Opposition in Focus – Torquay United
Next up in our look at the new opposition we will be taking on in the 2019/20 season, National League South Champions Torquay United…
Manager: Gary Johnson
Chairmen: Clarke Osbourne
2018/19: 1st (National League South)
Overview: After being formed in 1899, Torquay United FC moved into their current home Plainmoor 11 years later in 1910, a ground they originally shared with Babbacombe FC. Having both competed in the Plymouth and District League the two sides merged in 1921, enabling the new club to become professional and the Torquay United that we know today to be born.
Despite having never competed in the same league, Town and Torquay do have history after being paired with each other in the First Round of the 2005/06 FA Cup. After a 1-1 draw at Plainmoor, the sides played out a goalless draw at The CNG Stadium in the Replay, with The Football League side emerging victorious via a penalty shoot-out, though that was not the last of their cup clashes.
Before the sides would meet again, United were relegated from League Two in 2007 - bringing an end to 80 years in the Football League, finishing bottom of League Two by 11 points. The Gulls made it into the Play-Offs in their first year in the Blue Square Premier, but lost out to Exeter City in the Semi-Final. They still managed to reach Wembley in that same season, though a 1-0 FA Trophy Final defeat to Ebbsfleet United ended any hope of silverware.
Seven years after their first meeting, Town and Torquay were again paired in the FA Cup First Round, though this time it was Town who would progress as Simon Weaver’s side secured a memorable 1-0 win in Devon.
The 2018/19 season saw Torquay gain their first promotion since 2009 and their first league title since 1927 with an impressive 88 points.
Gary Johnson has overseen the Gulls since September 2018 and was given the challenge of instant promotion last campaign, something he achieved with three games to go. Having taken charge of over 1,000 games in his managerial career, Johnson’s previous positions include Cambridge United, Kettering Town, Watford, Latvia, Yeovil, Bristol City, Peterborough United, Northampton Town and Cheltenham Town. Before his managerial career, Johnson signed for Watford as an apprentice at sixteen and turned professional at the age of eighteen, before leaving Vicarage Road to play in Sweden for Malmö FF. Johnson then returned to England, playing for Soham Town Rangers, Newmarket Town and Cambridge United, before spending the next six years earning his coaching badges and taking his first managerial job at Newmarket Town in 1986.
Jamie Reid – Having signed permanently for the club last season, after multiple loan spells, Reid adds pace and trickery to Torquay’s squad and can play either out wide or through the middle. Having proven himself as a goalscorer at National League South level, netting 29 last season, the Torquay-born forward will now be looking to replicate that on his return to Non-League’s top tier.
Asa Hall - Hall, 31, brings a wealth of experience to the Torquay midfield having made over 300 first team appearances for the likes of Luton Town, Oxford United, Shrewsbury, and Cheltenham. Hall has also played at National League level before, having turned out for Barrow in the 2017/18 season in which he played his part in saving the club from relegation having made 37 appearances and scoring three goals.
Ones to Watch
Kyle Cameron - Cameron, 21, joined Torquay in the summer of 2018 after spending his youth career with Newcastle United where, during his time at The Magpies, he spent time on loan at Workington, York City, and Queen of the South. Cameron’s defensive displays last season earned himself a place in the National League South Team of the Season, further cementing his reputation as an exciting prospect for the Gulls.
by Isaac Martin