Sam Collard takes us back to our pre-season match against Plymouth Argyle, and his first visit to Plainmoor.
A Fan’s First Visit to Plainmoor
by Sam Collard
Plainmoor, the heart of Torquay’s community. As soon as you arrive at the historic ground there is a real sense of togetherness, everybody vying for the same goal, a Torquay United win.
My first visit to the ground was the evening of the 18th July, a friendly against local rivals and football league opposition, Plymouth Argyle. There was a real buzz around the ground, everybody looking forward to the start of the football season again.
When I first walked inside the ground, the club’s community spirit instantly hit me and I felt welcomed by everybody I encountered and spoke to. The atmosphere really began to build in the hour before kick-off, fans began flooding through the turnstiles, bought their pre-game burgers, and caught up with fellow supporters they may not have seen since the end of the previous season. Every corner of the stadium, from the Family Stand to the Away End began to fill up.
The first cheer of the night was for the Torquay squad, as they streamed out for their warm up around 40 minutes before kick-off. The fans all appreciated the player’s waves and responded with cheers and claps. Not long after, the Plymouth players followed to a roar from the away end. Both sets of fans were excited for the match, it was only a pre-season friendly but both sets of fans wanted to get a victory against their local rivals. As the players emerged for kick-off, the stands were electric, eyes were glued to the pitch. Gulls and Pilgrims fans were eager to get the game under way.
Kick-off saw the atmosphere raised, it felt like a game that meant everything, not just a friendly. Fans of all ages were passionately supporting both clubs. However, there was time for jokes between fans; within the first ten minutes 5 balls flew over the stands into the roads behind them gaining a louder cheer from both sets of fans each time. As chances came and went for both sides, fans were on edge. However, a breakthrough would come and sadly for the Torquay United faithful, it was the away end that was cheering after a deftly struck shot by Plymouth’s Graham Carey glanced past Ryan Clarke in goal for the Gulls.
The goal did little to deflate the Torquay United faithful. As the half came to a close, both teams continued to play attacking football and gave the fans great hope to build on things against a quality football league side.
During the interval fans were treated to a half time raffle with a cash prize and the opportunity for a crossbar challenge. These are the opportunities that make the fans’ experiences with Torquay United so special. There are very few other clubs that would give them a chance to participate like that, adding to the already special memories they have with the football club.
The second half began with Torquay United on the front foot, off the pitch the fans grew in belief and the players improved from this unrivalled support. Multiple chances came in quick succession with Jamie Reid and James Gray hitting the woodwork within minutes of each other.
This spell of success was short lived however, Plymouth forward Jake Jervis was fouled inside the area and a penalty was given. The mood of the Torquay fans was deflated at this point, they knew if they conceded this there was little hope. In contrast, the Plymouth fans were buzzing with celebration. This celebration from the Plymouth fans was short lived, the penalty was missed and the roles were reversed. The save led to the biggest cheer of the night, Torquay United were still in the game and the intensity was turned up a notch, on and off the pitch.
The fans, the crucial element of every football club, the “twelfth man,” were right behind the Gulls’ players throughout the remainder of the half, every clever pass, cross and shot received a cheer of encouragement, but the Gulls fans were still not treated with a goal they desired.
Ultimately, Torquay United ended the night with a 2-0 loss after a late Argyle header, however, this flattered the visitors as the game was on a knife edge throughout. As the Torquay United fans returned home, they weren’t disheartened, they had given a hugely successful football league club a run for their money. The fans know there are brighter days to come. The community of Torquay United Football Club is one that is growing, and with these brighter days on the horizon, this community spirit will grow and ultimately lead this family club to success.
A club with this strong spirit and welcoming attitude was unbelievable for a first-time visitor like me and I hope, one day soon the club and its fans will return to where they belong, the football league.