“It has been so frustrating seeing the youth system closed over the years and the lack of locals in our squads“
The Ed blogs about all things TUFC
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
“So English Football returns before long (just in case you hadn’t noticed!), will you be watching?” Hands up, I’ll be viewing as many matches as my wife and kids allow – which won’t be many. My wife has admittedly enjoyed my footie-free attendance at Roman (h) every Saturday afternoon! No supporters in attendance takes away vital atmosphere, joy and atmosphere from games…but for a starved footie obsessive like me, it’ll have to do. I expect most Premier League players will just be happy to kick around a football with their mates – it’s what they do. With many matches rightly free to air, the viewing figures are bound to be pretty massive, well at least until the novelty wears off.
Sports-wise I’ve clutched onto anything recently. A few bets on the horse racing to make it more interesting (modest returns), some snooker on ITV4 (snooker is so low-key these days people have barely noticed it returning) and a spot of tennis down the local park. Two dads playing after months of having no real exercise apart from chasing down toddlers…it wasn’t pretty and there was more than a modicum of huffing and puffing! We’ll try and make it a regular knockabout…so that mean’s another game in mid-August. I did win a gritty best out of 5 match though and the competitive juices were flowing by the decider. 5 games I mean rather than sets, that would have just been far too embarrassing (and sweaty).
What of Torquay United…well the Yellows world is still fairly quiet. Youngsters JJ Evans and Owen Price have signed pro contracts, and since then coach Chris Todd has been eulogising about their ability, so fingers crossed we witness two bright futures. The youth set-up at TUFC continues to develop, which hints at promise for the years to come. As a club we can only start becoming somewhere close to sustainable by ticking several boxes, and one of those is developing talent and selling that talent onto clubs higher up the pyramid.
It takes time though. Exeter City invested in their youth system a while ago, committed to it fully and have reaped the dividends with some big fees – and have a settled league status that we can only envy at the present. It has been so frustrating seeing the youth system closed over the years and the lack of locals in our squads – meanwhile the likes of ECFC and Argyle have snapped up the South Devon bright young things that could have bloomed at Plainmoor.
It’s not just the promise of making money from these players, it’s the heart and pride for the yellow shirt that local lads play with. Anyone who has witnessed Jamie Reid’s desire over the last few years can testify to that. The crowd love to see ‘one of their own’ having a go on their behalf, we desperately want them to do well and that goodwill can have a positive effect all round. Having two or three of those guys in the team is something we can only dream of at present, but Gary Johnson is optimistic that the youth set-up is heading in the right direction, and it’s a tribute to the owners for kick-starting it all. Yes I am praising Clarke and his team, this is not a typo!
Speaking of the top brass, their sponsored silence has continued, which is fair enough as the wonderfully charismatic Gary Johnson does plenty of talking! Many teams have already started writing to their fans regarding season tickets for next season…which seems early considering there’s no decision on when they’ll actually be a season. Will we be able to take our usual places in the Popside and Bristow’s later in the year, or will social distancing cause a re-think? Could we be spaced out in the seating areas, with seats in between us or at least in between people you don’t live with. I can’t believe this is actually a discussion, but if clubs want games asap (which they must do) such deliberation could come to pass. Torquay United have always struggled to put the right names on seats, so heaven help us if it becomes more complicated!
There’s also been no mention about the games remaining on season tickets that we didn’t get to attend. I think supporters have generally written this cost off and are not expecting any refunds, but it would be nice to hear from the club about this situation. Torquay United still fail to engage properly with supporters, which is an ongoing shame. In this precarious time it would be a perfect opportunity for the club to talk to supporters more, as we all desperately want the club to ride this storm and have future success. There’s much to gain from asking supporters for their input, we’re not looking to over-throw you…honest. Personally I just haven’t got the time with work and family!!
One of the current squad Ben Whitfield took time out this week to man the TT Twitter for an hour and answer questions mainly about his time with the Gulls so far and his lack of height! Ben was a great sport and is just the sort of personality we love at Plainmoor – all heart, fighting qualities and more than a sprinkling of ability. GJ is oozing confidence that he’ll find more diamonds like Whits and has been filling me with optimism for what’s to come. Mistakes were make in recruitment last year and someone with GJ’s experience is unlikely to make them again. I just can’t wait until that first incoming notification – when that new face arrives is anyone’s guess.
On the site we’ll plough on regardless. It’s a turbulent world at present but we’re in some kind of TT bubble, talking Torquay United until we can talk Torquay United no more! My recent article on the 1990-91 season was a real joy, sure it was before many people’s time (many of the TT alumni weren’t even born at that point) but that didn’t put me off. Check out the link for it below. Kids usually have one season or game that cements their support for the Gulls, that was my time. Success breeds success…no wonder that United are where they are!!
Football is all about escapism isn’t it and I desperately miss Plainmoor times for that reason. That’s why people are desperate for the Premier League to return. The sport connects so many of us, provides many talking points and much banter to liven up our days – giving us a boost that can help alleviate stress that has built up in the real world. I’ll have the TV and sofa booked occasionally for those reasons and will be ready to wage battle with two kids for one of the most important items in our house…the Sky remote. Stay safe everyone.
All the best, Dom