“The support was fantastic, I will always keep track of TUFC”
Dom – “My abiding memories of Mark Ellis in a yellow shirt are of a keen young lad desperate to impress, someone who simply loved being on a football field and a bustling centre back who attacked every ball and each header like it was his last. It was simply impossible not to love the defender’s enthusiasm for pulling on a Gulls jersey, Mark kindly agreed to answer some questions this week on his time at Plainmoor”.
TT – Hi Mark, before we talk footie how are you and your family doing in these strange times?
ME – We’re coping. We’re thankful for all the different ways we can stay in touch with extended family and friends. I’ve been able to follow a remote training programme and the support from the kids school has been immense. We’re all fit and well so that’s what matters most right now.
You joined United in 2007 as we dropped down to the Conference, what tempted you down to Plainmoor?
I’d just signed my professional contract for Bolton and needed the 1st team experience. Obviously I was brought up in Kingsbridge so I was really coming home.
What do you remember about your professional debut, a 5-2 win at Kidderminster?
I was obviously nervous but I’ve always found I work well under pressure. I remember Paul Hinshelwood scoring from his own half! Great clearance……he’ll say he meant it. Being 17 I obviously had a lot to learn, perhaps highlighted by the 2 experienced centre forwards I was up against that day.
With the team scoring for fun and lively characters around it must have been an enjoyable start to your career?
Enjoyable, daunting, eye opening!!
After featuring heavily in 07-08, how frustrating was it to find your appearances limited the following season?
You have to take the highs with the lows, it’s the way football goes. Experiencing things like that early on in your career maybe helps you keep your head later on in similar situations.
You were loaned out to Forest Green in 2009, did you think your future may lie elsewhere at that point?
It opened my eyes to the possibility. It was part of the learning curve, experiencing the workings of another club.
You regained your place in the squad alongside Guy Branston, what did you learn from the Pickler?
How to head it, kick it, tackle. He was very vocal and I needed that experienced, dominating player in my ear in the early days. I was also lucky to play alongside Steve Woods, Chris Todd, Nicho, Robbo and Manse, who also shared their pearls of wisdom!
“There’s only one Mark Ellis” how much did you appreciate the support from the Yellow Army?
It’s a real family club. The fans were great! I’ve been back several times with the family and we’re always welcomed with open arms.
What was Paul Buckle like to play for?
Buckle demanded high standards as most managers do. I knew I had to put the effort in during training and game time to keep my place on the team! Northy put the time in training wise with me too.
There was play-off final disappointment at Old Trafford in 2011, what do you remember about that day?
Being sat on the bench😌. It’s hard to explain how frustrating it is not being able to play a part, more so when your team is losing. It’s kind of like you’ve missed an opportunity to help!
Lingy arrived to replace Bucks that summer, were you optimistic about the team’s chances for 11-12?
Unfortunately I started the season on the bench again so my morale was pretty low. But Lingy is a good guy and we had a chat about how things might go. I’ve come across him since then when I went on loan to Leyton Orient.
2011-12 was your finest at Plainmoor, how had you developed as a defender by then?
I’d obviously matured and picked up those tips from the more experienced players. I had a good run of goals which definitely gives you a huge boost and afforded me League 2 player of the month.
Your clearances over the Popside were a feature of your all action displays, how much did you love representing United?
The support was always fantastic. I will always keep track of Torquay United. I was happy there, it’s a home club and it’s really where it all began.
A late Nick Powell goal took automatic promotion out of our hands, how disappointing was that game?
Incredibly deflating, especially as it was a game we dominated.
In the end United couldn’t bounce back in the play-offs, but what are your main memories of that largely successful season?
It was me really settling into the club and the team! The highs well out-weighed the lows, it’s just a shame it ended the way it did.
Mark with a spectacular strike at Macclesfield in his final season for United
Just how good was Eunan to play with? And which other players stood out during your time at the club?
Eunan’s CV is accolade to the type of player he was! Incredibly talented and we all knew he’d move on up. It was clear Manse and Nicho would stay in the game on retirement.
You left for Crewe that summer, would you have stayed if we’d have won promotion?!
It’s not just down to promotions. When it comes to a club move we have to take all sorts into consideration. I was given the chance to try something new, relocate further north and play for a club like Crewe Alex, who were a big club with a good reputation.
Do you keep an eye on how United are doing and would you consider a return one day?
I will always follow Torquay’s progress and want them to do well. I was gutted when they dropped out of the Conference. Gary Johnson has done a fantastic job since arriving at the club. Never say never.
And finally, how are you keeping sane and fit during lockdown?! And just how much are you missing football?
I’m not sure we could say sane! The fitness coach at Tranmere sends weekly training programmes so I’m actually working really hard. In all honesty it’s healthy body healthy mind isn’t it! Football is my life. I’d only just returned from 10 months out through injury and played 3 great games, scored in 2. We were on a good roll so to finish there is a bit of a blow, especially considering we’re in a relegation battle but we have to do what we have to do. It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here.