Here I go again, Day 1 did roll in to day 2 as I spent from 11pm to about 12.30am trying to email one word document and a dozen photographs back to the club. At about that time I decided the wifi wasn’t going to perform the way I wanted it to and I decided to turn in (quitter). I managed to read more than I thought I would before the eyelids got too heavy and I really did call it a day.
Despite a tiring day I didn’t really get comfortable and I put this down to the bed, a bed of nails would be a harsh description but “sweet dreams” would be an even bigger exaggeration, I think I woke up at 5am and thought what on earth am I doing being awake at this time and managed to nod off again till just before 8am.
This time is a bit late for me and I was aware that the staff were going to the training ground for 8.15 with the lads due to be there and ready to start at 9am. I had a very quick shower and shave and headed to the restaurant. I was very surprised not to see some bleary eyed players, fact was that all the players had been and gone and there was only AK and Keith Senior at the table. I had my daily dose of Muesli and grabbed my bags and went up to the training ground with AK.
All the players were there and raring to go, the medical staff had done their preparatory work and Ross took the lads off for some warm up exercises on the work out ground. I had made enquires at the Sports Centre reception about their wifi and like everything else at the facility it was spot on and I was able to get connected both on the internet and remotely to my computer at work and I got my stuff off to Leighanne. Now I know where the wifi works best I have my plan to do my typing on the laptop back at the room and then do my emails and remote work from the training centre, this will ensure my Dell laptop survives the week.
I’ve decided to continue updating the Character names list as there are different names coming out each day. I know that I missed one set of duplicate names yesterday for those eagle eyed ones amongst you. How could I miss out the two Joe’s, Rafferty and Bunney, I doubt I will be getting them mixed up. Also on the names I did have a big decision yesterday as to whether to call Tony and Steve the Gell Brothers or whether to go for the Tan Brothers. The reason I went with the Gell Brothers was that the Gell they wear is real and there’s plenty of it, not sure who wears the most as that is a close call, while the Tans are not all that genuine, one of them is real but the other one is out of an Essex girl spray can, judge for yourselves which one is real and which one is fake as I couldn’t possibly say. Regardless TB1 and TB2 has been added to the list, as has Bass for Bastien and the really obvious one that I missed out, which is “Fizz” for Thorpey.
The next part of the training session was run by the Gaffer and Beechy with the players split up in to two groups on two small grids and then in to two teams of four and one team of 3. The two teams of four were competing against each other for possession while the team of three were the neutral team who couldn’t pass to each other but pass and work with the team in possession. The Gaffer had one group and Beechy the other and they alternated with the groups of players that they were working with during this part of the session. This session was about possession, pass and movement and creating space in a small area. This session would open up later in the morning.
The goalkeepers, Steve working with Josh are away on their own doing their own workout. Rhys was also on his own for the ball work/contact element of the session although he does the warm ups/downs with the rest of the squad. Rhys had an operation on his knee in the summer, his operation was the same as Tuttey had towards the end of last season and it’s good to see Tutty fully recovered from his operation and Rhys is also doing well but is just a little way off in his rehabilitation in terms of participating in the contact element. Rhys is very upbeat and positive and is keeping focussed as he knows it won’t be long before he is able to join in with the rest of the squad.
The summer fashions were out in force this morning as the Chairman and Jack went head to head in more ways than one with a dual of who can wear the most ridiculous hat, now this could be seen as me requesting my own P45 but in my opinion the Chairman won this one at a canter and is now neck and neck with Beechy on the ridiculous clothing competition.
The final part of the session saw the Gaffer in his office as he calls it, out on the pitch. This session was a development of the earlier session with the pitch now expanded to just over half a pitch in length and the touchlines about 10 meters in. The teams are split in to three groups with two teams competing on the pitch and the third team operating just outside the touch, with these split in to three sections and two players from the third team are on each side of the pitch and the other four players are either side of the goals on those lines. The third team players on the touchlines have to be in sections that are next to each other but can move between the three sections. The two teams in the middle are playing against each other and when they are in possession of the ball they can use the third team out on the lines to help them. It is very interesting watching how this is set up and then put in to practice in terms of the possession, the passing and moving and the creating of space. The third team can’t be offside, which really opens the game up.
After the session the players do a warm down exercise with Ross and then today some exercises with Thorpey. Andy had the group in a press up position but on their elbows and had them keep their position while Gaz times them. Thorpey was happy with this position but invited anyone to lift up one of their legs and Endo accepted the challenge and got a little bit of stick from some of the other players while the more magnanimous of the players offered him a gold star. Thorpey then varies the positions and Endo followed him all the way. During this warm down session the Gaffer was giving one of his motivational speeches, which are quite enlightening, during his address he made the cardinal mistake of referring to the trip as a holiday but very quickly corrected himself.
Reece had a slight injury from the morning sessions and withdrew due to a collision that left his ankle a little sore. Scott had Gaz do some stretches on him at the end of the session as he was a little stiff but otherwise ok. The session went on a little longer than planned but the lads kept with it for about two and a half hours. We packed away the equipment and then headed back to the hotel for lunch at 12.30.
On the way back to change for lunch I go with AK just to check that he hasn’t got a better room than me higher up on the fourth floor. When we get to his door the key card won’t work, rather than go all the way back down to reception, which is a bit of a trek, AK tries to communicate with the chambermaid who is close by cleaning another room but she is having none of it. In the end I offer to go back down to reception to get a replacement key. When I get back to AK’s door the reprogrammed key still didn’t work and I don’t fancy another trek to reception. On my trip down the first time I had noticed Obbo in the reception area so the laziness in me took over and I phoned Obbo to get him to send a maintenance man up to look at the door lock. This worked as within a few minutes Handy Manny appeared and got us inside. AK’s room is the same as mine but a floor higher up and a bit more out of the way.
The dining room was quiet as the other guests were out in the sun and our lads were a little quiet after a hard first morning session. I took the opportunity to issue the questionnaires that Mark Wilbraham had given to me and asked the lads to complete them during the week and then hand them back to me. I’m not going to give anything away as that is for Mark to work on, but one of the first ones back was from Raff and I then had an interesting conversation over the number of GCSE’s that he has. Enough said.
After lunch I retired to my room to start today's diary. There was no siesta time today as because the first couple of days at this year’s camp our second session of the day had been scheduled earlier than normal due to other groups utilising the centre. We would normally be starting our second sessions at about 5pm but today and tomorrow the second sessions will be at 3.30pm.
The players had a little time after lunch for some rest and relaxation and I caught Rosie, Tutty, Endo and Scott making the most of this time by being by the pool. Thorpey had told the lads that the treatment room would be open from 2.15pm for those wanting rubs and dressings before the afternoon session.
I like to do my typing out on the balcony in the fresh air with a little bit of music on and I was all set up and typing away when I ran in to some more technical problems. I have an electronic canopy on the balcony and I have this extended to shade me from the sun and then I don’t have to wear my Onesie. Plonking away on my keyboard in my own little world and all of a sudden my canopy starts retracting all on my own. I’m thinking that’s a bit strange and I immediately think of the Gaffer and Beechy who are next door to me are playing tricks, I probably owe them an apology for that but I got my remote out and opened the canopy up again. Within minutes the damn thing is retracting again and I have a sneaky look over the balcony to see if the Gaffer and/or Beechy are having a laugh at my expense, no one there. I open the canopy up again and then think I’ve outsmarted it by removing the batteries but within minutes the b****y thing is retracting again. In the end I left it doing its own thing and put my factor 50 on ready for the afternoon session.
All the lads were up at the training ground promptly and were ready for the second session of the days, those that needed rubs or dressings had been to see Thorpey and Gaz and there was only Reece missing out on the session and he had his ankle in a bucket of ice. The Chairman advised me that before I arrived Beechy and Tony were doing some crossing and shooting and Sepp Northover offered to go in goals for them and this has provoked quite an incident as Beechy scored what he believed to be a good goal but in the 1966 traditional of England versus Germany we had another one of those questions as to whether the ball had crossed the line, which Beechy said it did and then the counter argument from Sepp Northover that he saved it and it didn’t cross the line. As you can imagine there’s not much German sympathy around here.
Ross had set up some equipment on the work out area of the ground ready for the warm ups and he led the first part of the session. From there the Gaffer and Beechy took over with three small grids marked out and the players split in o three groups of seven. Within the groups of seven two of the players had different coloured bibs on and they worked in the central part of the grid with the other five players circling around the outside. There were three balls in each grid and all the players were constantly on the move and interchanging and passing the ball. Again this was about passing and moving, retaining possession and making spaces. At the end of this session the players were again joined by the goalkeepers and the same session that the Gaffer finished the morning with was set up again but now on a full size pitch. I think as well as working the players on their fitness and sharpness the session continues the theme of passing retention, movement, creating spaces and it promotes a passing game where the players are working for each other, the Gaffer is looking to see that the players are listening and taking his instructions on board.
After another couple of hours on the pitch Ross took the players up to the pool for some warm down exercises. At the end of the session the players relaxed in the pool and a few of them took part in an underwater swimming competition. Josh kicked it off and did quite well. Raff didn’t do very well at all, I don’t think he’s quite got the concept of holding his breath under water. Tutty was next up and went the farthest up the pool only to be over taken by Rosey. All of them were left holding their breath as Ross swam the full length of the pool under the water and emerged to say that he thought if he’d turned round under water and gone back it would have been showing off.
I helped pack up and then went back to the hotel for a shower and a little typing before dinner at 7pm. I took my washing with me as the wee man (must add that one) had told me that the laundry man was coming at 7.30. When I got down to dinner shortly after 7 it turns out the laundry man had come and gone at 7 so Jack took my laundry and had his busman’s holiday with the hotels washing machine.
After dinner the players were free to do as they wished and the staff went for a walk, I was in two minds about a walk but felt an early night coming on so here I am finishing the diary at 9.30 and looking forward to that early night after I’ve phoned my favourite Lady.