It has been a very successful trip. The players have been exceptional with regards to their efforts.
Those are the thoughts of the Gaffer as this year’s pre-season trip to Tenerife draws to a close.
Plenty has been achieved during our week long stay at the T3 in terms of fitness, tactics and relationship building. There have been no major injuries, which is always a plus after a gruelling training schedule, and in addition, it has provided a great experience for the second year scholars who have flourished in demanding circumstances. All in all, it has been a very successful trip, with the foundations set for the season ahead. All roads now lead to the pre-season games as we hurtle towards the opening game of the EFL League One season on August 6th.
Today was our final day in La Caleta but there was still time for one last session before our departure at 6pm.
Be prepared for hard-work had been the message from the Gaffer and Beechy last night, so there was no chance of a gentle finish to the trip.
Players and staff met in the dining room at 7am for breakfast, which allowed time for any strapping or rubs from the physios before walking up the hill to the T3 for an 8.30am start.
Before the session started everyone posed for what has become the annual pre-season photo – it’s a great lasting reminder of the successful trip. I was the one behind the camera. Surprisingly, despite almost 40 people being including in the photo, it was a very straight forward process with everyone getting into position within seconds. It was done with two minutes to spare before the session got underway bang on 8.30am. They’d obviously done this before.
The last and final session in Tenerife was an 11v11 game on the full sized pitch. This time it was 90 minutes long, giving the players the chance to get another good session under their belts before the pre-season game schedule starts on Tuesday.
Hendo and A.Trialist were on the score in the 1-1 draw. In fact, said trialist mentioned after the game that this was the toughest pre-season he’d ever done, but was grateful for such a demanding week as he believes it can only benefit him and the other players for the season ahead.
As the players headed back to the hotel, it was time for the staff to sort out the equipment and get it packed away for the flight. Bibs, balls, cones and water bottles were amongst the items flown out with us.
But before that, there was a chance for Jack to bag himself £50 if he could do a lap of the running track in less than two minutes. Hendo had promised the cash windfall if he beat the time, although I don’t think there ever really was any intention of paying out. It was more of a bluff to get Jack around the track.
Cheered on by a few players, including Peter V, who was in charge of the stopwatch, he only went and did it with a few seconds to spare. Well done, Jack!
When you head away on these trips you always hope the squad/ travelling party as a whole will make a good impression and represent the club as well as it deserves to be represented, so it’s always nice when you receive praise from strangers.
On our final jaunt down the hill from T3, Jack and I were stopped by three Belgian football enthusiasts – a father and his two sons, who mentioned they’d been watching us from afar this week. They were quick to point out how impressed they’d been with the professionalism of the squad. He reckoned we’d done a great job. The comments were great to hear and reaffirmed what I already knew – we have special squad made up of some great people.
We had a few hours to kill before the coach was due to take us to the airport so the players mooched around the hotel. Many opted to watch the tennis, which was being shown on the big screen in the communal lounge.
All the bags were packed, the lads were all where they should be at the designated time and the bus had arrived with plenty of time spare. You know that way when everything is going too well? Yeah, that.
I had decided to travel to the airport with Colin in his hire car, and after loading my case into the boot, I jumped into the passenger’s seat. Colin was in the middle of loading his bags in when BANG! A large road sweeper type vehicle rattled the top corner of the boot with its oversized wing mirror as it passed by our parking space which was on the main road outside of the hotel.
We were literally in the last few seconds of trip and couldn’t believe it, especially after a drama free trip. After about 15 minutes and the explanation that we were on our way to the airport , the insurance details were swapped and we got on our way. I let Colin do the talking when we got to the hire car facility at the airport.
By the time we arrived, the lads had already checked in, including Jim with his family sized case, as they were nowhere to be seen. There was a queue but nothing worth moaning about and we (Colin and I) were given a good laugh by an unsuspecting elderly couple who had been happily going about their own business. After getting to the check-in desk we were aware they had been asked to remove their case from the weigh-in belt. As they opened it up and started rummaging around we assumed they’d gone over their weight allowance and were deciding what to take out. But after a good minute or two it became clear what had happened as they pulled an electric toothbrush, which had been making a nuisance of itself by vibrating loudly, from a toiletry bag. We were just glad it was a toothbrush... By the time we get to the desk, the check-in attendant could barely talk from laughing.
On the plane, I was sat with the same lads that I’d been seated beside on the way out. Luckily this time there was no scaredy-cat antics during take-off as the player in question had nodded off while we were meandering towards the runway.
On the way home, the plane was very, very quiet. We’d all been up since 6 o’clock-ish and I think the day had taken its toll on us. I had intended writing the majority of this diary but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. When we arrived back at Leeds Bradford Airport at 1.30am we were met by a balmy 9 degrees. Lovely. After collecting our baggage we all went our separate ways.
The lads now have a couple of days off before going again. River Humpreys, who won the Fiat Tradesman Trials, will be joining up the squad on Monday. Personally, I think he has chosen very well by deciding to select Rochdale as his one month trial club. If there was ever a Manager/ club who will give him an opportunity if he’s good enough then it’s here.
The Gaffer, meanwhile, has yet to make any final decisions on the trialists. It's likely they could feature in the pre-season games.
Sadly, Kevin Gibbins, despite his sterling efforts this week, won’t be offered professional terms. Now I’m not saying Kev, who is Dale’s Head of Sports Science, was ever in line for a contract, but I reckon his exploits in defence during the sessions were worthy of at least some consideration. His playing days are over, is the Gaffer’s reckoning :)
And sadly for me, that concludes my final diary instalment. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the trip and I am very grateful to the Board of Directors and the Gaffer for giving me the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the week-long training camp. I hope I have been able to offer you, the fans, some insight into the week.
Bring on the 2016-17 campaign!