Day 5 already and we are already in to July. The week has had long days but it has flown by so far and it won’t be long before we start competitive pre-season friendly games. I first woke up at about 5am and thought this is too early and managed to get off for a couple more hours. I was again one of the last one down and poor old Tutty only had me for company.
I called in at the treatment room before leaving the hotel and Scotty was having some stretches done by Gaz in one room, while Thorpey was sorting out some blisters on Reece as well as strapping up his ankle ready for the session. I was up at the training ground at about 8.45am and noticed from the reception area that there wasn’t very much in the way of equipment set out and it was as I had expected we were going to have a full 11 v 11 game on the full pitch.
The Gaffer checked on my fitness and asked me if I would referee the game, offering me his dad and the Chairman as my assistants. The Chairman and Keith Senior had red bibs on and Jack had improvised the flags by wrapping a yellow bib around two ball pumps to make them feel useful, before we kicked off some real flags arrived.
This was going to be a full size game with a difference as Jack had been commissioned to obtain a long piece of rope and this had been measured out to a length of 35 meters. Thorpey and Rhys were to tie themselves to either end and then operate just outside the touchline on one side of the pitch and they were to direct their respective back fours to play and work in line with them, this had the effect of condensing the play and the players within a 35 meter area of the pitch.
The games as I was instructed were to be of 6 x 10 minute durations, with a 2 minute break and turnaround. The Gaffer would be positioning himself in the sports building area to get an aerial view and Fradders would be taking up other aerial positions to analyse the play. Beechy was to manage the white team with his goalkeeper Steve and Tony managed the blue team with Josh as his keeper.
The teams for the game were given out by the Gaffer and were set up for the purpose of this training match so don’t read too much in to this. Beechy had a back four of Raff, Lois, Ollie and Tanser, a midfield of BBM, Tutts, Endo and Bastien, with Vincey and JB up front. Tony had a back four of Rosey, Ashley, D’ary and Joel (yes Joel at right back) the midfield was Cav, Lundy (good to see him back in full training) Hogie, Reece, with Bobby and George up front. Godwin and Jamie were substitutes that could be used by either manager at any time, and when one of these were used both managers still had the choice to use whoever was substitute as and when they wanted to make a change.
Before the game Rossi took the lads for their normal warm up routines and then Beechy took over to do some close ball work in a small grid. I used this time to sharpen my pencil just in case and instruct my linesmen. There was no mention of second, third and fourth phase of play, if you think he is in an offside position stick your flag up and keep it up, what could be simpler.
The game kicked off and was a little cagey to start with, Hogie had the ball in the back of the net but this was ruled out for offside, the first 10 minute period finished goal less. In the second period the blue team took the lead when George put in a ball from the right and the advancing Reece who was tightly marked let the ball run towards the back post where Hogie had timed his run to perfection to crash the ball home.
Periods three and four were also very tight and the players seemed very focussed on the game. At each of the two minute break periods the Gaffer came in to give out advice, which was in addition to the instructions given out by both managers, who had both made substitutions. The fifth period was when the blue team extended their lead, a mix up in the white defence allowed the predatory George in and he smashed the ball past the oncoming Stevie Collis.
At the end of the fifth period during the drinks break Ash asked me how many more periods to go and I said just a couple more and his face when the same colour as his bib, you’re joking he said, and at that point I was as were just about to start the final period. On my way back to start the final period the Gaffer checked that we had played 5 periods and then said give them another three after this one, I hadn’t got the heart to tell Ollie or my legs.
As the sixth period got under way I was really starting to hate this multi ball system, gee it just doesn’t give you a break. I usually use ball out of play time to regain my position and take a mini break but there was none of that.
I had managed to stay away from all controversy, which was quite an achievement for me and we are now in the penultimate period, and just when you think everything is ok it goes and bites you in the bum. We had a “controversial” throw in decision just inside the Chairman’s quarter and he gave the benefit to Rosie and with the multi ball system the blue team took full advantage and got the ball up to George in double quick time and bang it was 3-0 to the blues. The controversy didn’t end there as the white team were claiming that George was offside. A lesson from my old refereeing book came out and that is get the game kicked off as quickly as you can when there’s controversy, they’re less likely to argue if the ball is in play. The game was put to bed in this next to last quarter when Reece ratted and hounded his way around the white defends to rob the ball and tuck it in to the corner of the net.
Overall I really enjoyed myself and it is a pleasure and an honour to be so involved in the training when I am really on the administration and operational side of the business. Being in the middle you really appreciate just how fit and skilful these players are and the pace of the game has moved on so much. BBM was on the losing white side and I have a lot of respect for him as a player and as a person but today that respect more than doubled as I appreciate just how much he puts in to a game, he is involved in everything, even when he is not involved, he is constantly shouting instructions and encouraging all his team mates and particularly looking to help the younger players.
In terms of my BPB for the day it was a really close call between Scott Hogan and Peter Cavanagh on the blue team. Scott has tremendous energy and skill and keeps going from the first to the last minute and was a constant threat. Cav ran the show in midfield and most of the good things that the blue team did came through Cav’s play and leadership. He was winning tackles, breaking up play, spraying passes around and controlling everything from the middle of the park and Cav gets my BPB from this session.
In terms of the post-match manager’s press conference, Beechy was very bitter at the decisions that had gone against his team, three offside goals and un-penalised foul on his centre half for the fourth goal, also the third and killer goal was scored at a key time in the game and was scored from a controversial throw in and an offside position. An unusually smug Tony Ellis thought all four goals were totally legitimate and the score line speaks for itself.
I think I have upset the Chairman with my criticism of his hat earlier in the week and so much so that the offending garment has been consigned to the back of the wardrobe never to be seen again and he has gone out specially and bought a new one. I haven’t got the heart to tell him his new one would be excellent completion for his old one in the ridiculous hat competition. I think looking at the picture of Cav in the ice bath yesterday he has joined the Chairman, Jack and JB for this weekly award. I feel really bad about this now as he has spent over an hour and a half running a line for me in 30 degree heat.
The session was very good and the Gaffer was very pleased and he relayed this to the players. The Gaffer recognised the hard work that the players have put in to training, both in the UK and over here. The sessions over here have been over 5 hours each day and some very intense tough sessions as well. The Gaffer told the player that they could have some relaxation time and to use it wisely but however they chose. There would be no training until 5pm the following day but those needing treatment for blisters etc to see the Fizz and Gaz. This brought a few smiles to some very weary faces.
I didn’t have time to go for my little swim in the pool before lunch at 1pm and had to settle for just a shower. I used the collective time in the dining room to get around a few players to chase up the questionnaires that I had given out earlier in the week. I took my dirty laundry down to Jack for 1pm as that’s when the laundry man comes; Jack wasn’t about so I put it next to his table ready for him to put in the laundry bag. After lunch he brought me my washing from yesterday but managed to lose a pair of undies along the way and then I noticed that today’s dirty laundry hadn’t been sent away so I had to take it back up to my room with the advice from Jack of not mixing my dirty laundry with my clean.
Jack is a man that is a top man and I love him like a brother, but he does have this habit of annoying me at times. I often wonder if he does it on purpose or whether it is something that just comes naturally to him. I have three sayings that I find myself constantly saying to him, these are:
1. Jack, is it alright if I talk while you interrupt me?
2. Jack, do you know the answer to the question you are about to ask me, if the answer is yes, then don’t ask it.
3. Jack, Jack, do I really need to know what you are about to tell me ?
Sorry, there is a fourth saying that I regularly use to Jack, it involves three little words that include Jack and off. Bless him.
After lunch I offered to take four of the players up to the golf course that is linked to the training centre. They had hastily managed to arrange a game of golf after the Gaffer had in effect given them 24 hours off. Ollie, Endo, Tutty and Lundy were the ones who decided to use some of their leisure time to grab a round of golf and I dropped them off at about 2.30 ready for their 3pm tee off time. I wouldn’t have minded a rare round of golf myself but they don’t do five balls and I had some typing and some work to do as I remembered it was Monday and the business world was back in work after the weekend.
I managed to get the diary brought up to date and make a few phone calls and answer a few emails by about 4.30pm and then even though the siesta hours had passed I felt reasonably pleased with mu input for the day and decided to take an hour out. A lot of the players and staff were relaxing around the pool and a few of the staff were on a mission to get a photo of Gaz asleep and one of them managed to do that.
I got in to a conversation yesterday that I forgot to put in the diary, my memory is not all that it used to be. Earlier in the day I thought I overheard Beechy talking to another member of staff and was commenting on the Gaffer’s and him snoring in his sleep. After dinner I was in reception with a few other members of staff and Thorpey started talking about Gaz and his sleeping habits. Thorpey says that Gaz reckons he only needs four hours sleep a night, the Gaffer agrees with this but reckons he needs those 4 hours 6 times a day.
Thorpey went on about Gaz snoring and that he gets in to a deep sleep and he can’t wake him up in a morning even when he puts Gaz’s alarm to his ear and Thorpey reckons he has to turn Gaz’s alarm off for him. Now to be fair Gaz wan’t there to defend himself so the right of rebuke is with Gaz, who I am sure will claim that he has to get to sleep before Thorpey otherwise he would never get to sleep with the noise that Thorpey makes. Watch this space. I then happened to mention to the Gaffer that I thought I overheard Beechy talking to another member of staff saying that you snored in you sleep, well guess what, the Gaffer couldn’t believe this and retorted with its Beechy that does all the snoring in their room. Over to you Chris. Also, I think Mrs G would have a comment to make on this subject.