Dom Roman – @DomRoman
It ended as we all feared it would, with the National League South confirmed as our new destination for August 2018. Last Saturday’s game had a strange atmosphere. It was a surprisingly competitive match, we weren’t exactly glued to our seats but the lads did turn up and have a go; unlike that pathetic Guiseley performance where the relegation hangover was still giving us all headaches that the best paractemol couldn’t cure. Ebbsfleet looked nervy and we matched them in every department, too little too late though boys.
Meanwhile the Pop again illustrated their frustration in banner-form rather well; I’m not sure who was responsible for them but they made a clear point and were well received by the majority of the Yellow Army. I say the majority because there are definitely differences in opinion. When the Owers Out banner was unveiled, it was booed and derided by a section of Bristow’s – which to be honest I didn’t see coming!
Sitting in the stand does frustrate me at times. It feels like there is almost an acceptance of failure amongst the faithful, with Owers defended and players clapped after even the most abject of performances…do me a favour! It is ok to be critical of your club when things are going wrong, and at the moment we are at our lowest ebb. Support the manager and players in the hope of winning games for sure, but make them (and the owners) feel our presence when they should be doing better. Bringing together the different factions of the Yellow Army is one thing the Trust are looking into, good luck with that Mike!
One thing that did catch my eye at the game was the lack of advertising boardings along the side of the pop. At the moment are the club engaging enough with local businesses and doing all they can earn advertising revenue? No. The local community is disengaged from the club (something the Trust has identified), and the arrival of an owner who is never at games and shows very little interest in facing up to (and listening to) supporters doesn’t help. Do the Torbay public want to be associated with this man and trust the club with their hard-earned money?
Speaking of hard-earned money takes me onto the Ticket Prices for 2018-19. The club have to get these details correct and our poll (see below) gives an indication of what supporters think is reasonable. The balance between attracting supporters back in through the gates and gaining funds for squad building is always the test. I remember when Buckle was in charge and ST prices being cut to a low price (£200?) around the ground – good news for supporters but in truth most would have paid more, mainly because we were a team winning games! Personally I’d like to see more tie-ins and discounts added to the ST, the club has to show the supporters they appreciate them more than ever. Anyway I’ll be surprised if the £ is decreased too rapidly and there will be plenty of head scratching (and head shaking!) about renewals this summer, especially with an unpopular manager still at the helm.
Head-scratching leads me onto the Retained List, which Gary hastily announced after the game last Saturday. I think the verdict from most supporters is reasonably positive. The inclusion of Ruairi shocked me; Owers has barely used him and the Irishman came round to applaud us in a goodbye fashion. Apart from that I doubt the likes of Luke Young (Yeovil bound??), Sean McGinty and Brett Williams will stick around, and I don’t think it would be the end of the world either (we have just been relegated with this lot after all). The current squad appears to have no faith in Owers, so he has to get players in who do. Do these people exist? We’ll soon find out.
At least there appears to be a proactive approach with the trials inviting prospective players down this week. Gary has clearly been plotting for his recruitment drive once the season ended and although I don’t rate him as a manager, I think he will put in the hours in the hope of finding the right formula. I can assure you this is no Pro-Owers paragraph, but I think we all know he’s staying put and have to judge GO by the quality we can attract to Plainmoor. If the HE is to be believed then generous funds will be in place (the Pro-Clarke paper as they’re known in Twitter circles…); no excuses Gary you have to get it right or that Owers Out banner will be a regular occurrence at Plainmoor.
Getting TorquayTalk right has been once of my priorities during the past year, and the work in progress continues. The end of season Player Ratings articles were fairly painful to sort out in the end, and a darkened room was required on completion! Just going back through the months of crap performances made my head hurt, and also reminded me of the false dawns we suffered along the way. Wins where you felt TUFC may have turned a corner (Ebbsfleet, Leyton Orient, Sutton, Barrow, Maidenhead), only to hit the ground with a bump when we lost the next two (or more). The interview with Matty and Luke was more low maintenance, and I really enjoyed reading their views – two guys who have really helped illuminate TT with their match verdicts this season.
This summer I won’t be as busy as Gary, but there is already irons in the fire to keep the site bubbling along – these include TUFC Dream Teams from some more notable Gulls supporters, plus interviews and other features. Keep an eye out for something to read whilst you’re soaking up the hot weather (or more likely ducking in from the rain!).
I’ll conclude this blog by mentioning Sunday’s testimonial game for Damon Lathrope. The list of players for the afternoon is brilliant and the banter on Twitter between the likes of Manse, Nicho and Branston has made for funny viewing this week. Funny but also strangely nostalgic, as these characters were so brilliant for the club and were big players in our last decent era of achievement on the pitch. Characters with determination who you could rely on week after the week, we haven’t seen many of them over the last few years. Luke Young is one, and he’d be wise to further his career elsewhere – time for Luke to think of himself for a change. Anyway I hope to be there on Sunday – Sam Druiff has promised me a pint so I can’t miss that can I….
PS: The new TUST website is up and running, I’m proud of Luke’s effort on this so take a look…and whilst you’re on there join up (yes I will keep mentioning this in every blog!).