“Gary Johnson has always appreciated the support we provide up and down the land, and he’ll be delighted by the announcements”
The Ed blogs about all things TUFC
Dom Roman – @DomRoman
The 29th February 2020 was not particularly memorable at Plainmoor. Lowly Chorley visited for a sunny 3pm kick-off, as we looked to maintain some faint hopes of play-off contention. In truth they were dreadful, but so was our shooting – with Azeez missing the sort of chance my granny would have gobbled up back in the day. It was down to the head of Robbie Cundy and Jamie Reid late on to secure the 3 points, and send us home fairly chirpy. In the end that was to be our last game at home for a excruciating amount of time!
Roll onto the 18th July (the time has actually flown by) and after four of the strangest (and challenging months) imaginable, there is a Yellow light at the end of the non-football tunnel. In conversation with the government, the FA intend for the non-league football season to start in September and allied to the announcement from Boris that crowds will be allowed back to stadiums – we could all be back in business. The National League can begin no earlier than 5th September, with pre-season friendlies possible from August.
There is a number of catches in this arrangement of course, and I have read speculation that only 25% of the ground capacities will be utilised. Understandably so. With social distancing lingering over us, that would leave Plainmoor being able to house only around 1500 supporters. I don’t envy Torquay United or any other club in organising this whole process. From the initial ticketing (did we have around 2k season ticket holders?…I can feel the tension now!), the health and safety set-up for all concerned, stewarding requirements and everything else they’ll be asked to arrange before football can restart. All these alien aspects to preparation will cause plenty of headaches I’m sure.
I hope the club use this time to engage and communicate with the supporters fully on arrangements, as supporters have to trust the club in going back to football matches. They’ll be plenty keen to go I’m sure (including me) but this new experience is fraught with organisational chaos if handled incorrectly. Keep things transparent and keep the loyal Yellow Army informed, and we won’t let you down. We all want to go back and see old friends, throw about some banter and debate everything TUFC – it’s all a massive part of the matchday. In exchange we need to be patient with the club and adhere to rules and requests to ensure a restart is successful.
One Yellow Army member who won’t be there to cheer on the lads is supporter Graham Jenkins who passed away last week. I never actually spoke to Graham to be honest, but like many of the faithful Yellow Army I had seen him around the place many times. One of the many familiar faces that you’d see near an away ground and knew you were heading to the right place! Long-serving supporters like Graham are the lifeblood of teams like ours and he’ll be missed by the Yellow Army. My condolences go to his family and friends. RIP Graham.
The gaffer Gary Johnson has always appreciated the support we provide up and down the land, it’s what he’s been determined to feed off and encourage since his grand arrival. GJ will be delighted by the announcements as he lives and breathes football. It looks like he’s ready to add to his United squad very soon – with five players lined up (3 of those nailed on), we await further news. After weeks of no TUFC news (apart from a stylish new tie and rather boring looking fan mask) it could be a busy week and I’ll be lapping up ‘Incomings’ on Twitter when they arrive. The names of Danny Wright, Lee Holmes and Gary Warren have been strongly linked, plus a certain Connor Lemonheigh-Evans.
CLE had a difficult season back at Plainmoor in 19-20. He started with some aplomb, playing in an advanced role just off Reidy and finding spaces to energise Yellows attacks. Then a dreaded injury interrupted his season (and half the squad), and he never properly got going again. The midfielder seemingly trying too hard to impact games on his comebacks, rather than just keeping things simple and making the right decisions. Form is temporary and class is permanent though, and young Connor has more than enough quality to make a splash in the National League next season under GJ.
I had it in my idealistic head at the start of lockdown, that we’d all arrive back at Plainmoor in celebratory style, with 6k packing the place out. The Yellow Army leading a big pub crawl up to the ground before kick-off and United triumphing 3-0 to bring Football Home. The reality will be very different and I guess we’ll just have to make the best of it. How can social distancing be maintained at games where goal celebrations automatically bring fans together? And how much tough stewarding will be required to keep supporters in check? I’ll be there to find out (tickets permitting!) and look forward to seeing familiar Yellows faces. After viewing the soulless closed door Prem games, we’ll be ready to bring the heart and soul back to football I’m sure. Here’s to September (hopefully).
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