New training complex is a home from home for Rovers

Raith manager Grant Murray, chairman Turnbull Hutton, director Eric Drysdale, Paul Hossack, department manager of Michael Woods Sports Centre, and coach Laurie Ellis with some of the Raith youngsters at the Michael Woods Sports Centre in Glenrothes. Photo:Walter Neilson

Raith manager Grant Murray, chairman Turnbull Hutton, director Eric Drysdale, Paul Hossack, department manager of Michael Woods Sports Centre, and coach Laurie Ellis with some of the Raith youngsters at the Michael Woods Sports Centre in Glenrothes. Photo:Walter Neilson

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RANGERS have Murray Park, Hearts have Riccarton, Celtic have Lennoxtown, while even Dunfermline have Pitreavie.

Now Raith Rovers can be added to the list of clubs with access to dedicated training facilities after stepping into partnership with Fife Council and Fife Sports and Leisure Trust.

Rovers will set up a training base at the new Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre in Glenrothes - the name given to the former Fife Institute following a £21.1 million upgrade - for the coming season to be used by the first team.

The players are set to benefit from the use of stunning state-of-the-art facilities that include several outdoor synthetic pitches, an 80-station gym, a competition standard swimming pool and more.

Rovers’ previous training regime has involved jumping between numerous venues, with the likes of Dalgety Bay, Beath High School, Edinburgh World of Soccer and even public parks commonly used in recent years.

Player-manager Grant Murray, who helped set-up the deal along with one of the centre’s department managers Paul Hossack, believes that having a dedicated training complex within close proximity to Kirkcaldy will give the team a massive boost.

“Not every club has the luxury of a dedicated training complex - including some SPL clubs - so this is fantastic opportunity for a club like Raith,” he said.

“It’s a fanstasic complex with great indoor and outdoor facilities so we can only benefit from using that on a day to day basis.

“We’ve just brought four new young lads into the first team squad on apprenticeships and it’s great that they will get the benefits of this - and we hope more can follow.”

Raith chairman Turnbull Hutton views the move to the Michael Woods Centre as a feather in the club’s cap.

“It’s 15 minutes from Stark’s Park, which is closer to our home than Hearts are to Riccarton, so it’s perfect,” he said.

“We’ve worked hard with the whole set-up of the club and this is the last piece in the jigsaw.

“We’ve done the best we can with the facilities we’ve had, but this is whole new ball game.

“It should take us to a different level entirely.”

Hutton was also pleased with the willingness shown by Fife Council and Fife Sports and Leisure Trust to come into partnership with the football club.

“The Council has been very good,” he said.

“There was an opportunity for the Council to benefit from having an association to Raith Rovers, and for us to benefit from use of the facility.

“The timing is right, the financial package is right, and the facilities are brilliant. We’re raring to go!”

Ed Watson, Fife Sports and Leisure Trust chief executive, added: “The Trust is pleased to be working with Raith Rovers and we are confident that the players, as well as the local community, will be very impressed with the state-of-the-art facilities and the range of programmes on offer.

“The new centre is not just a huge asset for Fife, but will offer one of the best sporting facilities across Scotland. We hope to see sports people and local clubs use the facility to host competitions, as well as encourage users of all ages and abilities to make the most of some fantastic leisure opportunities to help get more people more active.”

Raith also hope to use the move to Glenrothes as a way to reach out to potential supporters and investors in the town.

Eric Drysdale, Rovers’ chief executive, explained: “We’re hoping that through being here, we’ll be able to engage with the Glenrothes community much more than we have done to date.

“Grant, Laurie and the players will be available, in association with the centre management, to provide development opportunities for local youngsters who want to come in here, become members and use the facilties.

“We want to work in partnership with Paul Hossack and his team to the mutual benefit both of Raith Rovers and this centre.

“It’s something that will take this club onto a new level in terms of fitness and match preparation.

“It’s a real home from home for us and gives the squad a better chance to gel and become more of a team.”

Rovers commercial manager Tom Morgan is already making in-roads into the Glenrothes business community.

He added: “We’re using this new training arrangement to try and raise the profile of the club in Glenrothes.

“I’ve already contacted a good amount of local companies to see how we can get them involved with the club. We’re getting to know people and it’s all been very positive.

“We’re also in discussion with the primary schools in the area with the idea being that we can get players into schools to raise the profile, and give the kids a voucher for a game so they bring their parents along.”

The Michael Woods Sports and Leisure Centre is expected to open to the public in late July, however Raith will begin using the facility for pre-season training from Monday.