It’s been almost three years since I last penned a letter to you. It was halfway through the season we won the National League South – where I said, whatever happened, you’d written yourself in to United folklore. Looking back now, that was a hell of an understatement.
It’s a funny old game, isn’t it? As I type this, I feel like every single footballing cliché has left my lips since Sunday’s chaos – with the most common being that it perhaps just wasn’t our day, it just wasn’t meant to be. The strangest part of it all is I physically couldn’t find myself any prouder of you and the boys, not even if we’d won. Not one single thing was left on the pitch on Sunday, other than Dave Challinor’s jaw after Cov’s ridiculous header.
Four years ago, even the idea of a play-off final to get us back in the EFL was ridiculous, a far cry from where we were and had been – those days simply looked gone. We looked as if we would slip off into non-league oblivion with less than a murmur and we all knew it would take a miracle to turn it around. What we didn’t anticipate is that miracle would come in the form of a fist-pumping, scarf-launching hero such as yourself. But here we are.
The turnaround we have seen over the last three years is exactly that though, miraculous. Everything seemed to just follow this fairytale script. From Wynts smashing it past a Gerring-less Woking to Lucas Covolan leaping higher than anything I’ve ever seen to send us to extra time – it really just seemed written in the stars. It’s not been easy over the last few years, granted, but it really did feel like Sunday was our day. Alas, the footballing gods, however cruel they are, had very different ideas.
For a lot of clubs, losing a play off final would raise more questions than answers – What’s next? Where are we heading? What’s next for the gaffer? Who will stay? Who will go? – yet there is none of that from us. All we have, as a fanbase, is pride and gratitude to you and the boys. Not many groups could’ve given us the best season of the last decade without us being able to attend, yet somehow, you managed it. 35 points won past the 80th minute though Gary… can you just imagine the Pop if we were there?!
Am I heartbroken? Yes. Absolutely. Never experienced anything quite like it if I’m being honest. But am I proud? Am I grateful? Am I looking forward to 46 post-game cheers from you when we win the league with 138 points next May? Even more so. You’ve taken this club to dizzy heights in an incredible amount of time Gary, and we really could not be any more grateful if we tried. Not just to you – but to the players as well.
How can we put in to words how special the group you assembled this year is? A goalscoring, penalty-saving, shot-stopping samba superstar between the sticks – pushed to the max by the South West’s answer to Declan Donnely (love you Macca). The most solid defence I’ve ever seen in yellow: I never thought I’d love a Welshman, but then I met Joe Lewis (& CLE). Sam Sherring would head a brick for us, Moxey – despite his checkered past – was a masterstroke of a signing, and Ben Wynter has continued to etch his name onto the Gulls’ honours board.
The skipper has led this team like no one else has since Lee Mansell: holding it all together and scoring a ridiculous amount of goals from his position. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans is easily the best player to ever pull on United yellow. Other than Busey. Give him a hug from us, will you? You even managed to bring in Adam Randell, who is almost certainly going to play in the Premier League one day. Shame about him being a janner though, obviously. And you assembled easily the best attacking lineup I’ve ever seen – spearheaded by a bleach blonde heartthrob, who inexplicably dyed his hair before the final and nearly blinded half of Ashton Gate. Whits, Aaron, Jake, Bodes (bonus points for the shithousery against Chesterfield) & Billy made us happier than anyone else ever could. Whatever the future holds for all of these boys – and the South West’s answer to Ant McPartlin and rightful scorer of two play off final goals, Kyle Cameron – we love you all more than anything. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
I guess what I’m trying to say through all of this is that I know you and the boys must all feel as low as possible right now. It’s a feeling that we feel like we’ll never get over – but this is just the beginning. This is just the start of something incredible for our club, for our town and for all of us fans. We were given a glimpse of it when Lucas rose like a salmon on Sunday afternoon – but the lows like last week are going to make the highs even higher – and the Football League even sweeter.
We can’t wait to see you all again next season – and this time, be able to cheer you on to glory. Keep up the good work – and for goodness sake, give Cov a chance up top.
With literally all my love in the world,
Will Taylor, and the Yellow Army.