Thomas blogs about his best away days in a tough season supporting the Gulls
FC HALIFAX (A)
The first away day of the season, ironically turned out to be my favourite of the 22/23 season. A weekend trip planned as soon as the fixtures were announced with my good friend Alex, saw the Gulls survive a FC Halifax barrage to come back to Devon with 3 points. Despite rail strikes on the Saturday which thankfully did not impact our travels, Mark Halstead put on a masterclass in goalkeeping, making fantastic save after fantastic save to ensure the Gulls first victory of the campaign.
Let’s not forget the struggles that Mark had in the previous season and with many questioning his ability to be Torquay’s number one, he certainly silenced a lot of his doubters that day, me included. The reaction at full time from the fans to him was brilliant and despite the season we have had, he can hold his head up high and I generally would be disappointed to see him go in the summer.
Also did you know Halifax also has a gay bar? I didn’t, but it was welcome refuge from the almost 30c heat! Lovely town is Halifax.
HAMPTON & RICHMOND (A)
It was written in the stars (at least for me) to draw the Beavers in the FA Cup, having volunteered my services there for a while, knowing the wonderful people & volunteers who sadly have had to move on to other things, both home and away.
For me and my Hampton supporting friends, it didn’t much bigger than this, for everyone else, it was on paper, a game we should safely navigate to the first round. Of course, United made it hard work and recovered a replay after going 2-0 down to a spirited Beaver’s side.
The replay at the Bev was an interesting one. To draw Derby in the First Round Draw just added to the tension pre-match. I actually volunteered to help out prior to kick off before being relieved of my duties so that I could report the game on TorquayTalk twitter.
No segregation required, beers served pitch side and a busy crowd saw United fall behind in the first half, but after a questionable pass back decision from the ref, saw Dean Moxey level the scores to the relief of many behind the goal. A red card to loanee Dillon De Silva looked to have swung the game in the hosts favour but Aaron Jarvis headed home to take United into the First Round Proper and a lucrative TV tie at home to Derby County, this despite Hampton throwing everything at the Gulls and with Lovett making some excellent saves to deny our future NLS opponent’s an equaliser.
A sore one this. Leaving Moss Lane was pure dejection. A last-minute penalty denied the Gulls the comeback victory that all but sent the Gulls back to regional football and this away day is definitely remembered more so for the company around me rather than the 90 minutes of football.
A brilliant turnout of over 350 members of the Yellow Army, many via the Travel Club, many like myself and my mates Neil and Alex, making a weekend of it up north to enjoy the final venture past Oxford for hopefully just one season.
Some lovely pubs, plenty of beer, far too many Jager bombs and although relegation was all but a formality come full time, it’s the loyal support and being around good friends that made it one of the better away days for me this season. Asa’s second goal was a thing of pure beauty.
DERBY COUNTY (A)
It would definitely be wrong of me to not include the Gulls first ever trip to Pride Park. Will Goodwin’s late late equalising goal gave the Gulls a deserved replay in the First Round of the FA Cup, coming back from 2-0 down after the Rams had to play most of the second half with ten men.
I could have so easily saved my money and watched it on the tele, but this was a special occasion that many in Yellow just couldn’t miss. One could argue it was our first trip to a “big ground” since our replay with Birmingham City in 2006.
Despite a clear lack of interest from the people of Derby, United took almost 1,000 to the midlands and whilst Derby exploited our obvious flaws at the back, racing into a 3-0 lead at half time, assisted by Mark Ellis for their first, Torquay had their moments and deserved if nothing else, a goal that we deserved. It didn’t happen and Derby went on to comfortably beat us but it didn’t really matter.
This was our moment to enjoy playing at a decent ground and supporting the club we love. The full-time reaction from the fans was wonderful and I made sure to take in the surroundings of Pride Park deeply before leaving. Who knows how long it will be until we get our next proper FA Cup moment?
A 3am start (for work), bank holiday traffic jams on the M25 and three points for the Gulls. On the bounce of three consecutive wins, Torquay made it four in a row with a convincing 3-1 win at then, relegation rivals Maidenhead.
York Road is one of the oldest in English football and to be honest, it really could do with a bit of TLC. The away support did not let themselves down, travelling once again in superb numbers, an estimate (because Maidenhead couldn’t be bothered to count the away fans as they entered the stadium) of over 600 members of the Yellow Army who cheered their team on to victory, with Aaron Jarvis’s bullet header late into the first half and two goals for fans favourite Frank Nouble. We all left the ground feeling that the Great Escape was well and truly on.
It’s the hope that kills you.