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Club News

Austria Diary - Day 2

17 July 2012

Colin Garlick gives us the lowdown on day two in Austria

Dale Chief Executive Colin Garlick is our man in the camp and gives us the lowdown on day two of the pre-season trip to Austria.

Day 1 rolled in to day 2 even allowing for the hours difference of being abroad and it was 1.15am when I got in to bed after downloading photos and emailing day 1 back to the club. Despite a long days traveling and the late hour of the day I struggled to get to sleep even though the bed and particularly the pillows were very comfortable. I remember seeing 3am and 4.15 and I was well awake before my alarm went off at 6.30. I had a quick wash and change and was in reception for 6.45 where most of the lads had already assembled looking a little bleary eyed and wondering what the hell they were doing up at this unearthly hour, they were soon to find out.

At 6.50 the Gaffer on his mountain bike led the players on a run through the village and down to the training ground. I have decided this year not to rent a car as the training ground is only a 10 minute walk from the hotel and there isn't anything for miles and miles around here and if we need a car Tony our agent has one at the hotel, therefore my mode of transport is also a mountain bike. Jack not to be out done also opted for the two wheel travel option and although the first one we found him was just a little too small for him we did find one in the hotel garage that was just about right for him.

The ride to the training ground is just through the village and the last part is down a little bit of a hill and it is quite a pleasant ride even though the saddle takes a bit of getting used to, I do have a feeling though that as the week progresses that this saddle and my rear cheeks are not going to be the best of friends. As I free wheeled down the last little bit of the journey to the training ground we passed the Gaffer leading the players on their first exercise of the day.

The training ground looked quite stunning at this hour of the day with the sun glistening on the morning dew that covered the whole of the well-manicured training ground and with the back drop of the mountains in the back ground including a ski slope behind one goal the conditions were absolutely perfect.

Jimmy was already at the training ground setting out some benches ready for the morning exercise. Tony our agent along with his two lads was also down there preparing water for the lads and setting out some equipment for us.

Now I make no secret of the fact that I love Jack to bits and he really is an absolute legend and they definitely broke the mould after they'd made him, but there are times when Jack is just Jack and you have to go with the flow. So there we are stood in the middle of this very picturesque setting and one of the things that you can't help notice is this ski slope climbing off up in to the mountain and towards the sky and then we have this conversation. {Jack} "Our Col, do you reckon that's a ski slope over there". {Our Col} "Yes Jack, the long sloping mountainside with the ski lift running all the way up it sort of gives it away Jack". {Jack} "They won't ski on it now will they our Col". {Our Col} "No Jack, there's no snow on it". {Jack} "Our Col, do you think they'd ski on it in the winter when there's snow on it". {Our Col} "Yes Jack it's a flippin ski slope" [or words to that effect]. Priceless and that's just one of the reasons why I love Our Jack.

Jimmy took most of this session, which were mainly exercises after the run down from the hotel and a few laps round the pitch. Jimmy does all the exercises himself as he talks the players through the session and the Gaffer is looking on to make sure they are all following Jimmy's lead and offering words of encouragement and praise. There was a point in the exercise program where the Gaffer asked Kev McIntyre and Pete Cavanagh if they wanted to "play their joker" and I wondered what this was all about, so at breakfast I asked John. It seems there has been a little bit of banter where Kev and Pete have said because of their age they have a card from the PFA and it entitles them to opt out of part of an exercise program, so if they are doing 50 bench presses Kev and Pete can use their card and skip out of half of them, so when the Gaffer thinks they are struggling a bit the banter is he asks them if they want to play their joker, all good fun.

The exercises are designed to loosen the players up and then gradually stretch them and there's no doubt that these are touch exercises and are pushing the players all the way. This was a fairly short session of exercises without any balls in play at this time and with the run down from the hotel, the exercises and the run back to the hotel this session lasted about 75 minutes but there was more to come. I took the scenic route back to the hotel on my bike and had a ride around the lake, which was the way I thought the players had gone back but I didn't come across them and at one point I thought I had got lost but turns out it was a bit of a short cut. Once back at the hotel everyone went in for breakfast and to refuel before the next session

At breakfast physio Joe warned the players about looking after their feet and encouraged them to visit him and Andy in the treatment room to get rubs and strapping for the next session as this would involve the ball and therefore the players would now be wearing studs. In the period after breakfast I think all the players heeded Joe's warning and went to get rubbed, strapped or taped as blisters can occur in no time at all with the rigours of pre-season training.

After breakfast the Gaffer decided that he wanted to rearrange the tables in the dining room, which were set up in three straight lines next to each other and a little like an old school dining room, this meant that some of the players had their back to one another and groups were starting to form on the three separate tables with some of the younger players left on a table on their own. We helped the Gaffer move them in to a horseshoe formation with the chairs on the outside of the horseshoe and this way everyone was facing everyone else on what was now one big table, a great move for mixing the players together even more.

At 9.45 the players assembled in reception ready for the run to the training ground ahead of the second session. Our jack and I went on our bikes back to the training ground and this is definitely the better of the two journeys as most of it is downhill. Jimmy was again already down there and had set up some coned areas ahead of the second session of the morning. This session had 4 key parts to it for me and one of these was quite interesting and humorous the other 3 were very serious.

First of all the players were split up in to 2 groups of 6 and 1 group of 8 and kitted out with different coloured bibs, 3 colours in each group and then in lanes of about 15 yards wide covering a quarter of the pitch they did some ball work, which was all about pressing the ball. The players rotated throughout this session so each of them were the team in possession while the other players were either acting as passers or were the ones pressing the ball.

The next part of the session was the humorous one as the Gaffer had set out 3 courses of balls and cones and then he had the players split in to 3 groups and also in pairs, he then got one of the players to blindfold themselves with a bib and it was up to the other player to guide their partner through the course by shouting instructions. While this was quite funny there was also the serious side as it made all the players communicate with each other. It was even funnier when Jimmy got involved and was shouting instructions to Godwin and directed him right off course and in to the middle of the training ground where after a while he realised he was all on his own and bin had. I can also tell you that a little bit later Godwin got his own back on Jimmy, and Jimmy acknowledged this with the 1-1 sign.

The third part of the session was an expanse of the first session played on the full size pitch with 11 versus 11 and the goalkeepers who had been doing their own session joined in with this one. I should at this point just wish Matt Edwards well as he missed out on the trip due to the operation he had and is back home recovering. Matt's absence has left the goalkeeping department a little short on this trip with only Josh Lillis and goalkeeping coach Bernard left to fend the sticks. In this third session you were able to see the principles of the first session opened up on to the full size pitch and this made it much harder for the players as they had far more space to close down and to press the ball.

The final session of the morning was split in to two groups with the Gaffer operating in one half of the pitch and Jimmy operating in the other half. Jimmy had two manikins positioned just outside the penalty area and he had the two keepers working in tandem with him. Jimmy's session focussed on balls played forward in to feet and players moving on to balls in an area where they were expected to finish. The keepers really get worked in this type of session and there are a number of benefits for the outfield players in terms of the pass and moving as well as the finishing and there are defenders involved also.

The Gaffers session looked quite tough for the players and involved a lot of sprinting both with the ball and without it. The Gaffer set up a series of exercises in his half of the pitch to vary the session and it was noticeable how hard he was pushing the players in terms of their fitness in this session. The players moved between the Gaffer and Jimmy a couple of times and they were all worked equally as hard as one another. At the end of the two and a half hour session the Gaffer and Jimmy addressed all the players about their hard work ethic and the need to work as a team and encourage as a team.

Lunch was at 1.15 and the players are asked to take all their dirty kit to the kit room ready for washing in the afternoon by the hotel and ready for the following day. Lunch was very pleasant in our newly arranged dining room and this really did work well as the horseshoe not only meant the players were all looking at each other they were all facing the staff table also.

After lunch the players were given some rest and relaxation time, those who needed a little treatment were given the opportunity to go to the physio's room but they were all told they had from 3.45 to 4.45 to get rubs, strapping etc.

I went off to my room and for a nano second was caught in three minds, do I go through my emails, start the diary or try keep with the tradition of Spain and make the most of siesta, it wasn't much of a contest really and the siesta won. I was a bit disappointed with my free time and having elected the siesta in my mind unfortunately my body had other ideas and I didn't manage to get a nod and in the end I got up and started to do the diary up to lunch time. I also remembered that I hadn't actually unpacked and so decided to do that. I was a bit disappointed with how my clothes had travelled as I had loving ironed most of them myself, which is unusual for me but I'm becoming a little more domesticated in my old age. In fact I remember standing at the ironing board and thinking me and Mrs G should go back to the old position where she stood at the ironing board and I lay on the sofa with the remote (the old ones are the best).

I will divert for a moment or two just so you don't get the wrong idea. A few weeks ago Mrs G went off with our youngest daughter and her family for 2 weeks in Turkey, I couldn't go, bad time of year and all that and was therefore left at home on my own to fend for myself. Now in nearly 30 years of marriage I have never cooked a meal and by that I'm not talking bacon sandwich, beans on toast a just mean a proper meal. I have also boasted quite unashamedly that I have never used the washing machine and have no idea of how it works, what temperature to wash whatever at and absolutely no idea about colours. Any way with a fortnight to get through there is only so many people you can impose yourself on and our eldest daughter was very good as were our friends but I was beginning to think I might wear out my welcome and did venture to cook a couple of meals myself, this led to studying the washing machine and before I knew it I was stood at the ironing board. The danger of course now is that Mrs G might just expect this and look to covert the remote a bit more.

Mark was right I do write some c***, back to the training camp diary. At 4.45 the lads were on the way down to the training ground and Jack and I were pretending to be the boys from the Von Trap family cycling down the lane singing Do-Re-Mi.

Jimmy had already set up the warm up session on the far side of the pitch and this involved the players working in pairs with a ball and as well as being the warm up session it focussed on ball control.

We have four players on trial with us on this trip and I can't help thinking that Ian Craney and Ray Putterill look a lot like each other whereas the other two, Danny Johnson and Matt Pearson don't look anything like each other, just an observation.

The second session was one that I found very interesting and one where I witnessed the teacher in the Gaffer combine with his role as a coach and he was supported throughout by Jimmy. The exercise was run as an 11 versus 11 game with the keepers again involved and the players encouraged to apply the principles of the earlier sessions of working as a team and pressing the ball. As the game progressed the Gaffer would stop the game and point out various points in the game and was prepared to indulge the players and seek and discuss their points and ideas. You can see from a session like this how well the Gaffer and Jimmy work together and complement each other. It was also interesting to observe in this session how much time the ball was in play and how much time was spent coaching and discussing the various tactics with an emphasis on players making the right decisions during a game and working for each other.

Dinner was at 7.15 after dumping the second lot of dirty kit in the kit room and collecting the first lot ready for the morning session tomorrow. After dinner there wasn't much happening but then I guess the lads were too tired to do anything else and just relaxed around the hotel. I discovered that I actually refereed the Gaffer at Wembley back in 1997 when I did my last game as a referee in the Umbro Veterans Grand Final and John was playing for a vets team from Liverpool.

We discovered this when I heard the Gaffer ask had we met any of our sporting heroes and I said I had met Pele at Wembley and he said so did I, we then both recollected the vets final and that Pele had presented the trophy and the medals at the end of it and that we had this experience in common, small world.

At about 10pm I put my nostalgic memories away for another day and retired to my room to finish off the diary and try to ensure that I get an early night ready for another early start in the morning. 

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