Introducing Counties Podcast Articles: #1 The First Day of Pre-Season
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First Day of Pre-Season
5th May 2015
Its 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning and I find myself in the unique situation, for me at least, of standing in the pouring rain on the corner of a playing field so vast that it could host a hundred training sessions, with some small plastic cones marking out what I’m told is ‘a running station’.
It’s the first day of pre-season training and for some reason I’ve been roped into dusting off my old Predators, which for the record have never even see real grass, to help out whilst trying desperately to look like I know what I’m doing whilst I follow manager Andy Nelson’s instructions.
The players arrive and Reserve Team coach Joel leads the warm up by leading the players, wearing various colours of new football boots that can only be described as an assault on the eyes.
I’ve often heard Andy and his coaching staff talking about session plans (Google the words Facebook + Tony Holmes + Session plan if you want your computer to explode like its just informed Ethan Hunt of his next mission – Tony never stops working) and I imagined them sat in air conditioned rooms with charts of football pitches and marker pens like Coach Erik Taylor in Friday Night Lights.
I’m not going to give anything away here but seeing one man be able to conduct a training session that included more than 25 players (of varying ability) at once without sending them on a cross country run was the final nail in the coffin that the man in the street has any clue what’s involved in being a football manager…and this is on the first day of pre-season!
It was a far cry from the opening match in the film ‘There’s only one Jimmy Grimble’ where Robert Carlyle is sitting in the van with the newspaper trying to sneak a drag on his cigarette whilst the school team just gets on with it.
As a fan it was a great experience to be a part of, seeing which players had returned, trying to work out who the new faces were and trying to witness a few stand out moments but, in truth, were a long way from August.
At the end of the session the players warm down, finish off the water and Andy delivers his message to those on the fringes about the importance of making the most of their opportunity whilst Assistant Manager collects in bibs off the floor with his backside hanging out the back of his tracksuit. A few of the lads resist the temptation to fire a couple of footballs his way! For some reason there are two bags full of enough bibs to separate a dozen football teams and its my job to sort through them all!
Overall, it was very productive first day of pre-season and I have discovered that I am almost capable of putting out cones and collecting up bibs; even if I am a bit poor at pumping up the training balls!