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Torquay - Gulls and Glory

Started on 28 January 2020 by Aaron
Latest Reply on 1 March 2020 by Justice
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Monthly Review - January

This month, you can find the copy of our January fixture list towards the bottom of the update, due to not wanting to spoil what is easily the best update of our story so far. As you all know we began the month at Hartlepool but I want to take you through the FA Cup 3rd Round tie before anything.

We played Wycombe only once before and beat them 3-2, albeit in a non competitive friendly but we know we can be as good as them so there was no reason we didn't have a chance to beat them at home.

Everything was in place for a good spectacle in my biggest game yet and it was looking as though we may have peaked early when Gribbin gave us the lead on 11 minutes, only for it to be snatched away right before half time. Still, the score was level and we were looking like the better team in all departments so "same again" was the half time message to the boys.

Same again I got. Armani Little literally scored from kick off in the second half to give us the lead and it was only another 5 minutes before Whitfield got his right foot on the end of a defensive header and buried it into the top corner of the net at the goal keepers near post. It was an absolute screamer.

3-1 up, we had a foot and a half through the door. Our place in the 4th round was all but confirmed by Armando Broja's goal in the 84th minute managing to latch on to a leaping Gribbin header.

Only 2 minutes later, we had a 5th goalscorer for the game. Kevin Kalala, never one to pass up an empty net he managed to get on the end of a scrambling ball which came swinging in from Gribbin's corner.

5-1, FT. We were into the 4th round and I couldn't believe my eyes. The boys had played superbly, and gotten one of the clubs best ever results in a cup tie.

The 4th round draw was unkind, pitting us against Crystal Palace. Not one to shy away from a challenge, we welcomed them to Plainmoor knowing full well we could do the business.

It began as a cagey affair, neither side really had much of the ball in a technical sense. It was a physical game with second balls flying around after many 50/50 challenges. Due to Callum's well known free kick taking ability we know that this is our kind of game to take advantage of and as the clock struck 13' he whipped home a glorious free kick into Guaita's top right corner.

Having once again scored early we were looking to shut things down at the other end in order to wear the Championship side down to give us any kind of leeway. On 24' minutes a loose ball cannoning off Novella's legs fell right to the feet of Jamie Reid. One on one, there was only a single out come. 2-0.

4 minutes later, Callum Gribbin scored his second of the match leaving myself and the rest of the Torquay fans utterly gobsmacked. At this point, I think pretty much the entire ground was probably silent from shock.

The second half was a dull affair, and one in which neither side saw many chances go their way but some how for the 4th time in the game, right at the depth Kevin Kalala found his way in for a 2nd in two cup matches.

I still can't quite believe the outcome of the first game, let alone the second. But here we are, 5th rounders.

You won't have seen me mention much about the league because although it was another mixed batch, there were barely any games due to all of our FA Trophy replays in which we will play either York or Notts County in the quarters.

Still very much on course to win the league we're looking like we have everything it takes to see this through to the glorious end in April. Our focus was shifted to the cups this month and I believe that's why we took a small hit in league form but it's nothing to worry about just yet.

5 points clear with a game in hand does not make for bad reading, and I couldn't ask for a great deal more after the amazing start to the year that we've had. Begin as you mean to go on.
Wow! What a couple of results! That Palace win is remarkable and the money that must be coming in from this run will be huge! Great work!
LFC: It's generated enough to get us 200K out of the red, so I'm looking forward to Burnley!!
Just read through this, you've had a brilliant second season here! Par for the course in the league and working miracles in the FA Cup! Bring on Burnley... Also Callum Gribbin is a tremendous signing, how's that one happened!?

Monthly Review - February

That seals it then for February. Right at the depth we book our place in the FA Trophy semi finals where we will play Bromley. We've absolutely embarrassed York in their own back yard and this puts us in the favourites position to go on an win the cup. I'm really hoping to make this tournament a success. After our FA Cup run I feel like some form of silverware from a domestic cup is warranted, given that I may not get the chance to win the cup again, it's one I want to add to the cabinet.

Barrow and Nuneaton occupy the other slot.

In other news Dover finally managed to beat us. We'll be hoping it'll be the last time this season but that does bring them slightly back into the title challenge fold. Though, we still have 2 games in hand so it's unlikely they''ll be able mount any real pressure on top.

During the Maidenhead game in which we lost as well we unfortunately suffered big injuries to Gribbin and Brahimi, our two best players. This means they'll be out for the Burnley game.

The good thing is though I've been keeping tabs on both and their contracts run out at the end of the season so I'm hoping we can all strike agreements with player and club to bring them in for next season in League Two. They're both brilliant players and I'd expect them to do well at this level.

We're still ploughing ahead but to be fair Dover really are putting up a fight. It'll be good to see how they do in the play offs. I think out of everyone in the top 7 they're the ones I'd like to see reach league football.
2020-01-31 18:49#266083 Imagine : Just read through this, you've had a brilliant second season here! Par for the course in the league and working miracles in the FA Cup! Bring on Burnley... Also Callum Gribbin is a tremendous signing, how's that one happened!?

Honestly mate when I saw him on the loan list I jokingly tried to sign him and the report said he was interested so...Some how I managed to pick him up. Hopefully if we get him on a free we can get a loan spot back and find someone else just as good to join him next year!!
Incredible stuff in the FA Cup. It's a shame Gribbin in particular will be missing for the Burnley clash. However, progress has been made in every way possible. This has been a truly remarkable season.
Ronaldo Jones would be proud.
Top of the league, six points clear, and two games in hand. It's almost unfair! A shame that Gribbin and Brahimi will miss the massive FA Cup game, but after the Palace result, nobody is doubting you can't pull it off!

Monthly Review - March

It's absolutely no doubt that we've been a force to be reckoned with in the FA cup this year even for the bigger sides in England. We've beaten so far 3 league clubs in Gillingham, Wycombe, and Crystal Palace and Burnley would be the next scalp we aim to take from the football league.

As you can see, our luck has finally run out in this competition and we were shafted aside by Burnley's front man Chris Wood who scored a hattrick in this one. The main thing is for this cup run to come to an end, it means we finalise a 5th round finish which for finances is utterly fantastic. The team have worked so hard and because of their efforts in cup football it means we'll probably have a better chance at staying up next year.

As always, not to be messed with during the league. Aldershot managed to overcome us 1-0 and although that was a shame it made worry very little. Because of our performances elsewhere we end the month needing only 3 points from the next 5 games to win the league.

One more win means the league title but it also breaks a long standing Torquay record of 27 games won in a single season. We are obviously equal with that record.

We currently stand to be the least losses in a Torquay season as well currently having lost only 6 times.

The 89 points we've already accumulated as well means we've broken the clubs total points haul record for a single season. With 104 points still to accumulate I want go as high as possible to secure a record that dare I say might never be broken again by us if we're to rise up the leagues.

Our performances in the FA Trophy were no different to every other. Of course the semi finals mean two legs, and lucky too. A red card in our first game knocked us a little for 6 as we gave a penalty away just a few minutes later and found ourselves behind. We were still well in the game having been on top in every aspect despite the extra man in their favour.

We equalised late on which levelled the aggregate scoreline 1-1 and we were certain that with a fully fleshed out team Bromley would be no match in the next leg. I was correct. Despite playing infront of the majority of opposing fans we were able to put in a result of the highest performance winning 3-1 on the night and securing our place against Barrow.

One more win before we win the league and lets be honest, I think we all know it will probably come sooner or later so the party hats have been ordered by our chairman from Tesco click and collect and I'll be pitching in with some sainsbury's finest cocktail sausages.

The FA Trophy will be played at Wembley Stadium during the middle of may after the leagues play off final.

Monthly Review - April | Season Finale

Boy do I have a busy update for you now. Aside from our FA Cup updates I can understand that maybe winning all the time can get a little stale and since that's what we were doing pretty much all year I'm glad to bring you a few bits of additional things that went on at the end of this season aside from that.

We absolutely smashed Harrogate 4-1 and yes that means we are now Champions of the Vanarama National League. Unfortunately between games Jamie Reid was injured for 4 months which means he missed the final and the league run in. He was unfortunately overtaken in the goals department sadly but I've no doubt had he been available he could've capped off the season with a golden boot.

Borja stepped in very well for him though finishing the season himself on 22 goals. By comparison Jamie Reid had 29 in all competitions. He even got a wonderful hattrick against Harrogate in the league winning game, scoring some lovely goals.

We ended the season on a huge high not letting up and winning our last 3 games.

The obvious event of the month (I'm merging May and April due to one game) was the Barrow result in the FA Trophy. Another piece of silverware to bring back to Plainmoor I'm absolutely over the moon. Brahimi scored early on but Barrow were quick to equalise ten minutes later.

It was smooth sailing for a while being fully in control of the game and Whitfield capitalised with a lovely head from Callum Gribbin's corner who might I add only returned this month to put in performances worthy of the highest praise.

Brahimi finished them off with a cool 86th minute penalty, and the cup was won!! A brilliant ending to an even more wonderful season.

101 points is absolutely unreal, we've been absolutely ruthless all year and it's clear to see for all. Joining us in League 2 next year will be Dover and I believe this will be their first ever year in the Football League so it will be nice to see how they do. I'm glad they're following us up.

Jamie Reid narrowly misses out on the golden boot by only 1 goal, and Callum Gribbin is just pipped to player of the season by Bromley's Reeco Hacket. Though there was one individual award of note...

As I win Manager of the Season, Callum Gribbin does win the fans over as their player of the season. He broke 2 records this year being most assists with 14, and most MOTM performances with 7.

Having won the league so early the board were quick to announce their pleasure at knowing we'll be going up the leagues next season but as ever they were also quick to outline the expectations for next season and they left a little message attached which came as a great surprise.

Yep, out of no where the board plan for our first stadium expansion of the save! I didn't even have to ask, but this adds to one of the many many positives of the year and it's more than welcome in my inbox - Provided finances continue to remain stable.

The board are asking a lot of me in terms of play style but that's probably largely down to the fact that this is how we played all year. Though next season we'll be in a much tougher league and I don't know how easy it will be to play attacking football all year in League 2.

Avoiding relegation seems standard and it's certainly my standard. If we can secure Gribbin and Brahimi from their loans I think we can definitely do it provided we get the right additions in other areas.

Thanks for reading through this season guys, next one will be a lot more difficult so thank you for any more continued support! See you next time for a summer transfer special...
What a season and your manager of the season award is certainly merited. You arguably have the ability to survive with the squad at hand now, so with a few additions in the summer you could easily stabilise yourself in League Two at the very minimum. Torquay are back to where they belong, you could say!
Well, there goes that FA Cup money ;) In all seriousness, an incredible year for you. Winning the league and the FA Trophy with one of the best Non-League FA Cup runs in recent memory. Sure the additional seats will be filled out next season in League 2 and hopefully if you can keep a hold of Gribbin and Brahimi, we cann see you challenge for that league title sooner rather than later!
Scott: Looking at how the squad is set out, I reckon we've got everything it takes to stay up even with out Callum. Hopefully we make the right additions to be a competitive side in League Two.

LFC: Definitely one of the best Non-League seasons I've seen, the best for me personally. Climbing to league Two would be hard but I'm under no illusions that it will be easy.

Transfers & Pre-Season

Although we're on the back of an amazing season, promotion to a higher league unfortunately means that improvements must be made and players will have to leave. I will be aiming to keep around the same group of players but it'll be no surprise to realise that some of the lads just aren't League 2 first team quality.

So with that being said lets have a look at each signing.

A player I can't quite believe Chelsea let go on a free. Although only 18 xavier looks like he could be a top talent one day and already looks like a League 2 level player thanks to those strong physical attributes he has. With a high number in determination I'll be expecting performances in training so I'm justified in bringing him off the bench at some point to see out some matches.

I think this guy can go far.

Ronan Darcy looks like a fantastic addition all round. Looking at Armani Little again, despite his fantastic performances these last two years I just don't feel like he's got what it takes so although he's out of the first team contention he will still be a nice backup.

So Ronan Darcy is one of the first to join on loan from Bolton, he'll start a lot this year. Hopefully he'll be our 2021/22 Callum Gribbin.

Matt Dolan is the second midfielder to join the club but this guy comes in permanently on a free contract. I believe Matt Dolan to be almost as good as Darcy adding a blend of experience too which will be vital in some of the tougher games this year.

There's not much to say about Jakub. The former Liverpool man comes in to replace Scott MacDonald on the bench as out back up goalkeeper. He's not the best around and probably won't play much unless we lose Jack Rose but nonetheless, welcome to Torquay.

Martin Smith has joined us as the 3rd midfielder of the summer. He goes straight into the first team with Darcy but aside from that automatically becomes Jamie Reid's understudy as vice-captain. A fantastic looking central midfielder that will be crucial to the survival effort this year and I'm looking forward to working with him.

Deji joins from Man United on another free contract to provide even more back up to our wingers. We've a lot of wingers at the club now but I've no issue with that as they're going to be very important to our system all the same as last year.

Kyron is our new second choice right back to Ben Wynter. It's likely he'll start a few games toward the beginning of the season because Wynter is injured so maybe he'll be able to put up a fight for the first choice slot? So far no ones been able to knock Wynter out of it. Looking forward to finally having a decent second right back after two years.

Layton comes in from Liverpool and is widely regarded as what might be our best signing this summer. With Koszela leaving I always look to have at least 3 strikers but instead of finding one just as pure back up I think we've found a potential first team starter. Sorry Jamie, sorry Borja. It's going to be tough for you to break this guy I think.

Yan Dhanda is the last signing of the window and like Stewart - One of the best. He comes in permanently from Swansea to replace Callum Gribbin who unfortunately was not allowed to come back from Sheffield United due to them wanting to play with higher quality players.

This makes even more sense when you see that he'll be playing against us soon in the exact same league for Southend.

A very sincere fuck you FM.

Anyway, Dhanda looks like brilliant quality for this league and I think I'll be moving players around to slot him in on the left wing ahead of Whitfield instead of through the middle.

Onto loan renewals, you'll be happy to know that Clements, Lewis, Brahimi and Broughton all renewed their loan contracts and will play with us this year.

Pre-Season this year was definitely the best we've had yet. I wanted to really put the boys through it with lots of games in preparation for the higher intensity of League Two and it's looking like they had no trouble adapting.

Eagle eyed viewers will see we even played against Salisbury and drew...The Bastards.

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