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Danny Burnell – @danny_burnell92

It wasn’t so long ago we didn’t have to worry about qualifying for the world’s oldest domestic cup competition. 90 years of uninterrupted Football League status ensured going into the hat at the first round ‘proper’ stage was a gimme. The FA Cup first round was pencilled in our calendars, and we all looked forward to it. Of course we did. In with the ‘biggish’ boys of League One/Two. Torquay, were for most part, one of the bigger fish, hoping to avoid some kind of potential banana skin at places like Hinckley, for example….. 

Gone are the those days. TUFC have now got to earn the right to enter this prestigious cup competition. Qualification was necessary in TUFC’s infancy, and from 1921 – 1925 they had to negotiate a number of qualifying rounds before the ‘proper’ rounds. It wasn’t until the 1926/27 season Torquay would automatically be included in the first round proper draw. It was 2007 and our first relegation to the Conference before qualifying for the FA cup would once again be a prevalent fixture.

So, with Havant & Waterlooville coming up at the weekend, and to mark the start of our FA Cup campaign, I take a look at our qualifying successes and disasters, and everything in between!

2007/08 – 4th Qualifying Round – Bath City 0-2 TUFC @ Twerton Park

Now, this was a novelty. For the first time since 1925, Torquay had to qualify for the FA Cup. I thought it was non-league teams, like errrrrrrr Torquay I suppose. As far as draws go, it could have been a lot worse, geographically wise at least. Buckle’s revamped Gulls side made the short trip to Somerset to take on Conference South outfit Bath City, a team looking to cause an upset in front of a 2,000+ strong crowd.

Buoyed by a ever reliable Yellow Army, Torquay lived up to the favourites tag early on by taking the lead thanks to a Lee Phillips header. It wasn’t long after Chris Todd was adjudged to have handled in the box, giving the opportunity for the Romans too equalise. Cue Martin Rice. The keeper saved smartly to deny the Bath player, before the follow up was duly headed over. A combination of fine goalkeeping and heroic defending ensured the Gulls lead at the break. The tie was settled in the second half, when the ever willing Tim Sills squared the ball inside to Danny Stevens, who slotted home with ease to make it 2-0, and a safe passage through to the first round proper.

Torquay would go on to beat then League One side Yeovil 4-1, as Todd & Stevens grabbed a brace each on a cheery Sunday afternoon in front of the BBC cameras, a match that lives long in the Yellow Army’s memory. The Gulls were eventually dumped out by a decent Brighton side, who came to Plainmoor and triumphed 2-0.

2008/09 – 4th Qualifying Round – TUFC 4-1 Chipstead @ Plainmoor

United made light work of Isthmian League Division 1 South side Chipstead, as the Gulls recorded a resounding 4-1 victory at Plainmoor. Tyrone Thompson opened the scoring on 9 minutes, before adding his second 5 minutes before half time. United didn’t have it all their own way, as the visitors pulled a goal back just past the hour mark. As Chipstead pushed for an equaliser, the game became open, and with that the Yellow Army’s fears of a ‘cupset’ were quelled , as Sills bagged a two minute brace to put the game firmly to bed.

This sparked the start of a great cup run for the Gulls. A 2-0 Victory over Evesham followed, before an Elliott Benyon double sank Oxford by the same score-line in the second round. With the Man Uniteds and Chelseas of the world going into the hat for round three, it was rather inevitable Torquay would draw Blackpool. But once again, a determined United ran out 1-0 winners over the side 3 divisions higher, and set up a 4th round clash with Coventry. The fairytale ended that day, as an Elliott Ward header 3 minutes from time terminated a superb cup run for the Conference title hopefuls.

2014/15 – 4th Qualifying Round – Aldershot 2-0 TUFC @ Recreation Ground

Back in the Conference 5 years after escaping it, and back in the qualifying rounds. If Torquay thought they were going to breeze it, they had another thing coming. Drawn away at division rivals Aldershot, a Josh Scott double ensured Torquay wouldn’t progress to the first round proper for the first time in over 90 years. 

2015/16 – 4th Qualifying Round – Basingstoke Town 3-0 TUFC @ The Camrose

Some people say the cup is a nice distraction from the league. Not in Torquay’s case. United travelled to Hampshire to take on a Basingstoke team propping up the Conference South. Their league record after 13 games read, 0-6-7. Torquay themselves were struggling for form, and sat just inside the relegation zone, but were firmly expected to beat a Dragons side down on their luck and struggling for any sort of results. Cue the Torquay United meltdown. 

It took just 3 minutes for defender Will Salmon to leap like one and head the home side in front. Torquay never recovered and never looked like winning, and it was Chris Flood with 2 goals, one either side of half time to put the nail in the coffin and leave the Yellow Army in tatters.

2016/17 – 4th Qualifying Round – TUFC 1-1 Woking @ Plainmoor

Death, taxes, Woking or Aldershot in the FA Cup. (You’ll see what I mean when you read on). Looking to make it into the first round proper for the first time since 2013/14, United again battled with division rivals, this time Woking. Luke Young gave the Gulls an early lead, before Edgar equalised with 10 minutes to go to force a much unwanted replay.

2016/17 – 4th Qualifying Round replay – Woking 2-1 TUFC @ Kingfield Stadium

Just 3 days on, and the two sides did battle again. There was little between the two sides, but it was Woking who were awarded a penalty when goalkeeper Brendan Moore brought down his man. The USA stopper got to his feet and saved it to keep the tie level. Torquay had the impetuous, and good chances followed before their big break. A Luke Young corner was flicked on by McGinty at the front post, before being scrambled home by young Sam Chaney. Torquay went into the break a goal up. 

Football clichés, I hate them. But a game of two halves this most certainly was. A 5 minute moment of madness for the Gulls on the hour mark, allowed Woking’s Ugwe to help himself to two goals, and put to bed another disappointing cup campaign for Torquay.

2017/18 – 4th Qualifying Round – Aldershot 1-0 TUFC @ Recreation Ground

Yes, Aldershot again. And yes a fourth consecutive season where United failed to get past the first hurdle. A lacklustre Gulls display, in line with their overall season, allowed the Shots to ease to a 1-0 victory, the goal courtesy of ex-Yellows front man, Scott Rendell.

2018/19 – 2nd Qualifying Round – Lymington Town 0-7 TUFC @ Lymington Sports Ground

Torquay United, at their lowest ebb. Torquay entered the FA Cup at just the second qualifying round. In their lowest ever league position, Gary Johnson in just his second match as Gulls manager, secured a record breaking FA Cup win over the Wessex Premier League side. A strong United line up showed Johnson was taking nothing for granted, and early signs suggested it would be a long day for the Gulls. Midfielder Chris Regis tested the Lymington keeper, in a frustrating first half for the away side, but it was on 36 minutes they eventually made the breakthrough, when Ben Wynter’s cross was diverted into the net via a Lymington defender. Two minutes later and United started to show their class, as a revitalised Jamie Reid made it 2 before the break.

The third came shortly after half time when MOTM Jake Andrews set up Keating, and United didn’t have to wait long for number 4 as Regis slotted home just before the hour mark. 0-4 and Torquay could have taken their foot off the gas, but in front of the BBC cameras, they wanted to put on a show, and that’s just what they did. Substitute Brett Williams helped himself to a brace within 4 minutes, and it was Jake Andrews who rounded off the scoring late in the game to secure the thumping 0-7 win.


2018/19 – 3rd Qualifying Round – Brightlingsea Regent 0-3 TUFC @ North Road

United once again took on lower league opposition, this time in the form of Brightlingsea Regent from the Isthmian Premier league. On a high following Johnson’s arrival, United never looked like losing, and once again a strong line up was preferred by this boss. Jamie Reid slotted home a penalty in the first half to give the Gulls a 1-0 half time lead, and it was Hall & Andrews who secured the victory to take the Gulls into the next round. 

2018/19 – 4th Qualifying Round – TUFC 4-1 Winchester City @ Plainmoor

Torquay faced Winchester City at Plainmoor, knowing a win would take them into the first round proper. Buoyed by this, United once again showed their class and produced a fine display to blow away their Southern League Divison One South opponents. Kalvin Kalala broke the deadlock on 37 minutes, before Bristol City loanee Janneh added a second 4 minutes later. The tie was done and dusted just before the break as United hit their third goal in just 8 minutes, thanks to a Lemonheigh-Evans strike. Some fantastic footwork set up Reid, who’s shot was parried, only for Connor to slot home. 

United made sure of the win 10 minutes after half time, and ensured there was no danger of a comeback. Kalala’s cross was controlled by Janneh who left it for Evans to slam home his second, and United’s fourth of the game. 4-0. The away contingent did have something to celebrate when Hayward slotted home a late penalty, but it was United, who for the first time in 5 seasons, progressed to the first round. 

First round. Woking. Of course it was. Gary Johnson suffered his first defeat as Woking won it courtesy of a penalty. Wynter provided some much needed revenge later that season…..

2019/20 – 4th Qualifying Round – TUFC 3-2 Boreham Wood @ Plainmoor

Back in the NL Premier, and back in the 4th Qualifying round. A place of relative comfort for Gulls fans. United played host to division rivals Boreham Wood in a 5 goal thriller at Plainmoor. Jake Andrews opened the scoring with a sweetly struck placed shot into the bottom corner, and two minutes Jamie Reid went one better with a superb turn and shot with his weaker foot to hammer it past the BW keeper. 

Wood replied with a penalty from Tyrone Marsh just after half time, but the ever exciting Whitfield restored the two goal cushion after Vincent’s cross found him unmarked at the back post. A late Robbie Cundy own goal gave the Yellow Army a nervous ending, but the Gulls held on to advance to the first round for the second consecutive season. 

United came up against a decent Maidstone outfit in Round one. The Stones were flying in the NLS and showed no mercy as they defeated Torquay 1-0.

2020/21 – 4th Qualifying round – Sholing 0-2 TUFC @ Mackoy Stadium

72 places apart in the football pyramid, but United were made to work for their win on the South coast. It was even first half in the pouring rain, as there was little between the two sides. United did however make the breakthrough a minute before half time when Ben Wynter was fouled inside the box. Up stepped the calm and collected Asa Hall to make it 0-1.

The Gulls fitness showed in the second half, and eventually Josh Umerah sealed the win when he was presented with an open goal 35 yards out. United progressed once again to the first round proper.

If there was ever a game that deserved fans, the Torquay-Crawley game would win hands down. An unbelievable end to end game which somehow Torquay lost 5-6. A great game, and a shame no fans were there to witness it live.

COYY – Danny

Other Articles:

THE GULLS WEEK 11th- 17th OCT by Danny Burnell




INSTAGRAM – torquaytalk





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