Cive Hayward – @Byehorse
Clive discusses the draw at the Kingfield
I pause to share my musings in the afterglow of a hard-fought point last night at Woking, a club we’d paid little mind to before 2007, but who have been living rent free in Torquay fans’ heads ever since.
Along with the recent scrapped wins against Halifax and Maidstone, it gives some hope for the big three months to come, when our immediate and very possibly long term future as a serious football club will be decided.
In no particular order, here are some talking points:
Having come to the club from Swindon in January with a good reputation and- let’s be honest- with little competition for a midfield berth, he was missing from the squad last night. We’ve seen this happen before. Young lad comes in on loan but quickly becomes a non-person. I haven’t seen any explanation for his disappearance from the pecking order. It isn’t an awfully long way from Swindon to Woking. Is he injured? Have his very disappointing performances triggered the trap door? Has he gone on a bender with his cousins Christina Aguilera and Sergio Agueroooooo? Aliens on the A322? It will be interesting to find out.
CAN WE STAY UP?
We can. I agree with Ian East that Nico Lawrence may be a transformative defender for us (see link below). We have a long road ahead and I think it will go very close to the end of the season before we know our fate. Our last fixture is in the death zone: it’s Wrexham at home. Dorking (a) is a massive game which we may need to win. Given Aguiar’s form, Hanson’s inadequacy, Lapslie’s fitness, Asa’s age and McGavin’s struggles, midfield remains a big worry. I’m hopeful we may just have enough to pull off an escape but once the season is over I would like to see a witch hunt of 17th century thoroughness to ensure that those responsible for our retention and recruitment since 2021 are punished for their misdemeanours. We have gone from top two to bottom four, it’s not good enough, it must change and I am happy to purchase the ducking stool!
I’ve spent more time thinking and writing about this than is healthy over the past few days. Is there a player in there? Possibly! On Saturday, I said this about his debut versus the worst defence in the division (Maidstone):
“I wonder if he can finish? We may never find out”
“Short of a gallop”.
Last night at Woking, he again looked to be struggling, admittedly in a team offering little more than balls smashed in his general direction at chest height with a physical centre half bullying him all over Kingfield.
But his equaliser in the second half (which, according to Gary Johnson, came after a much-appreciated half time bollocking!) must give us pause for thought. He saw and reacted quickly to a dangerous ball over the top and lobbed the keeper with some aplomb. He then had a really good 10 minutes before being hooked for *checks notes* Dylan Crowe. Good signs.
But it’s not all about the onion bag. At Plainmoor on Saturday after a tough baptism he was clearly very happy to stop for selfies and huge smiles with youngsters by the tunnel. The photo of his Dad with Charlie and John from @NatObsPod last night was joyous too. He’d come along from who-knows-where to watch his lad from the terraces, and obviously got chatting to folks he can’t have known before rocking up. I like it. I like it all, and it won’t take much more for Tope to become a fans’ favourite.
GARY JOHNSON’S POST MATCH COMMENTS
The flipping cheek of it. Supposedly a small number of fans either left just before the end last night, or perhaps left too soon after the final whistle for our manager’s liking. He went out of his way during the standard hagiographic post-match club interview to criticise fans who do not meet his exacting standards.
Here’s my two cents Gary:
1. I have huge respect for your managerial career and what you have done for Torquay United.
2. That said, you have presided over a steep and frightening decline since the summer of 2021. Far too many of your signings have proved to be duds and we are now reliant on kids on loan to preserve our National League status. It is either incredible generosity or more likely cynical indifference on the part of Clarke Osbourne that sees you still working for Torquay United.
3. Don’t you dare tell supporters who have turned out and in many cases travelled considerable distances to spend hard-earned money watching a bottom four team when they can and can ‘t go home.