Despite losing some fans' favourites FanZoner Matt Parkman is hopeful of another good season for Torquay.
Summer departures not hindering Gulls
Hello everyone and welcome back to the random ramblings of a Torquay fan. The season is well and truly under way, but I'd like, if I may, to have a quick look back over the off season (if such a thing could be said to exist, what with the Euros and the Olympic football).
I have commented in many of my previous entries to this blog, that Eunan O'Kane is one hell of a player. Imagine then my absolute horror at logging on from my temporary base in China (oh yeah, I spent a month in Shanghai, go me!) to find numerous reports suggesting that the £175,000 release clause (which is laughably low, but that's a different story altogether) had been met by Crawley Town of all clubs.
The total antithesis of everything which is good about football, Crawley Town would be the last place that Eunan would be suited. Fortunately for everyone, the wool could not be pulled over the eyes of one so mentally agile as Eunan and he rejected the pub team managed (not for very much longer, as it turned out) by Sean O'Driscoll, and plumped instead for Bournemouth. All in, I'd rather not have lost him, but Bournemouth at least have a decent set up, play some attractive football and will be a stepping stone on to bigger and better things for the young man. Best of luck Eunan, thanks for the memories.
On other transfer news, the least surprising departure from Plainmoor was that of Bobby Olejnik to Peterborough. What did disappoint me is that, while £300,000 is a decent sum for a L2 player, Bobby was, by some considerable distance, the best keeper in L2 last year. With that, Gillingham managed to rob Southampton of a reported £3,000,000 for Gazzaniga.
Now, in truth, TUFC probably mugged themselves of at least 50% of Bobby's true value on the open market, but three million pounds sterling for a L2 goalkeeper who wasn't even first choice at the Kent club until well into the second half of the season and even then hardly set the world alight? I can only reasonably presume that the Gillingham chairman has pictures of someone important at Southampton in a compromising position, for there is no way on God's green Earth that those figures stack up otherwise.
Last, of note, to leave was Mark Ellis. He has finally been brow beaten by his wife (congratulations, by the way, to Mr and Mrs Ellis on their Cypriot wedding) into moving back t'up north. Presumably they have a desire for their children to work down a coal mine and to be able to order gravy on chips without feeling out of place. He has headed to Crewe, which is a fair deal for him and the club. We got a few quid for him and, as unlikely as I thought it would be, we have managed to replace him with someone at least as good, which brings me rather nicely onto the arrivals.
Aaron Downes, Australian (but we don't hold that against him), looks to be of pensionable age, but a heck of a defender. Scored two goals already and has defended stoically throughout. Long may it continue.
Billy Bodin comes in as the marquee signing of the summer. Having spent half of last term on loan, he has joined permanently, which is reported to be as much of a delight for him as it is for us. Scored a screamer against Stoke, expect more of the same throughout the season. The Swindon fans who proclaim him Conference standard need their heads examining, if for no other reason than continuing to support Swindon under the management of a lunatic.
Others have come and gone, and I mean them absolutely no disrespect by omitting to mention them by name, but I have a word count to think of and those who care enough can find details of their arrivals/departures on this very website.
So, on to the season then. We did ok in pre-season, with Lord Martin of Ling putting out sides to see off the challenge from the Royal Marines among others. Leeds turned us over 2-1 with two excellent strikes from McCormack. Stoke were held to a 1-1 draw with the aforementioned strike from Bodin, despite playing their full starting XI, including Crouch. It all looked pretty good.
Off to Fleetwood then for the first League match of the new season, a game we were surprised was not televised, being that it was Fleetwood's first ever FL game (a courtesy that was extended to Crawley Town just 12 months earlier), but no matter. The mammoth journey of well over 300 miles was dispatched with comparative ease. Still, it was a long way to go for a largely dull 0-0 draw...
Cheltenham and Rochdale, on the other hand, were entirely different prospects. In each game, both sides got the ball down and passed it around confidently and quickly. In the Cheltenham match, TUFC created enough chances to have won the match three times over.
That is not to detract from Chelts in any way, who more than played their part in an excellent match. Rochdale was largely the same, with both teams looking to actually play the game, rather than knocking it long and relying on luck. Thoroughly good entertainment all round, an excellent 4-2 win for the Gulls and plenty of incident to boot.
Here's to more of the same for the remainder of the season.