“It was probably my best season as a player at United, everything just clicked”
Guy Branston arrived with a confident defensive swagger in 2010 and immediately became a fans favourite, winning our Player of the Year award and helping to spark Paul Buckle’s team into a promotion battle.
We caught up with Guy to discuss his time at Plainmoor and also field some questions from the TT team:
You were strongly linked to joining United long before you actually did, how close was it to actually happening?
I nearly signed for you guys just before I signed for Burton Albion. Northy rang me and said he and Bucks really wanted me. I was coming on a two year-deal but at the last minute Bucks made it a one year-deal and so I turned my car around and signed for Burton. I ended up coming again around Feb…Bucks nearly messed it up again in the summer, but I signed on the line and the rest was history.
What finally persuaded you to make the move to Plainmoor?
Looked at the squad and liked the place. Bucks and Northy repeated to me to be professional and I was, and I hit the ground running – fitting into the place quickly which was important. Amazing place and fans. When we were winning or losing I loved putting my boots on and grafting for you.
Your arrival along with Jake Robinson helped United move away from the relegation zone to become promotion contenders, what difference do you think you made to a struggling team?
Bucks added something different at the back and the front with me and Jake…I was a straight-forward fighting CH that said how it was and that was in training or on a match day, and even now but without the fighting lol
Jake was a technically gifted finisher and we complimented the team in our departments, because at the time Torquay had too many samey players and you need lots of different types.
You were part of a defence that went a club record 998 minutes without conceding; how good were the defenders and goalie around you, and were you all gutted not to reach 1000?!
Amazing to think that we did this. We worked very hard at being solid and had good lads who could do very good jobs when called upon. Mark Ellis at the time was the best young defender and wanted to learn off me…I was a calm leader and Nicho was still a top drawer technique-driven full back – with Robbo or Mansell doing great at RB when needed. Now Bevan was a beast of a man and a top keeper – if he believed in himself he would have played in the Premiership! Honestly he was that good, but just couldn’t handle pressure in training or games.
What was Paul Buckle like to work with and how did he get the best out of the players?
Buckle was very good at working with groups of different types. I wondered about his management style a few times with me personally, but he was very good with others. He would do things that gave the lads ownership, which to be fair to him worked with the group he had. He was very good with the young ones and could identify talent, tactically also very good with Northy and Kevin V, plus DD behind the scenes working very hard to help him. All in all very good and a wasted talent in my eyes . In my top 5 managers I worked for. He should be proud of that.
What were your highlights of that 2010-11 campaign and which United players stood out for you during your time at the club?
Honesty stacks…probably my best season as a player for one. Everything just clicked – I could tackle players and it would just work. I wasn’t injured and played some many games…scoring at Plainmoor, loved that! Play-off games…all the traveling we did up and down the country and living in a hotel and then my flat…meeting my future wife around Xmas…all sorts.
United never really got going at Old Trafford in the play-off final v Stevenage; what are your memories of the day and how disappointing was it to miss out on promotion?
I was pissed..felt robbed and it was a big reason I left. I just thought we had been lucky and there was not anything to build on. But I was wrong to leave, but needed the money and when Bradford came in it was a no brainier for me.
After winning the TUFC Player of the Year award we were disappointed that you didn’t re-sign for 2011-12, did you come close to staying at the club?
Torquay did what they could but it was a massive deal at Bradford and you couldn’t get near. So I had to go. I wanted to play at a big club again…I needed to. You don’t get many years in football. I worked hard to create chances for myself and needed to take them when I could. Sorry TUFC but I was off.
Do you keep an eye out for TUFC’s results and do you think Gary Johnson can take us back to where we belong (League football)?
I look every week…my missus and daughter are from Torquay and I am back regularly. GJ has done a great job and it will be a huge thing staying in the National League next season but anything top half is a bonus. The Conference a tough division.
And finally, what are you to at the minute?
I am working with Leicester City U-23 as the loans manager. I basically scout and manage our players whilst out on loan at different clubs. It’s very good experience for me.
TT contributor questions!
Which pickle do you prefer – Branston or Haywards? – Matty Hayward
Just how good was Eunan O’Kane? – Sam Druiff
Top drawer and deserved all the success he has had. His technique and abilities on and off the ball. He had the wow factor at such a young age.
Nicholson or Mansell? – Ben Currie
As people – both very similar. As players, probably Nicho just shaved it cause of his ability on the ball.
You had a website called ‘allaboutballerz’, did you recommend any players to TUFC? – Luke Hunter
Yes a lot but the staff at the time didn’t want to help so I had to stop giving them players on a plate. Ollie G CH French defender was one of mine..he loaded up to the site and I passed it on to Chris H.