Remembering an Argyle double and the win at Villa Park

Torbay Weekly

Two wins, one at Villa Park, and a draw against Aston Villa, a first-ever 'double' against Plymouth Argyle and a promotion challenge in a 'League One' also including Fulham, Brighton, Preston and Swansea - yes, that was the stuff that gripped Torquay United fans 50 years ago.

It was the 'Third Division' in those days and United, first under Frank O'Farrell (1965-68) and then former Scottish international Allan Brown (1968-71), were a power to be reckoned with, regularly pulling in 10,000-plus gates at Plainmoor.

In 1970-71 Torquay beat Villa 1-0 in front of 28,000 at Villa Park - the late Micky Cave scored a long-range winner - drew 1-1 at home and also beat the Midlands giants 3-1 at Plainmoor in the FA Cup.

After challenging for promotion for most of the season, they eventually finished tenth.

But for many United fans, the highlights were two memorable league wins over arch rivals Plymouth - Exeter City were in the Fourth Division then.

In near-arctic conditions on Boxing Day, goals by Mal Lucas and John Rudge (pen) beat Argyle at Plainmoor (12,807) - future World Cup Final referee Jack Taylor ruled the pitch fit for play, despite the Pilgrims' protests.

At Easter, more than 17,000 at Home Park saw United repeat the scoreline, with Rudge again and Ipswich Town loanee Chris Barnard hitting the net.

The Plainmoor programme featured the late, great Ian Twitchin on the cover, while the Argyle edition carried a picture from the Christmas 'derby', with United defender Allan Young challenging Plymouth's Bobby Saxton for a header.

Lifelong Gulls fan Mike Griffiths from Totnes supplied the issues and attended both matches, recalling: "A lot of people, especially from Argyle, didn't think they should have played the first game at Plainmoor - but you didn't argue with Jack Taylor, did you?

"They were desperate for revenge at Home Park - mind you, they had beaten us 6-0 there the year before - but we did 'em again!"

United would have to wait another 40 years to repeat that Devon 'double' - 2-1 at Home Park and 3-1 at Plainmoor in 2011-2012. Happy Days!

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