The Ed talks about the Gulls
TRYING TO MOVE ON
When the Gulls season was finished with relegation at Plainmoor a few weeks ago it hit me hard. Perhaps it shouldn’t have done, after all for much of 22-23 it looked on the cards, I sat through the 4 game shambles that was (in no particular order) Southend, Wealdstone, Dagenham and Bromley, but when it actually happened I could not hold back the sadness (there was no tears mind you!).
For Torquay United to drop down to the National League South once is bad, for it to happen again only 5 years later is absolutely embarrassing. To compound matters the club seemingly wanted to sugar-coat over the hurt of relegation and hours later Gary Johnson was all in for 2023-24, just as I thought he might be all out. Very little responsibility taken, no apologies made, here’s what’s going to happen.
I don’t mean to sound overly harsh about Gary, my head tells me that he can indeed bring us back up and the early signings we have made will make Torquay United into a strong NLS outfit. But…my bruised heart longed for a change after this terrible failure. Tactical innovation and imagination to give me something else to look at whilst I’m sat in Bristow’s. New and contrasting players to help me ease past this relegation lethargy, a revamped and different Torquay United with ideas that could set my pulses races this summer. A wave of change and new fun soundbites I could jump on.
Instead, the faces remain much the same throughout the club. It’s clear that the owners and Gary Johnson will push for short term success, which can only be achieved through promotion at the first attempt. At the start of this regional journey, I can appreciate the character that the likes of Asa Hall, Dean Moxey, Kevin Dawson and Tom Lapslie will bring again next season, I can appreciate Mark Halstead, Bradley Ash and Jack Stobbs being very solid NLS signings. What I’m struggling to get excited about is this very familiar Torquay United being a member of the NLS.
I guess part of this stems from the fact that the club are not at the start of an adventurous new era of leadership – where a new brave young squad is being assembled by an intriguing new manager who is there to tackle the project for years to come. The club and it’s owners are not that forward thinking, and understandably they just want the quickest route back to the NL. At his age Gary Johnson has no interest in anything apart from the present, and making sure his Gulls legacy isn’t tarnished too much by this relegation. ‘Get me the players who will get me results straight away, we’ll deal with the following season when it comes around’. It is what it is.
That doesn’t mean we can’t have an enjoyable time in the NLS of course. With what’s already in place I think we can be confident of being amongst the division’s front runners, we can count on localish away fixtures and we can count on the fantastic Yellow Army making many seem like a Gulls home game. They can also count on my support, as my season ticket has been renewed for a 19th year in a row. Torquay United have my allegiance whatever division they are in, this is my club and being within the Yellows community is a massive part of who I am. Whoever manages the Gulls and whoever plays, they will have my support week after week – August to April/May year after year.
I remain in mourning for our National League place, but I promise you my energy and enthusiasm for 23-24 will build by the time our pre-season friendlies arrive in July and I get to see you lovely people again! By then I hope to view some different types of characters roll into Plainmoor. We’ve got ‘workmanlike’ down to a tee already, let’s have flair and personality, players who aren’t afraid to try different things and bring smiles to our faces. I have no particular concerns for next season, but unlike in higher leagues, I demand to not only see wins, but to be entertained. Make our season ticket worth it’s money Gary and find us some new heroes, I think our unswerving loyalty to Torquay United deserves it. Moving on? I’ll get there.