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FANS' ZONE 28/01/2022


Gary Johnson rightly assesses that for Torquay United to have a chance of gatecrashing the play-offs his team needs to average two points a game until the end of the season.

Well, after Saturday’s hard fought win at Altrincham they were on track as the latest form table confirmed: third in the National League with thirteen points from the last six games.

Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, in the Non-League Paper’s Team of the Day and the Vanarama Team of the Week, gave the Gulls an early lead with Sunderland loanee, Stephen Wearne, securing the win with a smart finish at the start of the second half. With three late team changes - Lewis, Moxey and Lapslie pulling out at short notice - it was a pretty good performance even if the home side were on a losing streak.

Latest loan signing Stephen Duke-McKenna had an impressive debut and the Plainmoor faithful saw him in action on Tuesday night in what turned out to be a tight game resolved in the closing minutes as visitors Solihull Moors took home the points.

To get to seventh place United are eight points away but have played a few more games than some but points already won are often better than games in hand. With 19 games to go that’s 57 points to play for. As Johnson says his side can afford to lose one in three but that presumes the other two are wins.

There are, though, suggestions that he’s been given the green light to bring in some new signings - maybe in time for the Wrexham match on Saturday week.

Tuesday’s fixture against Solihull Moors was likely to be a tough ask with visiting striker, Andy Dallas in a sudden vein of form, worthy of a TV programme, with a gush of goals - now nine in his last three matches after going 19 without scoring.

Stockport are the league’s form team, winning their last five, losing once to …Torquay United.

Wrexham splashed the cash on Monday paying AFC Wimbledon £300,000 for striker Ollie Palmer.


National League Crowd Watch: Chesterfield held to a surprise 0-0 at home to Aldershot 6,422, Southend won with a late penalty in front of their highest crowd of the season 6,122, Grimsby disappointed their supporters losing at home with 5,854 watching.

Elsewhere Dulwich Hamlet had 3,344, Kidderminster 2,444, Dorking Wanderers 2,142 and Hastings Utd 1,502.


National League General Manager Mark Ives gave an interview to the Magpie podcast last week giving some insight into the current thinking about important pending matters. Ives said that the League had a good relationship with the EFL and there are conversations about a third promotion place. Ives said, “It’s important for the credibility of the competition that there is another promotion spot - it’s a top priority…it’s something we want to get to.”

Ives added, “ The {promotion} system needs to be equal across the EFL and National League.”

This will be good news for Gary Johnson who’s been advocating this for a long time.

He added that the board are also investigating, with the league’s clubs and sponsors, the issue of live streaming. That’s something this column has been pushing for for some months.

Much of the podcast was spent on the introduction of a salary cap for the National League with Ives divulging there was to be an EGM this week with this topic on the agenda. What is a salary cap has to be agreed - a fixed one, a softer one or none.

On the question of number of substitutes, in the EFL there are seven, but the National League has two less, personally Ives said, he’d have the higher number but clubs’ chairmen/CEOs voted for the lower one.

With the National League containing clubs with gates far superior to most in League 2 (and a few in League 1) and with spending money on players in excess of many in the EFL it is time, as the Fan-Led Review report concludes, for the National League to follow EFL rules.


Could 2022 be the year Torquay United owner Clarke Osborne earmarks a site for a new stadium and training base? At the last Sport Torbay meeting the topic of a suitable site was discussed with further talks planned - there was a meeting on Thursday.

Last week Deputy Torbay Council leader Darren Cowell was quoted saying, “ We are working with the club to identify new facilities to meet their ambitions because Torquay United are important to Torbay.”

Rather than travel to Newton Abbot it is understood the club is looking for a new training base too but where will depend on where a new stadium can be built.


If it’s goals you want to see then following Fulham is the answer. Their last four games has seen them win all four with these scores: Reading 7-0, Bristol City 6-2, Birmingham 6-2 and Stoke 3-2 taking their goals scored total to 73 from 27 matches. Fulham are the first second tier side for 68 years to score six or more in three consecutive games.


A current topic in football is match programme or matchday magazine or online version. Those of us of a certain age will fondly recall buying a match programme on entering the ground of our favourite team but in those days that could be hit and miss as the quality varied.

Some were properly printed, others done on a manual typewriter complete with numerous crossings out, using xxxxx, typos and spelling errors. Team line-ups were shown across the centre pages in numbers 1-11 or on a loose piece of paper plus match officials.

A typical programme cost 3d (0.01 in today’s money) increasing later to 6d. There were lots of adverts for local businesses and shops. Programme collectors abounded. Fast forward to today, programmes are now magazines, with out-of-date information as they are printed in advance. Many clubs have ditched both for an online version to download.

For more on this topic and about being a football supporter you can read about ‘The Life of a Fan’ in the February/March edition of the Late Tackle magazine.


Torquay United Women are through to the Devon County Cup final in April when they’ll face neighbours Exeter City. United defeated Liverton 4-0 thanks to Ellie Bishop (2), Danni Wyatt and Beth Everson. City won their semi-final 11-0.


What’s your view about programmes? Not worth buying? Keep the programme? Prefer the magazine? Or download the online version? Send your view to: or to Twitter: @FanszoneT.

No match on Saturday so another blank weekend.





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