Grin and bear it…
That’s probably the best way to sum up how the players were feeling after the second session of the day.
The usual pre-season aches and pains are definitely kicking in now and there were a lot of stiff and tired legs after another tough day at the T3.
Did you see the photo of Jim McNulty and Peter Vincenti on Twitter and Facebook last night? They say a picture paints a thousand words and I couldn’t agree more… Jim, who was sat with his feet bandaged up and an ice pack on his foot, and Peter V, who in addition to the ice pack on his knee, is sporting a lovely black-eye, had flopped onto that bench just a couple of minutes before and were glad of the rest.
But I think the smiles say it all. Yes they are exhausted, probably more than you will imagine, but there’s always time for a smile, a joke or a little bit of laughter.
For me, it sums up the type of atmosphere and environment within the squad. As Niall rightly said in his interview, the sessions are tough but if you put in the hard-work then you get the rewards. It’s obvious that everyone buys into that.
Now I’m not saying there’s no groaning, and I think Colin, who was referee again today, will testify to that (he’s not always popular!), but there’s a real feeling of unity and a desire to impress, improve and give their all in every session. There's no hiding place out here in Tenerife so you might as well get on with it.
Colin, by the way, bless him. After his exertions over the last couple of days he joined the orderly queue to see the physios after training today to get a calf rub.
As I’ve previously mentioned, the first session of the day gets underway at 8.45am on the dot but I was at the T3 for around 8am to make use of the wifi which is much stronger than the hotel’s offering. You’ll probably find between 8am and 8.30am is when the majority of my video content will appear online.
Every session starts with a run around the track, a few stretches, followed by a football based warm-up, an example of which you can see on Dale PlayerHD.
From the warm-up, the players went straight into the first part of their session which involved the fartlek. Google tells me that means speed play in Swedish, and is a training method which blends continuous training with interval running. I should point out that in our case it’s always with a ball and there’s always footballing aspect involved – today it was keeping possession. The Gaffer wanted high intensity, and that’s what he got. It was another
demanding session and Keith was very, very vocal today.
For the second part of the session, the players were split into three groups of eight (not including the goalkeepers, who were designated to one of the three groups in addition) – they wore orange, blue and white bibs to differentiate between them. With Harrison still in the gym with the physio as he nurses his foot problem, it meant that Kev Gibbins stepped in as the extra man to make it even numbers. For those of who you who may not know, Kev was a centre-half in his previous life and played for Dale from early to mid-2000s, so he didn’t look out of place.
The full pitch was used for this session, with two teams playing at a one time. The other team stood on the sidelines but could be called into play. The winner stayed on, so as you can image there were minutes clocked up by all of the teams.
Before lunch, I had to contact the Media Officer at Bury to arrange a simultaneous launch time for our fixture change confirmation, with the launch time set for 2pm.
Colin had been liaising with Bury and the league regarding our Easter fixture, and as of 10.30pm last night, he received confirmation that the date would be changed. Typically, Easter Saturday games would be switched to Good Friday to allow ample recovery time for the Easter Monday fixture, but the policing costs involved in policing a local derby game on a bank holiday weekend have forced the switch the Thursday night, a move which suits both parties.
As you will probably have noticed, whenever there’s a story affecting two clubs, whether that be transfer news or fixture news, the two clubs will launch the details at the same time. That’s simply out of courtesy, so both sets of fans get the news at the same time.
After lunch, I returned to my room to mull over some of the content from that morning, while charging equipment etc for the afternoon session.
The second session of the day started in much the same way as the first, however this time it was 8v8 on a half pitch.
The Gaffer joined in on this session and was the ‘spare’ man in the centre of the pitch. It meant he could keep a close eye on the play. Both sets of players, who couldn’t take any more than two touches, were allowed to pass to him and he helped keep play flowing, allowing the players to keep running.
It was another long session, with the lads out on the training pitch for two hours. I think Calvin summed up how he was feeling quite well, which made me laugh. At the end of every session, the pitch maintenance people at the T3 are straight out with their machinery, including a tractor and roller, to get the surface in pristine condition for the next session. Calvin suggested he might ask the groundsman to run him over with his roller – he reckoned that would sort him out.
As the players caught their breaths, I took the opportunity to have a chat with Niall Canavan. He’s one just a few players who haven’t been on a Dale’s pre-season trip before so I wanted to get his thoughts on what he made of it so far. You’ll notice a big difference appearance wise with Niall – he has lost quite a bit of weigh over the summer. You can read why HERE
After training, we received the sad news that the club’s Life Vice President Len Hilton had passed away. Everyone out here in Tenerife sends their condolences to Mr Hilton’s family and friends.
Tea was much later tonight due to the length of the session, and the players arrived in dribs and drabs. I had intended on catching some of the Italy v Germany game but there weren’t enough hours in the day for that. Typing up Niall’s interview, editing training footage and finishing this latest instalment of the diary were in store for me.
Oh, I did take two minutes out to have my back cracked… what an experience! I struggle quite a bit with my upper back, most probably due to the fact I sit hunched over a laptop during most of my waking day, so while Colin popped down for his calf rub, I, half-jokingly and half being serious, asked Gaz if he was any good at cracking backs. Well the noise that came from it was pretty horrific, but I’ll tell you what, I feel like a new woman.
See you tomorrow,