Date: 5 December 1998
I began my previous match report with the words: "It's difficult to find very much of a positive nature to say about this game." Well, here we go again then! Once again Bournemouth sank to the level of their opposition until you couldn't tell which was the Division 2 side. Indeed, in the second half Torquay put on a quite spirited display (making one wonder why they are languishing near the foot of Division 3) and certainly deserved at least a draw.
The infrastructure at Torquay, though, is decidedly non-League, and most agreed that it was worse than Basingstoke. The home crowd was pretty pathetic too.
My first realisation that this was not the most organised of clubs came when I tried to follow the directions to the ground from their web site. I can forgive the misspellings (Wamer for Winter, Pimuco for Pimlico, etc.), and the references to signs and shops that have presumably changed recently. But their ability to omit one left turn entirely has potential to take you miles out of your way.
Then, having arrived, a steward told us all that programmes were on sale inside. The inside steward sent us back outside and directed us to the end of the street. The programme seller at the end of the street told us to wait five minutes for another delivery, and then learned that he wasn't getting another delivery. So we then had to walk all the way round to the home entrance to get a programme before tapping the gate to be let back in again! And was it worth it? I don't know if I've ever seen a programme with so many errors in it: not just typos like "layer" for "player" several times, or jumbled sentences. The funniest misprint was "Midfielder Brian McGorry was Bournemouth's top scorer in 1992/93 and netted 1 goals in 61 League outings"! No wonder Torquay fans were singing (and deservedly) "Boring, boring Bournemouth" and "Are you Arsenal in disguise?"
After the programmes saga, the coffee saga. When the water urn went off the boil, they stopped serving anything - and the queue just got longer and longer. What a farce! They should take lessons from the well-organized caterers at Basingstoke.
Readers will have gathered that I'm talking about programmes and coffees because the match was so awful. Some players (like Vincent and Howe) were reasonable in the first half but even they went off the boil (like the urn) after the break. Our one goal was a fluke against the run of play - and at the far end, so we didn't even know who'd scored until Robbo went on a "lap of honour"! But we were pathetically cautious once we'd gone a goal up; for an 89th minute corner we kept nine players behind the halfway line!
I felt a little sorry for Mark Stein, who was marked by a guy who looked three times his height! By the second half, he'd given up too.
John Bailey returned to the right wing for the first time this season, and we were able to enjoy some of the old magic "double-act" with Neil Young. Hughes played just in front of the back four in the middle of the field; this is at least the fourth position in which Mel's played him this season so it's small wonder his form is so inconsistent. The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (my scores out of ten):
Young (7), Cox (5), Howe (6), Vincent (6);
Bailey (6), Robinson (6), Warren (7);
Fletcher (7), Stein (5)