TT BLOG by Thomas Kelly


Thomas Kelly


Thomas blogs about the Gulls

Being in a relegation fight is nothing new to most Torquay United supporters, relegations in 2018, 2014 & 2007 & 2005 being the most recent examples.

With the club struggling to make an impact as the only full time side in the National League South, Gary Johnson came to TQ1 with a mission, to get Torquay United back where we all feel we belong, in the EFL.

Fast forward to now and the dream has turned into a nightmare, one that most fans never believed was possible.

Ashton Gate really seemed like it was all or nothing and now sadly, the Yellow Army are paying the price for our failure to acquire promotion to the EFL only a two years ago.

The loss of quality players, replaced with players poorly recruited who are clearly not up to the task of National League football, a lack of responsibility and ownership from the very top has trickled down into the foundations of our wonderful club that now seems destined to be playing regional football once again, just four years after we had all vowed never to return!

Recently on Gulls Eye View, we asked you who did you blame the most for our terrible season and it was very close between Gary Johnson and the owners.

Here’s my take on who I blame for our situation and why.


I can’t talk about Ashton Gate without bringing up this man, call me bitter I suppose! Crap refs are part and parcel of football, but in such a high stakes game, to disallow two goals for us that even the TV commentary struggled to understand, we are left to wonder what if. What if we had a competent official officiating our game that day. Was he the difference? If he ever officiates at Plainmoor I hope he gets a horrible reception.


Oh Gaffer, what’s happened? The once bubbly and humble man who could do no wrong it seemed, looks set to take the club back to regional football after getting us out just four years ago.

I have made my points very clear on Gulls Eye View multiple times about my thoughts on the gaffer and why I believe he should have been sacked many games ago, but the reality is that it seems that the club are financially unable to sack him and he knows it.

Gary has mentioned that he is happy with the owners and therefore he must take a large portion of the blame for our plight this season with the poor signings and questionable tactics he employs. So many games we see the same mistakes and the lack of a plan B has cost us on more than one occasion.

He seems to brush off any criticism from the terraces and is quick to scurry off to the dressing room after a defeat. No-one wanted Gary Johnson to fail at Torquay, but the love affair is well and truly over with the majority of the fanbase and it’s sad to see. It’s clear the players are still playing for him but the reality is they aren’t good enough at this level. Seven wins all season is not good enough and I expect so much better from an experienced veteran of the beautiful game. It’s difficult to know the financial restraints the owners have put on him this season, but I refuse to believe we have one of the worst budgets in the league.

Thanks for everything gaffer, but whatever happens, I want a fresh start.


It’s hard to ignore how poor our recruitment has been over the last few years. You gave the Johnson brothers the benefit of doubt in the 21/22 season due to how little time we had to build a squad soon after the play-off final, however this season there can be no excuse and if Pete Johnson is our sole recruiter at the club, I’m afraid he deserves to take a lot of the flack for our dreadful season.

Replacing quality players such as Armani, Connor and Joe was always going to be a difficult task but it’s clear the majority of players we have brought in aren’t National League standard or maybe even top half NLS Standard.

Whilst there have been some good finds (Aaron Jarvis), unfortunately there has been far too much dross wearing the Yellow shirt, Corie Andrews I’m looking at you. Just look at our subs bench in recent games and how the lack of attacking options off the bench have cost us potential points in our fight for league survival. I appreciate the budget has most likely been cut, however it’s crystal clear that our marquee signings have turned out to be terrible for the most part and our cheap and cheerful approach has not worked. The fact the likes of Hanson (sorry Chris) are on multi-year contacts sums up our recruitment.


I’ll give them this, they do try and haven’t given up playing for the gaffer. That said, some of those in Yellow this season have been hideously found out at this level. So many games I see the same type of goals conceded from us and wonder what the hell do we do on the training pitch? Injuries, fitness and playing style have hampered us and although I admit I get caught in the heat of the moment after another defeat, I really feel a real lack of love with this season’s squad. They’ll give it their all I’m sure until the very end, but this is one of the worst Torquay sides I’ve seen in my lifetime and I can but hope they surprise me in the last ten games.


For the record, I’m sure those who work around the club are excellent people and do their best to make the club tick, however everything just seems rosy amongst those inside the club and around some of our local media.

Never mind the fact the club are facing relegation to regional football, these people refuse to ask the questions we as supporters want them to ask. The main concern of the local press seems to be not wanting to annoy the gaffer so that they don’t lose access to his weekly (and pointless) weekly briefings and whatever else he offers them.

I don’t want to be critical, however the complete failure of club media to appreciate or react to the Yellow Army’s views is laughable and is a disservice to the loyal support who continue to spend their hard earnt money weekend in and weekend out on supporting the club during what has been a horribly tough season.

The post-match interviews and Gaffer briefings have become farcical and those within the club need to wake up and smell the coffee. Notts County have a great balance of being fair but openly honest and I wish those around the club would take a page out of their book going forward.

Don’t forget to secure your spot for Wrexham (h) on the final day by the way Yellow Army, never mind we lost in the last minute to Wealdstone, have not won in our last six games and are now seven points adrift of safety. Do we live in an alternate universe to them?


Of course, my main focus of attack goes to our silent owners, who seem content to let the club sink into the sixth tier of English Football with little but a whimper.

Let’s not forget that the owners brought in Gary to save the club from NLS oblivion and clearly provided him with financial backing in 2020 to get the club promoted to the EFL. It’s crystal clear that it was an “all or nothing approach” seeing the clubs reluctance to spend money and the quality of players that we’ve seen come into the club this season.

What other football club would allow a manager to stay in charge after just seven wins all season in the league? Not many, only poorly run ones.

Many questions still need to be asked as to their main goals and long-term commitment for our football club and most importantly our future. Are you still committed to financing the football club long term? Will we have a Torquay United Football Club to support in the next few years? What about the clubs debts? The Yellow Army have been incredibly loyal this season and we deserve to not be ignored or treated with distain.

The potential of this club is still excellent, should it be run in the right way. Just look at our away figures in recent weeks. 400 at Dorking, nearly 300 at Aldershot, probably 100-150 going to Gateshead this weekend, just imagine if we were well run how many we would take?

The club feels like it is freefalling into oblivion and I won’t stand for it. It’s time to focus our attention on the ownership of this club and I can’t highlight the importance enough of supporting the Torquay United Supporters Trust if you share my concerns of the direction of this football club.

We deserve better!!






3 thoughts on “TT BLOG by Thomas Kelly

  1. Good article but totally disagree with your sentments of getting behind the TUST as our potential saviours, optimistically they have 50K in the bank, in real terms less than one months running costs or six weeks in the south, after that, what, go to the bank for a loan with what assets to loan against. We could sell shares in the club but not at the price and not enough in number that would equate to a seasons running costs.


  2. Having supported the Gulls since 1963 and seeing a lot of the good and bad times times this 70 year old is heartbroken at the situation we are now in. The play off final against Hartlepool (thanks ref) seem to have been the turning point. For the following 2 seasons we have not been able to hold on to our best players which I put down to the lack of backing from our invisible owners. Hopefully we can get out of this mess & wish the lads good luck.


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