Football Match preparations for an Away Game

Gambling, Pornography, Tabloid Newspapers, Greasy Cafes and Hardcore Football Fans

Away Day Football Match Preparation for a Professional Football Team. This was the typical routine for most of the clubs I played for, although I am quite sure it is a similar schedule for other Football Clubs.

For long trips involving more than 2 hours of driving we would always depart the day before the game.

Friday Training Session

Friday morning would be a training session at the ground, starting at 10.30am. Friday training sessions would always be a bit different to a regular training session. More emphasis would be placed upon the tactics for the game the next day.

Set pieces. Corners and Free Kicks. Both Attacking and defending. We would spend from ½ hour to 1 hour analysing the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses. Normally with no opposition, the first team squad would go through the corners and free kicks, standing in the required positions. Boring stuff really but important information. You did not want to be the player who had not listened or understood his job (especially defensively) and was caught out on a Saturday, leading to a goal.


After a 2 hour training session, the coach would be loaded up with the kit ready to depart soon after. Lunch would be laid on at the training ground, although some players would sneak off to the greasy spoon to get their last unhealthy meal before coming under the Big brother control of the club nutritional requirements. i.e. the club would be able to monitor what you eat once you got on the Team coach.

A quick stop at the Newsagents to get the newspapers, magazines, crisps and chocolate (club cannot monitor bags of crisps in the kit bag) and we would be set to go. Mostly Tabloid newspaper nonsense on the team bus plus FHM, Loaded, Football Boot monthly etc.

The whole first team squad would be on the coach, typically numbering 20 players. Plus one of the senior management staff, club physio, kit man and driver.

Journeys would be filled with card games, DVDS on laptops or portable players and sleeping. Arrive at the hotel, normally located within 20 minutes of the away team Football stadium. We would be paired together, 2 to a room. Once arrived and given our room numbers, players would walk around, stretching their legs, getting the long Coach ride out of their system.

Hardcore Football Fans

Hardcore Football fans would be waiting at the hotel entrance. I am not quite sure how these fans would find out where the team was staying but there would always be a group of the most dedicated autograph hunters standing in the hotel reception. No players ever mind signing autographs but these fans are a special breed, testing the patience of even the kindest players. They would carry boxes of magazines, newspaper cuttings and articles. For the more popular players it would not be unknown for them to sign 40-50 autographs for one person.

Football players hanging out in a Hotel

By the time we arrived at the Hotel it would be late afternoon, so Dinner would be next on the Agenda. Most of the time we would be given a room away from the main restaurant. Probably to keep the players away from the regular diners and stop them from bothering people. Meals would be pasta, chicken, steak, rice and vegetables all served in a buffet style for the team. It was standard fare at most hotels. If the manager was in a good mood he would let us have an ice cream. Yippeeee. Sometimes felt like we were in the army with all the rules and regulations.


After dinner almost all the players would head off to their rooms. Some would play cards until late at night. I heard an anonymous Premiership footballer on BBC Radio Five Live, recently talking about the addictions of young players, who would travel with their laptops, and hook up to the Internet and gamble until the early hours of the morning. This does not surprise me at all. The player said that after finishing gambling they would just surf the Internet looking for porn. Sometimes not getting to sleep until 4 or 5am.

I also knew players who would have a different girl in different parts of the country. A convenient mistress to spend the night with before the game. Although I am not going to name names for fear of being sued.

Other players would bring a playstation, hook it up to the Hotel TV and have a little tournament with team-members. Every player has his own way of “killing time” the night before the game.

Match Day Morning

Next morning would be up for Breakfast, again monitored by the club. Some managers are stricter than others but normally it would be a hearty breakfast, fit for a king. Then maybe a walk with the team to stretch off, or even a very light training session. (I used to hate that. Training on the morning of the game).

The rest of the morning was free, usually hanging out in the room watching football. We would then have lunch followed by a team meeting to re-emphasize the points from the training session the day before and also to announce the team.

Although everyone would already have a good idea of the team due to the training session on Friday, it was normally re-announced. Sometimes players would be sick or carrying an injury and did not pass their fitness test on the morning of the game.

We would get to the ground about 1 ½ hours before kick off. Into the dressing room, walk the pitch, savour the atmosphere. Then get changed into the Match Kit 1 hour before kick off, starting the pre match warm up 30 minutes before the game. One final team meeting before hyping ourselves up ready to take the field.

Charlton Football Club part company with Iain Dowie

Charlton Football Club parting company with Iain Dowie has surprised me.

Although the team has not won many games this year and there is no doubt about the pressure Dowie and the club would be under at such an early stage of the season, I thought that Charlton Athletic Football club would have persevered and given the manager at least a full season and a shot at promotion next season (assuming the worse case scenario - is relegation that bad for Charlton Athletic?)

Looking back to Alex Fergusons early time at Machester United is a brief reminder of how close he came to losing his job when he became the Manchester United boss.

I am sure that Charlton would have done their homework in depth before hiring Dowie and knowing full well that any change in management is a tricky transition for any Football Club this decision comes as a shock.

Maybe Curbs has had a long enough break and wants his job back!!! Dowie goes back to Crystal Palace, Simone Jordan drops his court case against him and everyone carries on as if we've been stuck in some kind of Footballing wormhole!

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Football conundrum for Liverpool FC - Gerrards awkward position

Arsenal 3 Liverpool 0 - This morning I watched todays game at the Emirates Stadium between Arsenal and Liverpool and can only surmise that Liverpool Football Club seem to be in a state of turmoil. Todays performance against Arsenal was woefully below what is expected of a high quality premiership side such as Liverpool.

Steven Gerrards continued role as a right midfielder is becoming more of an issue for all football commentators (BBC Sport - Benitez shrugs off Gerrard debate) and plenty have noted the folly of playing one of the best central midfielders in the country in a position that is not natural for him.

As a guide to disseminating the choice of playing Gerrard on the right hand side I would suggest putting yourself in Arsene Wengers shoes. What would Wenger be thinking (and most Arsenal fans) when they saw how Liverpool shaped up before the game today? Gerrard playing out on the right side of the field ; Wenger must have been delighted with that.

There were many strange looks from Gerrard to his bench throughout the game, showing his confusion. Rafael Benitez has a constant rotation policy for his team, but playing your best players out of position definitely is not going to win him any admirers. Especially amongst the Liverpool fans.

After the game Benitez said

"Steven was playing in the middle for part of the second half and we didn't create many chances.

"We need to improve as a team and not think about one or two players."

That’s not a great way to motivate your players and Gerrard will surely feel these remarks as criticism from his manager. Justifying his decision to play Gerrard in right midfield by questioning Gerrards lack of influence when he did play him in the Centre of Midfield does not bode well. It is as if Benitez is saying that he wasn't effective in the Centre of Midfield even when he moved him to the centre and therefore his decision to play him on the right was correct.

Well Gerrard certainly did not influence the game on the right. Troubled times indeed for Liverpool.

Arsenal on the other hand are doing their up most to keep up with the phenomenal win rate of Manchester United and Chelsea. Today they looked like a great team, playing with lots of movement, fluidity and able to break down Liverpool on numerous occasions. I hope they can hang on to the coattails of the leading 2 to make this a Premiership season to remember. I am sure we will see some great press conferences and touchline dramas courtesy of Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger if the 3 teams can stay neck and neck through the season. Those battles/mindgames could be as exciting as the Football matches themselves and reminiscent of Kevin Keegans emotional outpouring below :

Funny Video

Totally off the topic of Football is this brilliant video in a similar vein to Trigger Happy TV. It's amazing the things people will put up with and do when you point a camera and microphone at them...enjoy

Alex Ferguson Swearing on TV - Classic Football Drama

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