|The club were
formed when the College boys from the academic seats of learning at
Torquay and Torbay got together to see a band in Princess Gardens (she
was a big girl !). In front of them, the 1899 equivalent of A
Flock of Seagulls strutted their stuff, while the lads agreed to put
their resources together to play football on a regular basis.
From 1910 to
1921, they played under the name of Torquay Town, before becoming United
in their name and approach.
It was in 1927
that the club were elected to the League and that took a second ballot,
when they beat Aberdare Athletic to a place in the League. The
lure of the club is obviously a strong one as managers have flocked form
all over the world to take charge at Plainmoor. Percy Mackrill was
born in East Africa and Jack Butler in Colombo before ending up in the
Torquay hot seat.
The club has
never won a major title, but the heyday for the side was in the late
1960's when they got promoted from the old Fourth Division twice. This coincided
with the club's fans being voted the "Best Behaved Supporters In
The League". They always liked to get behind the Gulls and
that is why they changed ends at half time.
A few strange
things have happened at the Devon club since Mike Bateson took over as
Chairman. He went through a period of carrying out media
interviews with a ventriloquist's dummy and also banned players shooting
at goal in the pre-match kick about. This was because a fan was
hit by a wayward shot that knocked a hot drink out of her hand and there
were fears that their poor aim could leave them open to regular
insurance claims. There was no truth that he banned them from the
same activity during the match though.
players have been quick on the score though. Pat Kruse was playing
against Cambridge in January 1977, when he scored in six seconds. Unfortunately,
it was at the wrong end !! However, more to their advantage, Sammy
Collins scored a penalty in 10 seconds after kick off against Walsall in
August 1956. That was hardly time for an offence to be committed !!
The 80's were a
lean time and the only high point was when Maurice Cox became the first
professional player to take part in the Oxford v Cambridge Universities
The Devon club
had a couple of lucky escapes to avoid relegation. Firstly, in
1987, a police dog called Bryn bit Torquay player John McNichol and the
time while he was receiving treatment was added onto the end of the
second half. This was just enough time for the home side to get an
equaliser against Crewe Alexandra that kept them up and sent Lincoln
City into the Conference on goal difference. The dog was feted
among the local fans and was given a free season ticket for life and
when he died, the club had him stuffed and he takes pride of place in
the boardroom. Nine years later Torquay retained their League
place because Stevenage Borough were not considered to have a ground
suitable for League purposes and were denied promotion. This
enraged the Stevenage chairman so much that he offered to buy Torquay's
place in the League from them !!
through to a play-off final at Wembley in 1991, the match went to a
penalty shoot-out against Blackpool, where it was their goalkeeper -
Gareth Howells (brother of Spurs midfielder David) - who converted the
winning penalty to take them to the old Division 3.
The move to the
Plainmoor ground was on condition that it was always open to the general
public for recreational purposes. Literally, this means that you
can have access to the pitch at any time of day or night !!
last day escape in season 2000-2001 at Barnet, who went into the
Conference instead, new manager Roy McFarland will be hoping to avoid
the same fate, but lack of funds makes it difficult for him to recruit
quality players and he tried to make the best of the players
available to him, but it even proved too much for him. A
succession of managers has tried to take the Gulls out of the Third
Division, but their main fame these days is for being the club that
Helen Chamberlain supports. Unfortunately, they did get out of the
fourth tier of football in 2006-07, but it was in the wrong direction,
as they dropped out of the league and into the Conference, failing in
the play-off semi-finals to get back into League Two, just a week before
failing to beat Ebbsfleet United at Wembley in the FA Trophy.
: - Colin Lee, Neville Southall, Chris Waddle, Ed Blackhead, Dennis Lewis, Colin
Famous Fans : - Helen
Chamberlain (Sky TV presenter - "Soccer AM"); Andy PArsons
(comedian - "Mock The Week" [BBC TV])