Sometimes, your first experience of another club comes off the field – not on it. That’s exactly the case with Torquay United. And it’s fair to say that our initial dealings weren’t in the best of spirits. The actual ins and outs of what went on back in 1996 are for someone else to incriminate themselves with; all we’ll say is that it ended up being us against the League in the High Court. Not until the Gulls were relegated to the Blue Square Premier for the 2007-8 season did our battles head onto the pitch.
The Gulls made it (back) into the Football League before us. So, it wasn’t until we were promoted ourselves that we’d have the chance to make up for an awful record that had seen us lose three out of three. We then drew the fourth 0-0. Once in the League, we drew a blank in both our regular league fixtures – one of which was another goalless draw. It’s not until our seventh game against them that we finally recorded a win. And we picked our moment; that being the 1-0 victory that sent us into League One as playoff victors.
Formed in 1899, the Gulls from the English Riviera briefly went under the name Torquay Town after merging with Ellacombe Football Club in 1910. A fierce rivalry was born with Babbacombe too, which was a problem when Plymouth and Exeter were both elected to the League in 1920. That’s because, as Wikipedia says, there were calls for the Gulls and the Babbas (we think, we haven’t checked) to merge. And merge they did. It came about in 1921; the name reverting back to Torquay United and the club taking a spot in the Southern League.
In 1927, the club achieved Football League status thanks to that wonderful election system. It was the death knell for Aberdare Athletic; the side who the Gulls replaced. And, despite finishing rock bottom in their debut season after shipping 103 goals, Torquay United secured re-election. From then on, life in the League settled down; the odd promotion here, the odd relegation there after the Second World War Two. The 80s were a bit hairy, mind you; having to apply for re-election in 1985 and 1986 after finishing bottom two years on the trot.
If the Gulls finished bottom for a third straight season, they’d have been the first club to be relegated to the Conference automatically. It was only goal difference that meant that honour went to Lincoln City. Squeaky.
How to get to Torquay United – Travel Information – Distance: 214 miles
Go south on the A1(M), then anti-clockwise on the M25. Next, head south on the M3 and join the A303 for Exeter. Continue onto the A30 when approaching Exeter, and then take the southbound M5 until it becomes the A38. This bit was relatively easy, right?
After about six miles, bear left onto the A380 and continue to Newton Abbot and the Penn Inn Roundabout. From here, follow the signs for Torquay; passing the Willows Shopping Centre and taking the next left at the lights. Follow signs for Torquay United FC/Plainmoor through three roundabouts.
Go straight on at traffic lights into Warbro Road. The ground is on the right hand side, with the away fans’ turnstiles just off Warbro Road.
It is most likely the case that you’ll be rooting out street parking for games at Plainmoor. The ground is in the middle of a fairly extensive residential area. The best the club can advise is to “get to Plainmoor early” to find those on-street parking spaces.
Services to: EXETER ST. DAVIDS/NEWTON ABBOT (for LONDON PADDINGTON)
First, you may need to change at Exeter St. Davids or Newton Abbot for a connection to Torquay if the service is not going straight through to Paignton. There is a bus stop on the seafront that takes you into the town. The #12 to Cary Parade, and then the #34 will take you onto Plainmoor.
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