When I woke up on Wednesday morning it took time to digest that today would be the last training day of the week. As I've mentioned before, time flies when you're out here as you bounce from one session to another and I couldn't believe how quickly the week had gone, although I'm not too sure if the lads would agree!
At breakfast some of the players were trying to guess whether or not they would be put through two full sessions, but realised it was probably best not to second guess the Gaffer as they'd never arrive at the right answer - they know he likes to keep them on their toes.
Jim McNulty, who was still suffering from the shin problem, joined us in the car on the way up the hill, which was a bit of a tight squeeze, with myself, the Chairman and him packed into the into the back of the small Golf like sardines. After we arrived at the T3 Jim went off to spend some time in the pool, while the lads were put through their session.
As usual, the instructions for the session were written on the flip chart. As well as the normal diagrams and details regarding what the session was all about, "HARD HONEST MILES" was written in large print so I knew that the lads were in for a tough one.
After watching part of the session I headed up to the fifth floor to make use of the wifi and made a start at uploading content. You can oversee the pitches from up there so I sat and watched what was going on while typing away at my laptop and iPad. Anyway, as the session was drawing to a close I could see that Rhys was receiving a bit of treatment from Gaz and Thorpey. He looked to be in a lot of pain and holding his arm but I wasn't too why sure at this point because I hadn't seen anything untoward. It turned out that he had collided arms with a team-mate after an innocuous challenge and it was one of those injuries that can only be described a freak accident. When I got down to pitch side there was talk of a possible fracture, so while Colin got details of the nearest hospital, Rhys sat with a ice pack on.
Colin's car came in very handy and off the two of them went, along with Gaz, to a hospital in Los Cristianos. An x-ray confirmed that he had broken a bone in his fore-arm and that it would require surgery. Praise must go to the staff at the hospital as Rhys was operated on in the evening to give him the best possible chance of making the flight back to the UK with us.
After lunch, the players headed up to the T3 and gathered for the final session of the week.
5,000 METERS was prominently written on the board and you could tell from the dread on their faces that they weren't looking forward to it one bit. What I also noticed, though, was that not a single player complained to the Gaffer or asked why they were being made do that after what had already been a gruelling week. They took on the challenge and did what they were asked, which was mission accomplished as far as the Gaffer was concerned. He had had no intention of putting the players through the miles but had wanted to see how they'd respond and he was very pleased with what he saw from the players, so much so that he stopped them after 1500 meters and told them they could go for a cool down in the pool.
The last supper was at 8pm and this evening there was a barbecue in the patio area where our reserved tables were. I opted for the chicken and ribs and thought it would be rude not to devour the ice cream and sprinkles for one last time. The diet starts when I'm back, honest!
With the sessions over, there was more of a relaxed feel at tea and I stayed at the table for over an hour before doing one final interview with the Gaffer, who gave his thoughts on the week. You'll be able to view that on Dale Player from Friday.
It was around 10pm when I retired back to my room and I thought I better make a start on the packing. It didn't take me long as I hadn't really unpacked in all honesty - I had been living out of my suitcase all week. Earlier in the day between the two sessions I had interviewed Billy Hasler-Cregg, so I made sure his video was live on the website before heading off to sleep at around 11.30pm
I managed to get a bit of a lie on Thursday morning, with check-out not until 11am. The question on everyone's lips was whether or not Rhys Beno would make the flight home with us. Calvin, who he had been rooming with, had packed his belongings just in case and we were all thrilled when we heard that he had been discharged from hospital and was on the way back to the hotel with Colin, who had gone over to Los Cristianos first thing in the morning.
While waiting on the coach and for Rhys to arrive, we took one last opportunity to pose for a team photo on the steps of the hotel - the lads definitely love a picture! That signalled time on the pre-season trip to Tenerife as the coach arrived shortly after to take us to the airport for a 3pm flight.
It has been absolute honour and privilege to have had behind the scenes access this week and I must thank the Chairman, the Board of Directors and the staff for the opportunity to join the squad on the trip.
I hope I've been able to give you an insight into what goes on a pre-season trip. As mentioned in an interview Scott Tanser during the week, it's very much a case of eat, sleep, train, repeat and I hope I've been able to bring you a flavour of that.
What I witnessed this week was a bunch of lads who have an incredible appetite and desire to continue to improving, who do not shy away from hard-work, and who will do anything for the Gaffer and for the good of the team, to ensure that they achieve their ultimate goal, which is to be successful. Please believe me when I say that you couldn't ask for a better squad of players to represent this football club.
I've also been impressed with how the three new recruits - Lewis Alessandra, Donal McDermott and Jim McNulty - have integrated and settled into the group. They've got the attitude and the application that the Gaffer demands and there's no doubt that they'll join the rest of the players in continuing to give their all.
I was already feeling optimistic about the season ahead before I came on the trip and this week had added to that. So if we happen to be getting beat on a cold, wet day/ night sometime in the midst of winter, continue giving the lads your support because even when things might not be going right, there should be absolutely no doubting their attitude, dedication or hunger. They're a special bunch of players and I'm proud that they'll be representing Dale for the season ahead. I hope you are too.