Ex-Gulls Watch by Andy Charles


Andy Charles is back with another blog about Ex-Gulls and what they’ve been up to since leaving Plainmoor

Andy C

Andy Charles – @CapitalGull

“Torquay United has a long history of employing former players as managers with somewhat varying levels of success – see Buckle, Paul and Nicholson, Kevin.
We’ve already looked at a couple of former Gulls who have gone on to management careers after their playing days came to an end, but this edition is devoted entirely to those who have followed that route, taking them to some weird and wonderful places”.


What a career central defender Mike had after his big-money move away from Plainmoor in 2001 – incredibly almost 20 years ago – as a 17-year-old. More than 400 games in every tier from the Premier League down and it would undoubtedly have been a lot more but for a couple of very serious injuries. After two seasons with Wolves ended after the 2016-17 campaign, Mike moved down to League One with Oxford and then jumped into non-league football with Gateshead, back in the area where he spent so many good years representing Newcastle United with great success. After the club was demoted to National League North, Williamson became Gateshead’s manager on a full-time basis and they were battling for a play-off place when football was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. He’s obviously a shrewd man as well as he managed to tempt Ruairi Keating to head to the north-east earlier in 2020.


It’s nearly 30 years ago when I first saw Duane play up front for Torquay as a spotty teenager. As well as his success at Plainmoor (29 goals in 128 games) he went on to score plenty of goals for Hull City and, most notably, Rushden & Diamonds before a drop into the non-league game. Since his playing days came to an end, Duane has been bouncing around the Midlands football scene, including spells in charge of Bromsgrove Rovers and Cradley Town, as well as coaching at up-and-coming Southern League side Bromsgrove Sporting. Last November, he was placed in charge of another Southern League side Redditch United, ironically not long after I had been at the Trico Stadium to watch them play Barwell. Success did not follow, though, and the Reds (three wins in 33 games) were certainties to be relegated until the campaign was expunged. He remains in charge though.


Remember the 2004/5 season? Relegation on the final day of the season at Colchester? Happy Days! Well two of the more random members of that season’s squad were the soundalikes from East Anglia. Ipswich-born Boardley returned home and played for Long Melford, Leiston and AFC Sudbury as well as Felixstowe & Walton, where he took over as manager this year after a spell in charge at Leiston. The Seasiders were another team saved by the cancellation of the season as they faced relegation from the Isthmian League’s North Division.

Wardley also relocated back to the Cambridge area and finished his professional days at the Abbey Stadium. He’s enjoyed some success as a manager and had a long spell in charge of Saffron Walden Town in his five years with the club. Moved on to Haverhill Rovers for a brief time last year and is now assistant manager with Newmarket Town in the Eastern Counties League, where they were in with a shout of the play-offs when the season came to a close.


One for the future here. Connell scored seven goals in 26 games for Torquay but had plenty of success in the remainder of his playing career, which went on for almost another decade with the likes of Brentford, Bournemouth, Grimsby (where he was particularly prolific), Swindon and Bradford City. After a brief spell in non-league football, Connell retired in 2016 and has been part of Eddie Howe’s coaching set-up at Bournemouth. He is currently their U18s head coach and was coaching Frank Vincent while the on-loan Gulls midfielder was getting game time during his rehabilitation from injury. The team’s form this season, including a run to the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup, prompted Howe to say Connell was “developing into a very good coach”.


Torquay boy Leon was with the club during his youth career and early professional days, and did return briefly in 2007 near the end of his playing days, totalling 50 appearances and becoming part of the club’s centre of excellence coaching staff. The last decade has seen Leon in a very different part of the world, having upped sticks for the lovely Canadian city of Calgary, where I once visited and experienced temperatures of minus-22 celsius! They compete in the United Soccer League Two, a development league, and Hapgood is currently technical director alongside a role as assistant coach for the University of Calgary women’s and men’s teams. He also appears to be involved in regular Twitter “bantz” with former team-mates including Troy Douglin and Tommy Wheeldon!


Banim had an uneventful spell at Plainmoor back in 2008 and spent the rest of his playing career bouncing between the likes of Burton Albion, Altrincham and Droylsden, who he had initially joined the Gulls on loan from. Banim, who might be most remembered at Plainmoor for his less than slim waistline, had a modicum of success in the management ranks with Radcliffe Borough, and guided Ashton United into National League North in 2018, but that proved too big a jump for the side from just outside Manchester and they were relegated at the end of last season. Struggling in the Northern League Premier earlier this season, Banim was given the boot and appears now to be concentrating on his ProSport Academy.

COYY – Andy

TWITTER – @TORQUAYTALK@torquaytalkpod

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2 thoughts on “Ex-Gulls Watch by Andy Charles

  1. Nice one, Andy. Merse will be delighted to read that as well as being an accomplished player, former favourite Alan Connell is developing into a good coach.


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