Monday, 29 July 2013

Still Smiling!

Been very quiet on the old blogging front of late, I think that’s because of three main reasons. The first is that football season is still a few weeks away, the second is work being busier and more active, and third, and probably most importantly, I’m content and plodding along nicely through life.

Most of my blogs over the past year or so have revolved around football, many of which focusing on Concord Rangers and the journey I had the pleasure of being a part of last season. It has been easy to write/type about the experiences as part of the club, as it was something I felt passionate about. I have mentioned it before, but the way the club welcomes you in, the family atmosphere which resonates throughout the club, it’s not hard to see why it breeds such loyalty and emotion. This coming season Concord Rangers embark on their debut season in the “Skrill.com Conference South”, just 2 promotions away from league football. Some people say that the lads are punching above their weight at this level, but that’ll only spur the lads on. It’s gonna be one hell of a journey this year, and I am looking forward to being a part of it.

Had some decent moments on a personal level recently, couple of weekend jaunts for one reason or another. First up was a weekend in Brighton for the wedding of Paul & Emma Hill, who I’ve known for a few years now after meeting through a former colleague & still great friend. I went down on the Friday night, and was in a good mood anyway as I was able to win just under £300 from the bookies, which essentially paid for my weekend! A decent part of the Friday night was walking along Hove beach smoking one of my Montecristo cigars, the sun lowering in the sky, bloody picturesque it was! The wedding itself the following day was at Sussex County Cricket Ground, home of the Sussex Sharks, and on the day there was an international 20/20 tournament taking place. A great moment was during the ceremony, as Paul was saying his bit, a cheer went up around the ground. No, not because Paul was saying “I do”, but because a Danish player has just hit 100! Couldn’t have been better timing! It was a superb ceremony, excellent reception in the pavilion, and we even got to go onto the pitch when the Italians were presented with the trophy! Karaoke was part of the reception too, fair play to the lads who got up there, some fantastically funny moments to see/hear! Seriously though, brilliant day & celebration, caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen in ages, congratulations once again to Paul & Emma (and I know Paul reads these, as he admitted as much that weekend!)

The weekend after that I was away again, but this time with my brothers and my dad. Been years since all 4 of us had been away anywhere due to work commitments etc, so it was gonna be a laugh rolling back the years after all this time. 3 nights in Clacton, in one of the caravan parks that we used to stay in as kids when Dad took us on holiday. Amazingly all four of us large bastards were able to fit in this caravan, no idea how given the size of us though! We didn’t spend that much time in the caravan though, most of the time we were in Clacton itself, spending far too much money on the 2p slider machines, crane machines and any other amusement we could bother to find. Oh and a bit of mini golf as well, which the old man won (we had to let him win, he’d paid for the holiday). We also visited our Nan on the way home, which was fantastic as she’d not seen all of us together in years either. The pictures are all up on Facebook, all four of us together is not a pretty sight! It was a brilliant weekend though, and one we wont forget in a while!

Plenty going on in the world at the moment, what with train crashes, royal babies, porn being censored, politicians lying etc. But I ain’t complaining, things are trundling along well enough, plenty to look forward to over the coming months, I hope that you, reading this, have a smile on your face as big as mine lately.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Training With The Beachboys

Concord Rangers have begun preseason training ready for their inaugural Conference South season, and with the new division comes a new training ground. Previously training on 3G in Brentwood, this season the Beachboys have moved to a facility in Basildon. This just happens to be about a 30 minute walk from my flat, so with that in mind I decided to take a stroll (smoking a rather nice Montecristo No. 4 whilst doing so) and take the chance to watch the team train.

First impressions of the facility was that it was very well maintained. The owners of the facility are Fords, and as they sponsored the Beachboys last season on the home kit, it’s easy to see where the connection came from. There’s a vast field to be used, with the standard boxes already marked out, & pitch markings to come within the next week. The majority of cones etc had already been set up by the time I arrived just after 19:00, with nearly everyone there ready to get involved with what Danny Cowley had lined up. Now I’ve seen the preseason schedule, and what is involved in the build up towards the season, and I don’t envy those lads one bit to be honest!

One player was late, I’ll name and shame him too as I’m good like that, it was Leon Gordon who rolled up shortly before 19:15. He was the subject of some banter from Dan later on too, as he had decided to run/train etc wearing a vest. Every other player was in a standard football/training top, oh except for Danny Spendlove, but his dress sense, even when training, is expected to be a bit different to everyone else!

Danny starts the training session with a short bit of verbal about what is the aim, what the lads are there trying to gain from the session and what it means going forward. He then handed the players over to his brother & player-coach Nicky who led the lads off to do a conditioning warm-up. Glen Alzapiedi, Danny Cowley & Miki Hood spent this time setting up a various amount of cones, poles, balls & other bits which would play a part in the 2 and a half hours that was to follow! Obviously I’m not going to detail everything that goes on though, the team are training & don’t need me telling all the details of the process etc!

Then came the hard work for the lads, a lot of running involved early on which certainly seemed to test the limits of some guys. It was clear that there’s a varying range of levels when it came to the running, but every lad to a man looked determined and were not afraid to put in the effort. There was also one key factor throughout a majority of the training, there was plenty of work with the football. It’s not just about fitness, you need to be able to control the ball and after the time off since the last season it is key to get back into the swing of it.

Both Danny & Glen were involved in the drills over the session, clearly showing that whatever the players could do, they could as well! Although to be honest, there was some shocking defending from Glen in the 5-a-side matches at the end! One drill even saw the assistant to the kit man Miki Hood get involved, with Danny shouting to all “I can’t have an unfit kit-man” as the reasoning behind bringing him in. Miki lasted through one drill, and to make up the numbers the new physio took his place in the next one (which led to plenty of comments that previous physios would never have got involved in that way).

There were a couple of things that really stood out to me over that time watching the guys, the first being that although they were working hard & pushing themselves, there remained a great atmosphere. Everybody was in good spirits and clearly looking forward to getting the new season underway. If it had been a heavy summer for some of these lads, it didn’t show as they ran their backsides off over that 2 and a half hours. The fitness of the team was dead impressive, and it was evident that it’s not only the fans eager to get the Conference South season underway.

You Are My Concord!

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