In what may turn out to be a regular series, Andy Charles looks at how Ex-Gulls are doing..
Andy Charles – @CapitalGull
“They came, they played and they left. Some we loved, some we hated. Some we wanted to stay, some we would have happily paid their bus fare to go away, but what happened when these Gulls flew away to pastures new?
In what might just turn into a regular series, I’ll be writing about a dream team selected groups of ex-Gulls who tried – and mostly failed – to make a name for themselves at Plainmoor.
I’m going to start off with some names most current fans will remember, unless their memories do not go any further back than the last two or three seasons!”
Axel Andresson – 5 appearances, no goals
Looked to be a promising loan addition from Reading in the 2017-18 season, one when we used something like 491 players, but sadly that did not come across in his handful of games. Things have looked up a little since, having gone on loan to Norwegian side Viking Stavanger, where he would do enough to catch the eye of Iceland’s international management and almost inexplicably win two senior caps! He is now a Viking player on a permanent basis but managed only one game in their 2019 season before suffering a serious knee ligament injury – they will be back in action in March.
Conrad Balatoni – 16 appearances, no goals
I was so happy when (Doo Doo Doo) Conrad Balatoni signed because he arrived at Plainmoor after a spell with my team in Scotland – Ayr United – and I thought he was excellent in the two games I watched of him up at Somerset Park. Sadly it didn’t really happen for him in Devon (understatement! – Dom) and he moved back to Scotland at the end of that 2017-18 season…to the bottom tier of their league with League Two Edinburgh City. The move has gone well for him, as City came agonisingly close to their first promotion last season before losing in the play-offs, and they are challenging Cove Rangers this season as well. He’s been not far off ever-present both years.
Sam Chaney – 51 appearances, no goals
A rare player to come through our youth ranks, Chaney looked at times like he might just make it as a professional footballer. Then we played him at left-back and that seemed to ruin his career as it wasn’t long before the decision was made to loan him out to Whitehawk. Whether stories about his off-field behaviour are right, I can’t attest to, but he’s gone backwards since…and quickly for a player with some talent. Was at Enfield Town last season and appears to have played just a couple of times a level down with Ware this season, while also turning out in (wait for it!) the Hertford Prodigies in East Hertfordshire Corinthian League Division One.
Vincent Dorel – 35 appearances
Although Dorel only played one season with Torquay he made a massive impact in his 35 games and we probably would have been relegated even earlier without him. Sadly he did not stay on for the National League South days and would next rock up in Romania with FC Farul Constanta, a club with even more issues off the pitch than the Gulls, and he would only make a couple of appearances before leaving. He’s still active on Twitter once in a while but doesn’t appear to have a club at the moment although he did have a trial in Finland last year with Vaasan Palloseura (VPS). Would you have him back now? I certainly would!
Michee Efete – 26 appearances, no goals
Efete joined Torquay during the same 2017-18 season as Dorel and was one of our better players in that very forgettable relegation campaign. He’s been a bit of a wanderer in the National League and National League South since, eventually leaving Norwich for Maidstone, spending some time on loan at Bath, playing in that circus which is Billericay (where he played against us last season) and now plying his trade for Wealdstone, where they seem to love him as one of their leading Player of the Year candidates.
Jake Gosling – 14 appearances, no goals
Also part of the 2017-18 debacle and one who only showed brief signs of ability before being struck by the injury curse – just what is it about us, midfielders, and crockage! The Gibraltar international gave up football after his spell at Plainmoor and began a career in the Royal Air Force, but he has not completely given up the game as, if you search far enough, you’ll see some videos of him playing for the RAF and UK Armed Forces team…including one where he scores a lovely goal. Sign him up Gary!
Guy Gnabouyou – 5 appearances, no goals
We loved him for about 30 minutes when the mystery Frenchman arrived at Plainmoor but things just never worked out for Guy. He’d already played in France, Finland, Greece and Malta before his arrival in Devon and his career has continued on a similar thread since. Iceland would be next, not as a freezer filler but with IBV Vestmannaeyjar, before returning to Greece and a spell with Iraklis, where he appears to have been quite successful – he actually scored a couple of goals. Romania was his destination for the second part of 2019 with Liga II side Petrolul Ploiesti but, earlier this month, he was on the move again for even further flung waters after securing a deal with Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur Hawks.
Yan Klukowski – 8 appearances, no goals
Yet another player I was excited to see play for Torquay who proved to be a massive disappointment – I’m beginning to wonder what level my judgment is at! I’d seen him play quite a lot for previous clubs but he was shockingly bad for the Gulls. Unfit, injured, or both a lot of the time. He got sent out on loan to Kidderminster, spent last season with his hometown team Chippenham and is now playing as a holding midfielder for Hungerford in National League South…when he’s not injured (and it appears he has been, a lot).
Sean McGinty – 92 league appearances, 6 goals
Some say donkey, others say no-nonsense defender who loved a hoofed clearance…and I’d probably be in the latter category. He’d had some issues before landing on the English Riviera but seemed to settle down in the Bay and was ever-present in two seasons. Unsurprisingly he did not stay on when we were relegated to the National League South and instead headed to Scotland and the lovely Firhill, home of Partick Thistle. I saw him play last season in their Challenge Cup game against Celtic and he acquitted himself well against some very talented (for Scotland) players. Still at Thistle now but not a regular in their line-up anymore.
Samir Nabi – 11 appearances, no goals
As I put this piece together, I was writing “without club” about Samir, who was possibly our biggest disappointment of last season after being brought to the club by Gary Owers. He struggled for fitness (don’t we all) and couldn’t make much of an impact when he did play, apart from getting sent off at Weston-super-Mare. Never got a look in after Gary Johnson arrived and was loaned out to Halesowen Town. Since the end of last season the only football I could find him playing was in (wait for it) World Cup qualifiers for Pakistan. But just as I put the finishing touches to this I saw a new tweet pop up – he’s literally just signed for Kidderminster Harriers to play for his former West Brom coach Jimmy Shan.
Jamie Sendles-White – 26 appearances, no goals
Now this is one I don’t understand. Sendles-White was okay – no better than that – at his very best last season. Towards the end of the championship run, I thought he was the weakest link at the back, and I wasn’t that bothered when he wasn’t kept on. Colour me surprised when his next move is up two levels to Crawley Town where he has been in and out of the team…but apparently played a blinder against Bradford recently where a video of one of a goal-saving block went viral. Fair play to him for beating us back to the big-time!