New To The National League: Torquay United

Our summer study of the clubs joining Pools in the National League for 2019/20 continues – and today we’re off on an epic trek to the English Riviera.

Formed: 1899
Nickname:
The Gulls

Who’s in charge?
Gary Johnson brought a wealth of experience to the Plainmoor dugout when he agreed to succeed Gary Owers at Torquay United at the beginning of September.

The 63-year-old has got a track record of success at National League level having previously guided Yeovil Town and Cheltenham Town to promotion to the Football League.

Johnson was particularly popular at Yeovil where, over two spells, he not only led them out of non-league but also took them to the unchartered territory of the Championship following a League One Play-Off win over Brentford in 2012/13.

His success at Cheltenham is also to be noted, as they became one of only a handful of clubs to bounce back immediately from EFL relegation to win the National League title under Johnson in 2015/16.

Prior to that, he’s also had spells in charge at the likes of Northampton Town, Peterborough United and Bristol City, the club where is son Lee is now the Manager.

How did they get here?
Torquay United took a little time to get fully in to their rhythm last season but, once they did, there was little doubt about the destination of the National League South title.

The Gulls romped home in the end, winning the league by a clear ten points and successfully returning to the fifth tier at the first time of asking following their relegation in 2017/18.

However, they won only two of their first seven games last term but they started to show form in September following the arrival of Gary Johnson as boss and by the start of December they were unbeaten in ten and at the top of the table.

They blasted an eye-watering 93 league goals, had one of the meanest defences in the division and set a new club record of ten straight wins, so it was no surprise when promotion was confirmed with three games to spare following a 2-0 triumph over Eastbourne.

When did we last meet?
Pools and Torquay United shared a division as recently as 2017/18 when The Gulls were relegated during our first season in the National League.

Pools ran out 2-0 winners at Plainmoor in October of that campaign, thanks to goals from Rhys Oates and Jonathan Franks before drawing the return fixture at The Vic 1-1 with Ryan Donaldson on target.

Those games were the first time the sides had played each other since the 2013/14 campaign when both clubs were competing in League Two.

When do we play them?
The fixtures for the new National League campaign are not expected to be released until early July.

Where do they play?
Plainmoor has been home to Torquay United since being built back in 1921 and it currently boasts an overall capacity of 6,500.

Higgy’s View
“They’ve done fantastically well to bounce back from relegation in 2017/18 and Gary Johnson has done an excellent job at Plainmoor. He’s an experienced manager who has a lot of knowledge about this division having won it before so I imagine he will have them very well prepared. He certainly knows what it takes to be successful in the National League so it will be interesting to see how they perform. It’s a good, family club though and it’s great to have them back in our division – even though it will now be our longest trip of the season!”