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HERALD EXPRESS - FANS' ZONE 06/06/2020



GARY JOHNSON:  ‘ THEY HAVE TO BE THE RIGHT FISH IN THE FISH TANK


With a feast of football to hit the TV screens in two week’s time even those armchair fans who don’t subscribe to Sky, BT, Amazon Prime will be able to watch some of the 92 Premiership matches and FA Cup ties for free on either Sky or the BBC.


Having been starved of English football for so long, watching games at home will be a different experience for us football fanatics who really prefer being in a stadium with friends and family participating in all the noise and banter.


But hang on, in a normal season in a normal world you would be forgiven if you thought from the inventiveness of those wanting to enhance this TV football watching without fans in the ground that it was April 1st.


How about this?


A Japanese smartphone app will allow fans to send virtual cheers - and jeers - to sports events played at closed stadiums.  Users will be able to tap the app to deliver reactions via speakers at the grounds.  Or in Denmark, club AGF Aarhus have emerged as pioneers of the behind closed doors era, creating the world’s first virtual grandstand with supporters beamed into the ground via Zoom.  Those with ‘tickets’ to the game will have their faces shown live to the players and cameras.


Meanwhile closer to home what do the Yellow Army think about cardboard fans to the rescue?  Apparently there is a significant interest from a number of Premiership clubs in replicating the 13,000 cardboard cut-outs that lined the seats for a recent Borussia Monchengladbach fixture.


The first English team to join The Be At The Game project is non-league Isthmian Premier club Lewes.  At a cost of around £25 the Yellow Army could be immortalised - in cardboard - at Plainmoor.  I know some of the guys I sit with in the Family Stand would think this a big improvement!


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 It was enlightening to learn the thoroughness that Gary Johnson and his team go through before signing players. He explained in last week’s club interview, as he tracks a couple of experienced pros, the key qualities they look for: a strong, fit character on and off the pitch, young and hungry, motivated especially in training sessions, competitive and respectful - of the manager, his team mates and the fans.


As the boss cryptically says, “ They have to be the right fish in the fish tank.”


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 Talking of players signing, it’s good to know that the club’s academy is beginning to produce potential first team players with JJ Evans and Owen Price the latest to join the pro ranks following in the footsteps of Olaf Koszela and Louie Slough.


Would it be too much to hope that Torquay United could produce home grown £million players like our neighbours have at Exeter City?


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 A couple of week’s ago we, at TUST, learnt of Jim Ward choosing the club to support because of the letter Q. Well, I’ve received another message this time from Laurie Walker who was also attracted to the letter Q! The good news is that Laurie has converted his daughters and their families into three season ticket holders.


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 Which ex-Gull would you enjoy being interviewed I asked. No one player stood out but these were suggested: Dave Caldwell, Rodney Jack, Tim Sills, Lee Sharpe and Neville Southall. Over to the Sports Editor.


Gary Johnson hopes the National League new season will start in line with the EFL, if this is behind closed doors would you pay for your cardboard cut-out in your seat at Plainmoor? Email yes or no to:fanszone.tu@gmail.com


To all the Yellow Army, stay safe.


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Nick Brodrick, TUST board member and Supporter Liaison Officer, writes a weekly column for the Herald Express under the heading "Fans' Zone". Keep an eye out for next weeks edition in the paper on Wednesday.



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