Rachel Malloch talks about one of her favourite players Rene Howe:
Rachel Malloch – @RachelVillavox
Jermaine Renee Howe, super Rene Howe, a player who had every attribute desired from a centre forward, well, almost everything; he may not have been the fastest forward off the block, although certainly no slouch on the pitch, but even this could be deceptive as his quickness of thought in reading a game, his canny hold up play, strength on and off the ball and an ability to deceive defenders with his back to the defence, his ‘turning on a sixpence’ knack, for such a big lad with a bulky frame, no mean feat.
He also possessed a decent eye for the quick pass, an awareness that very often you ask of your midfield men but Rene could bring the ball down, push the play forward and distribute with great accuracy too. Rene was an entertainer, his style favouring the spectacular, the 20 yarder over the tap-ins. His 2 years service for Martin Ling and latterly Alan Knill’s yellow and blue army is etched in many supporters psyche as the Torquay United centre forward who had it all, almost!
Once his 2 year contract was up, speculation of a new deal rejected for personal reasons, a desire to be closer to his family, his partner’s family, whatever the reasons, it was a sad day when he took flight to Burton Albion, a burgeoning club who were investing heavily in League Two and going for promotion under the tutelage of manager Gary Rowett.
My first memory of Rene was a pre-season friendly against Exeter City where we thumped them 3-0 and to which he played a big part in the game, making one and scoring another, showing the Torquay fans what was to come with his strength on the ball both on the ground and in the air, something Martin Ling had remarked “he’s big, he’s strong and can score goals, he’s the kind of forward we need”.
It was a season of transition, of rebuild following the huge disappointment of the 2010/11 season under Paul Buckle, a confident season that fizzled out like a damp squib in the play-off final and the subsequent departure of Buckle to Bristol Rovers which saw an exodus of the squad, dismantled, with some players following Buckle out of the TQ1 door.
Rene Howe was quite the coup, having been released from Peterborough and a player who the manager saw as a replacement for the goals of Chris Zebrowski who had followed Buckle to Rovers. A bittersweet memory was a spirited fight back from 0-2 down away to Buckle’s Rovers which included a glorious equaliser from our man, only for Bristol to score a winner with just 12 minutes remaining. Bristol Rovers, like Woking of recent times, were in those days our nemesis, our rivals and to me it felt more like any derby game versus Exeter or Plymouth when we played them.
Rene Howe could be anonymous and still conjure up a moment of magic, or he could be making his considerable presence felt on the pitch, scoring 14 and 16 goals in consecutive seasons, ably supported by a attacking partners that included forwards Billy Bodin, Billy Key, Ryan Jarvis, Taiwo Atieno and Elliot Benyon on his second stint at the club. Two seasons of Rene Howe, of individual moments of magic, a powerful skilful and exciting player with a restless, nomadic spirit.
One game that goes down in Torquay United folklore, not for it’s significance, it’s status, it was after all a damp, rainy October evening home league game 2012 against Aldershot, a team languishing in the lower end of the table. It was the sheer spirit and fight displayed and a game that typified Rene Howe, his presence, his prowess and his strength. A rather unremarkable first half had somehow seen Aldershot’s forward Craig Reid score two, one a dubious penalty. Torquay had had an equal number of chances but were left heading for the changing room for a half time quizzing/grilling from Martin Ling at 2 goals down.
The second half began with Reid completing his hat-trick! But then United responded with purpose, probably the best game I’ve seen Billy Bodin play. The lad was covering every blade of Plainmoor grass, Lee Mansell was running the show in the middle of the park and Rene, he was imperious, flicks here, deft touch there, a through ball to Bodin, a goal back for Torquay. More powerhouse play from Howe and a goal for Jarvis for 2. Another moment of Rene Howe power, muscling in to win the ball, and an equaliser, this time from substitute Yeoman. It was a showcase masterclass from the imposing centre forward and so as was only fitting, from pouncing on a loose ball, a deft one two with Bodin left Rene to unleashed a low powerful drive to complete a tremendous victory and one of the most exhilarating nights seen at Plainmoor.
His time at the club was hampered by spells in the treatment room, hamstring pulls and suspensions via 2 red cards for his sins, but after 2 seasons, under 2 different managers, including the play-off tie v Cheltenham under Martin Ling (who had done amazingly well to rebuild that squad), where an early injury in the game put paid to the Rene goal threat and would bear some relation to the subsequent defeats, his career has gone on to muster more spectacular goals, most recently aged 33 turning out for Walton Casuals, scoring a screamer from 25 yards in a defeat against Truro.
Walton Casuals were due to play Taunton Town with my planned trip to watch the game kyboshed by reports of his injury and then relinquishing his term at the club for a trial at Farnborough Town, his last reported club. A nomadic restless spirit. A journeyman. There was also an appearance on the show ‘Dating in the Dark’ to add to his CV, seemingly to perpetuate a Mr Machismo image. One can’t help but wonder whether a settled Rene Howe, injury free, focused and content with his lot could have given another season or 2 and carved his name in the Torquay United all star legends category, to join the exalted ranks of many greats who thrilled and entertained us. Jermaine Renee Howe will always remain an impressive enigma in the annals of Torquay United players history.
COYY – Rachel