Dom blogs about the Gulls
BACK FROM THE BRINK?
Torquay United are a strange and frustrating animal. This club we all love has a habit of letting us down when we expect better, and then wagging their tail just when we’ve pretty much written them off. The latter applies to the last two games. I don’t think anyone could find optimism after the Daggers defeat, that loss appeared to be the final nail in our NL coffin. Would it kill off the team’s morale for good and mean a funeral march into the last 8 games? The answer from Gary Johnson’s men has been an abrupt no, there is still life, there is still a glimmer of hope…even if the odds are still stacked against us, we have something to cling to heading into Good Friday.
What’s been the reasons for two games won? A change in shape has worked for a start, taking Marshall out (too many mistakes) and moving to a 3 at the back has helped us gain 2 rare clean sheets, with Mark Halstead making some smart stops as well. We have experience and work rate in midfield with Dawson and Hall digging in, energy on the flanks from Collins and Stobbs, and two strong strikers up top holding up the ball and making themselves a nuisance. Nothing mind blowing, after all United did only grind out these wins, but more character and leadership to get the job done.
Frank Nouble has quickly endeared himself to the Yellow Army with his Social Media bravado, and on Saturday he cleverly found space, gained Torquay yards, territory, and played a part in the sweetly manoeuvred winning goal finished by Lewis Collins. He comes fresh and not ground down by a season of despair, bringing new belief to a dressing room that has been sorely lacking it for most of the season. He’s someone we’d happily have back next season (along with Dawson), but the chances are fairly remote if the National League South is to be our destination. Enjoy him whilst you can.
It’s no surprise either that Asa Hall’s comeback has given us a lift. I was hoping the skipper would return from injury sooner, the cost of his lay off could be counted week after week, especially with Brett McGavin and Ryan Hanson struggling so badly. Unfortunately needing the skipper to play a big part throughout the season is not a sustainable plan, so failing to recruit a proper back up for Asa last summer is not good enough. Another veteran, Dean Moxey, has stretched every sinew to help his team mates and will likely play over 40 games this season at the age of 37. Two great professionals who will give it their all until the bitter end.
Other people who will keep up their commitment to Torquay United are the Yellow Army. Two games in 5 days and two tremendous away followings willing their team onto victories. These supporters refuse to admit defeat on this season and their football club, and they deserved something to cheer about for their efforts. The support has been very good all round this season, away and home. At Plainmoor there could easily have been a very negative and toxic atmosphere, but the crowd have continued to try and propel their team on, only to be sadly disappointed again and again. The fanbase are loyal, dedicated and are the heart of the club. We will not stop caring about Torquay United.
Does Clarke Osborne understand the passion of the Yellow Army? Why would he? I’m not sure he’s ever been to Plainmoor for a game. The owners would rather keep us at arms length than fully harness our support. Despite the efforts of the local press, no statement has been incoming about Clarke’s future intentions and the recent financial statements. Will something arrive once the dust has settled, re-iterating continued backing for the club, and continued full-time playing staff (if our destination is to be the NLS)? Perhaps. With nothing heard since September it’s hard to 2nd guess him. I doubt we’ll find out any more until the league positions are decided and decisions have been made. Whatever lies ahead from the owners, I’d recommend joining the TUST, real supporters who always have our best interests at heart.
But enough of the National League South references for now, there is still 6 matches to be played and still a chance for the Gulls to salvage the season. With the team finding some much-needed bottle, Eastleigh (h) and Maidenhead (a) are two winnable Easter fixtures. At Plainmoor, the team must get over the scars from those four 2-1 defeats (makes me shudder just mentioning them), win one and another victory cheered on by the travelling Yellow Army is possible. Forget the chocolate, only 6 points will do for us, so get to Plainmoor on Friday if you can, forget grumbles about Gary Johnson, the owners and whatever else, and get behind these lads. It’s all we can do. Prayer mats at the ready people!