Leighanne Ball, the club's media officer, brings you the lowdown of day five in Tenerife...
Done and dusted!
After yesterday’s rest day, the players were treated to a double session today.
There was a real buzz around the place and I could just tell that the rest day had done them the world of good.
In fact, there has been a tremendous atmosphere around camp all week. This is my third time on this trip but I have yet to experience the level of camaraderie and togetherness that I have experienced this year. There’s something different about it, something very special.
As always, the day started with breakfast, then a walk up that hill. By the time I got there my calves were screaming at me, but it’s all part of the fun, said no-one ever.
I thought I had set off relatively earlier, around 7.40am, but when I got up to the T3, all of backroom staff and Jack the Kitman were already there, minus Gaz and Thorpey, who stay at the hotel to put strappings on the players’ feet etc. They see a steady stream of players from 7.30 onwards, in preparation for the day ahead.
Some of the players arrived soon after I got there, with the rest arriving in time for the session. Callum Jones was busy weighing the players as they arrived – he does this before and after every session to make they’re not losing too much fluid/ are getting the right nutrients etc. The players lose, on average, a kilo during every session!
Whilst Callum was cracking on with his job, Jack the Kitman thought he’d go all David Bailey on us and decided to see what he could do with the media camera. I must admit, he did a pretty good job – either that, or CJ was just a very good subject.
The session started with another spin class, which lasted 50 minutes. Wow, it’s warm in that room. I’d popped in to take a few photos and film part of the session and by the time I left around 10 minutes later, I looked like the main character from the Hair Bear Bunch.
Circuits followed, under the watchful eyes of Kev, Beechy and the Gaffer. CJ had finally sorted out the tunes, which, I’m sure helped the players get through it.
One player, who shall remain nameless, said he was sweating that much that it was squelching out of his trainers. He wasn’t lying, yuck!
With the sweat dripping, the players went straight to the pool after the circuits, with their time in the water bringing session one to a close.
Did you know, the Gaffer is the undefeated squash champion of the T3? Well, he is for one day only anyway. After the session, he took on Bailey and Tony Ellis, not at the same time, obviously, and was a resounding winner against both of them. On a roll, he put the shout out for a new opponent but no-one would oblige.
Before heading back to the hotel for lunch, I took the opportunity to interview Reece Brown who got pelters from the other players at the top of the T3, who were trying to throw him off his stride – all part of the bonding process, apparently. In all seriousness, he and the other new lads have already settled in so quickly, with strong bonds forming with the other players already, which is great to see.
There's definitely a bit of bromance developing between Brad and Hendo, who seem to be joint at the hip. I might have to start calling them Brando…
Lunch followed, and while I was on a roll I thought I’d catch up with Mark Kitching, who is with us on this pre-season trip for the first time. It was a really enjoyable interview and he’s definitely come out of his shell since arriving from Middlesbrough in January. You can watch part of the interview on the club’s YouTube channel and the full interview on iFollow.
It had been overcast in the morning but the sun was blazing by the time 5pm came round, and it was a hot one.
After yesterday’s rest day, the players knew today was going to be tough and they were hit with the news that they’d be completing 15 laps around the running track to start session two of the day. The Gaffer had got what we wanted out of that particular aspect of the session after 10 laps, though, and very generously stopped the run.
The session was far from over, though, and the players were split into groups. Like Saturday, it was a 5v5 on one part of the pitch, and a 4v4 with a team actively resting, on another small section of the pitch. It was all change every few minutes, so every team was involved in each scenario on more than one occasion. This part of the session was fast and furious, and was so difficult to keep up with play, with the main message being around retains and regains. I don’t know if it was just me, but this seemed to be a lot quicker and more intense than the other day, like it had gone up another gear, which I just didn’t think could be possible. The players really are giving their all.
When the session was finished, I interviewed Ollie Rathbone to get his thoughts on pre-season so far, and you can watch the interview on iFollow from Wednesday morning on wards. He’s a great character to have around the place – he’s always smiling, no matter what’s thrown at him, and he loves to blurt out a song or two, too. He is, of course, as you’ll have seen last season, a bit of a machine who seems to have no problem with endless running, with and without the ball. He reminds me of the Duracell bunny.
Whilst I was off across the other side of the pitch with Ollie - Steven Davies, Keith Keane, Harrison McGahey and Joe Raff made good use of my unattended iPad, taking selfies. Davo couldn’t help himself and pre-warned me that that I might want to check my iPad as soon as possible, giving the game away… as soon as I saw them, I thought they were brilliant and had a right good laugh – there was no way that I wasn’t sharing them with you lot so I posted them all over social media straight away. I honestly believe it’s these type of photos that epitomise the week.
Looking at the photos, you’ll see four very tired faces after a gruelling session but, as always, they all had time for a smile. There are no qualms about it, there’s an unbelievable spirit.
As you may remember me saying last year, time out here passes you by very quickly, and tomorrow is our last full day in Tenerife.
So much has already been achieved but we’ve still got more to come. Let’s see what Wednesday brings.