Torquay United FC - Top of My League by Terry Hall
The Gulls are going through a sticky patch at the moment (in more ways than one judging by the state of the Plainmoor pitch). Fingers crossed they'll pull out of it, because there's talent in the team. Plenty of sweat, too. And that's one of the reasons for my new allegiance to them.
I moved from Wolverhampton last August. Wolves FC are in a similarly perilous position at the foot of the Championship (and yes, I'm open to accusations of being a footballing Jonah that Nelson's foremast jacks would have cursed from the lower decks). But Wolves are a team of millionaires, bloated with the spoils of a couple of years at the Premier League top table. Fans are accusing the players of not caring or trying.
By comparison, the boys at Plainmoor are fighting for scraps, playing for their mortgages, trying everything for the shirt they wear. And I'm with them 100%. Torquay United have also given me something Wolves never did. they have qualified coaches who go out into the community to coach kids of every age.
My lad goes to Queensway Primary School. Last year he brought home a leaflet promoting Torquay United Football in the Community. ever since then, I've taken him to the 5-7 age range coaching sessions at the Boys' Grammar School on Fridays. To my knowledge, Wolves never offered that. He never brought anything home offering their coaching help - and they could afford to employ one for every primary school in the city.
Torquay's coaching is structured and fun, and the kids love it. They feel part of something real and worthy. The coaches have a schoolteacher's authority, and a footballer's energy and spirit.
They give out medals for player of the day and penalty competition winners. They put on sessions in schools and also during holidays. They reach out to the kids and teach them the right way to play the game.
I really hope they eventually unearth some kids who one day get to pull on the shirt, because the Club is taking the trouble to care for lads who will one day care as much for the Club.
This article appeared in the June 2013 issue of Beach Hut, the excellent, independent community magazine for Paignton.