Before Day 2 had ended and I turned in for my early night I did try and ring Mrs G but she had gone out for a night on the tiles, cats away and all that, bless. I also had a thought about my sleep arrangements and trying to make it a little more comfortable. There are two single beds in my room, both of which have a mattress each, working on the basis that two heads are better than one I thought that two mattresses are better than one so I moved the spare mattress under the one on my bed, I have to say I didn’t sleep much better AS I kept banging my head on the ceiling in the night and worse still I woke up with a bad bout of vertigo. I was awake at about 5am and at 6am I rang Mrs G to make sure she was up as she has a shift today. In the end I got up at about 7.30.
There was only one player in the dining room when I got down there; Tutty was just finishing his breakfast as were AK, the Chairman, Keith Senior and Obbo. After breakfast I daubed myself in factor 50 as there was a clear blue sky and no wind and it looked set to be a warm one. I went up to the training ground with AK and we were joined by the rehabilitating Rhys and Matt Lund who had gone over on his ankle the previous day and he was a little sore.
The training field looked glorious as we arrived on level 5 with all the equipment set out ready for the lads. The rest of the staff had come down earlier to get everything prepared, I’m sure it looked a lot better to me and AK than it did to the players as they arrived and started to wonder what lay ahead for them. I used the wifi and got day 2 sent off to Leighanne.
Ross took the warm up and he took the lads through a series of exercise using the equipment such as cones, poles, ladders and hurdles. There is also a series of stretch exercises that he does with the lads where they have a small exercise band around their legs just above their knees, it was commented on that Ross himself didn’t have a band on as he was giving his instruction, and his excuse of there wasn’t enough bands to go around held no credence with spare bands on the floor.
The next part of the session had the players in a grid about 30 meters square and in the main the players were in two groups, players and servers. The servers are spread about on the edge of the grid and the players are inside the grid with a ball each, in this exercise there is a lot of two touch football with the players in the middle passing the ball to a server on the edge of the grid, the players have to move around looking for different servers who will feed them the ball and the players then take the first touch to control the ball with the second touch being to lay it off to a server. The servers and the players then exchange places so that they are covering both aspects of the exercise. It was clear during this session that JB (Joe Bunney, new name that I’ve given him that needs adding to the list, which he quite likes) was fighting through some pain barrier and Fradders (needs adding to list) noticed this and he was pulled from the rest of the morning session as he was clearly unwell.
The Gaffer had a white board out in the middle of the field to explain the main part of the morning session and I listened intently to try and make sure I understood what his objective was. The Gaffer had set up two areas on the pitch, the first area had two full size goals on and these were 30 meters apart, the pitch was in three sections, a defensive area, a midfield area and an offensive area all 10 meters wide across the length of the pitch. On this pitch you can only score when you have successfully passed your way in to the offensive area and you have two involve at least one of the two neutral players involved, which were Beechy and Tony. The two keepers were involved in this session and they stayed on this pitch throughout this part of the session playing for the two teams that were to compete on the pitch.
On the other area that the Gaffer had set up this was again 30 meters square but there was a triangle area created in each corner that was 10 meters in each corner, the corners were to house a neutral player who couldn’t go outside his triangle and the other two teams who were to operate inside the remainder of the grid couldn’t go inside the triangle. The team in possession of the ball were able to pass to the players inside the triangle.
The Gaffer had split the players in to five teams of four players in each team and all games were of four or five minute’s duration as directed by the Gaffer. Gaz was to keep score on the pitch with the goals on and there was to be quite a few circuits so all the teams got to do all parts of the exercise. I was listening to the Gaffer but drifted back to my old school habits of not always paying attention and this was because I noticed another little Brotherhood forming in my tiny little mind, I couldn’t help noticing that Oliie and Ash look very similar, I think it might be to do with the similarities of facial hair but I was on to this like a flash and have nicknamed them the Hazard Brother after the Dukes of Hazard (I’m sad) I’ve gone a bit further and referred to them as the Hazard Twins, Ash is HT1 and Ollie is HT2 purely on an alphabetical basis.
The Chairman, Keith Senior and I were all ball bays between the pitch and the other grid and the session got under way. I focussed initially on the possession grid, which the Gaffer was supervising and found this very interesting. As the Gaffer says your team mate can be your best friend or your worst enemy and he explains a poor pass by your team mate can put you in trouble and he becomes your worst enemy at that moment, alternatively if you are in possession and being closed down by an opponent, if your team mate has done his job and got himself in to an available position he then becomes your best friend. The Gaffer promotes comment and encouragement amongst the players and to trust your team mate but above all trust yourself. This exercise was very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.
I did spent a little time watching the games on the small pitch with goals where Tony and Beechy were orchestrating play in the middle of the pitch. There were goal nets here and there’s no better feeling than hitting the net but it is also important to remember the build-up play and putting in to practice the work from the other sessions, pass, move, fine space, execute the pass. Good defensive work is also a big part of the game and Beechy and Tony are aware of this and are praising of good tracking back, interceptions, tackles, blocks etc.
I was very impressed with this session and the Gaffer seemed very happy with the work put in by the players. I’m going to start picking a player of the session based on what I see as well as comments and feedback from the staff. Yesterday the Gaffer was impressed with Joel and thought he was magnificent, so he gets the Blue Peter Badge from yesterday, along with one for Endo who impressed me in the warm downs after working hard in the session. Out of this session there was a lot of hard work put in by all the players but the Gaffer and I were both impressed by the reading, passing, execution and effort put in by Rosey, BPB for him.
Ross then took over and led the players down to the bottom gym, which is under the grass pitch next to the 4G pitch. Ross had been away towards the end of the session preparing a circuit do some core work. AK had been in the gym for a while and put me to shame so while Rossie (another name to be added) was putting the players through their paces I had a little stint on the treadmill, bicycle and cross trainer as well as a few weight machines. The end of the session was again conducted by Rossie with some stretch works. By this time a few of the players were pleading with me to sack Ross but joked that it made them feel better having a good moan at him, they also came up with the following names, which can’t be added for obvious reasons, ****, *******, ****, ******, **** **** and the list goes on. Another name to be added to the list is Frenchie for Bastien, which was suggested by Endo who politely asked Bastien if he minded if he called him Frenchie and Bastien seemed fine with this.
The lads were glad to see the end of this very hard session, which had been very intense and lasted over 3 hours. It was clear up time and then back to the hotel for lunch at 1pm. As we had half an hour to kill before lunch I decided to join a few of the lads by the pool and thought I would go topless. There were a number of other guests that the single lads told us married guys about that were also topless but I hadn’t noticed. I enjoyed a refreshing swim along with Hogie (to be added), Godders, Raff, Rosie, Reece and Josh “Lils” (also to be added) Lillis.
At lunch the lads were given some R & R time and told to be back at the training ground and ready to go for 5pm. Thorpey and Gaz advised that treatment would be from 2.15 and rubs and dressings ahead of the evening session would be from 3.45pm. The rest and relaxation part of the day is as important as the sessions themselves as these sessions take a lot out of the players, by way of example I heard Rossie speaking to Lois and he had taken reading from Lois’s Polar belt where he had spent over 40 minutes during the morning session at over 75 in the red zone and had probably worked off over 2500 calories.
A number of the players and staff took the R & R time to rest about around the pool and recharge their batteries. I was in two minds whether to continue with the diary or make the most of siesta time, it wasn’t much of a competition and my double mattress and four pillows won that contest. I had about an hour and then set about turbo typing, I got so engrossed in typing about the morning sessions I lost track of the time and then realised it was 4.40 and so I needed to get my skates and factor 50 on and get up to the training ground.
The training ground was again set up for both the warm ups and the main session. Ross took the players for the warm up on the practice ground and during the stretches the sprinkler system kicked in, or someone in control was having some fun at our expense, either way I think it offered some refreshing release for the players.
Having enjoyed the morning session so much I was looking forward to the evening session, which the Gaffer was running. As with everything the Gaffer and the staff do it is well prepared in advance. The pitch was set up with full size goals placed on the edge of each penalty area on a full pitch. The full width of the pitch was used but about 10 yards in there were markers, which were lanes down both sides of the pitch specifically put there for use by four nominated players. The team were split in to two teams and four players were selected to wear different coloured bibs and these players were Bobby, Endo, Joel and Vincey (Peter Vincente, another name to be added), these players are referred to as “slippers and sliders” and play a key part in this session. The slippers and sliders must have the ball played to them by the team in possession, they are generally playing in an advanced area of the pitch, there must be one of them in each of the channels, right and left, they can drive on to the inside of the pitch when they are in possession but one of the other slippers or sliders must then go out wide in to the channel area of the pitch. Offside was played (liberally) during this session. The Gaffer is looking for these key players to be receiving the ball and then looking to “slide” a key ball through to an offensive player where possible. The slippers and sliders can score when driving inside or by passing and linking up with a member of the team that they are working with at that time.
Also throughout the sessions, which I haven’t mentioned before the Gaffer will nominate players to play in positions that are not familiar to them, so for instance Tanser is a left back but at one point today was playing centre back, Joel may be played as a full back and then Raff as a winger. Some of this change is to suit the session but it also gives the players an understanding of other positions and promotes flexibility and understanding.
Unfortunately as this session kicked off I had to go to the Supermercado to get some more water as the lads are going through quite a bit as you can imagine. When I got back I did get the opportunity to see the session working and I was particularly interested to see the slippers and sliders at work. It was noticeable how Bobby, Vincey, Endo and Joel were being used to mount attacks and goals were going in at either end. I had a chat with Tony about who had been doing well and he picked out two cracking goals that Tutty had scored, George had scored 4 and I witnessed Bobby score a great goal from an angle but Scott Hogan had bagged a handful and was on fire, so the BPB for this session goes to Hogie.
This session lasted just over two hours with the warm down and then it was back to the hotel for my fourth submersion of the day, three showers and a dunk in the pool. Dinner was at 8pm and after dinner I went for a walk along the seafront with the Chairman, AK, the Gaffer, Keith Senior, Tony and Jack. We did stop off for some light refreshment and when Jacks conversation deteriorated in to talking about banana plantations and a race of people who live on an island close by who communicate by whistling to each other I thought it was time I was back at my keyboard.
I will close the day by putting a few out of their misery. If you haven’t already spotted the deliberate mistake there are in fact another four duplicate names. We have two Peter’s, Vincente and Cavanagh, we have two Scott’s, Hogan and Tanser, we have two Christopher’s, Dunphy and Beech and we have two Keith’s, Senior and Junior and finally there in fact three Andrews, Tutte, Kelly and Thorpe. I can’t believe we’ve only got one Matthew and one Joshua in this age of biblical names. Time to get a life, See you on the Sabbath.