Dom Roman – @DomRoman
“As seasons go, Torquay United’s 2003-04 will always be a difficult one to top, and for numerous reasons it remains my favourite in 30 years of following ‘the Gulls’. The football from the likes of Russell, Kuffour and Graham was scintillating, the goals were flying in from all angles as we despatched teams with ease and we were real contenders”.
“Automatic promotion was achieved on that wonderful day at Southend, with Helen Chamberlain there to capture every moment and nerves stretched to the limit right until the final joyous whistle blew. It was a season when we dared to dream and at the helm was the iconic Leroy (or LEEEE-ROY as I’ve always known him!) Rosenior. To my delight Leroy agreed to answer questions on his time at Plainmoor, below are the great man’s responses”
Photo courtesy of Paul Levie – Torbay News Agency
Hi Leroy, many thanks for agreeing to answer our questions and belated congratulations on receiving a well-deserved MBE. Before we delve into the world of TUFC, can you tell us what are you up to at the moment?
I’m a freelance broadcaster and mainly work on the Premier League Channel which is a 24 hour 7 days a week channel that goes to over 250 countries. I co-produce a tactical football show called Premier League Today and co-present a show called Kick Off on Saturday morning. I also co-present a show called Fanzone from Friday to Sunday. So if you’re ever overseas I’m afraid you’d be sick of the sight of me!
Your tactics were based upon keeping the ball on the ground and passing the football out from the back; how difficult was that to implement at Plainmoor when you arrived in 2002?
Not difficult at all after assessing the players, as they were all good technically and were desperate to improve and enjoyed passing the ball.
After a solid 2002-03 where the team finished just outside the play-offs, were you optimistic of mounting a promotion challenge the following season?
Yes very optimistic and realised that a decent Centre-Half who was comfortable on the ball could improve the side, and Craig Taylor did that.
What do you think were the main ingredients to your success in 2003-04?
Team spirit and a deep belief in what we were doing. We also enjoyed each other’s company.
Apart from Southend away, what other moments in that season stand out for you?
Cheltenham Town away where Jo Kuffour and David Graham were applauded off by the home supporters and of course they got the result on the last day of the season to secure our promotion. I honestly believe they wanted us to go up because of our performance against them.
How good was David Graham during that amazing year and were you surprised that the striker didn’t make an impact after leaving Plainmoor?
David was the best player in the league by a country mile and I honestly thought he’d go on to be a player in the top division.
That fabulous April afternoon at Southend was an exhausting rollercoaster of emotions for the Yellow Army! What are your biggest memories from that day and how were the celebrations afterwards?
The biggest memory was when Reuben Hazell gave away a blatant penalty near the end and the referee turned it down and I knew it was our day. The celebrations were driving to Tesco’s to get some beers as we had nothing on the coach. Great day!!
It must have been especially gratifying to share the promotion success with Liam; you must be very proud of how well he did in his football career and how would you rate his punditry on Sky?!
I would be proud of him no matter what he did as he’s a genuinely good guy. His punditry is great but obviously not as good as mine!
Former Chairman Mike Bateson was a big character and regularly made headlines at United; what was he like to work for during your time at the club?
Mike was an absolute joy. Honest, funny and extremely supportive.
How difficult was it to adjust to life in League One, and were you proud of the squad’s efforts in 2004-05, despite ultimately being relegated on that cruel day at Colchester?
Are you still in touch with any of your old TUFC players (apart from Liam) and do you keep an eye out for how ‘the Gulls’ are doing?
I’ve bumped into a lot of the lads and I watch out for our results every week.
And finally, you are rightly still revered at Plainmoor for the way we played football and of course a very rare automatic promotion; how much did you love your time at the club and do you still harbour ambitions of returning to management?
I had some of the best times of my life at Plainmoor. My daughter was born in Torquay, so it has a special place in my heart and always will. And yes I’d love to manage again one day. It’s in the blood!
Leroy’s brilliant autobiography “IT’S ONLY BANTER” is out now.