What a wonderful location to wake up in! The huge glass doors and windows from my room showcase the work of art that is this beautiful, peaceful valley midst the protective arms of a portion of the Austrian Alps. As Elvis Presley recorded many moons ago, “Peace in the Valley” came to mind this particular Sunday morning.
Breakfast was scheduled between eight and nine in the morning with the first meeting of the day set for nine. The meeting was brief but afforded Thomas the opportunity to detail what was in store for the morning, namely the first training session at the home of SV Kirchbichil, about 3 kilometres from our Panorama Royal Hotel. Kirchbichi, the next town on from Bad Haring, compete in the Austrian Landesliga which is the fourth tier of professional football in Austria.
The facilities were good, albeit the coaches felt the grass was a bit too long. However, it couldn’t be cut as that would make too much noise being Sunday .... and quite right too!
As I said the journey to where we are training (that is of course the royal “we”), is approximately three kilometres which, pre-training, is a bit too far to walk. So all the players, and some of the staff members, have been allocated electric bikes to get them to and fro. Now, in all sincerity, I was tempted to have a go as the golf cart option, which I took to last year, was not available to us this year. However for some inexplicable reason, Linda, my wife, instructed Chris Haslam not to let me near one! So I, together with a couple of other staff members took the car option offered, and now having seen the gradient of the road between here and the ground, which therefore required a very steep uphill climb back to the Hotel, I think I owe my wife an unexpected but well earned bottle of Prosecco!
The training was, as always, very competitive, which as I have witnessed time and time again, says a lot about the camaraderie between the players. The session lasted approximately eighty minutes, most of which was in light rain. Funnily enough, almost the second the training came to a halt, the sun came out and the temperature lifted considerably.
This area, no doubt similar to other mountainous areas, has a micro climate, particularly noticeable as you see the clouds envelope the surrounding mountains and seductively caress them before scurrying away in a matter of minutes.
But it was us who then scurried away back to the Hotel for lunch. It was somewhat noticeable that the car was able to negotiate the steep incline with consummate ease which could definitely not be said of a number of recognisable cyclists we passed en route.
After lunch there was a brief period of free time before the players were split into two groups alternating between gym work and analysis.
At 4.30 it was off to the ground again for “our” afternoon training session. But talking of micro climates, just prior to heading off down the road again there was a thunderstorm and lightning (“very very frightening”) in the valley, which given my earlier musings about peace in the valley, I thought would have been banned on the Sabbath.
The afternoon session lasted about two hours and was very intense work wise, but no doubt very beneficial when the players recover from their tired legs and bodies. Throughout the session, the weather to and fro’ed between rain, thunderstorms and dank conditions.
We were back at the Hotel around seven with half an hour to shower and time to spruce ourselves up for Dinner at 7.30, which was then followed by entertainment. Yes, it was the first night of the “Newcomers - Brentford’s Got Talent - The X Voice” competition.
We currently have eight people in our midst who have not had the pleasure of entertaining with a song their fellow players/staff members:
Ethan Pinnock, Christian Norgaard, David Raya, Jan Zamburek, Cole Dasilva, Fredrik Hammar, Taylor Elliott and Harvey Parsons.
It was decided to invite two “singers” (for want of a better phrase) each evening, with names being randomly drawn. Romaine picked out Harvey, whilst Neal picked our Taylor, which meant our two members of staff had the honours. Harvey is a member of the Media Team whilst Taylor is one of our Analysts. I decided to widen the audience to include those who were in the ‘fine dining’ restaurant adjacent to our area, and warned them of what was about to happen.
First up was Harvey with a passable rendition of the karaoke classic “Wonderwall” which even drew some token applause from our neighbourly diners. Next up was Taylor who decided upon “Follow Me” by Uncle Kracker. (I said that as if I knew what it was - but needless to say I didn’t”). Again it was very passable and very entertaining, for upon my hand signals he also made two sortees into the adjoining restaurant without missing a beat. Again, he received warm applause not only from those he knew but also those who had been rudely interrupted during their cosy Sunday evening dinner.
So three more nights of quality entertainment to look forward to. However, if I can’t get the TV in my room to work I might ask two more newcomers to do whatever they can.
So the end of another quality day in the life of the luckiest guy alive thanks to working with his heroes. This septuagenarian continues to live the dream.