“In the world of TUFC during 2018 it’s been a case of Before-Gary Johnson and After-Gary Johnson”
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
So that was 2018! Clichéd I know, but New Year’s Eve is always a day when I reflect on the year that’s happened and debate what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong. In the world of TUFC it’s been a case of Before-Gary Johnson and After-Gary Johnson! 9 months of pain, anger, misery, torture and a manager who took the word shambles to new levels – followed by 3 months of goals, glory, optimism and a manager who simply knows how to manage.
Did TUFC have to get worse, to get better? That’s what TT contributor Ben Currie told me yesterday at the pub and he’s got a point. It’s a point based on Johnson taking charge as Clarke realised that an improved ‘infrastructure’ and ‘youth system’ wouldn’t get us wins on the football pitch and somehow persuaded ‘Sir Gary’ to buy into his plans for the club. GJ must have had reservations about shaking hands on a contract, but that decision to accept already looks like a massive moment in our history – it sounds ridiculous but how long could TUFC continue to disappoint on the pitch before fans say “enough is enough”.
Our latest win over Gloucester City was eventually unconvincing and almost mirrored the post Xmas and pre-New Year malaise we all have to some extent. It was a strange match in many ways, and not just because I ventured into the Popside for a change! We didn’t have the clarity and sharpness in our play that made most games in December a pleasure (and a cakewalk!), but we could comfortably have been 4-0 up before City’s late goal. The three wise men Janneh, Kalala and Reidy all miss-fired, which hasn’t happened often in recent months and made for a nervy last five minutes. I’ve lived those nervy five minutes a hundred times over at Plainmoor and I haven’t missed them!
The main debate after the final whistle (on Twitter social media at least) centred on Kalvin Kalala and his shall we call it a ‘Marmite’ performance. Some said ‘poor’ and others said ‘man of the match’ – this just illustrates how opinions can differ depending on how you see a game. For me Kalvin was our most dangerous player, always putting City on the back-foot and some of the players on their arse with his twists and turns. On the flip side he gave the ball away too easily and couldn’t find his shooting range. I agreed with Matty’s 7/10. The big word with this guy is POTENTIAL – what he could be is very special indeed. I’ve rarely seen a lad at TUFC with his balance, change of direction and ability to beat a defender. He’s a keeper that’s for sure, someone who could illuminate the National League next season (don’t jinx it Dom!!).
One man whose stock raised even higher in his absence was Connor Lemonheigh-Evans. The combination of Asa and JSW never really got going, with the balance tilted too heavily on defensive effort and work-rate rather than forward-thinking and creativity. I believe Connor’s loan has been extended for the rest of the season and that’s brilliant news for a guy Samuel Jones called the best player in the NLS. I agree with that as well, Connor’s got so much in his locker and has improved rapidly since his debut in a Gulls shirt last season. His future is brighter than Plainmoor can offer, but if he leaves with a promotion to add to his CV – then job very much done. The Johnson family ties have been a game changer in our season, I don’t think anyone would argue with that.
There was some controversy as the clock ticked on, with a Gloucester goal disallowed for a foul on Mac. I say controversy, as I think it looked like an obvious foul from my position in the Pop and one that will be given nine times out of ten by the referee. Chris Todd voiced his disapproval and it could have been a big moment for his team, thankfully the right call was made. Only 1 point wouldn’t have really been a total disaster, but it would have felt like it after those missed opportunities up the other end. Gloucester did enough in the 2nd half to suggest that they can avoid relegation, I’ve seen worse teams for sure and if Toddy can stamp his authority on the squad hopefully they can cling to their NLS status.
Next it’s the ‘away fixture’ at Plainmoor on New Years Day and a sequel to the blockbuster Boxing Day. Truro are no pushovers and they actually played well for periods of the first game and probably deserved two goals for the way they pushed forward. They’ve just won 4-1 with Tyler Harvey scoring for fun and will be determined to push us harder this time. I’m slightly concerned that the sloppiness of the Gloucester performance will be repeated and that points could be dropped, but with CLE back in midfield and Ruairi available again the squad should be strong enough to impose their will. Gary Johnson was not impressed the other day and will demand better – I’ll be perched back in Bristow’s hoping that’s the case!
If you haven’t already, check out our Opposition Interview with Truro supporter Josh Miller (see below). Josh helps to run TCFC Updates, which is a very busy Twitter account updating ‘White Tigers’ fans with news. A big effort goes into the account and it puts their official account to shame with the work it does. Josh was there the other day and a few of them made as much noise as they could muster! No offence to City, but give me back Boxing Day clashes against Exeter City, Plymouth or even Yeovil any day – teams who would provide a proper rivalry (and support) to set our pulses racing. I’ve seen 3k+ crowds again and I’ve got the taste for more! Get us back in the league Gary and you can have the freedom of the Bay.
The New Year’s Day game will be covered by Rachel Malloch who is just one of a number of lovely people I’ve met in the past year through the site. Rachel always calls a spade a spade, so watch out for her views! We had a TT meet up in the luxurious surroundings of the Union on Saturday and it was sweet to get the #TUFC glitterati together in one room!! We had feared of an attack from the Facebook Yellow Army group, but nothing transpired… But seriously these guys all know the club inside out and have different (and vocal) views on the club and it’s players past and present. It’s what’s helped this site become half-decent I think.
FINAL WORD – TUFC New Year’s resolutions? For Gary Johnson. Pin down all these Bristol City players for the rest of the season, bag us a couple of useful signings in the January sales and continue to inspire us all with glorious attacking football! This time next year I want us to be a National League club that wins games (rather than struggling to avoid the drop). Let’s get out of this little league and push closer to where we belong. I’ve enjoyed the winning feeling and the good vibes of upward momentum, but tell me NLS is one season only and I’ll be happy. For me, get more sleep and keep walking the tightrope that is the balance of family, work and Torquay United – easier said than done! Enjoy your evening whatever you’re up to and let’s start the New Year with three points (and maybe three pints!) tomorrow.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL THE YELLOW ARMY!