I was actually in bed before 11pm last night, which is very unusual for me on one of these trips. In fact I was probably asleep before 11 as well as I can only remember managing to read a couple of pages before the heavy eye lids beat the eyes themselves, I must have been tired after running around that pitch for 90 minutes trying to keep up with this young players. Having had my normal solid 5 hours kip I was awake around 4am and couldn’t sleep so I resorted to trying to read my book again and managed more than a few pages, I did manage to get a little more sleep before the guilt kicked in and force me out of bed.
It was to be a quiet start to the day as the players were still on leisure time and we wouldn’t be training until the late afternoon. I hit the dining room at about 9am and it was a lot more populated with bodies from our group than I had experienced earlier in week. The mood was fairly quiet and relaxed and the players seemed grateful for the leisure time, which was really giving their bodies the opportunity to recover from some intense training and hard work. The leisure time was also giving the blisters a little time to heal.
After breakfast I headed up to the training centre for a couple of hours or so, first job was to try and get a decent wifi connection to email the diary and photos back to the club. I had no problem with the connection at the centre and it was even good enough to get connected to my PC at work remotely so I hit the in box and sifted through a trance of emails. Sat on the reception balcony overlooking the beach and the ocean with the laptop open is quite a nice way to do business and something I could quite get used to. On and off for the last 3/4 weeks I have enjoyed this set up of working in my shorts and t-shirt looking out over the top of my laptop to panoramic views of the Mediterranean and Atlantic ocean, I really could get quite used to this way of working.
After sorting the emails and making a couple of calls I thought I would have an hour or so in the gym just to help me get over my guilt. There was a young lady on the treadmill who looked extremely fit in the physical sense of the word and she was running quite fast, so to avoid being compared to her I thought I would start off on the bicycle, also she’d nicked the open window machine with the breeze blowing straight in. I had a little stint on the bicycle and all the time I’m wondering why they make these b***** saddles so uncomfortable, you have to have a lot of sympathy for Sir Bradley and his colleagues who spend hours and days on these damn things. I also figured out that both Thorpey and Gaz wouldn’t be up for treating my blisters once I got off the bicycle.
Having burnt off a few calories and satisfied my guilt I headed back to the hotel and just about had time for a quick dip in the pool before lunch. There were quite a few of the players and staff lounging around the pool and relaxing before going in to the dining room.
Yesterday I was joking around the table and asked the question, how do you stop Jack from drowning? Answer, take your foot off his head. Today I learnt at lunch that Jack had had a near miss in the morning when he had joined the Gaffer, Beechy and Ross down on the beach for a swim. Ross and Beechy are very strong swimmers and they know they are, Jack just thinks he is when he isn’t, but the bravado took over and in the wee man goes. I understand it wasn’t that long before he realised that he isn’t as strong as he thinks he is and the waves had got up a bit and he was a little surprised at this. Beechy and Ross were close by but the little man did make it back to shore safely and thankfully I won’t have to do the laundry tonight, although I am sure that there are going to be many occasions in the future where I will curse Beechy and Ross for pulling him out.
I taught Beechy a little life’s lesson in the dining room earlier in the week and I have been trying to pass this lesson on to the players throughout the week. When you go to the dessert station pick up a soup bowl on the way as you can get a whole lot more dessert in a soup bowl than you can a dessert dish, I think there are still a few players to learn this valuable lesson.
After lunch I checked in at the treatment room to see what was going on there but I think I was a bit early to catch any of the action. I did meet up with a few players who were relaxing inside and these included George and Endo who needed teaching that life’s lesson as they had dessert bowls in their hands. I took the opportunity to find out how Endo, Tutty, Lundy and Ollie had gone on with their round of golf the day before. Endo wasn’t happy with his performance on what was a very hot afternoon, fortunately they had hired buggies to go round on otherwise it would have been hard work. Endo thought the course was excellent and Ollie came out on top and we think he plays off a handicap of 12.
The players and staff were enjoying the last few hours of leisure time before reporting for training at 5pm, a few were gathered on loungers around the pool. I did notice high up on the fourth floor that there appeared to be an Under 21’s Development squad meeting going on in one of the players balconies. I could easily make out JB, Godwin and Joel and it looked as though Jamie, Tanz (new name) and D’arcy were all involved. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall up there.
I then took the disciplined approach and decided to bring the daily diary up to date before contemplating a bit of siesta and I’m at that point right now. Beechy has just popped his head over the balcony to say hello, I’m sure that he and the Gaffer will have already planned this evening’s session before having a quiet hour. If I get my timings right I might just grab 20 winks and then have time to call back in at the treatment room to see what’s going on ahead of tonight’s training session.
Just after 4 I got ready for the evening session and decided to call in at the treatment room to see what was going on. Thorpey and Gaz had just patched the last two players up, Reece and Joel, and they set off to the centre. I took what was either a brave or a stupid decision; I think the latter to ask Gaz for a rub. Gaz was only too obliging and offered me the calf and thigh sports rub. Now I had a full body massage as a bit of a treat while I was on holiday a few weeks ago. This was different as I could let myself go and yelp, scream and grunt when he got in to those sensitive spots, when I had my massage I felt a little more in control of myself and was able to hold the screams in, amongst friends and when he got in to those t-bands I really was very wimpish and let it out. To be fair Gaz did give me a commentary as to what was about to happen as was about to get in amongst those ligaments and muscles. For the most part it was very good and relaxing and when he had finished I felt my legs tingling and well warmed up and ready to go. These guys know exactly what they are doing and you appreciate just how important it is to prepare the players properly. I’m pleased that I had the experience but as Gaz pointed out on a pain scale of 10 he had only taken me to about 2.5, I think this was to make me feel better.
D’arcy had a collision during a session a few days ago when his eye accidently collided with an elbow and he has been cultivating a black eye that is now spoiling his boyish good looks. It does make him look hard now and the experience is character building.
Before the evening session got under way the Gaffer addressed the players and again praised them for the work that they had put in and their professional approach to the trip and all that it involves. He went on to say that the hard bit was about to come and the next session would have a bit of everything in it, including a lot more pace. The Gaffer also warned them that tomorrow would be the “Run in the Sun day”.
Ross took the warm up session on yet another one of his little slalom courses. Beechy continued the warm ups and again this was with balls at feet. The next part of the session was split in to two areas, Beechy had one area and Tony the other area. Tony was mainly working on possession in his grid, which was about 30 meters square with one channel down one side.
I had a little wander over to the warm up area while the outfield players were having their warm up with Ross, Tony and Beechy. Steve had set up the goalkeepers warm up grids and he was putting Josh and himself through their paces. There exercises are set up to test their agility, reflexes, concentration, strength etc.
Goalkeepers are a different breed and for me they work as hard as the outfield players in training and probably even harder. Cast aside one minute to do their own thing and then they are thrown in at the deep end in training sessions, some of the sessions are quite brutal for the keepers and the final session of the day was to be quite brutal for them as they would be operating on a relatively small pitch where shots can rain in on them from everywhere. There are quite a few of our players who I have noticed pack quite a punch with their shots, Ollie hit one the other day that was missile all over it and today Vincey, Rosey, Bobby, Tuttey, George & Endo to name just a few hit some absolute rockets at the two keepers. Josh and Steve take all this in their stride but believe me they are absolutely bombarded session after session and have to be so physically strong to take it all.
The players were split in to 4 groups of 6 and these were positional groups with two groups of defenders/defensive midfielders and the other two groups were attackers/attacking midfielders. The area that Beechy was working in was one full size set of goals with a keeper, the width was about 20 yards either side of the goal and the length was about 40 meters. There were cones placed about 8 yards from the goal line, which was the starting position for the defenders, the next set of cones were about 10 meters further out and these were for the strikers starting positions and then the midfielders were at the end of the grid. I stayed watching this session as this was competitive as well as very interesting. What Beechy had set up was an attack versus defence situation and there was to be varieties of this throughout the session and the objective was to score or defend by breaking down the attack. To start with there were the two defenders and we then had two strikers and one midfielder (3 v 2, ignoring the goalkeeper) the attacking midfielder could join in the attack once he had played the ball to the strikers, the defenders had to hold their position and couldn’t press the strikers until the ball was played in to them, this was more obvious when Beechy increased the numbers to 4 v 3. The four teams changed around and worked with both Beechy and Tony to ensure they all got involved in the different elements. I really enjoyed watching this session, which is mainly why I didn’t see much of Tony’s possession work and I have to tell you George was on fire and scoring from everywhere.
For the final part of the session the players were split into 3 groups of 8, Beechy and Tony were included to make the numbers up. The area we used was only about 40 meters in length and 50 meters wide with neutral channels on both wings for two of the third team to operate in on each wing, the other 4 players from the third team were placed on the goal lines either side of the goals. The goals were full size and both Josh and Steve were involved. The final piece of this exercise was that the Gaffer was a lone neutral player inside the pitch with his red bib on and he played with the team in possession. There were two competing teams with the third team working with the team on the ball. When you have these neutral players it makes the game fast and furious and bear in mind you can be in possession of the ball and play it to a member of the neutral team on the goal line, he only has two touches but then he can play you back in. The pace of this was frantic as it was winner stays on and the original time for this was 30 minutes, as the losing team you have to sprint off and more importantly as the third team you have to sprint on as the servers keep the balls coming thick and fast and if you’re not in position you can find yourself going off again before you’ve properly got on.
In this session the Gaffer found himself in the wars again, having suffered brain freeze for the last three nights from his ice cream dessert today he got in the way of a rocket from Bobby, which I think ricocheted off about 6 different parts of his body and amongst them was his middle finger that ended up dislocated.
I said this was fast and furious and the pace was non-stop. After the 30 minutes the Gaffer introduced a further 15 minutes and the pace was again relentless, there were goals flying in from everywhere and everyone, The Gaffer scored one even with his dislocated finger and even Tony bagged a brace. Spare a thought for Gaz who was charged with the clipboard to keep score between the teams and goalscorers. My BPB for this session went to George he was hot, hot, hot in the early session and continued this throughout.
I think I shamed Jack in to buying a new hat just like the Chairman, today Jack turned up for training in his new purchase, which was a very conservative Panama number that almost made him look quite distinguished.
After the warm downs it was back to the hotel for a shower, laundry and dinner at 8. Jack was collecting in the dirty kit ready for the laundry man coming to collect it but he does a few things such as the bibs in the hotel launderette and usually has a good moan while he’s doing it. Today he had more of an excuse than normal as the washer packed up and trapped his laundry inside of it, he did get it out eventually and managed to get it in the dryer.
I had the misfortune of running in to Jack in reception on my way down to dinner. Jack had found some in habitants of the island of La Gomera, which is the island that he was parroting on about the other night where they communicate with each other by whistling. We then had the hotel receptionist translating English to two young boys who were with the family from the Island and one of them started whistling to the other one. So there you have it, Jack was right and to save you Googling and looking it up on Wikipedia this is what it says about the Islanders and their tradition of whistling:
The inhabitants of La Gomera have an ancient way of communicating across deep ravines by means of a whistled speech called Silbo Gomero which can be heard 2 miles away. This whistled language is indigenous to the island, and its existence has been documented since Roman times. Invented by the original inhabitants of the island, the Guanches, Silbo Gomero was adopted by the Spanish settlers in the 16th century and survived after the Guanches were entirely assimilated. When this means of communication was threatened with extinction at the dawn of the 21st century, the local government required all children to learn it in school. Marcial Morera, a linguist at the University of La Laguna has said that the study of silbo may help understand how languages are formed.
This is not just an adventure, it’s an education.
I used the evening gathering in the dining room to chase up a few more questionnaires, thanks to Ollie, Cav and George for getting theirs back, I’m stalking Hogie and Reece to get theirs back and threats as well as naming and shaming are also a part of my tactics.
After dinner I resisted the temptation to go for a walk along the seafront and taking in a local hostelry, I opted for catching up on the diary as most of what has happened today happened in the final quarter of the day and I needed to get it down on paper. I also needed to say goodnight to my dearly beloved, Mrs G.
That’s all for today, see you tomorrow for the Run in the Sun.
Names to be added today: Gaz called BBM Barry today so we will add that one. The Chairman had thought he heard a player being referred to as Doris and wondered who this was, turns out it was BBM’s Irish accent and he was actually saying Lois not Doris, best not add that one. Tanz also needs to be added to the list.