Thwarted again – but brighter news on Pompey training ground

13327_EASTNEY_BARRACKS_7/2/13''Eastney Barracks playing fields, off of Cockleshell Gardens, Eastney. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13327-468)
13327_EASTNEY_BARRACKS_7/2/13''Eastney Barracks playing fields, off of Cockleshell Gardens, Eastney. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13327-468)

Pompey were once again thwarted from venturing into their new training home at Eastney Barracks.

Only this time it was down to the weather rather than paperwork.

It has now been two weeks since leaving Eastleigh and the Blues have still not managed to move to their new training base.

Eastney Barracks, nowadays called the Cockleshell Community Sports Club, had long been the preference.

Finally, Whittingham’s men were given the green light to train there yesterday.

Yet the recent wet weather put paid to that and instead they travelled to South Downs College and the Mountbatten Centre to use their Astroturf pitches.

The caretaker boss is hopeful Pompey can get out on grass today at Eastney ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Carlisle.

Regardless, he is delighted to have landed the venue ahead of other contenders HMS Collingwood and the University of Portsmouth.

Whittingham said: ‘We were supposed to start at the old Eastney Barracks yesterday but unfortunately it was waterlogged.

‘A group went up to South Downs College again and a group went to the Mountbatten Centre, which was very kind of them to help us out.

‘The groundsman was working there yesterday – we should be okay for today.

‘When you lose your training ground you have to find an area that can allow people to change, has food there, has a gym, all that sort of stuff, so we had to base ourselves at Fratton Park.

‘Then you need somewhere to train that is accessible to the amount of players we have got.

‘It’s not just the first team but the Academy as well – so you need at least two pitches.

‘And you need somewhere that is flat, where you can drive to within five or 10 minutes.

‘You don’t want to change at the ground and go off somewhere too far in the car.

‘Eastney is one of the areas we thought of first of all and, through a lot of hard work by a lot of people, we have managed to get there.

‘That’s until the end of the season. We can’t work anything long term.’

The Cockleshell Gardens training ground is closed to the general public.

However, it used by Meon Milton Football Club and Mayville High School.

Pompey had to reach agreement with the Cockleshell Gardens charity for permission to share their pitches for the remainder of the campaign.

As part of the agreement, a full-time Fratton Park groundsman will also work on the Eastney pitches.

And for Whittingham, it really is rolling back the years.

He added: ‘I trained there under Frank Burrows when he was here.

‘We changed at Fratton Park and went down there.

‘The pitches are fine and we’ll be helping them with that.’