Andy Charles – @capitalgull
“Earlier this year, when I visited Fisher FC in South London for the first time, I made it past 200 stadiums visited.
Until I started ‘hopping at the start of 2016-17, most of the grounds I had visited had been with the sole aim of being able to sing the song which finishes ‘Oh what fun it is to see the Torquay win away’.
Dom asked me, when Saturday’s low-profile trip to the countryside of Essex to face East Thurrock United was called off, whether I fancied putting together a collation of my favourite away days – so here goes.
Just going back through the history books made me realise how many games I was going to have to leave off this list, and I’ve no doubt some readers will wonder why some of these made the cut, but here goes”.
12 – Exeter City 1-2 Torquay United – April 2014
I wanted an Exeter game in here, and both the ones I thought about had sad postscripts. This one ended with us winning 2-1, thanks to a goal from Ashley Yeoman of all people, but saw us relegated from the Football League, never yet to return. The other one in 2008 saw us win the first leg of the Blue Square Premier play-off semi-final, but then capitulate completely in the second match at Plainmoor. Because that is a game I wish to completely wipe from my memory I chose 2014!
11 – Macclesfield 3-3 Torquay United – November 2002
This one didn’t end well, with Torquay throwing away a 3-0 lead, but I’ve put it in because of the first 10 minutes alone. Until the recent home game against Truro, I struggled to remember 10 better minutes than we put together in the bright sunshine at Moss Rose, David Graham, Jason Fowler and David Woozley all scoring before everyone was even in the ground. We’ll just forget what happened after that, especially the last 15 minutes. I have forgotten most of it as I was half concussed by one of my travelling companions celebrating the third goal and had my glasses knocked off and broken!
10 – Hull City 0-1 Torquay United – February 2004
I wish I had been to the 1997 game (when United were 3-0 down and battled back to draw 3-3 with two injury time goals) but this one was a massive game in what turned out to be a promotion season (more of that to follow). It was my first visit to the impressive KC Stadium, came after some of the best fish and chips you will ever eat (at The Minerva), and featured a winning goal for one of my favourite Torquay strikers – Martin Gritton. What more could you want?
9 – Darlington 1-1 Torquay United – November 1999
One of those fixtures – Torquay travelling to Darlington on a Friday night! My trip was from London, and one of constant delays as per usual on the M1. We eventually arrived in the Feethams car park at kick-off, heard the cheers as Marco Gabbiadini put Darlo in front while we were paying to get in, saw one of our party nearly thrown out for smoking in their old wooden stand, equalised through Wayne Thomas and I seem to recall nearly nick a win but for Robbie Herrera’s shot hitting the post. Oh, and we all nearly got arrested on the way back to London after being approached in a car park by police who thought we were a car-thieving ring!
8 – Bournemouth 0-2 Torquay United – August 2001 (Worthington’s Cup)
Not a high-profile trip to Dean Court or the new Vitality Stadium, but a first round League Cup game played at Dorchester’s Avenue Stadium before it was done up. A Bournemouth team featuring now Cherries boss Eddie Howe was defeated in style on a beautiful evening in Dorset, but it’s a goal which sticks in my memory this time. Despite plenty of competition, I am going to say one of the best goals I have seen from a Torquay player, the wonderful David Graham. A burst from midfield and then a sweet 25-yarder into the top corner from what I can recall – and one I remember being stood right in line with. Could be spouting complete rubbish though – it was nearly 20 years ago!!
7 – Plymouth 1-2 Torquay United – January 2012
Happy New Year Argyle fans! This one really sticks in my memory because of the positions of the clubs – us just outside the playoffs in League Two and Argyle bottom of the league. Shame things have changed so much since, but that’s football. Away end was packed this day, and able to celebrate in style thanks to goals from Lee Mansell and Billy Bodin. Some fella called Luke Young scored for the ‘Green Army’ who were sadly able to extricate themselves from trouble over the second half of the season while we screwed up the play-offs.
6 – Fulham 1-2 Torquay United 1996
I’d not seen many Torquay games since moving up to London, mainly because I worked most Saturdays, but this midweek trip across the capital was a memorable one thanks to Garry Nelson, who scored both of the goals in the last 15 minutes to seal three surprise points against a team “slumming it” in Division Three and under threat of dropping out of the league entirely later in the season. Nelson’s Left Foot In The Grave, all about his season with the Gulls, is still a great read now!
5 – Blackpool 2-2 Torquay United (United win 4-3 on penalties) – May 1991
Two Wembley wins to choose from, and this is the first one to make my list. I was still in Devon at the time and remember vividly lining up for one of the multitude of coaches that made the journey to London. I’d been to Wembley watching Torquay and England before but had never had all that much to celebrate until this particular day. Going 1-0 down early on, seeing Wes Saunders and Dean Edwards give us the lead and then the emotions of that penalty shootout – what a day! Thanks Dave Bamber – we love you all, even if we didn’t last long in the higher division.
4 – Halifax Town 2-3 Torquay United – May 1988
I hoped this was the game during the Great Escape season but one of our readers has corrected me, as the 4-2 win at The Shay featured a four-timer for last-day hero Paul Dobson. My game, featuring a winner from Derek Dawkins and a hellish thunderstorm which had everyone running for cover, came the next season under Cyril Knowles, who featured as my favourite manager in the Dream Team I selected last year.
3 – Cambridge United 0-2 Torquay United – May 2009
A lot of teams of our stature will struggle to ever play at Wembley, so to have been there so many times and been able to celebrate victory twice is something to behold. This day was one that lives in my memory for so many reasons. The Capital Gulls were able to have something of a reunion at The Green Man before the game, where hundreds of the Yellow Army congregated for hours before kick-off, and we regained our league status in superb fashion. Chris Hargreaves put the Gulls in front but it was that second goal from Tim Sills that I am never going to tire of watching – I wasn’t sat far from where this was filmed – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2b7rhqY_J0 – and I still look back at it on occasion when I want a smile!
2 – Southend United 1-2 Torquay United – May 2004
I think 2003-2004 was my favourite season of all time, at least in terms of away trips, and the big day at Roots Hall capped it off perfectly with promotion to League One. Although plenty of adult beverages were imbibed before kick-off, it’s not difficult to remember the game, with the first 20 minutes some of the most exciting I can remember. Steve Woods and David Graham were the goal-scoring heroes for the Gulls, but referee Anthony Leake played his part, somehow not giving Southend a penalty when Reuben Hazell brought down their scorer Lawrie Dudfield. To this day I do not know how he failed to see the foul, but who really cares? And to this day, I have absolutely no recollection of how I got home.
1 – Barnet 2-3 Torquay United – May 2001
I’m not actually sure I did make it home after this one! Someone’s home for sure, no idea if it was mine or a friends. My vague memories of that day are the Capital Gulls taking over the Queen’s Hotel, the queues to get in to Underhill at least an hour before kick-off, people hanging off trees outside to catch a glimpse of the game because they couldn’t get in, wearing a yellow wig for the only time in my life and hugging Jimmy Aggrey on the pitch after the game. I am certain others were hugged and more alcohol was drunk, but most of the game is a blur apart from Stuart Jones saving a Darren Currie penalty, and I think I might only remember that because I’ve watched it on Youtube since. (Not the Sky Sports version involving that buffoon Steve Claridge!).