Memories from a Torquay United supporter of 75 years

George Webber, my brother-in-law, is third from the left at the back.

George Webber, my brother-in-law, is third from the left at the back. - Credit: John Phillips

As I have been a Torquay United supporter for 75 years it  was good to see the Torbay Weekly sponsoring the family stand at Plainmoor.

It has triggered off a lot of memories for me, including the very first time I went to Plainmoor.

It was shortly after they started playing again after the war. My friend, Arthur Blake, and I went to the match but we didn’t have any money.

When the match kicked off we were looking through the turnstile trying to see what we could of the game when the chap on the turnstile told us to get on our hands and knees and crawl underneath - and that was the beginning of me being a supporter.

John Phillips with sister Barbara on her 80th birthday

John Phillips with sister Barbara on her 80th birthday - Credit: Archant

In the early 1950s my sister Barbara’s late husband George Webber was Torquay United’s goalkeeper.

In his first season, 1951/52, he was the only Torquay player to play in every match.

It was also when we got a home win (3-2) and an away draw (2-2) against Plymouth Argyle in front of a 30,000 crowd.

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We were 2-0 up but Argyle played some great football to bring it back to 2 -2 and only some outstanding goal keeping by George saved United.

Argyle went on to win the league and Torquay was the only team to get three points off them.

As I mentioned in a previous article in the Torbay Weekly, myself and my late wife Veronica and in-laws ran the Ashley Court Hotel in Abbey Road which was a mainly coaching hotel.

We used to have an entertainer called Simon Morton on a Friday evening who used to have a spot where he asked the guests who their favourite football teams were.

Then he followed up with playing You’ll Never Walk Alone which the guests all joined in with.

After a few weeks I said to Simon: "What I am going to do is get 100 Torquay United large banners printed and roll them up with an elastic band and put them on the tables and for you to tell them not to touch them until they are told.

"When you reach the point of asking who their favourite teams are, then you tell them 'now is your chance to support the best football team in the country' and then they unwind their banners and hold them up and sing along with the music."

This is what Simon went on to do every week.

It created some brilliant fun and banter. On one occasion I tried to get them to sing I’m Torquay Till I Die. I think I was pushing my luck with that one.

On Friday evenings we also ran a giant Teddy bear charity draw which over the years we were able to donate £33,000 to various local charities such as Rowcroft Hospice and children with special needs and others.

On one particular night we invited Justin Fashanu, who was playing for Torquay United at the time, to come and present the Teddy bear, which he kindly agreed to do.

To finish off, I think a few thank yous would be in order. Firstly, Dominic Mee and Lorraine in the ticket office who I have always found very helpful when needed, also Thea Bristow and her late husband Paul for their incredible generosity and support.

Last of all thanks to Gary Johnson and his team who are doing a fantastic job.

Keep up the good work! Come on you yellows!

JOHN PHILLIPS

Torquay