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FANS' ZONE 22/04/2022





WOMEN’S MANAGER ‘EXCLUSIVE’ BEFORE TONIGHT’S TUST CO-SPONSORED DEVON FA CUP FINAL


Torquay United’s ‘Big Easter Weekend’ got off to a great start with Armani Little’s solo goal at Woking on Good Friday but came to a shuddering halt on Monday as visitors Eastleigh, aided and abetted by referee Tom Bishop, who in booking six, booked his 83rd player in sixteen games, stole a point in a disappointing goal-less draw. Although the out of sorts Gulls moved up to ninth, they remain adrift of that elusive final play-off place. A win at Grimsby on Saturday is a must.

It’s been a busy Easter weekend with two matches in four days for the players but great for attendance figures in non-league football, here’s the best in the round-up: on Good Friday 1,455 Stockport fans travelled to see their team beaten at Grimsby in a crowd of 7,818 but the biggest number were at the Racecourse 9,949 to watch Wrexham held by Solihull.

756 Halifax fans followed their side to Altrincham while 646 made the journey to Woking to see the Gulls win four on the spin.

York City closed in on a play-off place in National North in front of 3,797 and elsewhere Isthmian South East Champions Hastings United had 2,084 but 3,230 watched FC Isle of Man.

Then on Easter Monday a whopping 10,022 saw Wrexham cruise to a 4-0 win while 9, 211 watched Stockport stay top with a 1-0 victory.

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After a record 1,603 matches as a manager across sixteen clubs Neil Warnock announced his retirement this year, one of those clubs was Torquay United.

In a recent interview Warnock, who seemed to specialise in rescuing doomed teams, explained his philosophy in taking the pressure off players.

“At Torquay I told my players to report outside a nightclub and said nobody could leave before midnight. Had we been on the training ground for five hours it would have killed them but that night helped them gel. Without that bond you will never keep a team up.”

It obviously worked in 1993 as Warnock’s Torquay thanks to a 1-0 win at Carlisle saved the Gulls from dropping into the Football Conference.

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In a surprise move Torquay United’s Women’s manager Grant Fisher left ‘by mutual consent’ earlier this month to be replaced by Development manager Steve Elswood on an interim basis and he takes over a squad, which narrowly missed out on top spot in the South West Premier League, for the Devon FA Women’s Cup Final, co-sponsored by TUST, this Friday evening.

In an exclusive interview Elswood spoke with Fans’ Zone about his talented team, “It’s the second time in our history that we have reached the final and the ladies are focused on ensuring we give our best out there on the pitch and leave nothing behind.”

The team go into the final against local rivals Exeter City in buoyant mood as Elswood explained,

“We have had a great campaign securing a top four finish. Following on from our curtain coming down on the league season with a narrow defeat at table toppers Ilminster Town our thoughts turn to the final.”

Exeter City’s women’s side plays in the National League tier a league above United but as Elswood says, “We might be underdogs but we are comfortable to be in that position as that label is always dangerous in a cup final. We have some exceptionally gifted players at this club and we know our strengths.”

It promises to be a great game and it’s at Coach Road, Newton Abbot this Friday, kick-off 7.15pm and as Elswood urges, “We are hoping that many of the Yellow Army turn up on the night to support the ladies.” TUST will be there in numbers so come on you yellows.

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April 2019 was United’s Championship season in National South and in the final two home games in the sunshine the Yellow Army came out in numbers: 4.539 to witness the team winning the title with victory over Eastbourne Borough and then the week after 5,351 crammed into Plainmoor to celebrate the champions.

Since then, of course, there’s been empty stadiums across the country as Covid struck but there was a 4,000 plus crowd on New Year’s Day in 2020 for the visit of Yeovil Town and that was the last time the attendance reached this size. So, what is the reason for supporters staying away? Or are they? Memories of the past can be deceiving as in our youth we imagine Plainmoor was always packed.

For those of a certain age we recall that 20,000+ crowd for the Spurs FA Cup match and picture large numbers for league games in the 1960s. Picking at random matches from the past let’s look at the facts.

Attendance figures are the highest for that particular season and positions are where the club finished:

Season 1956 Division 3 South, finished second v. Southampton Won 2-0 14,223. Season 1965 Division 4, third promoted v. Notts County Won 2-0 8,928

Season 1975 Division 4, ninth v. Lincoln City Drawn 2-2 4,364

Season 1985 Division 4, bottom v. Exeter City Lost 1-2 2,558 (This particular season saw seven home matches below 1,000 the lowest being 850 v. Crewe)

Season 1995 Division 3, bottom v. Plymouth Argyle Lost 0-2 4,269

Season 2005 FA Cup Round 3 v. Birmingham City Drawn 0-0 5,974

Season 2010 League 2 1st Leg Play-off Semi-Final v. Shrewsbury Town Won 2-0 4,130

So why are fans staying away from Plainmoor? Is it for Covid reasons or perhaps the rising cost of living? From this week’s responses for some it’s the club’s ticketing policy. As one supporter puts it, ‘The fact I cannot pay at the turnstiles is keeping me away.’ While another echoes the same thought, ‘Since the club introduced a quite bizarre policy not to permit entry on the day at the turnstile.’

On Easter Monday, despite United’s amazing form plus 1,000 free tickets for Community Day only 3,646 turned up.

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With the League season fixtures running out, it’s that time when supporters start to think about the club’s retained list. Which players are going to be released but more importantly which key players are going to be retained and offered new contracts?

The club keeps these kinds of information close to its chest but hopefully matters are in hand with negotiations opened with players such as Shaun MacDonald, Dean Moxey, Joe Lewis, Armani Little, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Asa Hall and Danny Wright all of whom are thought to be out of contract. Surely Boss Gary Johnson won’t countenance sideways moves as happened last close season.

Who would be your key player to be here next season? Send your answer to: fanszone.tu@gmail.com or Twitter: @FanszoneT.

Safe journey to those travelling to Grimsby.

COYY









 


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