Torquay United captain Asa Hall has sent out a ‘we’re in it to win it’ message to Gulls fans ahead of Saturday’s big National League kick-off against relegated Oldham Athletic at Plainmoor.
United’s longest-serving player – Hall, 35, has scored 32 goals in 130 games over the last four years – won the NL at Cheltenham Town in 2016 and skippered Torquay to the NL South title in 2019 and to the NL play-off final in 2021, all under manager Gary Johnson.
“There’s definitely a different feeling this season, because it’s a new squad, but the aim is to win the league or promotion – that’s the only way I’ve ever known the gaffer,” said Hall, who’s back in training after a calf injury.
“All the new lads were primed about that before they got here, and everyone is getting on well.
“There’s plenty of very talented boys in the squad, and we’ve seen glimpses of really good stuff in pre-season. Once they get their game really going, it will be exciting.
“The start of the season is always very focussed, and we know how important it is to make a good start.”
Twelve new senior signings is a major overhaul, and the arrival of ex-Colchester and Sutton United left-back Ben Wyatt followed by the departure of Gabby Rogers to NL North Kidderminster Harriers completed Johnson’s transfer business.
But United fans are enthused, and a near-4,000 gate is expected for Saturday’s 3pm opener.
Oldham, the first ex-Premier League club to be relegated from the EFL, are hoping that an eve-of-season takeover by local businessman Frank Rothwell will mark the end of a downward spiral under former owner Abdallah Lemsagam.
Manager John Sheridan has also shaken up his squad, bringing in experienced players like striker Chris Porter (Crewe), Nathan Sheron (Harrogate) and Liam Hogan (Stockport).
Hot favourites Wrexham kept most of their powder dry until splashing out in the past week on midfielders Anthony Forde (Oxford Utd) and Jacob Mendy (Boreham Wood) and striker Sam Dalby (Southend).
The Hollywood-owned Red Dragons are just starting their 15th season out of the EFL and Torquay – they were relegated seven years ago – are hoping to let new boys Oldham know how hard that precious promotion is to win.
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