Disappointing... but what a difference a year makes
And so the Gulls first season in the Blue Square Premier League has ultimately ended in disappointment. Despite being in the top two positions since the start of the season, the Gulls finally finished in third place (on goal difference) behind League Champions Aldershot Town and Cambridge United. This meant the Gulls would take place in the end of season Play-offs for the opportunity to regain their place in the Football League.
The final league positions meant that Torquay United would be playing local rivals Exeter City in the two-legged play-off semi-final. Finishing with the higher league position, the Gulls in theory had the advantage of playing the second leg at Plainmoor. As a result of a change of tactics, Torquay United took an early advantage and won the first leg 2-1 at Sid James' Park.
Unfortunately the Gulls lost their way in the final 20 minutes of the second leg and ended up losing 5-3 on aggregate. The dream of a quick return to the Football League was over, and the Gulls would be a non-league team for another season at least.
Six days later, the Gulls made their first appearance at the new Wembley stadium in the Final of the FA Trophy. Over 40,000 fans saw the Gulls take on Ebbsfleet United (the team owned by over 30,000 internet subscribers), but despite saving a penalty the Gulls eventually lost 1-0.
To have two such big disappointments within a week was hard to accept, but when you consider the transformation within the club, season 2007/08 marked a significant change of fortunes for Torquay United.
At the end of the previous season the club was in disarray, and looked to be plummeting even further. However, the introduction of new ownership and board of directors was the start of radical changes within the club. It is perhaps ironic, but it took becoming non-league for the club to become more professional. A new manager (Paul Buckle) together with a complete new coaching set-up was appointed and the commercial aspects of the club were similarly overhauled. Suddenly their was a new belief and positivity around the club.
The season started brightly with the Gulls seeming in free-scoring motion, their attacking style of football and commitment to attack right up to the final whistle meant that the Gulls took part in some thrilling matches - the FA Cup victory over Yeovil Town being a particular highlight.
After the Christmas period, it seemed that opposing teams had learned how to nullify the attacking play and the Gulls attack was not so potent.
However, the transformation had begun. We can only trust that the appearance in the play-offs and the Wembley final is the start of a new successful period for the Gulls.