Rice ready for Gulls challenge
GOALKEEPER Martin Rice is determined to make a success of his second spell at Torquay United, so he doesn't have to go back to working on building sites.
And he has promised to give first-choice goalie Bobby Olejnik some real competition for his place.
Rice, who has just agreed a two-year deal with new United boss Martin Ling, supplemented his part-time earnings with Truro City by labouring in and around his home town of Exeter.
"I've been shifting blocks, hauling buckets of stuff around and generally getting stuck in," said the former Grecians and Gulls goalie.
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"Then, twice a week, I'd head off to train with Truro."
In fact, Rice credits his work in the 'real world' with improving his football form.
"The first year (2009-2010) at Truro I struggled to adapt to the part-time thing," he said.
"I was used to training every day, and I found myself getting quite lazy.
"I was just waiting for training to come around, and it's easy to get into bad habits. But last season I came in to train with Torquay a few times, I got myself a job and made myself much more active.
"Sure enough, I had one of my best seasons last year."
Truro won the Zamaretto (Southern) League title, clinching yet another promotion to the Conference South.
"Even though they are non-League, the level that Truro played at is still a good level," said Rice.
"The players you're up against are often physical, and I've toughened up.
"As a goalkeeper, you either do things right or you don't. If you make a mistake, the ball still ends up in the back of the net.
"I think I'm a better 'keeper now than when I was here last time, mainly because I'm more experienced.
"I'm 25 now, I've got a young family and this two-year contract gives me a bit of stability.
"I want to get back into full-time football, and I want to stay in it. I don't want to end up back in part-time.
"Bobby is the No.1 'keeper, and I'm here as second choice at the moment.
"But I'm not one for being happy with sitting on the bench – I will push him as far as I can go.
"I'm used to playing games week in and week out, and when my chance comes, I've just got to take it."
Rice admitted to 'a few nerves' when he played the second half of United's 2-0 friendly win over Bristol City last weekend.
"But I managed to make a couple of decent saves, took a cross under a bit of pressure and, when I did make a mistake, Brian Saah got me out of trouble," he said.
"I thought I did OK."
With Olejnik under treatment for a slight groin strain, Rice was bracing himself to play against his old club Exeter in last night's Plainmoor friendly.
He added: "When you're used to playing in front of 400-500 people most weeks, you'll take this every time."
FORMER Torquay United coach Alan Slough's annual Soccer Schools open at Paignton's Clennon Valley next week (July 25/26/27) and every Monday-Wednesday (10am-3pm) after that.
Slough can be contacted on 01803 527869.