Highway to Hele contributor and big Gulls fan Ben Currie is next to take the plunge and pick his Dream Team from 20 years at Plainmoor….
Choice of 3 for me here, Kevin Dearden was an experienced goalkeeper who gave a few great seasons of service as player and a coach, for a smallish man his shot-stopping was exceptional. Bobby Olejnik produced the greatest season I’ve seen of any TUFC keeper and we have never replaced him since but I just have to go for Neville Southall. Big Nev just had that presence and was still at the top of his game, as shown by returning to the Premier League with Bradford after leaving us. He was one of Football’s greatest ever goalkeepers and it was a privilege to see him at Plainmoor. He respected the club and gave us his all. Just a legend.
A position we’ve struggled to fill consistently, with Oastler and Manse doing admirable jobs whilst playing out of position. Steve Tully showed a lot of promise and I enjoyed watching Lee Canoville bomb up the line but I am going for Andy Gurney as my first choice. Gurney scored some memorable goals in my first season as a Gulls fan and his versatility means he could also cover at centre-back or easily play in a back three. A vital cog in that excellent 98 side and a player who we sold for decent money and made a good career for a couple of seasons higher up the leagues
Spoilt for choice here, Paul Gibbs, like Gurney, marauded down the touch-line regularly and weighed in with a decent tally of goals. You’ll struggle to find a better defensive full-back and more reliable player than Brian McGlinchey, but I have to go with Nicho. I struggle to recall a sweeter left-foot and you just have to look at the sheer number of assists he stacked up with pin-point corners and set plays. A very clever footballer, a committed man who has been written off several times at TUFC but always came through smiling and now representing our club as manager. An inspiration to me
Plenty of good ones to choose from. John Gittens and Guy Branston immediately come to mind for their no nonsense approach to defending, Jamie Robinson and Lee Russell are example of often forgotten but dependable pros. Wayne Thomas and Angus MacDonald both moved up the leagues and settled in with no problem at all. For me, though, I have to go with Steve Woods; the 2004 promotion campaign was the best season I’ve seen from a centre-back, consistently week after week, and from a man playing without a contract. He led the defence with excellent organisational and communication skills, was relaxed on the ball, spraying it 50 yards with ease, and his crucial goals away to Cheltenham and Southend helped us over the line. Partnering Woodsy, I’d have to go with Alex Watson. The ultimate professional and man mountain, who played in a slew of very poor teams despite injuries doing their best to hamper him. Watson would also be my captain, he leads by example.
I’m not happy with sticking this man out on the wing as I would suggest his best work is done in the centre, however I just had to include Eunan O’Kane in my team. Perhaps he can move inside with the width provided by my full-backs. Eunan is quite simply the best player we’ve had in the last ten years, a joy to watch. That five minute double against Argyle will live long in the memory as will the return fixture at Home Park where he ran the show with that effortless drifting style of his.
Not a difficult decision here at all, it’s Kevin Hill. Record appearance holder, gave 100% in every game, local boy who lived the dream, scorer of memorable goals. The best header of the ball I’ve seen, not the most technically gifted (though his overhead kick would suggest otherwise) but a constant success through application and hard work.
No point considering anyone else for these two spots than Alex Russell and Jason Fowler. Alex Russell was everything you’d want a central midfielder to be, tireless worker, tenacious tackler, an innovative passer and weighed in with goals. Whilst Jason Fowler is simply the greatest player I’ve ever seen at Plainmoor. Could have played in the Premier League had injuries not disrupted his career, and whilst still carrying those injuries while at TUFC he continued to run the show, often better on one leg than most with two. His vision and technique was exceptional. Together, Russell and Fowler were formidable, their partnership instrumental in the free-flowing football that characterised Leroy’s promotion side of 2004.
We have struggled for consistently good strikers in the 20 years I’ve been supporting Torquay. Tim Sills was the last to hit 20 goals in a season, a great target man and scorer of the most iconic goal of the lot, but I’ve gone further back for my 2 choices. Rodney Jack was the reason I fell in love with TUFC. There was a certain buzz when he got on the ball, an expectation that he would make something happen. His speed made him so exciting to watch. His early double against Scarborough which all but ended the play-off contest is, for me, the greatest Plainmoor moment of my lifetime, that pace was frightening.
Alongside him I had to go for David Graham. A great goalscorer for us, but also a scorer of great goals and continually on the same wavelength as Fowler and Russell. Graham made football look easy, struck up good partnerships with Jo Kuffour and Martin Gritton through his unselfishness and his goals fired us to promotion, had we not sold him (and for a fraction of his worth) I believe we would have survived in League One.
Paul Buckle did a tremendous job taking over at a club who had just been relegated to Non-league, and with a squad of only 4 players, to leave 4 years later just one win away from promotion to League one was some achievement. I had massive respect for Martin Ling and his methodical style, his 2011/2012 campaign will live long in my memory for the personal moments it provided but I just can’t look past Leroy Rosenior. He may well have inherited the players who would propel us to promotion but Leroy instilled a style of football that will never be beaten, we played most teams off the park with quick, accurate free-flowing football, I’d love to see how he’d manage O’Kane and Rodney Jack in my team.
1 – Neville Southall
2 – Andy Gurney
4 – Steve Woods
5 – Alex Watson (c)
3 – Kevin Nicholson.
7 – Eunan O’Kane
6 – Alex Russell
8 – Jason Fowler
11 – Kevin Hill
9 – Rodney Jack
10 – David Graham
- Reuben Hazell – Dependable defender, could play anywhere across the back four.
- Bobby Olejnik – Would have been my no.1 had Big Nev not been such a massive personality.
- Steve McCall – A wise old head whose experience and ball retention would help see any match out.
- Jo Kuffour – The pace option on the bench to stretch tired defenders.
- Martin Gritton – The tall option to send the ball long to if chasing the game. Excellent link up play, clever footballer, formed good partnerships with both Graham and Kuffour.