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  • Writer's pictureTUST

FANS' ZONE 28/08/2021


The new National League season finally got under way on Saturday on a day where there were nine fixtures, none of which resulted in a home win. Only Solihull Moors managed not to lose salvaging a late draw with title contenders Wrexham.

United’s below par performance was not the start anybody wanted. And predictably the critics have been voicing their opinions but Altrincham came to Plainmoor last season and went away with the three points.

“ We gifted them two goals … but I know we’ve got a team here,” was Gary Johnson’s appraisal of a disappointing afternoon in contrast to his upbeat pre-match press conference last Thursday. Five bookings wasn’t a good start either.

Johnson conceded there would be disillusioned members of the Yellow Army but added, “Torquay fans won’t give up on us just yet.”

What the game did show is the importance of having Asa Hall on the pitch plus the availability of Connor Lemonheigh-Evans and Jake Andrews.

It also highlighted one of the shortest pre-seasons on record - not only 62 days since that heart breaking play-off final but also assembling a new squad - plus the absence of, apart from the Plymouth game, higher quality pre-season opponents.

Another week on the training ground, with no mid-week match, is going to be crucial in the build-up to what could be a real challenge at Notts County, right from the coin toss between Kyle Cameron and, hopefully, Asa Hall.

Whilst the transfer window closes at 11pm next Tuesday for the EFL and Premier League it doesn’t apply in the National League. Johnson and his management team must have potential loan signings in mind as higher teams begin to know which fringe players need game time and there is the dilemma for Johnson as clubs loaning players want them to play, not sit on a bench, but he has a clutch of new players who were given their United debuts on Saturday to keep happy.

Fortunately the Gulls have an experienced manager who will Torquay-fy as many of the new players as possible over the coming weeks. **************************************************************************

There was a healthy crowd of almost 2600 inside Plainmoor but according to stories circulating after the game there were fans turned away after the 2pm deadline for purchasing a ticket - a topic TUST has brought to the club’s attention.

Following TUST contacting the club about the possibility of live streaming fixtures outside the ‘blocked hours’ UEFA restrictions, the official site issued a statement explaining the situation but intimating that the National League were in discussions with BT Sport.

As a result of this TUST contacted the National League and received the following reply from the Media and Operations Officer, “ We are liaising with our partners over whether adjustments can be made to commercial contracts to enable streaming to take place in the future in some capacity.”

Let’s hope for a speedy resolution as streaming was such a success.

Fans are back in football stadiums, home and away supporters, but in some disturbing cases recently it seems to have brought the worst out of some, starting with the Wembley Euro final invasion breaking into the ground.

Since then there have instances of obscene and anti-social behaviour with some believing they have carte blanche to sing derogatory songs about certain players and teams. Plainmoor, thankfully, has so far escaped all this. Certainly in the Family Stand, particularly along the back row, the banter is humorous and often hilarious - as it should be. After all football is nothing without fans. **************************************************************************

For regular readers, this column has drawn attention to the connection between heading and dementia in footballers. So further proof, if needed, came news last week that Denis Law had become the seventh member of Manchester United’s 1968 European Cup winning squad to be hit by this terrible disease, sadly that list includes another legend, Sir Bobby Charlton. While Liverpool’s Terry McDermott has announced he has dementia too. Will there come a time when heading is banned altogether? It is hard to think this could happen but it is an issue which isn’t going to go away.

The Football Association has already published guidance that recommends no more than ten training headers per week in grass-roots football and a maximum ten ‘high impact’ headers among professional players. There are also restrictions for children of certain ages. **************************************************************************

This is the time when those brave enough offer up their predictions for the season. These are a selection for a top seven position:

Adam Virgo (BT Sport) : Chesterfield, Stockport, Wrexham, Notts County, Southend, Grimsby, Torquay, with his ‘One to Watch’ Dagenham & Redbridge. Steve Harris (TorquayTalk, Non-League Paper) : Chesterfield, Wrexham, Stockport, Torquay, Notts County, Dagenham & Redbridge, Southend.

Fans’ Zone: Chesterfield, Stockport, Wrexham, Dagenham & Redbridge, Notts County, Solihull Moors, Torquay.

Of all the above contenders we know that at least four have spent huge sums on transfer fees and wages with maybe more to come this week but at the end of the day there are only two promotion places available. So two clubs and more are going to be financially disappointed when they fail to reach the EFL especially as there’s a salary cap coming next season.

So who’s your National League title favourite? Send yours to: or Twitter: @FanszoneT

To the Yellow Army travelling to Notts County stay safe.





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