Cover photo credit: Torbay News Agency
Sam Jones – @samuellejones
Torquay will return to the National League for the 19/20 after a season in the National League South. Last time they had their first game in the fifth division of English football, they had just been relegated from League 2 after a shambolic campaign.
The game in question was a torrid affair. Torquay opened the season with a 3-1 loss at Gateshead, one of the longest journeys in British football. But who was playing for the Yellows that day and what happened to them afterwards? I decided to take a trip down memory lane and find out what happened to the “stars” of that day.
All stats from Torquayfanstats.com or transfermarkt.com.
Manager – Chris Hargreaves
Tenure: Jan 2014 – June 2015. Record: P75 W27 D15 L33 (36.00% win rate).
No one can deny that as a player Hargreaves is a Torquay United legend, captaining the side to the Play-off final win in 2009. However, as a manager, the less said about him the better. After failing to save the club from relegation, a fairly disastrous season in the National League saw the club finish 12th and he was put on gardening leave the club in the summer of 2015, with Paul Cox taking over. He’s currently Bristol Rovers assistant manager and academy manger as well as a regular pundit for BT Sport for their coverage of the National League.
GK – Martin Rice
2007 – 2009, 2011 – 2015. P76 GC109 CS15.
The Exeter born keeper had two spells at the Gulls, spending a total of 6 years here. He was understudy for most of his time, but did play in the 2008 FA Trophy final loss to Ebbsfleet. He did get his chance as first choice in the 2014/2015 season but failed to impress, and was released at the end of the season. Since leaving Plainmoor his clubs include: Truro, Gosport, Tiverton and Exmouth.
RB – Dale Tonge
2013 – 2015. P56 G0 A1.
Brought in by Alan Knill from Rotherham with a good reputation, Tonge never lived up to the hype (join the club!). He was one of many players who seemed to decline once making the move to Devon and was very unconvincing in his two years here. Released in 2015, he made a smattering of appearances for Chester, Stockport and FC United of Manchester before becoming Barnsley’s assistant manager in February 2019.
CB – Angus MacDonald
2012 – 2013, 2014 – 2016. P84 G3 A0.
When Gus joined the club permanently in 2014, it was clear he was heading for bigger things. A very talented player, he was a rock at the heart of the defence for two seasons and captained the side to their first great escape under Nicho in the 2015/2016 season. He deservedly moved up 3 divisions to Barnsley in summer 2016 and was made club captain the following eason. In January 2018 he moved across Yorkshire to Hull City where he has struggled with injuries since.
CB – Aaron Downes
2012 – 2015. P115 G15 A5.
Aaron Downes could be called a modern Torquay great. The Aussie was a rock at the heart of the Yellows defence for three years, forming a very solid partnership with Brian Saah in his first season. Despite Torquay’s relegation the following year, he was still one of the Gulls standout players and stayed with them for their first season back in the Conference. Good in the air, and good on the ground, he was one of the most complete centre backs to play for the Gulls in recent times. He left us in summer 2015 to link up with Gary Johnson at Cheltenham, captaining them to the National League title. He retired in summer 2018 and in December last year become Gary’s assistant at Plainmoor.
LB – Tom Cruise
2012 – 2015. P64 G0 A4.
The Hollywood star was brought in by Ling in 2012 to be a Top Gun at left back. Released by Arsenal, he was linked with clubs including Palermo and the New England Revolution before making the move down to Devon. However, it was clear to see that a succession of injuries had made it Mission Impossible to live up to his early promise. Despite making over 60 appearances for the Gulls, he never impressed and was released in 2015. I’d love to say he went on and fulfilled his potential, but he didnt. His career went into Oblivion and apparently he’s now an accountant.
RM – Louis Briscoe
2014 – 2016. P60 G10 A3.
Louis was brought in by Hargreaves to add some goals to the Gulls attack. The winger had a pretty good goal scoring record at Conference level, having spent 5 years with Mansfield Town. Despite being the Gulls only goal scorer in this game, he never lived up to expectation. He scored 10 in his first season, but none in his second and was released by Nicho in January 2016. He joined Wrexham, but didn’t last long there, adding Tamworth, Sutton Coldfield and Mickleover Sports to his resumé before joining Stafford Rangers for a third time in January 2018.
CM – Ben Harding
2013 – 2015. P36 G0 A1.
Ben Harding is definitely near the top of Torquay players I’d rather forget. The journeyman midfielder joined The Gulls in summer 2013, being another one of Knill’s dreadful signings. In his two years at the club, he offered very little only racking up one assist. He seemed to spend most of his time injured and was released at the end of the season. He went on to join Gosport Borough before moving down to Cornwall in 2017 to join Truro. He became player/manager in 2018 when Lee Hodges left but was replaced by Leigh Robinson. Left Truro this summer, but is rumoured to be making a return to Treyew Road.
CM – Luke Young
2014 – 2018. P133 G16 A30.
The whole of the Devon football world was shocked when Luke Young left Argyle to join the Gulls. Hargreaves managed to entice the 21 year old up the A38, adding some much needed creativity to the Gulls midfield. He scored some ridiculous goals, most notable was the absolute screamer against Wrexham, which may be one of the greatest goals Plainmoor has ever seen. After a good first season, a nasty knee injury ruled him out of the 2015-2016 season. He returned to first team action in 2016, but was never quite the same player, seemingly missing some of that explosiveness that he showed in his early years. Left the club for Wrexham after the Gulls relegation to the National League South and is still there now.
LM – Courtney Cameron
2013 – 2015. P54 G3 A5.
Courtney was yet another promising player with no end product that seem to be attracted to Plainmoor. Brought in by Knill after being released from Aston Villa, he never really hit the heights expected of him. He scored a couple of great free kicks, Aldershot and Exeter springs to mind, but ultimately flattered to deceive. He was released in summer 2015 and joined Southport. He lasted 6 months there, then moving to Brackley then Halesowen. In December 2016 he joined Coventry United in the Midlands Football League, and it is here that the trail goes cold.
ST – Elliot Benyon
2007 – 2011, 2013 – 2015. P140 G37 A9.
Of all the players in this starting line up, Benyon made the most appearances for the Gulls over his 6 year association with the club. His first stint was a success as he helped fire the Gulls back to League 2, even starting the final at Wembley. He spent two seasons with us in the football League before leaving for Swindon in 2011. However, he never hit the heights of those early seasons and rejoined us on loan in January 2013, before re-signing for the Gulls that summer. However, he struggled to find the back of the net in his 18 months back at Plainmoor and left in January 2015 for Hayes and Yeading. Since then, he has played for four more clubs, and is currently back in West London with Hayes and Yeading.
ST – Ryan Bowman
2014 – 2015. P37 G12 A5.
The combative striker was brought in from York by Hargreaves in the summer of 2014. The idea was to add a bit of height and fight to the team, which sort of worked. 12 goals and 5 assists in his only campaign with the Gulls saw him finish as top scorer, but left the club to Gateshead in 2015. After a good season with the Heed, he moved north of the border to Motherwell and then back down to Devon in January this year to join Exeter City.
2014 – 2015, 2016. P63, G6 A6.
Oh Toby, what could have been. The forward had bags of ability but a dreadful attitude. He obviously saw Torquay as a stepping stone to greater things, but probably couldn’t be bothered to make that step. Left in 2015 for Dover, came back in 2016. Left again the same year for Gateshead then bounced around the non leagues. Clubs include: Welling, Dartford and Harlow before spending last season at Ashford United in the Isthmian League.
2014 – 2016. P74 G3 A3.
If marmite was a player, it’d be Courtney Richards. The perennial tryer was part of the Gulls midfield for both Great Escapes under Nicho, scoring some crackers in the process. Left at the end of the 2016 season for Macclesfield and now can be found trying his hardest at Braintree.
2014 – 2015. P6 GC8 CS1.
20 year old Seabright joined the Gulls from Dagenham and Redbridge as a back up in 2014. He played a handful of games for us, and then in February 2015 announced he was retiring from football to become a car salesman in Poole. Did come back into football breifly to play for Gosport, Poole and Weymouth but is currently without a club.
2014 – 2015. P30 G5 A4.
Duane was only with the club for one season, but was a popular figure. He unfortunately suffered a tragedy in his personal life and left the Gulls in summer 2015 to Dover so he could be closer to his family. Currently on Woking’s books, having spent last season on loan at Whitehawk.
2014 – 2015. P20 G0 A0.
The promising young left back came through the Youth Academy and was widely tipped to go on to big things. Became first choice towards the end of the season but didn’t sign a new deal and left the club. Now first choice for Cliftonville in his native Northern Ireland.