Keeper on long trips away
Many fans will probably wonder what happens on away games for their team.
Some players will tell you they hate overnight stays, but I have to say I’ve always enjoyed them as getting to spend a bit more time around your colleagues lets you get to really know an individual. Over the last month we have had a few long trips, so I thought I'd trips give you a little insight into the life of a footballer on away days.
As I write this we are sat on the coach having just left the Mem on route to Blackburn Rovers training ground, where we will be training at around 1.30pm.
My day starts with me rising from my bed at 7.00 am to get my overnight bag ready for the journey. I take in some breakfast and hit the road at 8.15am for my hour journey from my house to the ground where we have to meet at 9.45am for the 10.00am departure.
As each car pulls up to the ground there is an anticipation to see if anyone arrives late to add to the 'fine' kitty. On this occasion everyone turns up on time and, unfortunately, no fines are incurred.
I take up my seat at the back of the bus (in my head I’m still 21 and trying to act cool with the young crowd at the back!) where I’m joined by Lee Brown, Oliver Norburn and Seanan Cucas. Now to say the conversations are random is an understatement at times. Today we do actually start off with something important, the on going court trial of Oscar Pistorious. But it’s not long before the conversations turns a bit
lighter. 'Norbs' (Oliver Norburn) starts to talk about winning the lottery and what he’d do, only for him to then come out with; “To be fair, it would help if I actually did it."
The first order of drinks is put in to the young boys who have travelled. (An unwritten rule in football is that the youngest person on the bus is on tea/coffee/hot chocolate duty for the trip. Usually this is Ellis' (Harrison) task, but today we are joined on the coach by Tom Lockyer, Matty Macey and Ross Staley. Tom and Matty spend two minutes arguing who’s the youngest, which turns out to be Tom, and he duely
carries out his obligation.
After about 45 minutes the talk quietens down as a few of the lads start listening to some music and some start reading the papers, Lee Brown shouts out; “Anyone got a Nuts or Zoo magazine.” Looks like that’s Brownie’s reading for the day!
This is the time the lads start to get a little bored, the ipads and laptops come out and the bus is now quite as everyone is being totally unsociable watching films. A couple hours pass and we turn off at Hilton Park service’s at 11.45am to pick up 'Northy' (Shaun North) and 'Woody' (Danny Woodards). 'Woody' joins us at the back but goes straight into his bag, pulls his ipad out, sticks on his headphones and away he goes.
We reach Blackburn’s training ground and start training at 2.30pm, and training lasts for just over an hour where we go through some defensive shape and end with a three team round robin five a side. It’s a quick wash in the shower then we head on to our hotel in Lancaster.
Now any newcomers on away games always have to sing and on this occasion we had two new comers in the form of Ross Staley and Matt Macey. The singing usually takes place at dinner, where most of the time we are put in a room on our own. This time, however, we were in the main restaurant with other guest, so the singing was postponed which didn’t go down well as the boys like to give the 'vocalists' a good ribbing.
Everyone meets for dinner at 7.00pm and there are some hungry boys tonight as me and my 'roomy' 'Macca' (Mark McChrystal) get down at 6.50pm to find that we are the last ones, and some of the boys have already started tucking into the grub.
Now as you would expect the food we have the night before a game is not the most inspiring and after 16 years of being overnight trips not much has changed. It entails Chicken, spaghetti, baked potatoes, bolognese sauce, some other type of pasta and loads of vegetables. The most enjoyable part of dinner is the desert which is nothing amazing, but I do like a good bit of rice pudding.
Once dinner is done me and my 'roomy' head back to our room to relax for the rest of the evening and take in are favourite show on a Friday night which is 'Worlds Craziest Fools' with Mr T on BBC 3. Now to say this has us in hysterics every away game is an understatement and we’ve actually got to the point where we text each other on a Friday night when there’s a home game to remind each other it’s on. We then decide to take in 'The Fast and The Furious' and as the film comes to the end poor old 'Macca' has fallen asleep and I proceed to turn the TV off and retire for the night.
We both wake at 8.15am like a married old couple and head down for breakfast, where a few of the lads are also indulging in some toast, poached eggs, and lots of coffee. We head back to our room again for a couple of hours before heading down for our meeting at 11.00am to go through the full starting lineup and to watch some DVD's on how Morecambe play and their set pieces. Straight after we have our pre match meal which again consists of more pasta, baked beans scrambled and poached eggs, toast and some cereals.
We set off from the hotel for the ground at 1.00pm and it takes us 15 minutes to reach the Globe Arena. Now work begins and the serious stuff takes over.
We’re back on the bus for 5.50pm ready to set off after a very hard fought but well deserved point after conceding a very early goal. We had a few chances to take all three points, but on reflection a draw was a fair result and a positive one after the home loss to Rotherham.
The trip home was an enjoyable one, with the lads feeling very positive and looking forward to Tuesday's game at Northampton. The two newcomers, who were meant to sing at dinner the night before, unfortunately find out that they now have to sing on the bus using the coach microphone system. They were awful; Ross sang the theme tune to ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air', and Matt murdered a Script song that he actually ending up forgetting the chorus to!
We get back to the Mem about 10.30pm, everyone heads off in their cars to enjoy a deserved Sunday off and I make the 50 minute journey back home whilst listening to, as some of you who follow me on Twitter will know, the Best Of The BackStreet Boys!
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