New Pompey training venue high on Barker wish list

Pompey training at Furze Lane. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133013-394)
Pompey training at Furze Lane. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133013-394)

Richie Barker is targeting a new training location in 2014 as he strives to help overhaul Pompey’s infrastructure.

The club is currently seeking alternative venues to the Furze Lane training ground they made home in August.

The University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus has allocated the Blues two pitches, yet strong concerns over the quality of both remain.

The ongoing problem has prompted the club to look elsewhere, a procedure already under way before Barker’s appointment.

And having himself witnessed the training facilities wilt under the fierce December weather, he is eager for a replacement to be identified.

He said: ‘It’s nothing new to me. It might be to a couple of the players but, having been at Bury and Crawley and sometimes beg, stealing and borrowing, it’s not an issue to me.

‘It’s something we are looking to improve. I want to improve all aspects from the top all the way down to the bottom – the training facilities are certainly one of them.

‘In fairness, it was already identified before I came here and something I have identified as well.

‘We’ve only got two pitches, the first-team train on one and the youth team the other and if you train on the same place constantly it is never going to be in great condition.

‘The training pitch is where you spend most of your time. It is where you create most of your injuries and where you put in most of your plans, so the pitch, for me, is massively important.

‘I remember trying to change the ethos and environment at Crawley was tough. The training ground wasn’t high up on their list but it was at the top of my list.

‘At Pompey there are short-term, medium-term and long-term goals, the short-term goal at the minute is to pick up some wins. Medium-term at some point it is to help to put an infrastructure in place.

‘Sometimes managers and directors don’t look beyond six weeks but I would like to think that both the football clubs I left were left with some things which meant they were in a better place.’

The weather often rendered the training pitches unplayable last month, forcing Pompey to instead use the Astroturf at the same venue.

But Barker is used to battling for improved facilities following experiences at previous clubs Bury and Crawley.

He added: ‘My first year at Crawley was to train in a public park, which wasn’t great.

‘We had a couple of dogs running off with our balls and bikes going across the pitch.

‘One or two people had to follow their dogs with little plastic bags while we were training!

‘We eventually managed to move to a non-league ground used by Oakwood Football Club.

‘At Bury we had a pitch in the middle of a housing estate which meant most people could watch us do our set-pieces out of their windows.

‘But while Bury was a fantastic place it was also one of the wettest in England.

‘It rained 172 days in a row or something, so being on Astroturf for three months during the winter is nothing new to me. I am used to it – but I don’t accept it.’