FANS' ZONE 27/11/2021
ON - FIELD FORM HAS FANS ASKING ‘ WHAT ARE CLARKE OSBORNE’S OBJECTIVE FOR THIS SEASON ?'
We’ve all come to accept, maybe reluctantly for some, that we live in different times, whether that be due to Covid related circumstances, ‘wokeism’, inappropriate comments from times gone by or something else. These are baffling times too if you follow Torquay United. Last season it seemed like no expense was spared in the quest for the promised land - the Football League - but this season there is a different feel. The manager’s playing recruitment looks as if he has had one hand tied behind his back through lack of funds. So what are Clarke Osborne’s objectives for this season? Reaching the play-off zone by Christmas looks a forlorn aspiration and surely flirting with relegation cannot be contemplated either. So what is the plan?
In the past week or so there’s been a commendable move towards greater community involvement - notably promoting the NSPCC, the NHS and care homes and Torbay Children’s Services - which TUST applauds - but TUST hasn’t been asked to contribute. Fan entertainment such as the popular fan zones would be an added attraction especially for the younger fans on match days.
Yet, in the past few weeks these columns have been pushing the club to take on creating partnerships with #HerGameToo, backed by many including Helen Chamberlain, and Andy’s Man Club, which Torquay United have now done; looks as if someone from the expanded media team has taken note.
From the outside it’s appearing that funding is being allocated to off the field projects - giving away free tickets, whilst making good headlines, cannot be sustainable over a long period and mask what real attendances are likely to be whilst team performances ‘huff and puff’.
In his post match press call last Thursday Gary Johnson explained the club’s rationale about away travel - under four hours travel on the day, as happened on Saturday resulting in the team turning up at Barnet only forty-five minutes before kick-off, and over four hours having an overnight stay.
When in National South did the team travel on the day to matches no further than the London area? Didn’t they stay in a hotel? Has the travel budget been cut?
Where does the much heralded five year plan that we were told about when Osborne took over fit in? And there has been no talk about a new stadium for some time. And what about a fans’ forum so there can be dialogue between those running the club and supporters?
The fan-led review may well have a significant bearing on how, in the future, clubs have to operate alongside their supporters. The introduction of an independent regulator sounds like football could move in a different direction but ‘independent’ of whom? Cricket has its problems too and it’s being threatened with an independent regulator unless it cleans up its act.
United’s form so far has been pretty much hit and miss especially away from home. Counting league and FA Cup the stats make uncomfortable reading: Played 10, Won 1, Drawn 3, Lost 6, with a goal difference of minus eight.
Saturday’s loss at Barnet could easily have been worse as the Bees swarmed around MacDonald’s goal too often with Tuesday’s defeat at fellow strugglers Aldershot a big disappointment to the amazing travelling Yellow Army.
Which player can hold his head up and say he’s doing his best? Step forward Armani Little whose 15 appearances have seen him as top scorer with eight plus six assists. Gary Johnson hints at transfer activity in the New Year - let’s hope that doesn’t mean clubs looking for a goalscoring midfielder. But why wait until then for recruitment when there’s no transfer window restrictions in the National League?
In the past week Wrexham AFC have announced that further banning orders have been issued to those involved in the coin / bottle throwing incident. The club have also made changes to their seating policy so that season ticket holders in the upper tier of the stand, accommodating away fans in the lower tier, have been moved. The new arrangements mean a reduction in the Racecourse Ground’s capacity.
Praise for Robbie Savage’s ‘Making Macclesfield FC’ currently on BBC iPlayer chronicling how the once EFL club has been resurrected after being wound up in 2020 with half a million pounds of debts.
With a local car dealer buying the ground, Savage as director of football, the newly formed club has begun life in step five of the non-league pyramid, in the ninth tier of English football, currently top of the North West Counties League Premier Division, pulling in over 2,000 a home game.
The Premier League is funding £5 million to the National League over the next four years and the NL board has decided to allocate £1 million to Step 1 and divide another £1 million between Nationals North and South now; one can only hope this is done in a fairer way than on a previous occasion last season ending in a furious row.
National League Crowd Watch: A dismal 595 went to watch Dover lose again and second placed Boreham Wood could only play in front of 601 while in National North seven home clubs drew in more, both Hereford United and York City had over 2,000 and in National South out of ten fixtures nine had higher attendances than at Dover and Boreham Wood while Worthing from the Isthmian League had a crowd of 1,218.
After their FA Cup exit Torquay United Women ran riot on Sunday with a 12-0 home league win over Bideford Women with seven different scorers.
Where rugby leads will football follow? A trial has begun in the Premiership Rugby Cup in which supporters can hear, via the ground’s PA system, the referee’s thoughts and explanations during reviewed incidents involving the TV match official. Referees use a mic to relay these to the crowd.
If introduced to football it could take the sting out of managers raging at what they perceive as questionable decisions and lead to better fan engagement.
TUST held its AGM on Thursday evening and more details of this to follow over the next few days. Next up at Plainmoor is the visit of high-flying FC Halifax and the return of Billy Waters. What the
Gulls could do with is some Formula 1 pace to rev up and spark a turnaround as one United fan in Qatar on Sunday showed.
What’s your One Magic Moment of following the Gulls? Eunan O’Kane’s strike versus Plymouth Argyle? Derek Dawkins’ goal against Spurs in the League Cup? Armani Little’s winning volley against Dover? Just some of the suggestions. What’s yours? Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org or to Twitter: @FanszoneT.
Welcome #HerGameToo and Andy’s Mans Club to Plainmoor on Saturday.