Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Steve Harris looks at former Gulls who have been called up to World Cups
WORLD CUP GULLS
Len Graham (Northern Ireland 1958)
A non-playing member of the Northern Ireland squad who reached the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, which featured the likes of Harry Gregg, Danny Blanchflower and Jimmy McIlroy, Len Graham joined United in November 1958. He made 23 appearances for the club before returning to the province to become player-manager of Ards.
Bruce Rioch (Scotland 1978)
Former Gulls boss Bruce Rioch captained Scotland during their ill-fated 1978 World Cup campaign under Ally MacLeod. Rioch, who was then plying his trade for Derby County, started Scotland’s opening group game against Peru, which they lost 3-1.
He then missed their second match against Iran, but was recalled for their final group game against eventual runners-up Holland, which they surprisingly won 3-2 and saw Archie Gemmill score his memorable individual goal that is still regarded as one of the greatest World Cup goals of all-time.
By the time the next World Cup in Spain came around, Rioch had been appointed as player-manager of the Gulls as successor to Frank O’Farrell.
Lubos Kubik (Czechoslovakia 1990)
Lubos Kubik’s spell as Torquay United was unfortunately a brief one during the 2006-07 season, but he helped Czechoslovakia reach the quarter finals of Italia 90 – their last tournament before the country split in two to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Managed by future Aston Villa and Celtic manager Jozef Venglos, Czechoslovakia finished second in a group containing Italy, Austria and the USA. They then defeated Costa Rica 4-1 in the last 16, with Kubik amongst the goal scorers before bowing out to West Germany in the quarter final stage.
Chris Waddle (England 1986 and 1990)
After appearing briefly for England in Mexico 86, including a cameo as a substitute in England’s quarter final defeat to Argentina, Chris Waddle was an ever present for England in Italia 90.
He and Stuart Pearce infamously both missed spot-kicks in England’s penalty shoot-out defeat to West Germany.
Also part of the England set up for Mexico and Italia 90, and before that for Spain 82, was United physio Norman Medhurst, who was also working at Plainmoor at the time of Italia 90.
Alan McLoughlin (Republic of Ireland)
Facing Chris Waddle in 1990 was the Republic of Ireland, including ex-Gulls loanee Alan McLoughlin. The midfielder played twice in Italia 90, appearing as a sub against England and Eqypt as Jack Charlton’s team qualified for the 2nd round, eventually losing to the hosts Italy in the quarter finals.
The former Man Utd youngster made 24 appearances for the Gulls on loan from Swindon during the 86-87 and 87-88 seasons, before going on to play for the likes of Southampton, Aston Villa and Portsmouth. Alan sadly passed away from cancer in 2021 aged just 54.
Paul Hall and Matt Elliott (Jamaica and Scotland 1998)
Seven years after helping the Gulls to win the Fourth Division play-off final against Blackpool at Wembley in 1991, both Paul Hall and Matt Elliott were named by Jamaica and Scotland in their squads for France 98.
Hall was an ever-present for the Reggae Boys in their group matches against Croatia, Argentina and Japan, whilst Elliott wasn’t selected for Scotland in any of their three matches.
Rory Fallon (New Zealand 2010)
Reaching the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa didn’t just create football history in New Zealand, it also created a piece of family history for Rory Fallon.
When the All Whites had previously qualified for the 1982 finals in Spain, Fallon’s father Kevin was their assistant manager – and it was Fallon’s winning goal in their play-off match with Bahrain that secured their qualification.
In South Africa, he was an ever-present as New Zealand drew all three of their group matches against Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay, as they went home unbeaten.
Fallon, who was a Plymouth Argyle player at the time of his appearances for the Kiwis, had a brief spell with the Gulls at the start of the 2017-2018 season.
Kieffer Moore (Wales 2022)
And onto the present! Torquay-born Kieffer Moore has appeared for Wales this year in their historic first World Cup since 1958. The striker making an impact as a sub against USA in the first group game, before starting against Iran. Moore qualified to play for Wales through his grandfather.
Moore made only four appearances for the Gulls in the 2016-17 season on loan from Forest Green, but scored 5 goals. The striker was courted by Kevin Nicholson for a move to Plainmoor not long after, but Championship side Ipswich Town recognised his potential and took him to Portman Road instead.