Danny Burnell – @dannyburnell_92
Christmas is notoriously a period in which makes or breaks a season. This festive period is no different as the Gulls’ look to claim maximum points in a double header with Yeovil. I take a look at our last 10 seasons, and rank them in order of success.
#10 – 2013
Results: – DLL
Points won: 1
Christmas 2013 must go down as our least successful and most unhappiest of the lot over the last 10 years. Three Westcountry derbies with 9 points up for grabs, with the Gulls’ only managing to accumulate a single draw. Bristol Rovers were the visitors on Boxing Day as Gulls’ striker John Marquis saw his early penalty cancelled out by the towering Matt Harrold. Three days later and Exeter came to Plainmoor to claim all three points. Karl Hawley’s missed spot kick at 0-0 was crucial, as the Grecians went onto win 3-1. To compound the misery, United travelled to Home Park on New Years’ Day hoping for lady luck to turn. Unfortunately Argyle strolled to a rather comfortable 2-0 victory.
Key moment: Hawley’s missed penalty was pivotal for Alan Knill’s Gulls’ who were firmly in a relegation battle.
#9 – 2017
Results: – DL
Points won: 1
Just the two games for United over the festivities, but a familiarity results wise as just one point picked up. Jamie Reid’s spot kick at Eastleigh on Boxing Day gave the Gulls’ the lead, but were duly pegged back with 18 minutes to go. A game which saw on loan midfielder George Dowling saw red. Four days later United travelled to Boreham Wood, and were beaten 2-0 to extend their winless run to 6.
Key moment: With the Gulls’ leading, George Dowling was sent on 64 minutes for a second yellow. That man advantage put Eastleigh in the ascendency, eventually equalising just 8 minutes later.
#8 – 2012
Results: – DL
Points won: 1
A boxing day Devon derby as Torquay travelled to Plymouth. United thought they had claimed all three points when Aaron Downes put them in front. But the home side got a last minute leveller through Tyler Harvey to salvage a point. It was a thriller on NYD which saw the Gulls’ once again concede deep into injury time. Mansell and Howe had each netted to bring the scores all square, but a late penalty from Wimbeldon’s Stacy Long saw the Londoner’s claim maximum points for the bottom side.
Key moment: The late penalty conceded at home to AFC Wimbledon proved costly, and gave the away side a massive 3 points.
#7 – 2014
Results: – LDD
Points won: 2
Boxing Day again saw Rovers’ come to Plainmoor in the first of a double-header. The Gas were firm favourites for promotion having been relegated into non-league for the first time. The away side took a 2-0 lead, before an OG gave Torquay hope. The Gulls’ couldn’t find a equaliser as it finished 1-2. Two days later the Gulls’ travelled to Welling to play out a very underwhelming 0-0, before the return leg at ‘The Mem’. A bumper crowd saw Duane Ofori-Acheampong give the Yellows’ a 1-0 lead, and it stayed that way for much of the game. Rovers were the gifted a penalty when Angus MacDonald was adjudged to have fouled in the area. Inexplicably he was given his marching orders, and Matt Taylor converted the resulting spot-kick.
Key moment: Quite what the referee saw to give that penalty is anyone’s guess. Torquay were made to settle for just a point.
#6 – 2019
Results: – LWL
Points won: 3
Boxing day 2019, a day not many Gull fan will want to relive. United were battered and humiliated 6-2 at Huish Park to make it 7 league losses in a row. The Yellow Army’s day was made even worse with the weather conditions beyond awful. A face full of rain, and a annihilation to boot. Torquay did end their losing streak in style 2 days later when Woking were humbled 4-1 at Plainmoor. Keating’s delightful chip a pick of the bunch. It would be further misery on NYD however when 10-man Yeovil once again got the better of Gary Johnson’s men.
Key moment: A vital win to boost the confidence was very welcome. Luckily, good earlier season form had kept the Gulls’ out of trouble.
#5 – 2015
Results: – WLL
Points won: 3
Torquay turned on the style as high flyers Forest Green came to TQ HQ. Rovers’ took an expected lead on 20 minutes through Keanu Marsh-Brown, but a Tyrone Marsh double gave United the lead before the break. Durrell Berry & Andre Wright struck late on to give the strugglers a first win since mid-October. United couldn’t repeat the feat on NYD as FGR ran out 3-1 winners. In between, table-toppers Cheltenham claimed a narrow 1-0 win at Whaddon Road.
Key moment: A huge and totally unexpected win over FGR gave United a massive boost heading into a crucial second half of the season.
#4 – 2016
Results: – WD
Points won: 4
It was back-to-back Boxing Day woe for Forest Green at Plainmoor, as United edged them out in a 7 goal thriller. After going 3 up, the away side drew level through 5 second half minutes, but Ben Gerring won it 9 minutes from time in the most dramatic of fashions. Unbelievably there was even more drama in the Cotswolds as the two played out a memorable 5-5 on NYD. United were leading 5-3 going into the last 7 minutes, but were pegged back at the death.
Key moment: With the scores at 5-5, goalkeeper Brendan Moore made a crucial save to earn a point in the craziest of games.
#3 – 2021
Results: – WLW
Points won: 6
The Yellows’ season had turned a corner earlier in the month with great wins over Weymouth & Stockport. Yeovil were the visitors on Boxing day where three second half goals secured the victory. Ben Wynter, Jack Sparkes & Joe Lewis with the goals, in a game which saw Yeovil reduced to 10 mid-way through the second half. A very dubious penalty at Eastleigh two days later robbed the Gulls’ of at least one point. But NYD was were the drama was as Dan Holman’s late goal sends the Yellow Army into delirium with a very neat finish from a tight angle.
Key moment: With the Gulls’ looking to get back to winning ways after the Eastleigh disappointment, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans was the man to provide the spark, through a goal directly from a corner, and a delightful assist for Holman to slot home.
#2 – 2020
Results: – WWL
Points won: 6
The Gulls’ were soaring high in the league as Yeovil made their usual post Christmas jaunt to Devon. They needn’t of bothered, as 6 of the best were scored in a thumping win for the title-chasing side. Another high drama game unfolded two days later as CLE’s goal 3 minutes from time earnt a 4-3 victory at Weymouth. Torquay were unable to make it 3 from 3 however, as they lost out at Yeovil, despite taking the lead through Aaron Nemane.
Key moment: Adam Randell’s superb pass found CLE waiting at the back post to make it 4-3 and give the Yellows’ a huge win at the top.
#1 – 2018
Results: – WWW
Points won: 9
In a season to remember for so many reason’s, Torquay took full advantage of essentially three home games at Christmas. Ground-sharers Truro were the away side on Boxing day as the Gulls’ came from behind to win 4-2. You’d do well to see 4 better goals in one match, as Asa Hall’s stupendous left foot strike perhaps pips the lot. Gloucester City put up a very brave fight 3 days later but United held on for a 2-1 win. And on NYD, Torquay were in the away dressing room at Plainmoor as once again they came from behind to secure a 3-1 victory. Jamie Reid with a brace.
Key moment: United turned the tide in 8 first half minutes on Boxing day, keeping them firmly in the ascendency at the top.