As Torquay United celebrated their promotion back into the Football League at the second attempt at the weekend, it was hard not to reminice about a day at Plainmoor in May 2000. Chris Hargreaves, a former favourite at Sixfields, and Tim Sills scored the goals as the Gulls saw off Cambridge United at Wembley and as we prepare to meet them in League Two once again, memories come flooding back.
The day in question was a typical end of season day, the sun beaming down on the hoards of coaches leaving Sixfields for Devon. A win would see Kevin Wilson’s men promoted and Cobblers fans had sold tickets on all four sides of Plainmoore, quite an achievement for an away following!
The quiet town was invaded by claret that day as nervous Cobblers fans milled about before the game, coaches dropping us off hours before kick off to soak up the sun on the beach. There was the sense that something special was going to happen but as we piled into the now cramped ground at Plainmoor, it was the home side that looked set to spoil the party with their own playoff ambitions at stake.
Tony Bedeau hadn’t read our script and gave The Gulls a seventeenth minute lead and nerves began to jangle. We needn’t have worried with a strike force in place that would shoot us to promotion. Steve Howard and Jamie Forrester had forged a partnership that forced the Cobblers into a top three place. Forrester hit back on twenty six minutes before, delightfully, Howard made it 2-1 and the party had began.
A nervous second half was then observed as Cobblers fans didn’t dare to celebrate too soon. But on full time, the claret faithful from all around the ground streamed onto the pitch at Plainmoor and, sportingly, United fans applauded our achievments. I remember the players coming out to celebrate and Torquay were hospitable enough to allow them to do so in their own home stand.
A quite memorable day and having sat through two weeks of unhappiness at our relegation, one win for a now ex Conference side seems to help get over it just that little easier. Now let’s wait for the fixture list and see if we get the Gulls away again on the final day in 2010, what will be ten years on from this proud moment in recent Cobblers history.