Sunday, September 17, 2017

A new chapter... Gary Owers appointed Head Coach

After a protracted recruitment process (over 3 weeks, in which the Gulls played 6 matches since the sacking of Kevin Nicholson), Gary Owers has been appointed as Head Coach (manager) of Torquay United.

Gary Owers played for Sunderland (appearing in the 1992 FA Cup Final) and also played for Bristol City; Notts County; Forest Green Rovers and Bath City.

He became a player-coach at Bristol City before starting his managerial career at Forest Green Rovers in 2005. He joined Aldershot Town as assistant manager and helped guide the team to tge League 2 play-offs.

Gary Owers will need to call upon all of that experience as he joins the Gulls after a disastrous start to the 2017/18 season. After 10 games the Gulls had yet to win.

20AFC Fylde1013181012288-211
22Solihull Moors1011357104511-87
24Torquay United1003247005616-133

Gulls fans everywhere will welcome Gary Owers to Plainmoor and will hope that he can orchestra a change in the Gulls fortunes after a tumultuous few years.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Out of the frying pan...

On Saturday 29 April 2017, once again Torquay United went into the final game of the season fighting against relegation. Showing grit and determination, the Gulls recorded their third consecutive victory to save themselves the indignity of slipping into regional division of lower league football.

In doing so, Kevin Nicholson and the players had to overcome a season full of off-field turmoil. After years of mismanagement a prolonged takeover (initially announced on 20 December 2016 but not ratified until 27 February 2017) of the club was completed by Gaming International. On one hand we should be grateful to Gaming International as it was only loans that they made to the club, that saved Torquay United from administration and the inevitable associated points deduction.

However, in saving their status in the National League, a lot of supporters are left wondering if it is a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Gaming International (GI) purport to be a company for the management and operation of greyhound and speedway racing tracks, but really appear to be property developers and responsible for a series of failed plans to develop new stadiums.

Their track record is not promising:
  • Clark Osborne – the owner of GI and current chairman of Torquay United – was a director of Bristol Stadium PLC who in 1986, forced Bristol Rovers (through rent increases) out of their Eastville Stadium before selling the stadium to IKEA. The plan at that stage was to build a new greyhound stadium but that never came to fruition. Instead they moved the greyhound racing organisation from Bristol to Swindon.
  • However, in 2014, announced that planning permission had been granted to build houses on the Swindon greyhound track. Again, the plan was to build a new stadium, but three years later there is still no sign of the stadium being developed.
  • A similar experience has taken place at Reading. This time Gaming International took over the greyhound and speedway stadium, announcing plans to build a new stadium and casino complex. However, they then shutdown the Reading Racers speedway team.
  • In 1995, GI took over Poole Stadium PLC and the running of the greyhound racing and speedway team based there; the stadium being the former home of Poole Town football club. Poole Town have turned around their fortunes this year and have been chasing promotion into the National League. However, for Poole Town to progress they need a stadium that is compliant with the league standards. Despite expressing an interest in hosting Poole Town, GI as yet have announced any plans to help the football club back to their former home.
In the case of Torquay United, the announcement of taking over the club was tied into the prospect of developing a new stadium and GI are believed to have been involved in discussions with the local council to take over the freehold of the Plainmoor Stadium.

The next few weeks will be crucial for the future of Torquay United, and what supporters can expect from the new owners. The club is in desperate need of investment for it to start working its way back up the football league pyramid. With so much uncertainty and rumours facing the club, GI must be seen to publicly back the club financially and through their interaction with fans.

One thing is certain… it is never dull being a Torquay United supporter.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Escape from oblivion

Torquay  United are past masters at the great escape, but the 2015/16 season may prove to be the greatest escape yet completed.

Previous Great Escapes

  • The 1986/87 season saw the start of automatic relegation into the Conference League. With the final game of the season to go, Torquay were second from bottom on 47 points, below them was Burnley on 46 points. Lincoln City had 48 points and seemed in least danger. The final game was against Crewe Alexandra at Plainmoor. At half-time Crewe were leading 2-0. Two minutes into the second-half Torquay's centre-half, Jim McNichol, scores from a free kick. Despite an all-out attack, Torquay seem unable to get the equaliser - even hitting the crossbar. Seven minutes from time a piece of football folklore was created. A police dog by the name of Bryn believed that Jim McNichol was running to attack his handler, and sinks his teeth into the centre-half's thigh. It was from the resultant four minutes of injury time that Paul Dobson scored the goal that kept them in the Football League.
  • At the end of the 1995/86 season, Torquay United finished bottom of Division Three, but were saved from automatic relegation from the Football League when Stevenage's ground was deemed unfit for League Football.
  • The final game of the 2000/2001 season was Torquay United away at Barnet. Before the start of the game Barnet were bottom of the Third Division, and one point ahead of them was Torquay United. The Gulls needed to avoid defeat to keep their League status, Barnet needed to win. Goals from Jason Rees, Kevin Hill and David Graham gave the Gulls a 3-0 half-time and goalkeeper Stuart Jones had saved a penalty. Despite a fierce second-half comeback the Gulls won 3-2 and ensure League football for another season. 
  • In the 2005/06 season, Ian Atkins took over as manger the Gulls when they were 5 points adrift at the foot of League 2, with only 6 games of the season left:

Rushen & Diamonds
Torquay United

Following four consecutive victories, the Gulls went into the final day of the season as one of 7 clubs facing possible relegation out of the Football League. The Gulls needed one point to ensure safety, which was achieved following a goalless draw at home to Boston United.

Torquay United461313205366-1352
Notts County461216184863-1552
Stockport County461119165778-2152
Oxford United461116194357-1449
Rushden & Diamonds461112234476-3245

The 2015/16 season

The 2015/16 season was proving to be a tumultuous season for the Gulls. A new inexperienced board of directors were struggling to financially keep the Gulls afloat. The decision to appoint Kevin Nicholson as player/manager was met with wide-spread derision. However with quiet determination, Kevin and his team of backroom staff set about organising a revolution. Despite being inexperienced as a manager, cleared out a number of under performing players and brought in his own team of players.
Image result for kevin nicholson manager

A series of postponements meant that despite Kevin Nicholson's best efforts, the Gulls slipped to the bottom of the Vanarma National League, and many fans feared a slip into the football obscurity of National League South and the ensuing financial ruin of the club.
On 16 February 2016, Torquay United were rooted to the bottom of the league and 12 points from safety:
Pl W D L F A W L D F A GD Pts
19 Altrincham 32 6 5 4 20 23 2 4 11 11 31 -23 33
20 Boreham Wood 32 3 6 8 14 19 4 5 6 13 14 -6 32
21 FC Halifax Town 31 3 8 6 26 36 4 1 9 17 28 -21 30
22 Welling United 31 4 5 7 17 22 2 3 10 8 21 -18 26
23 Kidderminster Harriers 32 4 3 9 16 22 1 5 10 16 29 -19 23
24 Torquay United 29 2 2 9 14 27 2 6 8 18 32 -27 20
Two months later, having displayed almost promotion winning form (played 15, won 9, drew 3. lost 3 goals for 17, goals against 11, points total 30), the Gulls position was confirmed and the the league table looked like:
Pl W D L F A W L D F A GD Pts
17 Torquay United 44 7 4 11 24 31 6 7 9 25 39 -21 50
18 Chester 44 8 8 6 39 27 4 4 14 22 41 -7 48
19 Guiseley 44 7 7 8 29 35 3 9 10 14 31 -23 46
20 Boreham Wood 44 4 7 11 17 24 6 7 9 23 25 -9 44
21 FC Halifax Town 43 6 8 7 34 42 5 2 15 19 39 -28 43
22 Altrincham 44 7 9 6 29 30 2 5 15 14 40 -27 41
23 Kidderminster Harriers 44 5 6 11 20 28 3 6 13 24 39 -23 36
24 Welling 44 5 6 11 21 30 3 5 14 14 35 -30 35

Once again there is talk of new owners taking over the Gulls, but on the basis of this, the greatest of escapes, surely Kevin Nicholson and his coaching staff should be allowed to continue their revolution and bring further success to the Gulls.