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Torquay United

Torquay United directions
Torquay United as it is today is the result of a merger between three local teams: the United team as we know it, Ellacombe and Babbacombe. The original Torquay United Association Football Club was founded in 1899 by a group of school leavers and played its first friendly match against an Upton Cricket Club eleven in a farmer’s field at the top of Penny’s Hill, on the Teignmouth Road. The Plainmoor site did exist, but it was the home of the rugby club, and when they vacated in 1904, Ellacombe moved in. United led a nomadic existence, moving between the Teignmouth Road site and Torquay Cricket Club’s site at Cricketfield Road until 1910, when it merged with Ellacombe and became Torquay Town. The club had won their first honour, the Torquay and District League title, in 1909.

The new club shared the use of Plainmoor with its rivals Babbacombe. After the end of the First World War there was pressure for Torquay Town and Babbacombe to merge, which they did in 1921 and adopted their present name, Torquay United.

The original colours were light and dark blue, but after the merger in 1927 they adopted the Newcastle United style of black and white stripes, earning them the name of the Magpies. At the same time they were elected to Division Three (South) of the Football League. They wore their Magpies colours for over thirty years, until the 1954/55 season, when they changed to gold and blue to represent the sand and sea of Torbay. This year saw their greatest ever FA Cup victory. After wins against Cambridge United and Blyth Spartans, Torquay were up against Leeds, and although they lost by nil one to Leeds, for them success lay in the fact that they had got to play a First Division club.

Torquay Today
Since the early 1980s the team’s nickname has switched from The Magpies to The Gulls to reflect their proximity to the sea and their sand and sea kit. They were not able to take the full name of The Seagulls as that had already gone to Brighton. Like their early nomadic existence between grounds, The Gulls have led a similar existence through the League Divisions. After making their League debut in the third division, they were relegated to the newly-created Fourth in the 1957/58 season, were promoted back to Division Three in 1960, and relegated again to Division Four in the early Seventies. They almost lost League position completely in the 1984/85 campaign, but after that climbed up through Division Three in 1992 and on to their present position in Division One.

Torquay boasts a multi-national and multi-cultural team, with plenty of talent under the tutelage of head coach Leroy Rosenior. Lee Canonville, voted Capital Gulls’ Player of the Season last campaign, worked his apprenticeship at Arsenal, and was also part of England’s youth; David Graham was a trainee at Glasgow Rangers, where he made three substitute appearances for them; and Jo Kuffour is also ex-Arsenal. Kevin Dearden is ex-Spurs. Budding junior stars take note: the club runs a YTS scheme, which is how Matt Hockley, Jimmy Benefield, Graham Killoughery and Ben Camara started their careers.

Young Players
The Gulls run several holiday and after school and weekend courses, at Westlands School, next to Plainmoor, and at various other schools and sports centres throughout South Devon. Soccer Tots can start at five years, and they can play up through the classes until they are twelve. There is a waiting list for some of the indoor classes because numbers are limited, but on the outside fields they have the capacity for far more players. Application forms area available from Reception on 328666. For more information on courses, call Frank Price on 322551.
The club also holds football birthday parties, which offer a meal, leather ball and card signed by all the players, tour of the ground and a game of football. Again, details of prices and numbers are available at Reception.

Boys who show a special skill can try for the Centre of Excellence, whose aim is to bring young players up to scratch for the first team. Training is once or twice a week, with groups for the under tens to the under seventeens. Scouts watch local school and weekend community games to pass on names to the club about up and coming talent. Otherwise, boys can apply direct to Robbie Herrera at the club who is the head of the Centre of Excellence. For boys who are determined to make football a career, the Youth Training scheme is full time and lasts for two years from the age of seventeen. While on the scheme the boys do anything from cleaning boots to training, after which the club hopes they will get their first professional contract, which normally runs for a year.

Tickets and Services
A seat at the home end of Plainmoor will cost you £12 per match, or £240 for a season. Under 12s can get a season ticket for just £25, when bought with an adult ticket. For more information, contact Torquay United direct at: Plainmoor, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 3PS; tel: 01803-328666; or e-mail them at: gullsfc@freeuk.com.

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Torquay United

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