John Cornforth, comes into the Torquay job with the complete backing of his new Chairman, Mike Bateson, who commented that he '...likes his style...", but he has managed before, looking after Exeter City for just over a year. John had been appointed as caretaker manager of Exeter City on September 24, 2001, following the departure of Noel Blake from St. James' Park, and was later installed as his permanent successor, leading the club to a 16th placed finish that season.
Born in Whitley Bay in October 1967, John's football career began at Sunderland, where he signed from apprentice in 1985. He transferred to Swansea in 1991 having had spells on loan at Doncaster, Shrewsbury and Lincoln. Making 149 league appearances for The Swans in five seasons, the Welsh international midfielder – he won 2 full caps - John was signed by Birmingham in March 1996 for £350,000 but moved on to Wycombe just nine months later. After a brief loan spell with Peterborough, in 1998, John signed a month-to-month contract with Cardiff City but was given a free transfer to Scunthorpe in November 1999 and moved to Exeter, as a player in February 2000. By October of the same year he became player-coach, working under Noel Blake who he would succeed him as manager.
In his first season in charge at St. James Park, 2001-02, John's remit was essentially to keep the club in the league, with severely limited finances. The previous season had seen The Grecians come perilously close to relegation, finishing just 5 points off the bottom of Division Three, but John was able to ensure that they had a little more breathing space in 2002. Exeter finished 16th with 55 points, 19 clear of the relegated Halifax Town. Their difficult start to the following season, with another fight against relegation looking a distinct possibility, prompted the club to terminate John's contract, after just over a year in charge. He was sacked by Exeter City on October 5 2002, just two days before his 35th birthday, with the club in 21st position in Division Three, having won just three of their first 12 games of the season.
A period followed at Torquay United where he was on the management staff under Leroy Rosenior. When Leroy left the club, on 25th January, by 'mutual consent', John was appointed Caretaker Manager, before being rewarded with the full-time post on 3rd Febuary 2006. Time will tell how this appointment will pan out, but he was clear thoughts on what is needed saying
"A club with Torquay's history has got to have league status and I believe I can do the job. I want a hard-working team that reflects my own character. I want the job and I reckon I'm big enough and ugly enough to do it."
The Chairman for his part said, when announcing the appointment that
"I like his style and I am impressed with his contacts and knowledge of players throughout our league. His management style is very different from Leroy Rosenior and he has shown himself capable of taking a tough approach when needed but prefers his players to enjoy their work. John is with us initially until the end of the playing season but I hope before then to have secured our place in the Football League and to have agreed a longer term deal with him."