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HERALD EXPRESS - FANS' ZONE 20/06/2020



Johnson reassured about youth set-up - all good news


For football clubs at Torquay United’s level having a thriving, well organised youth system, with well qualified and enthusiastic coaches is so important.


This was acknowledged by owner Clarke Osborne in a club statement posted in January 2018 when he said, “ The major success, in my opinion, is the reformation of a youth system at our club and the start of building a strong sustainable Academy. It forms the backbone of future sustainable success.”


Reading through comments posted on one of the fans’ forums it would seem that a number of parents of aspiring young footballers had grown disillusioned, for a variety of reasons, with the club’s coaching and training methods.  So much so that rival groups - the Chelsea Academy and Saints South-West - have picked up a number of these lads, not to mention the academies at Plymouth and Exeter.


So it was timely and encouraging to hear Gary Johnson tell us how important the link is between the club and South Devon College especially with the arrival of Chris Todd.


The manager explained that he has sat down (via Zoom) for the first time recently with CEO George Edwards to talk though the vision for the future of the youth set up at Plainmoor.  Johnson talked about the need to establish a pathway to the first team from Under-8s upwards; putting in a training programme - when, where, how often - and establishing a contact route between parents and coaches.


He also underlined the importance of each child’s education alongside football, organising holiday coaching sessions and having a good scouting system.


The boss concluded that he was reassured to learn that the club will be investing further in the youth set up. All good news but a shame it’s taken this long to be put in place.


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A couple of weeks ago I asked readers to let me know if they would want a cardboard cut-out of themselves should National League matches return to Plainmoor behind closed doors. The majority of responses were positive, a handful against with a few undecided.  Brighton’s fans seem much more enthusiastic and their first Premiership home match will have many ‘faces’ in the stands.  As will Exeter City when they play their home leg of the League 2 Play-Offs against Colchester.


So with TV football returning tonight (Wednesday) are you cut-out for a feast of football ahead?


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 Tales from the Family Stand. Where I sit with the Directors’ Box directly behind, in the same seat for over 25 years, I have seen and chatted with club and visiting directors, celebrity special guests, ex-players and former managers.


Probably the times I enjoyed the most was when Mike Bateson was owner/chairman. He always had time to chat and I admired how he would stand, after matches, puffing his cigarette at the top of the stairs by the entrance to the box, taking the flak from disgruntled, disappearing supporters after yet another dismal home performance.


There was, though, a famous occasion when Algenon ( a little guy with tie, shirt and blazer) was allowed out of his suitcase from the boardroom as Mike explained, “ He was a smart little feller but unfortunately he could let his mouth get away from him and he once head butted a fan and it all came back on me.” Those were the days!


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 Whilst this lockdown has continued Gary Johnson has been consistent in wishing the National League to stay in step with the EFL.  His hope is that matches - plus some spectators - will, therefore, begin in the National League in September with training beginning in late July/early August. All this very much depends on further relaxations of the current rules.


But as of now Premiership teams going to away fixtures are recommended to fly on the day, teams are able to stay in hotels, avoiding overnight stays but go to the grounds in at least three coaches to comply with social distancing. All well and good for those top clubs that can afford all that but how say, would Hartlepool cope coming down to Plainmoor?


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Last week’s column asked about the club’s annual awards for 2019-20 and it would appear there is some progress with this as voting is coming soon.


Player of the Year Jamie Reid again? Or maybe Ben Whitfield - a fan favourite.  Young Player? Surely at 22 Matt Buse must be a strong contender - a former National League Player of the Month.


Send your vote 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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