DECLINE 0F GULLS SAD, BUT IT IS NO SURPRISE
IT’S sad to see Torquay return to the Conference. I was at Wembley the day they fought their way out, Chris Hargreaves’ thumping drive and Tim Sills’ soaring header sealing a 2-0 win over Cambridge. Though it was 2009, it feels like last week. To their supporters, that sun-dappled afternoon must seem like a different century. This, though, is the sad reality of life in the furthest flung corner of the British Isles.
Unlike cashstrapped clubs in Manchester or London, the Gulls do not have a steady stream of academy rejects begging for a game. The nearest Premier League club is Southampton, three hours and 130 miles away.
They can find local players easy enough, but 16 of the requisite quality? That’s tough. The only way is to grow your own or pay outsiders handsomely. And without serious backing – which Torquay do not have – both are impossible.
Even then, it may not be enough – I remember striker Billy Kee telling me that no amount of cash would have persuaded him to stay at Plainmoor. He was a 21year-old city boy marooned in an isolated seaside town. He was bored stiff. If attracting players is hard, keeping them is even harder.
These are issues that the vast majority of clubs simply do not face. And unless an oligarch retires to Devon, it is had to see Torquay ever surmounting them. BRISTOL CITY manager Steve Cotterill once told me he seen didn’t want to be
as a fire fighter. “You can get tags said. in football,” he
“You can be a relegation a man who goes specialist, trouble. in and saves clubs
I don’t want in known that. I want to be
as a winner.” Which is unfortunate. now added City
Because having to recent rescue mis-sionsat Nottingham Portsmouth, Forest and
it’s fair to say that Cotterill is currently
the Football League’s
version of Red Adair.
GOAL HERO: Chris Hargreaves