your reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @FanszoneT
To all those who have a ticket have a great day out. COYY