2007–08 Torquay United F.C. Season - Overview


Having been a Football League team for 80 years, Torquay United were finally relegated at the end of the 2006–07 season. After the most chaotic and disastrous season in Torquay's history, chairman Mike Bateson eventually sold the club to an eight-man consortium with Alex Rowe appointed as the new chairman and former-Gull Colin Lee returning as chief executive. Although Leroy Rosenior had previously been announced as the new manager, the consortium decided to go in a different direction and install ex-Torquay midfielder and current Exeter City assistant manager Paul Buckle as the new boss. With only a handful of players still on the club's books, Buckle had to work fast to build a new team in time for Torquay's first season in the Conference.

Despite a slightly nervous 0–0 draw with Grays Athletic in their first ever Conference match, the Gulls soon established themselves within the division and quickly became the team to beat. Buckle had managed to create a particularly potent strike force with new signings Tim Sills, Chris Zebroski and Lee Phillips combining to score nearly 50 league goals between them and Torquay were never out of the play-off spots all season. United were also enjoying more TV coverage than ever before with Setanta Sports now televising live Conference games and the BBC even coming to Plainmoor to broadcast the 4–1 FA Cup First Round victory over League One side Yeovil Town. Yeovil had themselves previously inflicted a cup 'upset' over Torquay in 1992 when they were a non-League side, so it was sweet revenge for the Gulls now that the two team's fortunes had been reversed.

After eventually finishing 3rd in the Conference, Torquay met their local rivals Exeter City in the play-off semi-final. Despite coming away from St James Park with a 2–1 lead in the first leg and going 1–0 up in the return match at Plainmoor, Exeter managed to score four goals in the final 18 minutes of the match to condemn Torquay to a 5–3 aggregate defeat and another season in the Conference. There was the possibility of a consolation for Torquay just a few days later as they had reached the final of the FA Trophy which entailed a trip to the new Wembley Stadium. However, a 1–0 defeat by Ebbsfleet United resulted in another disappointing day for the Gulls. Maybe the only highlight of the day was a late substitute appearance from Kevin Hill who made his 474th and final appearance for Torquay United, breaking the all-time appearance record which had been set by Dennis Lewis back in 1958.

Although Torquay United were perhaps a club who were fortunate to even still be in existence after the débâcle of the previous season, this was a campaign which had promised to deliver so much but had ultimately ended in disappointment. Having failed to return to the Football League at the first attempt, Torquay would now have to make sure they achieved it at the second time of asking.

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