Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell_92
The Gulls’ last trip to Boundary Park in April 2005 yielded a crucial 2-1 victory. Much like 17 years ago, it’s another six-pointer as these two teams battle to escape the dreaded drop zone. It was League One survival at stake those days, a far cry from the present day woes. I take a look at the Gulls’ line-up from that spring afternoon in Greater Manchester.
MANAGER – Leroy Rosenior
Stats: P184, W59, D59, L66
A man who needs no introduction, Leroy guided the Gulls’ to a memorable promotion in 2004, with a brand of football rarely seen on this English Riveria since. Modest spells at Gloucester and Merthyr afforded Bateson to take a chance on this budding coach, a gamble that truly paid off.
Leroy was unable to replicate his success post Plainmoor. A short disastrous spell at Brentford coupled with a stint in Sierra Leone were his last flurries in management. He has since done a lot of punditry work, and is an active ambassador for ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, for which he received an MBE. His auto-biography entitled ‘Its only Banter’ is well worth a read.
GOALKEEPER – Andy Marriott
A former Wales international, Marriott made a name for himself at Plainmoor with a string of fine performances. One of very few plus points in some very dark years for Torquay, as they battled relegation from not just League One, but League Two aswell. The journeyman had notably established himself at Wrexham & Barnsley, but it was Bury from where his services were procured from, as he went onto make 64 appearances before his departure in 2006.
He ended his career up the road in Exeter, before taking on some non playing roles at both St James’ Park and West Brom.
RIGHT BACK – Matt Hockley
Stats: P265, Goals: 10
Born in Paignton, Hockley came up through the youth ranks at Plainmoor, before firmly establishing himself in just about every manager he played under. His 8 year stay with the Gulls included promotions/relegations heartbreak and jubilation, and it was a sad day when he left the club in the summer of 2008. Missing out on an appearance at Wembley at the FA Trophy final, that would be his final involvement in Yellow, when Buckle released him that summer. He had spells in non-league football with the likes of Truro, Bideford, where he was captain, & Dereham Town (Norfolk) of the then Ryman North league.
CENTRE BACK – Craig Taylor
Stats: P138, Goals: 6
Captain and leader that day, Taylor made 138 appearances over a 4 year period. Often forming a formidable defensive duo with Woods, the two became pivotal to the previous season’s success. A Devonian by birth, Taylor started his career with Exeter, before a spell in non league with Dorchester Town. Taylor’s performances earned him a recall to professional football with Swindon and later Plymouth, before joining Torquay to make it a Devon treble in February 2003. Initially on loan, Taylor made the permanent switch where he would stay until the end of the 2006/07 season.
Unfortunately for Taylor and fans alike, recurring injuries forced retirement. Rather aptly, the Gulls defender scored on his final appearance, in a 1-1 home draw with Barnet on 3rd February 2007. He retired that summer.
CENTRE BACK – Steve Woods
Stats: P283, Goals: 11
Woodsy, the other half of the formidable centre back pairing that promotion season. A loyal servant to the Gulls, Woods started his career with Stoke, before moving on to Plymouth & Chesterfield. Signed by Roy McFarlane in August 2001, he went onto make 283 appearances for the Gulls over a 8 year period, forming great partnerships with the likes of Taylor, and later Robertson. Buckle’s arrival ultimately spelled the end of Woods TUFC career, with players like Todd, Ellis & Robertson the preferred defensive options.
Unfortunately for the loyal servant, he was not offered a contract for the 2009/10 season, and went onto sign for Stalybridge Celtic, and later his near home town of Northwich Victoria. He retired shortly after 2011.
Woods is now a fully qualified Physiotherapist working in his local area of Northwich. Since qualifying, he has worked in settings such as the NHS, GP’s and outpatients. His specialist area of expertise is with spinal issues. Away from work, its nice to hear he also has a hand in helping run local kids football.
LEFT BACK – Craig Woodman
Stats: P26, Goals: 1
Woodman was loaned to the Gulls’ from fellow League One rivals Bristol City. After a 7 year spell at Ashton Gate, he found a regular starting spot for the Gulls’, at the expense of the injury-stricken McGlinchey. His solitary goal came in the final day defeat at Colchester, a game which saw United make a swift return to League Two.
His best footballing days were at Wycombe and Exeter where he became a mainstay in both sides. Nowadays, at the ripe old age of 39, he continues to play for his home-town club of Tiverton.
RIGHT WING – Martin Phillips
Stats: P78, Goals: 6
‘Buster’ Phillips was a hugely popular figure in his time at Plainmoor. The pint-sized winger left defenders bamboozled with his tricky and close control. Arriving from Home Park in the summer of 2004, he was unfortunately another one who succumb to injury, that ultimately ended his career too soon.
CENTRE MID – Alex Russell
Stats: P163, Goals: 22
A real classy player who oozed elegance on the ball, Russell was a fixture in the United midfield in his 4 years at Plainmoor. Arriving from Cambridge in the summer of 2001, he would rack up 163 appearances until his departure in June 2005.
Fundamental to the Leroy puzzle, his performances throughout his TUFC career were never doubted. It was a shame to see him leave, but upon our relegation in the 04/05 season, it was a sense of inevitability, and he was duly snapped up by Bristol City, playing a further part in their own promotion campaign. Following this, Alex had spells with Northampton, Cheltenham, Exeter, Bath City, Yeovil and Clevedon Town, before announcing ‘retirement’ in March 2013 on his twitter. Coaching spells at Bristol City, Oldham and Southport were had, before playing semi-pro football in the Bristol area with Shepton Mallet & Bristol Manor Farm.
Now considering Russell was 32 when he left the Gulls in the summer of 2005, you may be surprised to hear that up until recently, he was still playing. After emigrating to Australia, Russell joined up with former Gull, Jamie Gosling, coaching in a football academy in Cairns. As at Feb 2021, and at 48 years of age, Russell was the Assistant Coach/Player for the Leichhardt Lions, who hail from Cairns, Queensland, and ply their trade in the Football Queensland North – Northern conference, the 5th tier of Australian Football.
CENTRE MID – Darren Garner
Stats: P67, Goals: 3
The Plymouth born midfielder started life out at Home Park, before a move to Rotherham, where he spent 10 years. After making over 250 appearances for the Millers’, Garner moved back to Devon, initially on loan, before making the move permanent in 2005. He became a mainstay in the side, post Alex-Russell days, but was eventually released half way through the 06/07 season. He joined Newport, before moving onto Truro and Launceston.
LEFT WING – Kevin Hill
Stats: P474, Goals: 57
What is left to say about Kevin Hill, Torquay’s record appearance holder. The very definition of a TUFC legend. Famed for his fantastic leap, ‘Hilly’ scored 52 league goals mainly from the left wing over an 11 year span for the Gulls. ‘That’ goal against Stockport amongst the highlights, which you will probably find on any ‘Own Goals & Gaffs’ style DVD or Youtube video. The cheek of it!
Plucked from non-league Torrington by Kevin Hodges in 1997, the record appearance holder outlasted many managers in his time, including Hodges, Rosenior, and others we will fail to mention. His first appearance coming way back on the opening day of the 97/98 season, as a substitute in a 2-1 defeat to newly promoted Macclesfield Town. Like many, Hill was one of the many United legends that Buckle deemed surplus to requirements, with his last appearance in a Yellow shirt coming on as a late substitute in the FA Trophy final defeat. He did score in his last league appearance at Plainmoor, that play off defeat to Exeter. Post Plainmoor, Hill went on to play for Dorchester Town, Tiverton & Exmouth.
Initially signing for Exmouth in 2013 in a player/coach capacity, Hill re-joined Exmouth as player/manager in June 2018 after a spell with Budleigh Salterton. He is the current manager of Exmouth Town in the South West Peninsula League.
STRIKER – Bayo Akinfenwa
Stats: P41, Goals: 16
A one season wonder who made a long-lasting impression on the Yellow Army. The bustling 22 year old had made the switch in the summer of 2004 from Doncaster, to fill the void left of star striker David Graham. He endeared himself with a no-nonsense style of play, going onto win the accolade for top goal scorer that very season.
His career saw him play at Swansea, Millwall Northampton and even in Lithuania, but it was Wycombe where he relished, becoming the clubs record goalscorer. He made his last appearance for the club in the play-off final defeat to Sunderland in May 2022. He’s written a book, and has his own clothing brand, as he seeks alternative prospects outside of football.
STRIKER – Leon Constantine
Stats: P45, Goals: 10
3 goals in 4 appearances on loan from Peterborough was enough to convince Torquay to cough up the club record £75,000 in December 2004. He was never able to quite live up to the billing, and found form and goals hard to come by in his time at Plainmoor.
He went onto enjoy a fairy successful spell at Port Vale, which prompted a move to Leeds. That move never got going and he saw out the remainder of his career in the lower leagues, Northampton, Hereford & York to name just a few. He opened his own football academy post retirement and has worked as a football consultant.