Torquay United Community Sports Trust manager Craig Hutcheson is leaving his role for pastures new.
Hutcheson has been with the Trust for eight years and manager for the last two. He has had a long and successful time associated with Torquay United Football Club and we took time out for an in-depth interview with someone who has become synonymous with the Community Sports Trust.
“I’ve been here for a long time now,” said Craig. “When I took over as manager I did think at the time there was a chance it could be a ‘forever’ job because I love the Club, I’m a fan first and foremost. Helping to set up the youth system has been fantastic too.
“I’ve taken the challenge to work in more of an educational environment by moving to South Devon College. That will help continue my career development that started with the Trust. I have a lot to be thankful for.”
Craig started his community coaching career with the Trust after time out of the game. He was brought to the TUCST by a Torquay United community legend, and former Trust manager, Frank Prince.
“My wife came home and said that she had bumped into Frank [Prince],” recalls Craig. “At the time I had just an industrial injury where I worked before. I had a year out to recover and the story was published in the newspaper. Frank read the story and said to my wife that I should give him a call because he might have some voluntary work for me.
“To get back on my feet I called Frank and met up with him. He was good enough to offer me some voluntary hours which led onto part-time work. That led on to a full-time position and then two years ago I took over as community manager of the Trust.
“When I think back to when I first joined what stands out is the character of the community manager at the time, Frank Prince. The engagement he had with the community was terrific. He would always remind us that we were representing the Club and to wear the badge with pride.
“I also remember the success that the team enjoyed at that time. We has some great players like Eunan O’Kane who have gone on to bigger and better things. Over the years we have had quite a few players like that.
“I also worked with Paul Devlin for two years who was the community manager after Frank Prince. He is another big character that brought a lot technical coaching knowledge to my career development. He is an A-license coach and he was very supportive.”
Hutcheson has difficulty in naming all of the high points that he has experienced in his time at the Club, but they all involve his colleagues and people from the community. The day-to-day involvement of working at a professional football club is very rewarding for Craig.
“The main highlight has been working with the team of people at the Club because everyone is very supportive. I’ve worked with Matt Anthony, and Adam Whitmore, who have worked through their community apprenticeships. I was Matt’s mentor and now he has gone on to lead one of our programme’s in the community, as community engagement officer. To see him grow and development has been one of my highlights.
“Working at a football club is just fantastic,” enthuses Craig. “You don’t feel like you’re coming into work. The people are the most important factor.
“The reason why you get into a job like this isn’t for the money, but it is because you love the sport and you like working with people. You must care about what you do and the people we deal with. If you do that then you’ll end up doing well. The TUCST is part of Torquay United’s link to the community and all of its different sections.
It is always worth informing the Yellow Army and the general public of the important work that TUCST carries out. It has expanded to the point where there are programmes that anyone can get involved with.
“Things have moved on with the Trust. It still does a lot of its work inside schools in the South West but it now offer provision for all age groups, whether that be 2/3-year-olds that are just starting out, or adult drop and play sessions, or our disability football teams that cover young people, wheelchair users, and adults. The Trust also delivers a fitness programme for men and, starting soon, women. The Trust is also working with the Devon FA on a girl’s football programme that is coming up soon. The Trust is are also active on match days when it hosts local youth football teams from around Devon. The work is quite diverse.
United took on the task of relaunching a youth programme last year. It was done with the initial help of the Community Sports Trust who had been expanding to include a football development programme for young players.
“We went into a joint venture with the Club. To set it all up and to have teams from U7s to U16s, and then to put the U11s to U16s in the Junior Premier League, has been a massive body of work. We worked very well together in tandem. Now the Club have taken control of the day-to-day running of the academy. The Trust still has coaches supporting it.
“I urge the community to support the football club. We are struggling in the National League but with some hope that we can get out of trouble. We’ve had better times but I see really good examples of how the community support the Club, and how we return that support. That needs to continue.”
Craig leaves TUCST with the best wishes of everyone that works with him, and everyone that works at Torquay United Football Club. It won’t be the last time we see him at Plainmoor.
“I would like to thank everyone that I have been associated with over the last eight years, and I would like to wish my successor all the very best.”