“A match winner when he wanted to be, good with both feet and in the air, I loved him!” (Rachel on Rene Howe)
TT contributor Rachel Malloch selects a TUFC Dream Team from her time supporting the Gulls:
Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
“One minute I’m spending my life roaring on the mighty Aston Villa in the illustrious surroundings of Villa Park B6, the next I’m standing on the terraces of the Popside Plainmoor TQ1 in the mid 1990s watching a drab 0-1 loss to Walsall on a mild December day. The day I embraced a deep affection for Torquay United. I’ve watched plenty of games for both teams since, more so the Gulls of late, but the bittersweet of football has taken me to many games wearing the yellow and blue colours of Torquay and I have had the privilege to survey some fantastic footballers over those years”.
Gary Johnson has given the bay and all Torquay United supporters not only belief that the good times are here again and have every reason to continue, belief and hope has been lost on us for too many seasons, but also has produced exciting front foot high energy attacking football. In his own words “football is about entertainment and that’s what we always aim to do”.
But Leroy Rosenior, that squad, the promotion to the 1st Division, his eloquence, affable personality, intelligence, his all round reverence! Those years and the football under Leroy were beautiful to behold.
And to those players who have impressed and forged many great moments and memories for me, here’s my Torquay United XI.
Over the years Torquay have produced some fine top drawer keepers but for those one and a half seasons back in the late 90s, the opportunity to see a world class goalkeeper of the calibre of Big Nev was quite an honour on the Plainmoor terraces. He was brilliant and it was a measure of his excellence when doubtless by his own admission his prime years were the halcyon Everton days. A career already lengthy and distinguished, there aren’t too many players out there who get voted player of the season after only playing one half of it! Sheer class.
Another player who was decent on the attack, had a good cross and a quick turn of pace. A solid full back who had a great rapport with the supporters. I can’t remember a player who smiled as much as Steve Tully.
Not only was Kevin Nicholson a great defender, he could pop up with some quality set pieces. There was always an air of expectation around the ground when a free kick was awarded, the wall was being lined up and Nicho was standing over the ball. A great player, coach and an all round decent man. Legend is bandied about maybe too often in football, but for me Nicho is one.
A solid defender and one who often caused problems for opponents on set pieces and corners. Terrific at dealing with the high long ball style, rarely missed much in the air! A cracking central defender.
What hasn’t been said about our captain marvel in defence this season? He has been almost faultless, leading the team and the club to their first ever champions title a superb defender and a player who much like Downes will deal with the long ball merchants effortlessly. A leader.
Such skill and assurance on the ball in the middle of the park, one of the most accomplished and stylish midfielders I have had the pleasure to watch. Oozed quality.
A one man pogo stick! Zebedee had coiled springs for knees; he could leap higher than most, a class act and always battling for everything. Looked ungainly on the ball at times, no doubt to deceive the opponents! A great player.
I always thought I’d see Luke playing at a higher level, certainly in the championship one day and but for his dreadful luck with injuries I’m confident he would have. Consistently hard working, comfortable on the ball, scored spectacular goals, a quite terrific player.
Another player who was a stalwart of the days I first began supporting Torquay in earnest, I often think of him in comparison to Jamie Reid who is a similar style of player and commands a wave of affection for these burgeoning days of my Gulls support. Not the most prolific of centre forwards but always admired his style, whether he was being played wide or central. Tony, Tony Bedeau!
Super Rene Howe, perhaps not the most consistent of strikers, but on his day unplayable. His hold up and lay-off play was sublime. A match winner when he wanted to be, good with both feet and in the air, I loved him!
Blistering pace, ability, leaving a trail of players in his wake, the most skilful winger I have seen at Torquay Utd. He gave so many options to the team, excited and entertained, a quite brilliant footballer; so good that during the play-off final in 1998 Colchester 2-man marked him. Another player who seemed destined to reach the heights of football greatness, however (with due respect to Crewe) it never materialised. But he left Torquay Utd supporters with tantalising memories.
The players who could easily have made the dream team but for the constraints of time and numbers!
Bobby Olejnik, Paul Gibbs, Chris Robertson, Lee Mansell, Danny Stevens, Tim ‘Zorro’ Sills, Elliot Benyon, Danny Stevens, Jamie Reid
TULLY DOWNES CAMERON NICHO
YOUNG RUSSELL HILL
JACK HOWE BEDEAU