The late, great Ian Twitchin - Credit: Submitted

Gary Johnson channels the late, great Ian Twitchin to increase squad fitness

Dave Thomas

There were days in the Sixties and Seventies, when his car was on the blink and he couldn't afford a quick fix - he used to top up his summer wages with the deckchair franchise on Teignmouth seafront - that the late, great Ian Twitchin ran from his home town to train at Torquay United.

He nearly always won the runs, up and down the cliff paths around Babbacombe and Oddicombe.

And then he would jog home again.

His legendary fitness was allied to a pain threshold which allowed him to play many of his 435 games with injuries that would defeat many other mortals.

Those runs used to be part of what you signed up for when you joined the Gulls. They were hard, brutal even. And the scenery which millions of holidaymakers have loved over the years didn't make them any easier.

United's Class of 2022 have been toiling up and down those same paths, as Gary Johnson and assistant Aaron Downes put the squad through the pain which so many of their predecessors endured down the decades.

A nod to tradition, if you like. But still a good way to build up that all-important stamina.

It can't all be nasty, of course. You have to mix it up.

So, in the week that the world's best golfers descended on the Old Course at St Andrews, United's new-look squad were also invited to sign up for the 'Johnson Open', a 'FootGolf' tournament at Bovey Tracy GC.

There were winners and losers there too. And it cost several lads a few bob along the way.

It will all hopefully bring the current Gulls to the boil by the time Oldham Athletic come to Plainmoor on the opening day of the season proper on August 6.

And 'Twitch' would surely have approved.