Ex-Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday defender on Bristol Rovers boss ‘brutal’ pre-season

Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers teams have always been well drilled and well fit

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Tommy Spurr has opened up on what a pre-season looked like under Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton.

Spurr was at Barton’s former club for a short stint having signed on loan from Preston North End at the time in 2018 on a season-long loan

Then 32-years-old at the time was recruited to play as a centre-half having mainly played his career as a left-back where he made ver 400 league appearances.

Opening up on his first encounter with the Gas boss, the former Sheffield Wednesday defender could not speak highly enough about the man who delivered League Two promotion success at the Memorial Stadium last season.

In early August, appearing on the Undr the Cosh podcast hosted by Jon Parkin and former Doncaster Rovers striker Chris Brown, Spurr opened up on what it was like after linking up with the ex-Newcastle United midfielder.

He said: “He is a genuine sort of a winner, he is desperate to win. I think that gets the better of how he puts things across. When I spoke to him about going, I didn’t have any real doubt in my mind.

“After I spoke to him, I thought alright, he sounds brilliant.  Playing centre-half, wants to play out and wants experience. It couldn’t sound any better.”

Barton’s teams are known to be fit and last the majority of the match, which is evident after Rovers’ got a late equaliser against Morecambe last Saturday.

Most of the preparations for their fitness have come from the opening gambits of pre-season with players put through their paces

But during Barton’s time at Fleetwood, Spurr had arrived at Highbury Stadium in July and was part of a ‘brutal’ training camp task as he described to help prepare them for the 2018/19 season, in which they achieved a mid-table finish.

He believes Barton took the inspiration for the training drills from Sean Dyche - who coached him to a Championship title in 2016 at Burnley and has since remained a close friend.

Spurr said: “He copies it, I think he gets it from Sean Dyche. I think a lot of the stuff that he wanted to do in management comes from Sean Dyche because I think he had a good relationship with him at Burnley.

“The gaffer’s day, we got told it’d just be like a down day, just bring your trainers and just do a little bit of jogging.

“We turn up, go out and see kegs of beer out, metal kegs, logs and dumbells. I’m like what is this? Poles are set out everywhere.

“All of a sudden Joey Barton takes off running like ‘keep up with me’. ‘It changed from being day-to-day like all right and sound to follow me.

“He took off and it was some pace for about three kilometers. They had measured it out and we got back in and this is like the start of your day.

“I was like the start of it? I could run, not in terms of sprint but I could run all day. I thought I might be alright. I can get through it but we did like an hour of running.

He added: “I thought how long is this going to go on for? We’re doing army crawls like carrying and doing squats with people. It just kept going and going, then you got split up into three teams.

“You had to hold hands, one person had to do it and pick the next one up. Running when there was like six of you holding and you couldn’t use your arms, it was brutal.

“You were all in a chain, turning corners and stuff like that, it was absolutely brutal. You would drop one off at the end, you’re doing like two full-length football pitches there and back.

“If you lost, you had to split into a team of four and you’d race against the four. Every time you lost you had a forfeit, our team lost the first one, it was brutal, I think we covered nearly 20 kilometers in two-and-a-half hours, it was the worst thing I have ever done.

“It was like the finisher on Ant Middleton’s SAS thing, it was like that.”

Spurr, who had to return to Preston North End following a career-ending injury, had only a short time as a player working under him but made him aware of his return to Deepdale for treatment.