Danny Burnell – @TheTQOner

Loans, loans, loans. Rule #1, don’t get attached to loan players. They are here on a temporary basis, here to help us out if possible, then inevitably head back to their parent club to pursue a career (or not in some cases)! It’s a win-win for both clubs, a no-brainer. There are a couple of exceptions. Some loan players just don’t make the grade, seen a few at Plainmoor down the years, but some shine, and pave the way for a future in the higher leagues.

Fresh from Gary’s successful loanees last season, I have assembled an Ultimate XI based entirely on loan players seen at Plainmoor in my time of supporting the Gulls. 20003/04 was the season I got hooked, Graham, Kuffour, Russell, Woods, Hockley. A team built to play ‘the Brazilian way’.

No doubt I have forgotten some good players here, but the team I have chosen represents players who I thought particularly shone during their loan stints at Plainmoor.

Some went, some stayed, some progressed well, others didn’t. This is my ultimate loan XI.

GK – Michael Poke (on loan from Southampton)

Loan Apps only

2007/08 (4 apps)

2008/08 (13 apps)

2009/10 (29 apps)

We start with ‘Pokey’. Pokey loved his time in Devon so much, he came down here 3 times between the 07/08 & 09/10 seasons. Eventually, he signed permanently 2 years later amassing a further 57 appearances. 

But back to his loan spell. Poke became a popular figure at Plainmoor, often battling for the #1 spot with the likes of Bevan & Rice. But it was the second loan spell for me which cements his place in this side. Originally loaned to the Gulls in January 2008, Poke played 4 and kept 4 clean sheets, before returning to his parent club to cover injuries. Undeterred and obviously in love with Riveria life, Poke came back to Devon for the start of our second National League campaign on a season long loan.

Unfortunately, recurring injuries hampered his game time, giving another loanee Scott Bevan the chance to stake the #1 spot for the majority of the season, which in fairness he did very well. It wasn’t until late in the season when Bevan succumbed to injury, and Poke took on the reigns, he showed once again why Buckle signed him. Some excellent performances, including that save in the play off semi-final at Histon in the last minute, took United back to the Football League at only the second time of asking.

A further solid 29 appearances the following season in League Two where the Gulls had a steady, if not spectacular season was his third and final loan spell. Poke went on to sign for Brighton, without making an appearance. He was loaned to Bristol Rovers before rocking up back at Plainmoor 2 years after his last stint. Further spells were had at Portsmouth, Eastleigh and Woking where he eventually hung up his gloves.

Where is he now?

Now 35, Poke has recently re-signed for Portsmouth as their first team goalkeeper coach.

RB – Sam Sherring (on loan from Bournemouth)

2020/21 (45 apps – 2 goals)

Firstly, apologies for putting Sam in at RB, but there’s no way he’s not getting in my team. Needless to say, Sherring was superb last season. An ever-present, which, considering the season the club had, and at 20 years of age is remarkable.

Again, as with other signings, little if anything was known of Sherring to Gulls fans. A very successful loan spell at Weymouth the previous season by all accounts, GJ knew what he was getting.  A tough tackling, intelligent player who formed a formidable partnership with Lewis come the end. A wise head on young shoulders. Albeit, there were mistakes, there’s bound to be, but he was one of, if not the most consistent players last season. That goal away at Wrexham in the dying embers was a particular highlight, one of many that season. Unfortunately, its hard to see Sam coming back, as his future surely belongs at a higher level. He’s plied his trade at Plainmoor, much to our benefit, his own benefit and the benefit of Bournemouth. Wouldn’t bet against him being in L1 next season to further his career, and good luck to him. A fantastic player with a bright future.

Where is he now?

Back at Bournemouth following his season long loan at Plainmoor.

CB – Nathan Smith (on loan from Port Vale)

2015/16 (39 apps – 3 goals)

Throw a breeze block at this guy, and he will head it. That was my thoughts on Nathan Smith. You look at him, you don’t instantly think footballer, let alone a centre back. Fairly short, but what he lacked in height, he made up in ability and effort.

Paul Cox brought Smith in at the start of the 15/16 season. I can’t imagine I was the only under-whelmed fan when he signed. A 19 year-old centre back from Port Vale, can’t get in their team, must be a cover option? How gladly wrong I was. Initially signed on for 3 months, he extended the loan out until the end of the season such was his ability. He won everything in the air, he was strong, he built a decent partnership with Gus MacDonald and chipped in with the odd goal. One that sticks in my mind was that overhead kick in a must-win game versus that totally hapless Kidderminster team.

The season was a rollercoaster of emotions – bottom in February, before that win away at Boreham Wood sparked the Gulls into life to muster another great escape. Gus & Smith, although very young, proved pivotal in that period, keeping a further 6 clean sheets. It was no great surprise to see Smith pick up both the Young Player & Player of the season awards.

Where is he now?

Still at Port Vale and highly regarded, the 25 year-old has amassed an impressive 214 appearances for Vale. Furthermore, winning the player of the season award for the 2016/17 season, an incredible 2 seasons on the trot, and with 2 different clubs, what a great achievement for such a young player. He signed a 2 year contract to keep him at Vale Park until June 2022. Wouldn’t mind a back-line of Covolan and Smith.

CB – Guy Branston (on loan from Burton Albion)

2010/11 – (16 apps – 0 goals)

Guy Branston. The Pickler. Everyone knows Guy Branston. Look up ‘English lower league centre back’ on the internet, I have no doubt Guy Branston would be your top result. One hell of a defender.

Buckle loaned Branston from Burton at the end of January 2010. He went onto make 16 appearances that season and got voted runner-up for the Player of the Season award. Tells you a lot about the man and his impact. Needless to say, Buckle brought him back the following season, where the Pickler helped Torquay reach the play off final, before defeat to Stevenage, and was voted in the PFA League Two team of the year. But back to his loan stint, what a player, what an impact. Slotted straight into that defence alongside Robertson and Ellis, and became the man Torquay needed in defence. Somewhat of a coup when we signed him, he’d been around a while, the ultimate journeyman. He had successful spells at just about everywhere before he turned up to Plainmoor.

His move to Bradford wasn’t what he hoped, where he managed just 16 appearances, before moving onto Rotherham (loan), Aldershot & Bristol Rovers (loan). He last played for Plymouth in the 2013/14 season before hanging up his boots. Post-playing, Guy has had a variety of roles, including chief scout, and even a caretaker manager stint at Chesterfield which lasted 12 days.

Where is he now?

The 42 year-old is now the Loans Manager at Leicester City. A position he has held since December 2019.

Stevenage v Torquay 280511
Guy Branston – Photo courtesy of the Herald Express

LB – Brian McGlinchey (on loan from Plymouth)

Loan apps only

2003/04 (14 apps – 0 goals)

Now, I must confess, this was my first proper season of watching the Gulls. I am going back a fair way here, but from what I remember, McGlinchey was a solid, dependable full back, highly regarded by the fans.

A youth player for Man City, he was eventually signed on loan from Plymouth by Leroy in that promotion winning 03/04 season. He made a total of 14 loan appearances, before signing permanently the following season. A further 58 apps over 2 years would unfortunately be all he made, he had to retire early following a slipped disc operation. McGlinchey formed a strong defensive unit with the likes of Woods, Taylor, Dearden. It was strong, and it was reliable. Unfortunately, 2004/05 wasn’t to be when we succumbed to defeat to Colchester to condemn us back to League Two at the first time of asking. But in truth, that season was always going to be hard, we were massive underdogs in nearly every game! I remember McGlinchey as one of the first loan signings I saw at Plainmoor, and I think he has every right to be in this team.

Where is he now?

Unknown. Having been forced to retire from Football in 2006, aged just 28.

RM – Chris Zebroski (on loan from Milwall/Wycombe)

Loan Apps only

2007/08 (46 apps – 19 goals)

2009/10 (7 apps – 4 goals)

Love him or hate him, there was no doubting Zebs abilities. The stats speak for themselves. His appearance to goal ratio was pretty impressive considering he was used primarily in a wide position. Sills – Phillips – Zeb – Stevens, that was some attack in our first year in the Conference.

Another player who enjoyed multiple loan spells with the Gulls before signing permanently in 2010. Zebs provided untold misery to defenders that season. Often giving the full backs the run around, and often finding the net, or providing Sills & Phillips with the service they craved. I remember him coming on as a sub in that first Conference game vs Grays. There was a buzz around him, he seemed the business, and the business he was. 18 league goals that season was a fantastic return for the winger, just one behind Sills.

It was very unfortunate to see his transfer to Wycombe, but as always, Torquay were never able to compete when it comes to wages/location. He spent a couple of seasons at Wycombe, before returning to Plainmoor, initially on loan and later signing on. Upon Torquay’s failure in that defeat to Stevenage, Zebroksi followed Buckle to Bristol Rovers, before further spells at Cheltenham, Eastleigh, Newport & Chippenham.

He was certainly an anomaly was Zebroksi. When he was on his game, he was well and truly on it. Off the field problems didn’t help, but it think its fair to say Zebroksi is deserving of his place in this team.

Where is he now?

The 34 year-old is now without a club following a stint with Chippenham Town. He managed 3 goals in 28 appearances between the COVID hit 2019-21 period.

CM – Danny Hollands (on loan from Chelsea)

2005/06 (10 apps – 1 goal)

This one might raise a few eyebrows, but I consciously remember this guy being good. Very good. It’s not often (was it the first!?) we get loanees from a club like Chelsea, but when he rocked up in March 2006, with us in serious danger of being relegated, he oozed class and calmness.

20 at the time, and Chelsea reserves captain (I believe), I seem to remember Hollands having a host of clubs interested in him. Somehow, with us in the mire, Hollands chose TUFC, and looked every bit the midfielder that we needed at the time. That lob in the 4-0 rout of Stockport was a joy, a game that also witnessed that amazing Lee Thorpe overhead kick. That game symbolised our upturn in fortunes, and the great escape courtesy of Ian Atkins. A real coup for Torquay at the time, and certainly assisted in that fantastic end to the season. Following the end of his loan stint, Chelsea released Hollands, who went onto to play for, most notably, Bournemouth, Charlton, Portsmouth & Eastleigh.

Where is he now?

Now 35 and regularly competing against the Gulls, Hollands is playing for Eastleigh where he has amassed an impressive 135 appearances since 2017.

CM – Adam Randell (on loan from Plymouth)

2020/21  (45 apps – 2 goals)

Rands, still fresh in the memory. One of the finest loanees Plainmoor has witnessed in years. Randall came in and just slotted in perfectly, wherever he was asked to play, be it RB, RM, CM, he just slotted.

Gary signed Randell at the start of the delayed 2020/21 season. The first couple of games he was on the bench, but from then on, he remained (almost) an ever-present, barring a sending off in the home match against Boreham Wood, and the subsequent suspension. He showed his true quality last season with some exceptional performances. Gliding across the turf effortlessly and passing the ball with real conviction. A season of incredible highs for the Gulls, and Randell was certainly a major factor in that. His goal early in the season at Bromley a contender for GOTS, alongside his well deserved young player of the season award. Randell certainly has a bright future ahead of him.

Where is he now?

Back at Plymouth following his loan spell at Plainmoor. I expect him to be a regular in the Pilgrims side next season. If not, we’ll have him back!

Thomas Lang Sutton RAndell
Photo Courtesy of Thomas Lang

LM – Jake Andrews (on loan from Bristol City)

Loan apps only

2018/19 (29 apps – 10 goals)

I just don’t think you can under-estimate Jake’s contribution to that NLS winning campaign. 10 goals is a terrific return from a player mainly utilised at LM or in the Centre. The Bristol City link was vital that season, and CLE, Andrews and Janneh were all part of that. Now, a few of you may question my omission of CLE, and there’s no doubt that since signing him, he is pure quality, but on loan impact, Jake just edged it for me.

Andrews was actually an Owers signing. Signed in Aug 2018, Andrews came with a fairly unremarkable career to date. Loans at Guernsey, Chippenham & Cheltenham before arriving at Plainmoor, I think it’s fair to say a lot of fans weren’t expecting fireworks. But goals he did score, and chances he did create. Often popping up with vital goals, not least that clincher against Eastbourne to hand us the title. Eventually Andrews signed on permanently and has become a vital cog in the TUFC team. There’s no questioning the boy’s ability, and we hope to see him in a yellow shirt again next season.

Where is he now?

Still at TUFC. Came off injured in the play off final defeat to Hartlepool.

ST – Saikou Janneh (on loan from Bristol City)

2018/19 (28 apps – 16 goals)

2019/20 (8 apps – 0 goals)

Another one in the 2+ loan stint club. Reid and Janneh, what a partnership. Yes, it was the NL South, yes we should have walked that league anyway, but it doesn’t always work like that. (Refer to Owers). Raw talent and pace, a willingness to succeed, Janneh was the perfect ingredient for that championship winning side.

Janneh was one of GJ’s first signings. The Bristol City clan, Edwards, Andrews, CLE & Janneh was well a truly running. 16 goals is an impressive return for a striker who didn’t join until late September. His link-up play with the City lads, as well as Reid, cumulated in an enjoyable season for the Gulls. Entertaining football, goals, attacking intent, just what the fans needed after years of drab nothingness. GJ re-galvanised that side, and in Janneh, Torquay helped realise his potential with a string of impressive goals and performances.

The less said about his second stint the better, but a further loan spell from Newport resulted in no goals from 8 league appearances.

Where is he now?

Still young, Janneh is back at Bristol City after making a series of sub appearances for them in the later stages of the 2020/21 season. He has been linked with various clubs, including Norwich, Blackburn & Watford.


ST – Kieffer Moore (on loan from Forest Green Rovers)

2016/17 (4 apps – 5 goals)

It wouldn’t be a loan squad without this man in there. The local lad who, in his 4 games for the Gulls, quickly became somewhat of a legend.

Rewind to Tuesday 22 November 2016. Cold, miserable, dark. Enter Kieffer Moore. A hat-trick hero in one of his few Torquay games, to give us a 3-0 victory over Solihull. It was quite something, and a further 2 goals in his other 4 games was probably the reason Forest Green didn’t let us have him back. I remember that crazy 5-5 on NYD, I also remember Moore playing for FGR that day. And, I remember vividly that Moore had a shocker that day, couldn’t hit a barn door. But I still cling onto the fact that was out of respect to his hometown club. I needn’t tell you what has happened to Moore since. Linking up with Bale & Ramsay, and a goal in the Euro’s against Turkey is probably the peak of his footballing career to date, with I’m sure many more to come.

Where is he now?

At 28, Moore is now playing for Cardiff City and a mainstay in the Wales National team. Remember your roots Kieffer!

COYY – Danny






INSTAGRAM – torquaytalk





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