TUFC Programmes by Andy Charles – No.7&8: Red Star and FC Pumas 1990

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

Andy C

Andy Charles – @capitalgull

As pre-season comes to a close for another year, I got to thinking about previous editions and managed to find two programmes from one of the strangest summers I can remember.

Nowadays we are used to our pre-season clashes with Exeter City, Plymouth Argyle, Tiverton and the arrival of the odd Premier League and Championship team, often now bringing a U23 team to Plainmoor as their superstars head off to different parts of the world.

Manchester United have been down to the English Riviera before, both for pre-season and testimonial matches, while we’ve hosted Chelsea, Nottingham Forest in their pomp and even former European champions Aberdeen.

But the summer of 1990 was very different for Torquay United with most unlikely visitors to the Bay – Yugoslavian powerhouse Red Star Belgrade and Mexican side FC Pumas.


The end of the 1990-91 season would remarkably see Red Star crowned as European Cup winners but one of their opening games ahead of that incredible run would prove to have happened in sunny Devon, of all places.

A side including then household names like Robert Prosinecki, Dejan Savicevic and Darko Pancev had the privilege of getting changed in the old Plainmoor dressing rooms (size? just about enough to swing a very small cat) and face our own Yellow heroes, including newly-signed former Plymouth striker Tommy Tynan and now Bideford manager Sean Joyce.


Prosinecki and Mitar Mkerla scored their goals in what turned out to be a 2-1 win with Tynan replying for the Gulls, with thanks to Steve Harris – author of the excellent Torquay United: A History In 50 Matches – for all the info.

Three weeks later, at very short notice, the Gulls would face another team chock-full of star players, this time from Central America, as FC Pumas rocked up after another friendly had been cancelled.


A 3-0 (I think) defeat ensued for the Gulls against such players as Luis Garcia, who scored nearly 200 goals in his club career and 28 more for Mexico, and Alberto Garcia Aspe who won more than 100 international caps and played in three World Cups.


There was also the strange case of Jorge Campos, who is listed in the programme as playing up front for Pumas but played much of his career as a goalkeeper. He started out as second choice ‘keeper with Pumas (and would still have been in 1990) but was so desperate to play that he asked to go upfront – Campos would score 34 times in more than 250 games, although most of those ended up in a No 1 jersey.


Not much point in me describing the 20 pence programme for that game as it is merely a four-pager dominated by adverts and the only writing is a brief Chairman’s Chatter column – more of that to follow – and an advert for Sunday’s Open Day which I seem to remember going to myself!

The Red Star programme doesn’t feature a whole lot of written content either but it’s amazing to look back at the pictures and recall all those superstar players who were involved that day – and Red Star’s squad!


By 1990 Mike Bateson had taken over as Torquay chairman and he says in his Chairman’s Chatter column how exciting his time in charge had been so far – I wonder how long that excitement lasted as he realised just what a rollercoaster life he had put himself in for.


He goes in-depth into the financial issues facing the club and that would prove to be a common theme during his time in charge at Plainmoor – well worth a read because I would imagine the numbers are very different now!

Dave Smith was the manager at the time – the Dave Smith who loved a bit of poetry – and his welcome column talks about the changes going on at the time. Not only Bateson’s arrival, but John Impey’s move into a youth development role (another future TUFC manager) and Tynan’s arrival from Plymouth along with a player I always thought was under-rated – defender Peter Whiston.


The programme features plenty of information on Red Star’s team, nearly all of whom were internationals for then Yugoslavia, and details of their glittering domestic history, which was to finally extend to European success less than nine months later.


Centre spread were our fixtures for the season ahead, with notably a lot of our home games having been scheduled for Friday nights, and a big advert for Torquay United Clubcall – a service I used to secretly ring…until my Dad got his phone bill and started to get it itemised…


Torquay’s team still included some of my favourite players – Dream Teamer Phil Lloyd among them – including the superb winger Paul Smith who was one of the fastest and most exciting players ever to grace the Plainmoor turf.


Other than that, a lot of requests for sponsorship and reminders to get your £1 subscription in for the Supporters Club. I had just about graduated from the Junior section of it by then.

Noticeably a lot cheaper to sponsor a player back then – £22.50 for the whole lot, although £10 of that was for the “naughty bits”. Leaves nothing to the imagination when it’s pointed to on a picture of a cartoon Gull!!


That’s all from me for now but I’ll be doing a few more programmes from slightly newer seasons during the 2019-20 campaign – don’t forget you can get in touch with me on Twitter @capitalgull and I will take requests for future issues (if of course I have the programme concerned!).


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

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I simply live and breathe Football and have supported Torquay United since 1989. I am a season ticket holder on Bristows and a Trust member. I set up TorquayTalk in 2017 to give true supporters a voice and honest opinions on their club.

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