Torquay United’s assistant manager Shaun Taylor has described the 3G artificial grass pitch at nearby Paignton Community & Sports College as “a life-saver” as the Gulls battle the weather to find decent training facilities.
United have trained on real grass only twice in the past fortnight, and they had to call off a planned session at Channings Wood Prison this week because the pitch there was frozen.
The club’s own training ground at Seale-Hayne, near Newton Abbot, has been badly affected by waterlogging and frosts in recent weeks.
“We’ll hopefully go to Channings Wood next week, and we’re very grateful to the prison for offering their pitch to us,” said Taylor.
“The players don’t like to train on the all-weather every day, which we can understand, although I don’t think it’s that much different to the sort of surfaces they train on in the summer. But over the last few weeks, the Paignton College area has been a life-saver for us.
“It’s been either the gym or the ‘astro’ a fair bit recently, but we should get a good grass session in before the Northampton game [at Plainmoor] this Saturday.”
United have embarked on an ambitious £100,000-plus redevelopment programme at their Seale-Hayne training base.
A large area, big enough for two pitches, has been levelled, landscaped and reseeded, but it will not be ready for use until next summer.
Meanwhile, former Torquay goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik is helping the Gulls through a difficult financial period even though he left Plainmoor six months ago. Olejnik’s appearances for Championship club Peterborough United are earning Torquay vital income and helping to make up for their first-round exit from the FA Cup.
The Gulls sold the popular Olejnik to the Posh in the summer. The total package is worth £350,000 – £250,000 as the transfer fee plus £100,000 based on appearances.
The £250,000 is being paid in instalments over the next two years. But the appearances clause gives Torquay £10,000 every time that Olejnik completes ten Football League appearances for Posh, up to 100.
Even though Peterborough have struggled at the bottom of the Championship this season, the former Aston Villa and Falkirk player has held his place at London Road.
Olejnik, 26, has already played in all of Posh’s 21 league games this season – worth £20,000 to the Gulls.
United’s managing director, Bill Phillips said: “Life is very tight at the moment. So Bobby Olejnik’s appearances for Peterborough have been very valuable for us, especially without the FA Cup monies.”