Western Morning News


- RICHARD HUGHES richard.hughes@reachplc.com

TORQUAY United manager Gary Johnson is still waiting to see what will happen with the National League season after the clubs were asked to vote to determine its future last week.

All 24 National League clubs were given a vote on whether the season should continue when it can, or be stopped now and start again afresh. The North and South divisions were given four votes each – but quite how that works remains to be seen, as there are 22 clubs in each of those divisions.

Johnson, who is on the Government’s furlough job retention scheme along with the club’s players and staff, said recently that he wants the National League to fall into line with what the Football League does – with the EFL currently proposing a return to training on May 16 with matches recommenci­ng in early June, probably behind closed doors.

A BBC investigat­ion last week concluded that of the 24 National League clubs, ten want the season to end immediatel­y, four want it to continue, and nine are undecided, while one refused to answer.

If the vote passes, clubs will then be asked to help ‘determine the outcomes of the season’ through further polls.

It is believed the National League will announce the result of the vote in early May – but it would not be a surprise if they made an announceme­nt sooner.

Under furlough restrictio­ns, Johnson cannot talk about the current situation, but has already stated his wish for the season to be finished. Before furlough, Johnson told the Herald Express: “We are hoping that they will come back to us pretty soon to take away all the doubt and all the worries – so that we know a little bit more about what they are looking to achieve in the near future and then the longterm future.

“My hope is that they start bringing in the National League with the Football League – and we all come under the same alignment, as it were.

“I think the National League could still have two feeder leagues in the north and south, but I think our league is profession­al enough and strong enough to be aligned with the Football League.”

Life under lockdown continues to be strange for all of us – but for a football manager, at 3pm on Saturdays, it must be very odd.

Under normal circumstan­ces, a football manager and his coaches would take their place on the bench and go through what might either be 90 minutes of heaven or hell.

Torquay manager Johnson has obviously been missing that so much he thought he would recreate that feeling at the weekend.

Johnson said: “The only game we had on telly this season was against Aldershot. So at three o’clock on Saturday I got my chair and sat two metres away in front of my big telly and watched that game. I started it at three o’clock and I watched it all the way through.

“I did stop short, though, of putting a technical area out with toilet roll paper. My wife said we couldn’t afford to use it.”

It wasn’t a bad game for the manager to watch. In front of the BT Sport cameras at Plainmoor on Saturday, August 24, Torquay beat Aldershot 2-0 to go seventh in the National League table.

A screamer from Jamie Reid gave the Gulls a half-time lead in a tight encounter and Opi Edwards made it 2-0 early in the second half with a neat finish from close range.

When the league was suspended in March, United were 15th in the table after an up-and-down-andup season.

The prolonged halt in proceeding­s is strange too for the players, who are keeping fit, but also under furlough restrictio­ns, are not currently officially ‘working’.

Johnson said: “We are here for the players if they need to talk to us – if they want to talk to us.

“They also know that from before the furlough started, and when we discussed furloughin­g, that we would keep them informed about the situation.”

Johnson was also keen to send a message to the fans who last saw their team at Plainmoor on Saturday, February 29 – two months ago next week – when they beat Chorley 2-0.

This coming Saturday the team should have been heading to Hartlepool United for the last game of the season.

“I wish all our supporters well,” said the manager. “Hopefully everybody is fit and well.”

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 ?? Cameron Geran/PPAUK ?? > Torquay United manager Gary Johnson
Cameron Geran/PPAUK > Torquay United manager Gary Johnson

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