Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United, with BT Sport pundit Chris Hargreaves - now manager of Yeovil Town - in 2019. Credit: Sean Hernon/PPAUK

Gary Johnson and Chris Hargreaves looking forward to 'old boys' rivalry

Dave Thomas

Fans of Torquay United and Yeovil Town are set to enjoy an even more intense ‘Old Boys’ West Country rivalry next season now that ex-Plainmoor favourite Chris Hargreaves has joined former Glovers boss Gary Johnson at the helm of the two clubs.

Hargreaves, 50, who captained Torquay to promotion to the EFL in 2009 and then managed them in cash-strapped relegation six years later, is building his first squad at Huish Park.

Johnson, 66, who took Yeovil from the ‘Conference’ to the Championship in two spells, is about to start his fifth year at Plainmoor.

Both men are relishing two more ‘Cider Collider’ derby games, as well as what promises to be a season-long rivalry in the table.

“I’m pleased that Chris has got the job there – I’m sure in his mind he always wanted to get back into it,” said Johnson.

“He’s missed it, but he’s young enough to give it a right go.

“He’s got a bit of work to do there, but when you take over a club, it’s not a bad thing when you’ve almost got to start from scratch.

“There will be a professional rivalry between me and Chris, but there’ll always be a rivalry between the two clubs and everyone enjoys that.”

Hargreaves, who’s covered the NL as a BT Sport pundit, says: “I can’t think of a healthier rivalry, and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I respect Gary for the fantastic job he did here, and for the way he’s turned things round at Plainmoor, but you’ve got to do things your own way.

“Both clubs need to be in the Football League.

“I played for Plymouth and Torquay, coached at Exeter, managed at Plainmoor and now I’m here, so I want all those old West Country rivalries back, and I’m sure the fans do.

“One thing’s for sure, I’m too long in the tooth, as Gary is, for anything to get personal next season, and that’s a good thing.”

Meanwhile, the NL is under pressure to improve arrangements for its play-off final after widespread criticism of the venue and ticket pricing for Sunday’s final, won 2-1 by Grimsby Town over Solihull Moors at the London Stadium.

Embarrassed sponsors Vanarama ended up donating £20,000 to an appeal to help hard-up fans who had been struggling to afford tickets and expenses.