Thomas Kelly – @tommyktufc
Thomas talks about the Gulls retained/released list for 2022
That’s it for the Gulls 21-22 National League campaign. Torquay’s 1-1 draw away at Southend sees the Gulls finish in 11th place, eight points off the final play-off spot. In truth, that’s quite a decent finish for Gary Johnsons side, considering the really poor start to the season where at one point our away match against Weymouth was dubbed by many as a “relegation six pointer”.
It was always going to be difficult to replicate the previous seasons efforts and so it proved, having to get a squad rejuvenated after the heartbreak of the season before and a fairly rushed summer break before the new season.
On Tuesday, Gary announced his retained list and as you all know, it isn’t a very big list! Let’s have a look at who has gone, who has stayed and whose future hasn’t been decided yet.
Eight players (at present) will not be playing for the Gulls next season as Gary Johnson’s preparations for the 22-23 National League season are already underway. In truth, his decisions were made up weeks ago and Gulls fans can expect a very busy summer of player transfers, or so we can hope!
The big names leaving include former Bristol City player Jake Andrews, who will always be remembered fondly by the Yellow Army for his time at Plainmoor during our stint in the NLS and our return to the NL the following seasons. With Gary not having him in his first team plans, Jake left on a loan deal to Havant & Waterlooville midway through the season. There was no questioning his commitment on the pitch and we all wish Jake (as well as all the other players leaving the club) well on their futures in football.
Dan Holman, Chiori Johnson, Klaidi Lolos & Marcin Brzozowski all depart TQ1 having all been signed last summer, with Joe Felix arriving from Billericay Town in December. Gary Johnson was excited by the signing especially of Dan Holman, but unfortunately, he started just 14 times in the league and was mostly utilised from the bench before being left out of the squad entirely in the Gulls last nine games of the season. Yeovil away will stick in the memory of Gulls fans, when he buried his shot home in the last minute to send the drenched Yellow Army into delight. Unfortunately over the course of the season, it hasn’t worked out for Dan or Gary the way they (and we all) would have wanted. Best of luck Dan!
Chiori, Joe & Klaidi also depart the club, which after Gary’s post match interview, comes as no surprise. Since the new year, Klaidi’s time on the pitch became very limited and after being subbed off just minutes after coming on from the bench at Wealdstone, the writing was on the wall. Joe Felix started just three games for the Gulls and only found himself appearing on the pitch in the final few games of the season due to injuries in the Gulls squad.
Chiori had more time on the pitch compared to the other two, but Gary deemed the young midfielder not worthy of a new deal. He wasn’t exactly excited with Chiori’s well taken goal at Southend in his post match interview! I think Johnson is one player I might have offered a new deal to out of those three. I believe there is a decent player there and he could certainly have been a good back up next season. GJ had other ideas.
Marcin arrived as the number two last summer, but the re-introduction of Shaun McDonald into the side saw him drop to third choice and he only played one half all season for the Gulls, doing well in a 2-1 defeat at Solihull Moors after replacing Halstead off the bench. Bit of a shame to see him go but with Mark contracted for another year and us waiting on Shaun’s decision, Marcin needs regular football and I’m sure he’ll find a club possibly a bit further down the ladder.
Scott and Louis also depart the club after not making an appearance for the first team. Louis spent the majority of the 21-22 season at Bideford whilst Scott appeared for Willand Rovers and Bideford. Best of luck lads on your footballing future. Plenty of good local clubs in the South West.
Yep, that’s our retained list. Just three players, all who have rarely featured in the Torquay United first team throughout the season.
Mark Halstead’s Torquay career has been a difficult one since his arrival last summer. The experienced keeper lost his place as the number one to the returning Shaun McDonald after a string of nervous performances and a loss in confidence, appearing in just the Gulls FA Trophy defeat at Tonbridge Angels (where he was at fault for their winning goal) and appearing in the Gulls last two league fixtures of the season due to Shaun’s injury at Stockport.
One thing about Mark, he is a great shot stopper and to his credit, he has done well in his last two appearances. He’s a nice guy and as a back-up keeper, I have no issues with him being at the club again next season in that role. His last two performances should be a good confidence booster to him at least heading into the summer break.
Keelan O’Connell and Gabby Rogers are the other two players currently contracted with the Gulls and highlights the work Gary has this summer to build a squad capable of pushing for promotion next season. Keelan only started eleven league games and saw his time on the pitch come from substitute appearances. Gabby made just six appearances for the Gulls before being loaned to Truro City & Plymouth Parkway. None of the three contracted players were considered good enough to be in our starting XI as the season progressed and it will be interesting to see where they fit in Gary plans for 2022-23, if at all.
Let’s be honest, some of these lads will move on. Connor and Armani are apparently heading to seven clubs (if you believe the experts on various social media platforms!). It will be a sad moment to see some of these players leave but with the club limited in what we can offer and the reality that other clubs both in the EFL and National League have more financial clout than us, it’s no surprise that our better players will have been scouted by other clubs in recent weeks and in true Torquay style, look set to leave on a free transfer.
I think the players most likely to stay include Asa, Olaf, Moxey, Moyse, Omar and potentially Danny. Asa, Danny and Deano are heading towards the end of their footballing careers and I think one more season of experience from those three wouldn’t be bad for all involved. Ali has worked hard all season and has shown in the last few performances that there is a good player in him. I’m not sure he would be a NL player next season if he left, although I said the same about Josh Umerah!
Olaf and Alex I imagine will sign on for next season. It could be a big season especially for Olaf who was unlucky not to score at Southend and certainly didn’t look out of place, albeit playing against 10 men.
Being hopeful, I’d love for Wynts, Lapslie & Lewis to stay. Both Wynts and Lewis have been brilliant this season and it would be no surprise if EFL clubs (or Notts) had their eyes on these two. Tom has also impressed this season despite picking up a few injuries. Proper workhorse is Tom Lapslie. Another season of him in shirt tucked Yellow would be a great thing to see.
Player of the Year Shaun McDonald would be high on my list to get tied down to a contract as quickly as possible. His performances this season since returning in September 2021 made us a much stronger side immediately and without him, we wouldn’t have even contemplated the play-offs in the second half of the season.
Hopefully the lure of guaranteed number one keeper and a bit more money will tempt him to sign for us going into next season, if not, he will be a big miss and a tough keeper to replace.
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