Nicholson is next to reach big landmark
They have been team-mates and the best of friends at Torquay United for more than six years, and now left-back Kevin Nicholson is about to follow midfield captain Lee Mansell in breaking through an appearance landmark for the Plainmoor club.
Manager Alan Knill acknowledges that the Gulls' two longest-serving players are still key figures in a changing team.
Skipper Mansell, now in his eighth season at United, has just passed the 350-mark in total senior appearances for the club, only the tenth player in Torquay's history to reach that figure.
As long as Knill picks him, Nicholson – he signed in 2007, a year after Mansell – will play his 250th league game for the south Devon club against Hartlepool United at Plainmoor tomorrow. His next match after that, possibly Tuesday's Football League Trophy tie at home to Portsmouth, will be his 300th appearance in all competitions.
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Neither men's careers stop there. Mansell, 30, previously played more than 120 games for Luton Town, Nuneaton Borough on loan and Oxford United. Nicholson, 32, played well over 250 times for Sheffield Wednesday, Northampton Town, Notts County, Scarborough and Forest Green Rovers before Paul Buckle signed him in the summer of 2007.
"Their records don't surprise me at all," said Knill, "especially as Manse and Nico seem to do everything together.
"Lee is an excellent captain – he leads by example. He's probably the first on the team-sheet, and he probably has been for quite a number of managers.
"I hope he has a couple of hundred more games in him, and I can see him playing for a long time yet.
"Kevin is also a real good pro who looks after himself, which is really important in a long career."
Long loyal spells at a single club, something that used to be common-place in years gone by, are rarer these days, but Knill added: "We've got two great examples here in Lee and Kevin. They've settled down and made a life for themselves and their families here.
"The hard part may be getting players down here in the first place, but I was only talking to [Exeter manager] Paul Tisdale this week and he was saying the hardest part can be getting players to leave! It's such a great area, especially for families. I love living here and I know Aaron Downes, who has just signed a new contract with us, feels the same."