Paul Dennis – @paulden2310
When Dom asked me to put together an all time favourite Gulls team I thought it would be easy, but as my first Gulls game was in 1971 and having seen hundreds of players, the more I thought about it and memories were stirred, it became much harder to compile!
Some are legends to us all, but a few are names that some Gulls supporters may not be familiar with! So this is my squad rather than just a team, and I would probably use a loose 5-3-2 formation!!
Has to be Neville Southall. We only saw him at the end of his amazing career but even at the age of 40, what a player! I remember a game at Gnome Park where it seemed it was only big Nev against the entire Plymouth team. He kept a clean sheet in a nil nill draw. An amazing performance.
Squad: Present Gulls Nest manager John Turner would have been the No.1 if wasn’t for the brilliance of big Nev. Mike Mahoney I remember was also a class act for us in the 1970s before his move to Newcastle United.
Right back has to be local legend and one club man Ian Twitchin. He scored a thunderbolt of a goal in only my third Plainmoor game in 1973 against Bradford City. Although he played in so many positions, he clinched the RB postion because of that goal!
Squad: Andy Gurney for his fantastic marauding wing back play and goals in that great 97-98 season. Paul Holmes an earlier and similarly classy player who went on to play for Birmingham, Everton and WBA in the old First Division before returning to us in 1999. A special mention to Ben Wynter after playing every minute of every game this season. Please stay!
Left Back Brian McGlinchey was never a spectacular player but calm and consistent and very instrumental in Leroy’s promotion team. Became an instant favourite of mine when scoring for us against Plymouth Argyle. The great thing was that he was in Plymouths team at the time! He knew where his loyalties really lay!
Squad: Paul Gibbs again for his performances in that 97-98 season but really blotted his copy book when he signed for the Cornish! Phil Sandercock, a great left back from the 1970s and someone who I was actually confident of him scoring whenever we had a penalty. I can’t recall him ever missing one. Finally Tom Kelly for his part in our first Great Escape season and for being a great character in the team.
I can’t really place any player as a No 1 as we have had some really good players for at CB, so here are a few great names from the past.
Phil Lloyd. Such a solid and consistent player. I believe he was an ever-present until a terrible broken leg injury at Maidstone finished his career.
Guy Branston. Great player and character who joined us after seeming to have played for every other club in the country! Played for 16 clubs before us (including loans) and a further 5 after us.
Now a couple of players signed from our nearest and dearest ( ! ) who added much steel and experience to our defence. Craig Taylor signed by Kevin Hodges from Plymouth and helped us to promotion, and Jim McNichol from Exeter.
If you don’t know the history of Jim McNichol at Plainmoor then I suggest you are not much of a Torquay supporter! Should be remembered at Plainmoor for more than just a biting incident and no it wasn’t like Luis Suarez!
One of the games greatest and I could never believe I would ever see him wearing a Torquay United shirt, Bruce Rioch. From captaining Scotland at the 78 World Cup to playing for our club thanks to the managerial skills of the great Frank O’FarrelL. Scored one of my favourite goals of all time, a free kick from a huge distance. Before finishing my sentence to my mate “He’s not going to try from there” – the ball was in the back of Rochdale’s net. Class!
Another midfield general from the mid 70s was Lew Chatterley who could also smash a ball from distance. I also loved the skills of Tommy Sermanni in our late 70s early 80s teams.
Again from Leroy’s promotion team probably the best pair of midfield players in the team at the same time. The elegant Jason Fowler and the brilliant Alex Russell, they need a ball winner so Matt Hockley makes it in.
A couple of energetic ball winners who would easily be part of any squad – Charlie Oatway and Jason Rees.
Unfortunately I never saw the Prince of Plainmoor Robin Stubbs play as he was a smidgin before my time.
As per Bruce Rioch, how many of us thought Justin Fashanu would ever be seen in a Gulls shirt! He certainly put us in the headlines and who could forget the surreal visit of Bett Lynch of Coronation Street to Plainmoor, only surpassed by the visit to Sid James Park by Michael Jackson and Uri Geller!
Anyway back to Torquay strikers. One of my mid 70s favourites was Willie Brown. What a character! Did not have the sleek physicality of today’s players but was a 20 goal a season man. Also from that era, Les Lawrence, so raw when he arrived but served us well for 4 years and was later converted to a centre back! Les was later paired up front with Steve Cooper a real lion hearted centre forward who ran Sheffield Wednesday ragged in that memorable FA Cup tie.
We don’t normally have the type of 20 goal a season striker but one did appear in the mid 1980s and another player from that Crewe game, Paul Dobson. A real goal poacher, a lower league Gary Lineker if you will.
As for a charasmatic centre forward who better than Dave Caldwell. Just as Steve Cooper scared the living daylights out of Wednesday, Caldwell did the same to cup holders Coventry City on the mud at Highfield Road. Dave had two brief but very memorable stints with us.
Now for one of the quickest and deadliest forwards, and holder of our biggest selling transfer fee – Rodney Jack. Nobody who was at Plainmoor the night he destroyed Scarborough will ever forget it.
A space in the squad has to be found for David Graham – was he a striker or an attacking midfield player, as so many of his goals were long range screamers, he didn’t need to be in the penalty area!
Two players who I have not even mentioned, but every club needs are ‘play anywhere’ Clint Boulton a fantastic professional for us in the 70s and of course local hero Kevin Hill. Both so committed and loyal to the club.
Those types of players are unlikely to be seen again, as most players these days stay a season or two and move on, either of their own choice or the clubs!
As for a manager of this squad well its Frank O’Farrell for me. I am sure he could put these players into a team that would win and entertain!
Anyway if you have read this far thank you very much and I hope you have enjoyed my trip down memory lane. I am sure I have missed out on many players who are others favourites, so get in touch with TT if you’d like to pick your own team or squad!