Next to scribble down his Torquay United ‘Dream Team’ for your pleasure is Editor Dominic…..
Time for me to have a go! As you may know if you’ve ventured onto the site (or indeed know me!), I’ve been going to Plainmoor since late 1989. So I missed out on the Cyril Knowles 1989 Sherpa Van run, but was present for Play-Off victory and Dave Bamber’s penalty miss in 1991. Since then I’ve seen plenty of terrific players grace the hallowed turf (and plenty of rubbish ones!), so picking a dream team wasn’t easy. Anyway enough dithering let’s get on with it shall we!
My first memory of United keepers was Ken Veysey, who was short in stature but surprisingly agile. There haven’t been loads that stand out since Ken. Some memorable individuals like Ashley Bayes and Neville Southall, plus steady eddies Andy Marriott and Scott Bevan – however the best goalie I’ve seen play for us is Bobby Olejnik. Once Bobby settled in he ran the show at the back; a commanding presence on crosses and an intimidating prospect for opposing strikers. A major asset in his season at the club, it’s a shame he’s now prospering at City!
The recent Rowcroft charity match featured the best three left-backs I’ve seen play for us. I’m talking about Paul Gibbs, Brian McGlinchey and Kevin Nicholson. Paul had a wand of a left foot (in fact he still does!), whilst Brian was quietly consistent in Leroy’s team. However it has to be Kevin Nicholson. Nico had a magic left foot, great positional sense and also that long throw. Over the years he had to prove himself a few times and kept doing it – so no question he had to be in my team.
Right-Back = problem position! Well not necessarily in my team, as back in the late 80s and early 90s Paul Holmes patrolled the right side of defence. He was a consistent performer in an exciting period for the team. Defensively Paul was sound, whilst also getting up in support of his winger. Holmes eventually played for WBA and Everton just to illustrate his quality! Who else? Well Durrell Berry, Lee Canoville and Steve Tully had their moments, but there really was only one choice for me!
My first choice and one of my favourite ever United players is Steve Woods. I wrote a H2H piece on Woodsy, and it was pleasure speaking about his time with us. Steve was a composed defender who led the back line and was happy to join up with the midfield. A class act who shared a proper ‘brains and brawn’ partnership with Craig Taylor, that was instrumental in our 2004 promotion season. A no-brainer!
The second is not so easy. United have done pretty well at centre-back over the years. The likes of Guy Branston, Mark Ellis and Chris Roberton spring to mind in the last 10 years, whilst going back people like Darren Moore, Craig Taylor and Wes Saunders were excellent for the club. I’m going for Matt Elliott though. Matt was a regular in the team when I first started going and was simply a rock in the centre of defence. He basically won everything in the air and would be the perfect partner for Steve!
The first choice is a shoe-in and that’s Alex Russell. I’m sure Alex will be a popular choice for this ongoing feature, mainly because he was one of the best players in one of our best ever teams. Russell kept things ticking in midfield, keeping the ball and moving off it. He made things look easy and was a splendid fit for the type of football Leroy wanted to play. I don’t think you appreciate players like Alex fully until they have gone, and we have never really replaced his quality in the middle of the park.
The second choice is another conundrum. Eunan O’Kane had proper skills and matured brilliantly at the club, whilst veteran Chris Hargreaves was all energy and dynamism in getting us out of the Conference. However my choice is Lee Mansell. Lee was such an amazing servant to the club and gave great service to the team at right back for a few seasons. However when he switched to midfield Manse really found his form, and was captain fantastic (my captain by the way!) as we pushed for another promotion. Lee was not naturally gifted, but made up for it by always giving 100% for the cause and never giving up.
Another of my favourite ever TUFC players is Mark Loram. Loram was on the wing when I first started going (he had the trade-mark Chris Waddle type mullet!), and had the ability to turn the full back inside out. He looked lazy and un-interested without the ball, but with the ball he could create something out of nothing. He had the ability to put a cross on a six-pence and also score from outside the box. A real entertainer with the skill to excite, we haven’t had many of them! An honourable mention to leaping Kevin Hill of course, always the last to leave the pitch and a Torquay United legend – a definite for the subs bench! Meanwhile Lee Sharpe was just before my time.
Not lots of right wingers to pick from. The likes of Mustapha Carayol, Tony Bedeau, Jo Kuffour and Danny Stevens spring to mind for various reasons! Looking back Paul Hall is another player from when I first started going (that was a decent team looking back!) and a proper right winger. By that I mean he was happy motoring down the touchline, beating a man and providing a cross. He did this all the time as the opposing full-backs could not keep up! With him and Loram in my team, the strikers would not be short of service.
Striker number 1 is Rodney Jack. Rodney was electric! He joined us in 1995, and after a settling in period exploded to life. Thankfully under Kevin Hodges management so eventually did the team. Hodges switched to a 3-5-2 formation and Rodney was given a free role to roam and cause mayhem, which he did! He scored great goals, scaring defenders to death with his pace and quick feet – one of our best ever players and a must for my dream team.
The second striker choice boiled down to David Graham and Tim Sills. I loved Sillsy, his heart and determination won us so many games. He was a big game player who never took a back step, and that Wembley goal will always be cherished. David just gets the nod from me though, mainly for that 2003-04 season when he was unplayable! The Scotsman was at his best during his time at Plainmoor, delicate control, skilful touches and the ability to score from any angle.
This is a hard choice! Dave Smith was my first Torquay United manager and would come for a chat in the crowd with my dad – super memories. After that Kevin Hodges, Leroy Rosenior and Martin Ling all brought good times to Plainmoor. We loved Leeroy and way he set us up to play passing football. However my choice is Paul Buckle. A little controversial I know especially considering the way he left, but during his four seasons at the club he manufactured a team from scratch and kept improving that team to the cusp of promotion to League One. He wasn’t afraid to make tough decisions and great at motivating the team to win football matches. Not the most popular choice I’m sure but for all the great memories of that 2007-2011 team Paul is my manager.
Scott Bevan, Darren Moore, Chris Hargreaves, Kevin Hill and Tim Sills