And so it begins… I am straight back into pre season training tomorrow evening and some clubs even started last week. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the boys and any new faces that have cropped up over summer, however I fear the text coming through “just bring the trainers tonight lads”. If you are to do it right, pre season is a tough time of the year for part time players. Eating right, drinking right and getting the bollocks run right off you. If you are to approach the first game in peak fitness this needs to be strictly adhered to. This becomes a challenge when your friends and family are having BBQs washed down with a cold cider.
Having said all of this, it is nice to see the boys again. If done right, a good pre season can lay the foundations for a successful season. On the other hand, if you attempt to cut corners, the negative effects can be lasting.
It is important to choose your running groups wisely. If you really want to push yourself you must identify the 3 busiest blokes in the team – look for the man who grows a new abdominal muscle every time you look at him and try and stick on their tail. If you want to ease yourself in… well, just look for Ian “Yano” Campbell – seen milk turn quicker. This is fine until he cuts every corner possible and is keeping up with you; the gaffer then spots you,
“Denholm – How’s that fat cyant levels with you”
Jokes aside, every player in the team is usually putting absolutely everything in and it definitely helps to build team cohesion. Making sure every player makes it over that line, encouraging them, pushing them because you know that every little drop of fitness could be the difference.
Follow the link to see footage of Yano during pre season
After a really tough session your legs will be sore, and rightly so, but please refrain from going on twitter and updating your status to “tin man today like”, “struggling albion like” or “a wiz like a cardboard cut-out”. The world needs better entertainment on social media than this.
An aspect which I enjoy the most is seeing what new faces appear during the preseason months. More often than not these come in the shape of trialists. They frequently come from far and wide. Most of the time it will be a player who you’ve bumped into many a time on the lower league circuit, but occasionally you get a guy from London or beyond who pops up with his agent. Traditionally, these guys are very average and then go running when they hear what the average wage is. I don’t blame them when they can probably earn more money playing in the 15th tier of English football.
I’ve been in the position where you will receive a text from the manager asking you to pick up a player who is on trial. This was the case for the Edinburgh/Fife car school – we were told to pick up a lad called Andy Munro. The lad just talked utter bollocks the whole way there and the whole way back until we dropped him off at his car. I turn to Tam O’Brian in the passenger seat and tell him,
“I’m asking to be released if I have to drive up with him for the next few weeks”
Sometimes in your life you’ve got to hold your hands up and say you were wrong. He turned out to be great craic and I’m proud to call him a good mate. I think he was just nervous and trying to impress us. I know what it’s like to be on trial and you are under pressure to fit in. Furthermore you are walking into a settled dressing room, this can be intimidating.
Then there are some pre seasons where non league players come on trial under recommendations; this was the case for one of my good friends Sean Muhsin who enjoyed a brief trial at Forfar under Dick Campbell. Over the 3 week period, the management team referred to him as Moose, Bush, Busherton and David but at no stage was he called the Christian name bestowed on him by his dear mother. This was compounded at the end when he was to find out if he had earned a deal,
“Son yer a great lad but I’m afraid there’s nae budget – really enjoyed having you around. Best of luck David”.
It is safe to say Sean just sticks to playing futsal now (achieved great things with Wattcell).
Nowadays the league cup starts in the middle of July. Although extremely early and a holiday ruiner, it does offer a silver lining. The pre season games start quicker, which are far more enjoyable than any running session. It does not matter how many running sessions, days spent in the gym and foam rolling that you pack in; it’s the games that get you fit, sharp and ready for the season. It is a different kind of fitness that can only be maximised by a competitive 11 v 11. These games are what all players look forward to.
On a more serious note, myself and much of Scottish football has received some extremely sad news. As you may be aware, in recent weeks our goalkeeping coach John Ritchie sadly passed away. He was a no nonsense driven character who would not accept a drop in standards for even one moment. When we pitch up for pre season, he will be sadly missed and I know he will be fondly remembered by everyone who was fortunate to cross paths with him.