Torquay United football club revolves solely around one man; Clark Osborne, who is 71, lives near Bristol and has taken on the debts of the club. The total is north of £6 million and growing rapidly as the club have made heavy losses in each of the last 4 years.

Remaining full time on average gates which are slightly lower than ours doesn’t help. We understand the thinking. Remote area, needs full time ballers to attract the right talent to get out of the league, and thrive in the division above. But how long do you wait as the debts mount?

Osborne has a vast business empire, 13 active companies across a range of sectors. He is rarely if ever seen at home games. He has a large family and loves to participate in motor sports so those takes priority. His plan is to build a new stadium from scratch with community facilities etc. Sounds laudable, but finding suitable land is tricky. Anxious supporters point out the owners age, the length of time these projects take and then generally worry about the future of their club. Understandable.

Osborne appointed two club directors to look after day-to-day affairs. One or possibly both are salaried with 54 people on the club payroll in 2022. Also on the books is veteran manager Gary Johnson. He is 68, Torquay is his 12th club and having been in charge for 5 years, he’s becoming the scapegoat for fan frustration.

Our visitors are regular goal scorers though the Gulls concede a lot too – 41/35 over 23 League games. Scoring is shared around with Aaron Jarvis and Bradley Ash leading with 7 each. Brad Ash of course was a former Bull. He made 19 appearances during 19/20 without scoring, not ideal for a striker. He made Miles Storey look prolific. Torquay are full time with their players bought in from all over the country. Their CV’s are glossier than we are used to seeing. One familiar name is Captain Dean Moxey. The defender made around 550 appearances, including 175 in the Championship. Happily, we have a fit striker, also 37, who can poo-poo such a modest record. Willo’s appearance v Spennymoor was his 730th in senior football.

Wondered how bothered our visitors are about the FA Trophy? Already beset with injuries and suspensions with a continuing heavy expectation to returning to step one now. Immediately. This minute! League leaders Yeovil have a healthy lead and have already won at Plainmoor so a play-off scrap looks a far more likely route. Trophy prize money will make no difference to their debt mountain. The Torquay supporters’ social media doesn’t indicate any great interest in travelling north. Speculation though suggests over 100 fans will be there.

At stake is the difference between £5200 for the winners and £1500 for the losers. As we know, the gaffer can add half the winnings to his playing budget – 50 per cent of those winnings are potentially enough to cover wages for a decent loan player if needed. If we win, the away game at Peterborough is postponed. In a way that is an incentive because there is always a cost implication if a Saturday home match is postponed.

This is a full-on cup match against full-time opponents so your club needs you to be there.

Torquay United (

Simon Wright

By Editor

Lifelong Hereford supporter who has endured the rise and fall of the club through progressive generations. Sports journalist, broadcaster and commentator who will never forget his Edgar Street roots.

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