Torquay United manager Gary Johnson reaches out to senior Gulls fans

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson - Credit: Micah Crook/PPAUK

If older Torquay United fans get a call which starts 'Hello, it's Gary Johnson here', they shouldn't hang up!

Johnson, his assistant manager Aaron Downes and captain Asa Hall are all ringing Gulls 'Senior Citizen' season-ticket holders for a friendly chat during the Coronavirus 'lockdown'.

'It's been absolutely terrific and a real eye-opener,' said Johnson.

'It's also picked me up as much as I've tried to pick people up, and I know Aaron and Asa have felt the same.'

Johnson revealed: 'I have had a couple of calls where I've started 'Hello, it's Gary Johnson' and they've replied 'Gary who?'

'I can understand people being wary of nuisance calls, but when they've realised that it really is me, they have been very appreciative that we've called.'

Around 100 supporters have already been contacted, and Johnson explained: 'First and foremost, we've been finding out whether people are OK.

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'Most people have family or friends looking out for them, but quite a lot of older fans are on their own.

'They have been so happy to talk about something they obviously love.

'It's good to put the phone down after 20 minutes - I've been on for more than half-an-hour sometimes! - having made them feel happier and more comfortable.

'The chat obviously gets round to football pretty soon. People want to tell you what they think and exactly how they see things, and that's fine.

'Torquay United fans of whatever age are very educated in a football sense. They know what's good and what isn't.

'I've been able to answer their questions, I hope, and it's only a shame that we're never going to get round to everyone. But at this particular moment, everyone should have time for others.

'United are using a database of contact details built up through ticket sales over the past couple of seasons.

Johnson also held the first of several planned 'question-and-answer' sessions via United's website.

'There must be thousands of other Torquay United fans out there who might want to ask me any question they like,' he said.

'I don't want to leave anything out, within reason. I've just done my first load of questions, and I'll be doing more as we go along.'