Next on our Dream Team feature is TUST stalwart and TUFC die-hard Mike Thomas….
Having attended matches at Plainmoor since April 1968, when Frank O’ Farrell’s team were in full swing, I decided to work through the players I have watched over these last 49 years. In short-listing names for my dream team I came up with around 40 contenders, and to be honest I found it difficult to decide who to leave out!
After some thought, I decided to be a little different and make a second list of Gulls players who have gained international honours. To my surprise, I was able to come up with 18 whom I have witnessed representing our club and gracing Plainmoor. Whether it was in the latter stages of their careers, in their early years on the rise up, or some who often disappeared to represent their countries during their time with us. Some of the names stayed with Torquay for a number of seasons, but for many it was briefer.
So here is my ‘Torquay United International Dream Team’, obviously it’s a little quirky and maybe lacking in balance. Anyway, it was fun re-visiting memory lane.
I would be interested to hear from you if you think I have missed anyone out…..
NEVILLE SOUTHALL MBE (Wales)
A legend at Everton, playing there for 17 years! Still pretty good with his handwork, Nev was a big presence when he came to Torquay at the tail end of his career.
LEE SHARPE (England)
Lee was spotted and signed by Alex Ferguson for Manchester United after a stunning debut league season with us. He later suffered from injury, but starred for Leeds United for a time before returning to the lower leagues.
MATT ELLIOTT (Scotland)
A powerful and dominant centre back, who moved to Leicester City after 3 years of duty for us.
PAUL TROLLOPE (Wales)
Signing from Swindon Town, he played often as a defensive midfielder who could also play in the back line and support the attack. Paul’s notable other clubs were arguably Derby County, Fulham and Coventry City.
JIMMY DUNNE (Rep.of Ireland)
For me, Jimmy was often a joy to watch with his control and use of the ball. A member of the Frank O’Farrell team, he scored two goals on my debut match at Plainmoor! He came back to us for a second spell after having a long spell at Fulham and served us for six years in all. A versatile player he could play well in midfield as well as defence.
JAMIE WARD (Northern Ireland)
Signed from Aston Villa, Jamie stood out when he was with us, albeit sadly for too short a time. He had a lot of strength despite his small stature, displaying also a huge ‘heart’ and non-stop ‘engine’ with a fearsome tackle! Good with both feet and able to strike or cross the ball with power. His career with us was cut short by a certain new owner, who saw some money and all too quickly sold him for a ‘knock down’ fee to Sheffield United. Ward later moved to Leeds United and more recently to Nottingham Forest.
BRUCE RIOCH (Scotland)
Bruce became our player-manager in his later career and although a little slower, made up for that with his guile and ball control. He was also a great striker of the dead ball, displaying power and accuracy. From playing for Aston Villa, Derby County and Everton he came to Torquay, where he launched a management career that took him to places such as Arsenal.
EUNAN O’ KANE (Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland)
Most of you will know everything about this man already. To summarise Eunan was a youth player at Everton, but returned from a spell in Ireland to launch his league career at Plainmoor. A great signing from Coleraine, who might still yet earn us a significant sum if Leeds United are promoted next season. Went to Bournemouth for a sizeable fee and was instrumental in their rise to the Premiership.
CHRIS WADDLE (England)
Only appeared for us for a short time, but was one of my favourite England performers in his heyday. Therefore, I select him based on the wizardry and skills he displayed when at his best.
RODNEY JACK (St. Vincent and Grenadines)
What a breath-taking forward on his day! His fleet of foot and ingenuity provided many memorable moments and he quickly became a fans’ favourite after signing from his home club Lambada FC, who came to us on a pre-season tour. He signed for Crewe Alex after 3 years at
Plainmoor for a significant fee and played 163 times for them. After shorter spells with Rushden, Oldham and Waterford, Rodney returned to Crewe again. It is a mystery to me why he did not go any higher.
ERIC WELSH (Northern Ireland)
Eric was in the O’Farrell team that I so enjoyed watching in my first year as a ‘yellow’. His work on the wing was significant, with his speed and comfort on the ball plus excellent crossing ability. He came to us via Exeter City and Carlisle, and also later played in South Africa for Port Elizabeth City.
ROLLING SUBS FROM:
PAUL HALL (Jamaica), TONY BEDEAU (Grenada), GREGORY GOODRIDGE (Barbados), TONY CURRIE (England)…didn’t include Tony because I was honoured to mark him in a charity match at Plainmoor getting away with a shirt tug or two in our penalty box at corners, much to his annoyance!!
FRANK O’ FARRELL (Iran)
After success at Plainmoor, he went on to manage Leicester City, Manchester United and Cardiff City. He then spent three years with the Iran national team. He actually had three spells at Plainmoor, coming back twice more in our hour of need! He still comes to Plainmoor and lives in Torquay.
TROLLOPE ELLIOTT DUNNE SHARPE
WARD O’KANE RIOCH WADDLE
Note: I haven’t included Under 21 players etc. However I would like to mention those that I discovered: BOBBY OLEJNIK (Austria), JUSTIN FASHANU (England) and EDDIE KELLY (Scotland).
Have fun picking bones with my team (internationals only), and happy memories.