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Peter's Training Camp Blog: Day Six

Peter Gilham with the latest goings-on for the French Bees

13 July 2017

Day Six of the pre-season camp in Divonne-Les-Bains was the first time that the players were able to train in classic "pre-season weather" i.e. pretty much a cloudless sky and the thermometer on the rise.

For those there it arrived some 24 hours late as Wednesday had been a day of free time, as a reward for the hard work so far generated over the previous three days. 

Some spent the time on spin bikes (definitely wouldn't have been my choice), others spent time sightseeing in Geneva, whilst four of them chose to play golf at one of, if not the, most picturesque golf courses in Europe. It's The Evian Resort Golf Course, named after the mineral water producing company who own it. For the golfers amongst you, the foursome of Daryl Martin and Simon Royce versus Luke Stopforth and Richard O'Kelly, ended the 18 holes all square courtesy of a five foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. For the non golfers amongst you, apparently the scores were particularly disappointing.

Early evening, everyone met up at an Italian restaurant in the Swiss town of Geneva, just over the border from France and enjoyed an dinner. Then it was back to base in good time as Thursday was looming and a heavy session awaited.

It proved, as expected, to be a tough morning session for the lads, with the clean shaven Yoann Barbet and John Egan both scoring absolute screamers in small sided games, before the session was completed with "Carrot runs".

I remember seeing similar at previous pre-season camps, and they can wear you out just watching them. They consist of a sprint from the half way line to the corner flag, then a run back towards the half way line with the ball which results in a shot against the keeper. Then you run to the dead ball line and produce a diving header, then run back and try and get on the end of a cross past a keeper in a third goal and then sprint to the end. Needless to say it looks absolutely brutal, which it is, but they got through it. What was apparent was the fantastic team spirit as every player, to a man, was encouraging every other player on the run.

If anyone scored twice out of three on the fifth round, they were excused the sixth and final run. As you may imagine you've never seen players celebrate scoring into an empty net so much as some of them did today!

Lunch was a very welcome relief on return to base.

This afternoon, the sessions were position specific, defenders, set-pieces, attackers. Some of the locals came along to watch the afternoon training including one who was in a Championship kit from a club just down the Thames from the Super Bees. One can only imagine he looked on in awe and wonderment, not to mention envy.

This evening, the hosts had organised and arranged a BBQ dinner which consisted of chicken, steak and sausages, plus all the trimmings which by all accounts, was absolutely delicious. That was followed by three Birthday cakes which were presented to this week's Birthday boys - Rico Henry, Andreas Bjelland and Dan Bentley.

For "entertainment" this evening, for want of a better word, Romaine Sawyers and Josh Clarke had to pay the forfeit for being late for dinner in Geneva the day before, by singing a duet. They didn't do too badly either with their soulful rendition of Beyonce's "He Still Loves Me" from the film The Fighting Temptations.

That was followed by a special guest appearance ... Me! The Gaffer had spoken to me a bit earlier and arranged for Matt King (Sports Scientist) to link up with me via Facetime. It enabled me to suggest that Chris Domoney "Sladey", who had kindly stepped in as MC in my absence, should himself pay the penalty of singing a song, as he had been late for the coach to the training facility this morning. He begrudgingly duly obliged with his own version of "Candle in the Wind" which he performed with odd hand movements, which in hindsight were probably to deflect those present from listening to his singing.

And that was it.

Tomorrow is France's number one and most important national holiday - Bastille Day. And it was because of tomorrow that the training camp was the victim of some skullduggery overnight. For when the staff went to the training ground to prepare, the gazebo was missing. Apparently every gazebo in town had been requisitioned for the celebrations tomorrow! However after frantic negotiations, they were able to acquire the equivalent of a pub beer garden umbrella.

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