Gulls groundsman aims for Football League return as he makes remarkable recovery following cycling accident

Torquay United head groundsman Julian Gouldthorpe with colleague Mark White. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Torquay United head groundsman Julian Gouldthorpe with colleague Mark White. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

When Torquay United United’s head groundsman Julian Gouldthorpe effectively broke both his arms in a cycling accident in July, it looked as if he could be on the injured list for a year or more.

But the man who prides himself on the quality of the Gulls’ Plainmoor pitch, and their training complex at Seale Hayne near Newton Abbot, has made a remarkable recovery.

Julian fell off his bike not far from Torquay town centre and broke the humerus of his left arm above the elbow, his right wrist and cracked a bone in his right elbow joint.

He was also briefly knocked unconscious, but says: “I can’t remember too much, but the road was rather bumpy and rutted. Luckily there was no traffic around when I fell, until a car stopped and the young driver helped me.”

An ambulance was called and he was taken to Torbay Hospital.

“I couldn’t do anything for myself for about four weeks, so I stayed with my daughter,“ he recalled.

“They reckoned that it could take up to 18 months before I was right again.“

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Luckily, Gouldthorpe and his assistant Mark White had already completed most of the extensive close-season and reseeding of the Plainmoor pitch.

“Mark has been a godsend while I’ve been off – he’s done the job before and he knows what to do,” said Julian.

“But I’ve surprised everyone by getting back to work as early as I have.

“I’m still on flexi-time, and I can’t manage everything at the moment – the light mower is OK, but not the heavy one!

“I’ve finished my hospital physio and it’s just a question of strengthening up my arms now. I’m getting there.”

Julian has also grabbed the chance to progress his studies on an official groundsman and turf management course.

“It’s important I get that qualification,” he stressed as United stand top of the National League table.

“You are supposed to have it if we get back in the Football League!”