Having survived the phantom horn blowers from the previous evening, I awoke to a fairly cloudy morning and a temperature in the region of 72 degrees (22 degrees in new money). In truth it was a refreshing change to the high temperatures we have been experiencing back in Blighty over the past few weeks. The temperature is pretty much governed by the hills that surround Grassau which is our base this week.
As promised, let me tell you a bit about the region that a good number of Bees fans will be heading for in six days time.
Grassau is located in the south east corner of Germany known as Bavaria, in the region of Traunstien, south of Lake Chiemsee (also known as the Bavarian Sea) and in the valley of Tiroler Achen. Lake Chiemsee boasts three main islands, one of which called Herreninsel has a palace built on it for King Ludwig which is a replica of the Palace of Versailles, albeit it was never completed.
As many of you trend setters may well know, and those who have attended any Oktoberfest events may well have witnessed, the traditional costume in this neck of the woods is lederhosen, which are breeches made of leather. The local folk dance is known as Schuhplattler which consists of striking, clapping and striking the soles of your shoes, thighs and knees. I wonder if Dean has considered a bit of schuhplattlering as a variation during one of the training sessions. Particularly so as there are 150 basic moves. That should bamboozle the opposition if taken on board.
The Training Ground where “we” train each day is adjacent to the Hotel where we are staying. It’s a classic Bavarian hotel with beautiful individual balconies festooned with colourful flowers.
The Training Ground is the home of ASV Sportspark, and will also provide the venue for Saturday's training game against Karlsruher SC. The Sportspark has hosted training camps for a number of international teams, plus many top European sides such as The Mighty Bees. Last week, Ukrainian Premier Liga team FC Shaktar Donetsk were here whilst next week VfB Stuttgart move in swiftly followed by a fellow 1 Bundesliga team SV Werder Bremen.
Our host here is Mark Klopp, son of Jurgen.
Out on the pitch the squad were really put through their paces with various training and coaching drills during the morning session with all of the coaches playing their part whether defensive or offensive (apologies for the Americanism). The morning session finally drew to a close with a gym session and set piece analysis for Friday's first-half XI. The second-half XI had their set piece analysis in the afternoon.
The afternoon training was just as intense as the morning's and indeed I believe more so as a number of the players will bear testament.
Finally, just prior to 6pm, Dean launched the first of two competitions which I alluded to yesterday. Those attending the Training Camp, which comprises 28 players and 14 staff, have been split up in to four teams of eleven, with Dean and yours truly adjudicating. The team names are Gilespuff, Ankerin, Crownclaw and Benhamdor (I’m sure you can all guess the personalities who inspired Dean into choosing those team names).
The first challenge comprised two semis and a final, with one team member heading the ball and receiving it back from each of his teammates who must stay in one single line in front of him...non stop. The winning team were Crownclaw who were represented by Said Benrahma, the main man, supported by Thomas Frank, Ciaran Brett, Daryl Martin, Tom Perryman, Dan Bentley, Nico Yennaris, Yoann Barbet, Kamo Mokotjo, Reece Cole and Josh McEachran.
The second challenge involved two players keeping the ball up whilst the five remaining players on each team had to transport each staff member from one penalty area to the other, without touching the floor . Needless to say, as with the first challenge, this was hotly and fiercely contested, even after such an exhausting, but totally beneficial day. The winning team by 21 seconds was Benhamdor comprising John Egan (main man), Chris Haslem, Bob Oteng, Luke Stopforth, Inaki Cana, Mads Sorensen, Lewis MacLeod, Neal Maupay, Josh Clarke, Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos.
However it has to be reported that a few members of staff were walking somewhat awkwardly at dinner this evening following the rather inauspicious transportation afforded them by their teammates.
Re the evening singalong a late decision was made to adhere to the time honoured format following the tinkling of a glass. Tonight it was the chance for Said to prove to us that he could have followed another career had football not taken hold. Well I have 44 other people who were in attendance and they can confirm that football was the best choice.
In truth I have no idea what it was that Said was attempting to sing, but that moment is now behind him and he can concentrate on what he does best.