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FANS' ZONE 18/07/2021

Updated: Jul 23, 2021


Photo by Dennis Kallmer

After such a Shaw start in the Euro 2020 final, for Torquay United’s loyal fans, England’s penalty heartbreak - again - will have brought back painful memories from Ashton Gate last month.

To be fair, Italy’s second half performance showed why they have been unbeaten for so long and are the best team in Europe. But as Gary Johnson remarked, you can’t miss three penalties.

Penalty shoot-outs - a lottery? Well, yes they certainly seemed so as United went down 5-4 which compounded the still raw feelings about the two disallowed goals. But actually there may be more to taking them that meets the eye.

It may not be of any consolation but for future reference:

The art of penalty shoot-outs has been the subject of studies with an analysis of all shoot-outs in the World Cup and European Championships finding that after players celebrated with both arms extended their team mates who took the next penalty were twice as likely to score.

When players celebrated with both hands, the next opponent to take a penalty was more than twice as likely to miss.

If a player misses, team mates should rush out to meet him and bring him back into the group - don’t let him walk fifty yards alone.

Apparently, timing is crucial too. When players started their run-up less than one second after the referee blew his whistle, the success rate was 58 per cent, but players who took longer than a second scored 80 per cent of the time. To underline the point, England, in the survey, took the least time after the whistle - 0.28 seconds. Teams who go first in a shoot-out win 60 per cent of the time, sides which go second seem to struggle with the pressure of constantly needing to score to level - or avoid elimination.

So there you are, penalty shoot-outs clinically analysed or still a lottery? Try explaining all that to United’s and England’s penalty misses.


In England’s Euro 2020 journey to the Final, it’s interesting to learn how Gareth Southgate built up such a special team bonding, keeping all players in the squad included and involved. It helps if you can call upon other celebrities to help you.

Pride of place here goes to Ed Sheeran with his morale-boosting acoustic gig while the players had a barbecue. As Kieran Trippier said, “ The best thing about it was Ed was going from one table to another. We were asking him questions …. you know, it brings you together as players.”

And of course, that ‘old favourite - Smithy’ aka James Corden has also been involved through video-calling Declan Rice with his motivational tips!

Might not quite seem the same but in Gary Johnson, United have their own Mr Motivator.


Last Saturday TUST representatives met with Matt Anthony manager of the Torquay United Inspirations (TUI) and some of his squad at the Paignton Sports Academy hub to officially hand over their new TUST sponsored kits. In the picture above are Robin Causley (vice-chair) on the left, Michel Thomas (chair) in the centre and Rob Burkitt (board member) on the right.

Complete with TUST logo the kit consists of full kit, track suits plus training cones as well as an individual yellow and blue football to help their training at home between organised sessions.

The current TUI squad, of around 30 players with various disabilities, is an integral part of the Torquay United Community Sports Trust who organise the training sessions, managing their matches, 7-a-side with at least A and B teams against other disability teams in the South West, not only involving Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City but also teams from Somerset and Bristol.

It’s good to know that many of these players, along with their friends, will once again soon be able to watch the Gulls at Plainmoor.


The days are now slipping away before pre-season training starts on Monday with the first friendly at Poole Town just over a week away.

With ‘The Three Lions’ back in the Top Ten, it’s looking like a draw between it and ‘Sweet Caroline’ for the nation’s sing along.

Altrincham are urging the National League to allow live streaming despite crowds being back in stadiums. Like many other clubs their virtual ticket sales during lockdown were the equivalent of 60 per cent of their average matchday attendance. Time for a re-think with BT Sport?

Any football thoughts - Torquay or England - send to: or to Twitter: @FanszoneT

To all the Yellow Army stay safe, in anticipation of news of at least seven or eight signings due to be announced on Monday.





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