MY TUFC DREAM TEAM by Pete Fordham

TUFC DREAM TEAM

Pete Fordham

At the request of my friend and fellow supporter Dom Roman, I’m only too pleased to name my all time Torquay Utd “Dream Team. A difficult task of course so I have listed a squad, a rather large squad and have then chosen my starting eleven plus manager/coach and sub bench from the list Without doubt you could pick a fantastic starting eleven from any of the players below.

The players I have chosen though will be a combination who were stand out in various periods and who would have undoubtedly been competitive against any side if they had all appeared in the same team. Dream teams though are as much about character as they are about technical ability.  The majority  of my choices had both, in abundance.

The names below cover a period spanning more than fifty years from my very first days of  supporting in the mid 1960’s at around the age of ten. I’ve tried to select players from as many eras as possible and you will see that most are from successful periods in the clubs history, but not necessarily all.

It’s a tough call to remember so many great players that made you happy, proud and who were committed and exciting to watch.

Lets not forget the “Ring Masters” who developed and brought out the best from already talented players, so I’ve included my three top managers and chosen one to manage my own personal “Dream Team” .

For certain there will be very different views and players very deserving of being in “my” squad but this is my own personal selection and it’s possible that I have missed players that deserve to be in the list. One or two of the current squad could have made this squad list but I thought better of it as the playing squad is in flux.

It’s just for fun  and would l be great to hear what you consider to be your own TUFC  “Dream Team”. Anyway I’ll start with the squad…

My Squad

Managers   

Frank O’Farrell –  Cyril Knowles – Gary Johnson

Goalkeepers

Andy Donnelly – Mike Mahoney – John Turner – Neville Southall – Bobby Olejnik

Central defenders 

Dick Edwards – Matt Elliott – Darren Moore – Guy Branston – Angus MacDonald – Clint Boulton – Jimmy Dunne

Wing/ Full backs

John Bond – Bill Kitchener – Paul Gibbs – Andy Gurney – Paul Homes – Clint Boulton – Liam Davis

Midfield

John Smith – Tommy Mitchinson – Eunan O’Kane – Alex Russell – Jason Fowler –  Kevin Hill

Wide Mid/Wing

Tony Scott – Alan Welsh – Donal Murphy – Rodney Jack –  Lee Sharpe – Jo Kuffour – Mark Loram

Forwards

Robin Stubbs –  David Graham – Colin Lee – John Rudge – Rene Howe –  Justin Fashanu –  Dave Caldwell – Steve Cooper – Tim Sills

My Dream Team

Manager             

Frank O’Farrell

My first experiences of live football were watching Franks incredible teams of the mid 1960’s.

A truly lovely man. A great tactician and man manger. The players loved him and so did the fans. Treated unfairly at Man Utd but went on to manage at international level with Iran before returning to ourselves for another spell In 1976 when brought in to steady a sinking ship.

Say hello if you ever spot him at a game he will always acknowledge you and respond with a smile!

Goalkeeper         

John Turner

It was between John and Neville though we have had so many great keepers who deserve to be on my list including Lucas who has now sadly departed the club. John Turner epitomised what a great lower league keeper should be. Strong in all departments including agile and brave. Neville was incredible in his short end of career spell with us. It  was pleasure to see such quality on show and the teams at the time managed to ensure he was always in action and entertaining us…

Left wing back   

Paul Gibbs

Gibbs and Gurney at wing back, who can forget that combination? A potent force at a time that provided endless avenues of attack that reaped rewards. In their time here we looked very threatening from wide areas . Both defended with fire In their bellies as well!

Gibbs, Gurney, Robinson and Hodges
Andy Gurney and Paul Gibbs (+Jamie Robinson and Kevin Hodges) – Photo Courtesy of Torbay News Agency

Right wing back 

Paul Holmes

Paul Holmes was perhaps more cultured than Gibbs or Gurney. Made the game look simple and easy – always a sign of quality. A natural  talent who went on to play for Everton and WBA at the highest level. A very difficult choice between Gurney and Holmes.

Centre backs       

Matt Elliott

Signed from Charlton Athletic. Another special, physical central defender who we developed and never received a decent transfer fee for. Matt went on to command a six figure transfer fee, play 245 games for Leicester City and merit 18 full international appearances for Scotland. Need I say more.

img_4077
Matt Elliott

Jimmy Dunne    

Had to include Jimmy, who was another childhood favourite from the Frank O’Farrell era. Fantastic all round player who defended superbly and popped up with the odd crucial goal. I still have visions of him rising above defenders and powering a bullet header at the old cinder and sleeper Babacombe End of a crowded tobacco smoke filled Plainmoor. Signed from Milwall and played well over 100 games for us before joining Fulham – for a fee I believe! Returned and played well over another 100 games when Frank returned as manager in the mid 70’s. Earned one full international cap with the Republic of Ireland.

Midfield             

Tommy Mitchinson

Silky smooth Tommy Mitchinson. Signed from Aston Villa in the late sixties. Have memories of him waltzing elegantly past numerous defenders and firing an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net. Against who? I haven’t got a bloody clue but it’s there in the memory banks and why he’s in my team. Part of the talented squad that was broken up and sold off  to Bournemouth. Remarkable resemblance to Jake Andrews in looks.  You may well disagree but dig out some images and take a look for yourself!!

Eunan O’Kane

Another player we signed and developed, in Eunan’s case after being released by Everton. High energy, compact and technically very good with an eye for goal. Honoured at nearly international every level for both Northern and The Republic of Ireland. One of our most recent assets the club actually received a fee for. Bournemouth was his destination after being courted by Crawley and a few other clubs and they succeeded in avoiding paying us a hefty sell on fee. Mugged off once again but at least he was in contract and we got something to soften the blow.

You always knew Eunan could influence a game and that’s what you must have in every side to be successful. Suffered with injuries in recent seasons which has put a brake on his career but still technically on loan at Luton Town from parent club Leeds Utd. Wonder if he fancies a move back though with his recent injury woes I guess not such a good idea?

Alex Russell

The Commander.  

During Alex’s time here we had one of the slickest and technically gifted midfields in recent years. Playing alongside Jason Fowler it was a big step up in standard from what we had all become accustomed to. This combination was as good as anything I had seen at the club. Unfortunately Jason was constantly hampered by injury. No fault of his own, his body had become his enemy, and it’s only that fact that has kept him out of my team, though he is on my subs bench on technical ability alone. Alex served the club well, but was always going to go up a notch. Signed for and had a very successful period at Bristol City.

Fowler, Russell, Graham
Paul Levie – Torbay News Agency

Wingers                   

Rodney Jack

For those of us who had the pleasure to see Rodney in action and at his best it was something to behold. It still brings joy just recalling the memories of his devastating match winning mazy runs at defenders. Pace and trickery – every defenders nightmare. For those who were around supporting the club at the time I’m pretty sure he would feature in everyone’s Dream Team.

Lee Sharpe

Another top class winger who was converted successfully to wing back by Alex Ferguson. A shrewd eye for young talent, Alex took a punt on our youngster and stole him away for a minimal fee. Galling for supporters as Lee was improving with us with every game but I guess we were desperate for funds and you simply cannot hold ambitious young players back. Played almost 200 games for the Reds and won eight full England caps. We never got to see the best of in a TUFC shirt but we had glimpses of a great player and most knew he was destined for better things right from the start. An outgoing and personable  character who went on to have a career in television as his footballing career tailed off.

Forward         

Robin Stubbs

Forgive me  for choosing another “hero” from the O’Farrell years but I offer no apologies .

Robin would surely be in everyone’s dream team if they had ever seen him at his best. Signed by Frank from Birmingham City in 1963 for a then record fee of £6000. What a bargain! Scored for fun with many spectacular strikes and numerous hat tricks. Strong on the ball, pacey and ruthless in front of goal. Formed a partnership for a time with Jim Fryatt who was a perfect foil for Robin with his heading ability. Fryatt left  abruptly for Stockport with various stories of a personal rift. Still in awe of the man. In the late 1990’s when my son was attending coaching at Coach Road on Saturday morning it was Robin doing much of the coaching of young kids. A total distraction for me and I found it so odd that even 40 years on he still held so much status in my thoughts.

Watched a recent interview with Robin recorded with his son and very interesting and revealing It was too. When Robin left for Bristol Rovers many fans were devastated, but in reality injuries from being targeted by defenders were finally catching up and taking there toll. That short devastating burst of speed to lose a defender wasn’t quite there any more and despite having a successful period at Rovers his best days were sadly behind him. Finally returning to the club in 1972 we sadly never got to see the Robin we all loved and knew as he continued to struggle with the injuries that would finally call a halt on his career.

Robin Stubbs in my Dream Team ? You bet, the very first on the list..

On The Bench – (7).  Neville Southall, Dave Caldwell, Liam Davis, Jason Fowler, Alan Welsh. John Bond, Guy Branston.

Finally the Bench… All could be in any  dream team without doubt.

Dave Caldwell is another more recent  hero of mine for his ability and commitment under Cyril Knowles and his spectacular performance in the FA Cup at Highfield Rd Coventry.

Neville Southall, and Jason Fowler I have already mentioned.. 

Alan Welsh another smooth operator out wide and John Bond from the teams of the classic sixties.

Guy Branston just for making such an impression as a solid uncompromising defender who added real steel and solidity and set us on the right track for better things..

Finally I have chosen Liam Davis as a tribute to his ability and quality in our modern high tempo game and because he has been such a  big part of the reason we find ourselves in a much stronger position than we were pre-Garry Johnson. Another player who would have easily adjusted to a level or two higher if injuries hadn’t intervened in the twilight of his career. I think we all wish him well. Good luck Liam!

Let’s all hope Garry “The “Magician” Johnson can sign a few  who  will feature in somebody else’s “Dream Team” in another forty years time.

COYY – Pete

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I simply live and breathe Football and have supported Torquay United since 1989. I am a season ticket holder on Bristows and a Trust member. I set up TorquayTalk in 2017 to give true supporters a voice and honest opinions on their club.

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