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Peter Gilham's Tour Blog: Day Seven

Peter brings the latest from the penultimate day for the French Bees

15 July 2017

Yesterday, Friday 14th July, is Bastille Day, France's main national holiday. But while the whole of the host country took a day off to celebrate the turning point of the French Revolution some 228 years previously, the Bees training party were set for another tough but productive day on the training pitch in preparation not only for tomorrow's friendly against Lausanne, but even more importantly for the long term programme ahead, namely the 2017/18 season.

Indeed the Football Club themselves celebrated this most special day in the French calendar, when later in the day they announced the signing of French Under 21 international Neal Maupay from Saint-Etienne who play in the French Ligue 1, some 140 west of the Bees current base.

More on that elsewhere on this website.

The Bees penultimate morning in this beautiful part of France saw the players embark on what can only be described as a normal training session as per regular sessions on a day pre-match. However on completion there was a penalty shoot out amongst the losing players in the 6v6 matches, with the three losing penalty takers having to referee and run the line in this afternoon's staff match.

Three players were quick to save themselves from officiating duties in the afternoon namely Tom Field, Josh Clarke and Yoann Barbet, swiftly followed by Justin Shaibu. Dan Bentley was in excellent form in goal and saved from Sergi Canos and Nico Yennaris which meant they were chosen, leaving one other to learn their dubious fate. Three more couldn't be split - Ryan Woods, Harlee Dean and Manny Onariase, so there was a ballot which found in favour of Woodsy.

After lunch, it was time for the staff game, with Sergi as referee and Ryan and Nico running the lines. Inexplicably the teams lined up 8 versus 9, whilst the spectacle attracted an audience of two - namely Lasse Vibe and Andreas Bjelland. Coincidentally I seem to remember that it was exactly the same two that watched last season's staff match. They need to get out a bit more!

The match - well the team led by Richard O'Kelly raced into a 7-2 lead with Richard Clark scoring four goals including a spectacular diving header. There was also an extraordinary goal from fully 35 yards out from Daryl Martin however it was aided and abetted by one of the Assistants (Woodsy) who told him that the goalie (Sean Ridley) was off his line. Not the regular sort of assistance one receives from assistants! However that didn't stop Daryl celebrating in equally spectacular fashion.

However, Dean Smith's team hit back to make it 7-6 including a couple of questionable penalties from the referee who appeared to be somewhat economical with the rules. Indeed he also bizarrely found an additional five minutes at the end of the game.

In keeping with the occasion both sides claimed that nearly all of their opponents goals were offside. But when all was said and done there was only one winning team represented thus: Richard O'Kelly, Tom Perryman, Thomas Frank, Michael Caulfield, Bob Oteng, Richard Clark, Neil Greig and Daryl Martin.

The losing team, namely Dean Smith, Chris Haslam, Ciaran Brett, Matt King, Simon Royce, Sean Ridley, Nicolas Jover, Luke Stopforth and Chris Domoney, were therefore left with a forfeit which would be played out at dinner.

Prior to dinner the nine losers above met in Dean's room to practice their forfeit!

After dinner, Dean and entourage went upstairs to a mezzanine area which overlooked the dining area and proceeded to "entertain" with a specially rehearsed Bob Marley tribute!

This included an impressive version of "Redemption Song" whilst Nicolas Jover, buoyed by it being a special day in his native land, gave a spirited version of "Jamming". A fitting end to the group's final dinner.

After dinner, some of the group strolled down to the village which is on the edge of Lake Geneva, to watch a spectacular firework display in company with some 6 to 8,000 people.

It was almost as if it had been specially commissioned to celebrate the end of Brentford Football Club's week long visit to Divonne les Bains.

It has been a tough but particularly productive week both on and off the pitch, both in the quality and energy put in to the training from players and staff alike, and the team spirit and camaraderie which has been first class, will stand everybody in good stead for the challenges ahead. That allied to the excellent facilities and service provided by all involved at Domaine de Divonne, and time will bear witness, but this past week may be just the catalyst for a very special season ahead.

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