Torquay United as it is today is the result of a merger between three local teams: the United team as we know it, Ellacombe and Babbacombe. The original Torquay United Association Football Club was founded in 1899 by a group of school leavers and played its first friendly match against an Upton Cricket Club eleven in a farmer’s field at the top of Penny’s Hill, on the Teignmouth Road. The Plainmoor site did exist, but it was the home of the rugby club, and when they vacated in 1904, Ellacombe moved in. United led a nomadic existence, moving between the Teignmouth Road site and Torquay Cricket Club’s site at Cricketfield Road until 1910, when it merged with Ellacombe and became Torquay Town. The club had won their first honour, the Torquay and District League title, in 1909.
The new club shared the use of Plainmoor with its rivals Babbacombe. After the end of the First World War there was pressure for Torquay Town and Babbacombe to merge, which they did in 1921 and adopted their present name, Torquay United.
Kit: The original colours were light and dark blue, but after the merger in 1927 they adopted the Newcastle United style of black and white stripes, earning them the name of the Magpies. At the same time they were elected to Division Three (South) of the Football League. They wore their Magpies colours for over thirty years, until the 1954/55 season, when they changed to gold and blue to represent the sand and sea of Torbay. This year saw their greatest ever FA Cup victory. After wins against Cambridge United and Blyth Spartans, Torquay were up against Leeds, and although they lost by nil one to Leeds, for them success lay in the fact that they had got to play a First Division club.
Since the early 1980s the team’s nickname has switched from The Magpies to The Gulls to reflect their proximity to the sea and their sand and sea kit. They were not able to take the full name of The Seagulls as that had already gone to Brighton. Like their early nomadic existence between grounds, The Gulls have led a similar existence through the League Divisions. After making their League debut in the third division, they were relegated to the newly-created Fourth in the 1957/58 season, were promoted back to Division Three in 1960, and relegated again to Division Four in the early Seventies. They almost lost League position completely in the 1984/85 campaign, but after that climbed up through Division Three in 1992.