Goodbye to the 'marquee signings' who never quite justified the tag

Every Wednesday in the Herald Express, our Torquay United correspondent Richard Hughes takes a sideways look at what's going on in the world of the Gulls. This week, he says goodbye to Aaron Jarvis and Brett McGavin - marquee signings who never quite justified the tag

Goodbye Aaron Jarvis and Brett McGavin, two players who will be fondly remembered by Torquay United fans, but who probably should have done better in yellow and blue over the last two seasons.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying they didn’t do well at times – but these two players were supposed to be a couple of Gary Johnson’s ‘marquee signings’ – and they certainly didn’t end up justifying that label. Jarvis will go on and play at a higher level, surely, because he is a strong striker who must be a huge pain in the backside to defend against. But many of his goals came from the penalty spot – and it should be considered he was playing National League South football for his second season at the club.

McGavin, the master of a right footed stunner, must have watched Austen Booth’s brilliant goal in the final game of the season go in in bitter-sweet awe. After all those beautiful strikes, wonderful goals, he ended up not winning the Goal of the Season – at the very final hurdle. But McGavin was a deeply frustrating player at times. His touch was great and on his day he was a quality midfielder. But other times he was simply absent.

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That kind of consistency, not just from McGavin, is why Torquay ended up dropping into the National South; and despite McGavin having a much better season in year two, and scoring those memorable goals, his style of play was sometimes easily countered by clever opponents, of which they were probably more in the NLS than we were expecting.

The fact is, despite new manager Paul Wotton probably wanting to keep these two players, they will now be replaced, and if not forgotten, they will be filed away in many Gulls fans’ memories as two players who did OK during a bad time.

We are in a bit of a time of limbo – how many of them have there been over the last two seasons? – with Wotton unable to announce any new players until the club is officially out of administration. But when he can – and hopefully that will be soon now – I expect only a couple of yesterday’s men to be named among the men of tomorrow.

And I suspect there will be a few players from Truro City crossing the border, just as that team returns to the Duchy for next season. There are a few that have ‘local links’ – including the skipper Connor Riley-Lowe, who was brought up in Paignton.

Riley-Lowe was a trainee at Exeter City from where he had loan spells at Truro and Weymouth, before moving to Truro permanently, and having a stint at Bath City. The 28-year-old returned to Truro in 2020 and was instrumental in the team’s return to the National South under Wotton. I’d take him like a shot.

I’d also take Tyler Harvey, another player who was excellent under Wotton at Truro. The 28-year-old striker has scored 72 goals in 106 games since his return to Truro from Bath in 2019. That is some record. But I suspect, like many other transitional periods in the history of our wonderful club, it will be players that we haven’t thought of yet that will be gracing that weird new pink palm tree shirt on cold and wet nights at Hornchurch in the league, or somewhere equally as glamorous in the FA Trophy.

Remember not really knowing who Alex Russell was when he turned up to play in that pre-season friendly at Coach Road, all them years ago? Remember wondering what Kyle Cameron was made of when he turned up at Plainmoor after being released by Newcastle United? Remember Danny Wright signing after those bike rides with Aaron Downes in the Mendips?

Players come and players go and the brilliant website gets updated – and time moves on. According to Torquay Fan Stats, 1220 players have played for the club since 1927 – and how many of them had we heard of before they turned up and either did well, became superstars, or played one game before being consigned to Gulls’ history after just one appearance?

So here’s to the next lot – be they from Truro, Tonbridge or Tyneside. Looking forward to watching new players is one of the good things about the summer break. And I for one can’t wait for new names and new faces to slowly be released, and the clamour to discover who that right back was that did so well keeping the sharp Buckland Athletic winger quiet...