How John Bond learned about management during playing days with Gulls
HE was a big enough character to tell the story against himself, which he readily did if prompted in later life, but it said much about both John Bond the man and Frank O'Farrell the manager.
In March 1968, with Torquay United top of what's now League One, the Match Of The Day cameras were due at Plainmoor for a key home game against promotion rivals Bury.
They knew that the game still thrived outside the top-flight in those days.
Ex-West Ham right-back Bond, who still lived in London and often trained with the Hammers during the week, had an agreement with O'Farrell that he had to be in Torquay on a Friday night before every home game.
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Proud of Torquay's progress during his time at Plainmoor, he eagerly told all his friends to tune in on the Saturday to seal a 'real' team in action.
On the Friday night O'Farrell rang Bond's wife, whom he had known for many years from his own time at Upton Park, about something unconnected with football.
At the end of the conversation she asked the United manager if he wanted to speak to Bond.
He had remained at home on a perfectly innocent charity matter and was preparing to travel to Torquay first thing in the morning.
But he had not cleared it with O'Farrell.
O'Farrell declined the chance to speak to Bond, and he didn't see him until the United squad gathered at Babbacombe's Trecarn Hotel the next day for their usual pre-match meal.
O'Farrell eventually rose, gave his team talk and announced the side – without Bond in it!
A furious Bond tried to suggest that O'Farrell had made a mistake and requested an 'audience' with him. Both attempts fell on stony ground.
United won 3-0 in front of nearly 11,000.
When Bond finally cornered O'Farrell, he was told firmly that a deal was a deal, and it didn't matter whether he was a senior player with several honours to his credit or a raw apprentice.
Bond was duly recalled for the next home game against Colchester, but on the left wing instead of his usual right-back spot!
He scored in another 3-0 win and was just turning to make a celebratory point to O'Farrell in the dugout when he thought better of it and wheeled away to return the crowd's acclaim.
The point of the episode was that, in O'Farrell's book, trust was absolute and Bond had threatened it, no matter what the excuse or however briefly.
Bond later confirmed that it had taught him an important lesson for his own successful managerial career (Bournemouth, Norwich, Manchester City, Burnley, Swansea, Birmingham), and he and O'Farrell remained firm friends until Bond passed away last week at the age of 79.
After a 16-year career at West Ham, during which he won the FA Cup and promotion to the old First Division, Bond spent nearly four years (145 apps) at Plainmoor, as a conspicuous member of the one of the best teams ever to play for the club.
He was a fine player and a real personality, and among the older fans who joined in a minute's applause for him at Plainmoor on Tuesday night must have been some who'd even bought a Herald Express and a bar of chocolate from him, when he ran Bondy's Tuck Shop in Torre back in those happy 'Swinging Sixties'.