Saturday 7 July 2018, a very special day in the English football calendar and one which coincides with the first day of our pre-season Training Camp, or at least the half day of travel to get here, albeit full of incident (mainly pleasant).
It started with a 12.30 meet at Jersey Road for players and staff, less Dean Smith and Chris Haslam who had flown out at the crack of dawn on the auspices that they wanted to check a few things and prepare for our arrival (whilst most thought it was purely so that they could watch England’s Quarter Final tie uninterrupted by airport protocol!)
I’m pleased to report that there were no mishaps this year with such as forgotten passports, and the only indiscretion was one of the players choosing to wear the wrong apparel for traveling in. There is a “code of conduct” for want of a better expression, which says: players wear red polos when travelling and white polos at mealtimes and meetings etc. The reverse goes for members of staff. But it would be unfair of me to single out who the player was, as when he reads this blog tomorrow (Sunday) I wouldn’t want it to spoil his 21st Birthday.
After a bit of lunch we made our way to Heathrow Terminal Two to check in for our 16.25 flight to Munich. Having completed the formalities a location was found in the departures area that was showing the match. Unfortunately due to the Airport authorities rules and regs, television screens have to remain mute although restaurants can pipe music through their speakers. It does have its plus points though as you don’t have to listen to a certain few pundits (I won’t name them to avoid any slander allegations).
Needless to say when Harry Maguire’s header hit the back of the net, the shriek from the massed Brentford ensemble together with a number of English fans dotted around, echoed through the Terminal and past the eerily silent Gate B18, which was the Lufthansa desk about to welcome our happy throng for the flight to Munich.
As half time came we made our way to the Lufthansa gate, and it was like something out of “Fawlty Towers” - you know the bit when John Cleese said ‘Don’t mention the ...’. I think England’s march towards the World Cup Semi Final, mixed in with Lewis Hamilton clinching pole position for Sunday’s British Grand Prix over the German Sebastian Vettel, wasn’t what they had hoped for.
The second half was watched on TV, then on mobiles and iPads on the plane, with the final glorious whistle being blown literally minutes before we started our 90 minute journey to Munich.
On arrival in Munich we were met by our coach. But before we boarded, we took on a few snacks for the 1 hour 40 minute journey to our home for the next seven nights, Golf Resort Achental in Grassau. We also made the most of a special offer on bottled water which was being sold on the cheap .... as it was originally a promotion allied to our host country’s participation in the World Cup which by now had been somewhat curtailed. Handy!
We arrived around 10pm (we’re one hour ahead of the UK), and had an excellent supper laid on whilst we watched extra time being played by our ultimate opponents in the World Cup Semi, Croatia.
Finally we made our way to our well presented rooms. However any light sleepers may well have been woken shortly after by a fleet of cars sounding their horns for some while. They were either Croatian fans living in this area of Bavaria, or local fans making their feelings felt knowing that the top footballing Championship side in England were in residency on their doorstep!
In tomorrow’s Blog I’ll tell you a bit about this beautiful part of the world. Also about a competition that the Gaffer has devised plus the format for this year’s nightly singalong.