Dom Roman – @DomRoman
What a week. Normally when the season ends there is time to take stock, time to dwell a little on what’s happened (or sulk in 2021) and maybe even concentrate on something else for a while. Not this year, one week on from the Ashton Gate defeat (that still hurts and will for a while) and we’ve had a released list, two departures and four players signed on for 2021-22…phew. No rest for the wicked!
Let’s talk about the two highest profile departed players…..yes those ones.
TUFC STATS (All Comps): Played 55, Goals 1, Goals Conceded 64, Clean Sheets 19
As we perused over the play-off final loss on Wednesday and picked the bones out of the cruel defeat again, Lucas Covolan’s sudden departure caught us cold. The last minute heroics from Bristol were still be lauded and whilst we debated someone like Ben Whitfield leaving, Cov’s name was only discussed for that goal (and for chatting to a chap in Lidl). But leave he has for a crack at Port Vale, a team who finished 13th in League 2 last year and can no doubt increase the goalie’s wages considerably for a move up north.
Lucas finished with a massive flourish at Torquay, but I think we have to remember that most of the goalkeeper’s time at Plainmoor saw him locked in a battle for the no.1 spot with Shaun MacDonald. In his first season especially, the shirt was passed around as Gary Johnson struggled to make his mind up and the defence dithered badly without a consistent presence between the sticks. Cov had done well at times, but appeared passive and less likely to command his box than MacDonald, meaning the goalie debate lingered on for a while.
This season the Brazilian started brilliantly, but then injury saw the position sway back to the Geordie before Cov returned with a rusty performance at Yeovil Town. Would the keeper juggling act continue? Thankfully not. After some shaky moments Cov settled back in and made a place in the team his own, finding more consistency and concentration in his performances, whilst also making the right decisions – a crucial element of any decent keeper. The play-offs saw him peak in a Yellow shirt, with a super stop late versus Notts County, that unbelievable glanced header in injury time in Bristol and two fantastic saves in the shoot out.
Those memories will live long for the scenes that followed, a special moment that wrote Cov into our folklore. I wish him well in the EFL, and I’m sure we’ll all keep an eye out for how he’s doing…however taking emotion out of the equation, I also don’t think he was one of the best keepers in the National League and believe Gary Johnson can do better – probably just without the wonderful smile and ability to waste time in second halves. But we shall see.
TUFC STATS (All Comps): Played 113 (4), Goals 7, Assists 9
This one stung a little. If Cov’s leaving tapped on the emotions of Bristol and everything we lost last weekend, then Cameron’s departure for Notts County was a real kick in the teeth. There had been rumbles about the Geordie leaving, so the warning signs were there and when Kyle’s tweet confirmed he was off on Friday morning, all of us were quick to wish him good luck…and debate which league club he would be heading to. Turns out it was an ex-league club as Notts County snaffled the centre back later in the day. Seems like a disappointing move to me. I understand the money will be better and Nottingham is far closer to home, but I felt like Cam could do better. Bitter me? Get out of here…
When Kyle signed in the summer of 2018 for Gary Owers, it was hard for the Yellow Army to get excited at his arrival. But after witnessing the centre back in action I was immediately impressed at his aggressive approach and quick turn of foot. Owers could pick out a good defender it seemed, attack was a different matter! As that season in the NLS wore on Cameron started to develop as a strong vocal presence in the dressing room, and became an ever-present for new boss Gary Johnson’s Gulls revolution, with the only question being who would partner him at the back.
With the Gulls gaining promotion TT were more than happy to sponsor a player with Cam’s abilities and despite a tough 2019-20, the defender had shown signs of developing into a proper centre back. Onto 2020-21 and Kyle really came into his own. A more focussed and fitter looking player on top form as United glided to the top of the table – a late goal against Yeovil at Plainmoor just one of the highlights. Later on injury would interrupt his season, and due to the great form of Lewis and Sherring the big man would never regain his place in defence – instead becoming an unexpected left winger for the play-offs – a position he would fill admirably (I won’t bother discussing those disallowed goals again).
That last part is certainly a good omen for us. Without Kyle our defence coped and we still pushed for promotion. Cameron’s leadership qualities may be missed almost as much as his footballing ability I think, and Gary Johnson will be scouring round to find similar characters who can partner Joe Lewis to keep our defence tight. Meanwhile the move has left a sour taste in our mouths, but I have appreciated his efforts in the last 3 years, his social media banter and the time he’s taken to reply to messages of support. We’ve been proud to sponsor the lad and see him mature as a player, but he’s made his decision – time for us to move on.
No panic here on replacing either player, the gaffer will sort it out I’m sure. Keep the faith and judge the Torquay United squad in August, it’s the best way to roll.
COYY – Dom
Who can replace Cov and Cam? Check out our Transfer Speculation article here