TUFC Programmes by Andy Charles – No.6: Grimsby Town 1989

TT contributor Andy Charles is back discussing another TUFC programme from his collection:

Andy C

Andy Charles – @capitalgull


We jump forward to early 1989 for the next instalment of our summer Torquay United programme series and a Division Four game against Grimsby Town.

The Gulls, managed by the legendary Cyril Knowles, would go on to struggle to a 14th place finish that season and it wouldn’t be much longer (October 1989) before Knowles would leave Plainmoor after a disappointing start to the following season.

The game would end in a 2-2 draw, Torquay’s goals coming from Roger Gibbins and Jim McNichol, but I wanted to write about this programme for a few other reasons.
Most obvious among them is the front cover, one I have always thought was iconic among Torquay programmes.


It features exclusive work by famous artist Beryl Cook, who depicts an afternoon at Plainmoor in her inimitable style of comic art, not in this case featuring women celebrating their hen party but a Torquay player looking a lot like Tony “Bomber” Brown scything through an opposing defence which could quite easily be Grimsby’s!

Although she did reference sports like tennis, bowling and even wrestling in her other work, a lot of her more famous works were more on the risqué side but are well worth seeking out.


The Gulls had just missed out on promotion in 1987-88, losing to Swansea City in the play-off final, but we were going fairly well again when January rolled around – sitting in sixth place six points off leaders Rotherham.

Sadly our away form would continue to be an issue over the second half of the season with only 12 points coming away from Plainmoor in the entire season, and only a few months later Knowles would leave. He returned to management with Hartlepool two months later but was lost to the game of football less than two years later after a battle with a brain tumour.


We came into the game on the back of a 5-1 hiding against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough – a game I remember well – in the third round of the FA Cup and, sadly, earlier in the same season as the disaster that would cost 96 Liverpool fans their lives at the semi-final stage of the competition.


The Wednesday game dominates Cyril’s pre-game notes and those in the club comment page, penned by who knows, but prophetically mentioning the start of another route to Wembley as our next game was to come against Gillingham in the Sherpa Van Trophy.


We would win that game 3-0, then beat Bristol Rovers, Brentford and, most memorably, Wolves over two legs before being beaten 4-1 by Bolton in the final on our first visit to Wembley.

The rest of the programme includes a Back In Time feature from John Lovis – a lovely man – which I feel like I am doing in some way now with this series and a two-page welcome to Grimsby, whose squad included a famous goalkeeper in Steve Sherwood and a striker in Keith Alexander who would also be lost to the game by illness much too early in life.


Later on in the programme, some interesting player sponsors! Mark Loram sponsored by a bookmaker, Ian Weston and Tom Kelly by local nightclubs and Paul Holmes by something or someone called Sticky and the Dipstick (answers on a postcard please!).


Not much else to write about from the programme apart from the line-ups on the back page – my Dream Team written earlier this year featured three men from this team – McNichol, Loram and Phil Lloyd – while Paul Holmes and Tom Kelly got honourable mentions and Cyril Knowles was my manager of choice (it might just be Gary Johnson if I was asked now).

I loved this team, just about every one of them, and even though the season in question was a struggle it never seemed like fans got on their backs as they do with modern football. Maybe it’s the money, maybe the desire for instant results, but I miss those days when a second of anger at a missed pass was soon forgotten.

Even the more limited players – beanpole striker Richard Thompson, youngster Jimmy Smith and full-back Daral Pugh – were at least 100 per cent triers and that made you think that little bit more of them – I’m not sure that would be enough these days and football is all the worse for it.


Elsewhere it’s all adverts and a few more which are recognisable to me…

Nice to see an early one for Westward Video, whose work I have a fair few copies of which need to be transferred to DVD still. Brian Ling used to do a great job videoing all the games and his work lives on!

I used to spend a lot of time making trips to Plainmoor Bakery for mum and there are at least six pubs – including The Barn Owl and The Kents, which have enjoyed my custom over the years.

And there is an early advert for the English Riviera Centre which had been open for less than two years and remains a fixture of the Torquay seafront. Hundreds of hours of fun have been had there, although the most memorable remains my Dad coming down one of the flumes at such a pace the lifeguards had to fish him out of the pool afterwards – safe to say Mum was not best pleased to see him set me such an example!


We’ll end on that note – back soon with another programme. Feel free to get in touch @capitalgull on Twitter at any time if there is a programme you want to see featured (if I have it of course!).


torquaytalk.com – @TORQUAYTALK – Away Sponsor of Kyle Cameron

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