Harry Lovering – @HLovering1999
It felt amazing to be back at Plainmoor after such a long time away, and what a massive game it was for us to return to the theatre of yellows! As professional as the streams were through such tough and challenging times, nothing beats being at a live game of football and in particular back at Plainmoor where we could finally have some face-to-face live football and a deserved catch up with good friends, some of which we hadn’t seen in over a year!
The morning/early afternoon before the match
Nothing beats waking up and knowing that you have a live game of football to attend at Plainmoor that day! I woke up excited and with nervous anticipation that Torquay can do the job in front of cheering fans for the first time since December. It was a strange feeling of nostalgia that came across me because it had been so long since we actually stepped foot out of our houses to watch the Gulls. We have all been so used to waking up and strolling across to our desks or sofas to switch on the tv or flip open the laptop screen to watch United on the streams: this became something very exciting indeed!
For me, a big part of the day when watching the gulls at Plainmoor involves travelling up to Torquay. I live in Ivybridge, so it is a considerable journey, albeit small in comparison to where some of our fans travel from! I am a train enthusiast, so I often enjoy getting the train up on a matchday. I have always enjoyed walking through Ivybridge with my Torquay colours before a match and Saturday certainly wasn’t any different.
My train departed at around 11am and I arrived at Torquay station just after midday (after a connection change at Newton). I decided to get my haircut at my hairdressers in Preston, so I had a nice stroll along the sea front. A haircut was something I always used to have once every few months on a matchday late morning/early afternoon as it made me feel good before a match and it coincided with my trip up to Torquay for the day quite nicely. After my haircut I had a leisurely stroll back along the sea front and got the 35A bus up to Plainmoor for around 1pm: my excitement levels were increasing at this point, and I felt like I was back where I belonged after such a long time!
I couldn’t resist popping into my favourite bakery before the game: Crusty Loaf in Plainmoor, where I always get a meat and potato pasty and a few cheese straws before the game to settle my nerves. On my stroll up to the ground I bumped into a good friend of mine (Roger Lester) who I haven’t seen since March 7th 2020 at Sutton away, so it was so nice to chat to him and catch up on all we had missed talking about!
Something I always find time for before the match is to pop into my granny’s, who lives just across from the ground. It’s been a while since I have seen her, so it was nice to catch up and have a spot of lunch together (and with my mum who came up separately) before the game: something I always used to do before a match over at Plainmoor. I had just enough time to meet a few more friends (Nina Peters, Julie and Charlie) before the game so that we could walk over and go into the ground together: now the nerves and excitement were brewing!
As we entered, the crank of the turnstiles gave a nostalgic feel about it: finally I was back home! We got into the ground with plenty of time to spare (around 45 minutes) and the walk up those yellow steps felt somewhat like we were entering a concert as the lead act: it was amazing! Now, normally I would purchase a paper programme and a 50-50, alongside often mingling in the Gulls Nest before kick-off. But as times are changing, this became the new norm!
After speaking to a few stewards and other supporters who could barely recognise me under my mask (despite my recognisable height, or should I say lack of!), we went along to our spot. That view across to Bristow’s is one which I tried to keep in my mind and it finally felt real again. Watching the warm-ups, clapping the players and Gary off before kick-off and listening to that Plainmoor roar above the sound of the seagulls was a good feeling: one which I never want to have to miss on a match-day again! There was just enough time to play Robert Miles before the match started giving me a wave of nostalgia.
As the players came out onto the field, Plainmoor erupted with noise and cheering of ‘yellow army’! The game was finally starting, and at this point a wave of emotion came across me: pride, nerves and excitement all at once! United took time to get into the game and looked nervous throughout with the yellow army watching on in anticipation.
Two incredibly well worked goals got us all cheering and chanting on our side (popside). The sound of that ‘roar’ for our goals was what we’d all been waiting for. Unfortunately after that initial positivity, United just couldn’t get going and were nervy all over the pitch, giving away silly fouls and letting Barnet in far too much. Half time was needed, and it came just after Asa could have made it 3-1 at our end. I was still in good spirits knowing that if we could test their keeper more and up our gears just a bit then we could still be in with a shout of winning 4-1 or 5-1.
The second half was a poor one for United and it ended in a very frustrating 2-2 draw, all but signalling United to a play-off finish (confirmed after Sutton beat Hartlepool on the Sunday). However, despite some disgruntlement from the crowd, I remained upbeat. I clapped the lads off with pride and hope that they will deliver a much stronger performance in the play-offs- which I’m sure they will! It certainly wasn’t the best of games, but after such a tough year of watching games away from Plainmoor, finally being back at the theatre of yellows, and securing a play-off semi-final spot gave us lots to be excited about!
It was so nice to be able to spend post-match down at the Beefeater on Torquay seafront where we had booked a few tables of 6 to catch up with good friends after the match. People such as Mark, Dan, Alfie, Graham, Jenny, Thomas Kelly, Neil and Alex, some of which I had not seen in a long time were all involved, and it was so nice to have been able to catch up with them over a bite to eat.
We were all of the same vision; lets enter the play-offs with a positive mind set and look forward to spending them together at a live game of football where we all belong. After all, football is nothing without fans (the social aspect) and we are nothing without good friends! So let’s get behind the lads in the play-offs and carry them over the line into the EFL- what an amazing achievement that would be for everyone involved after such a tough 18 months.