Another year and another overseas pre-season training camp to look forward to. How times change. Talking to my old mate Wally Downes on Friday night, we were looking back to the pre-season camps of yesteryear in Exeter. How times have changed .... and totally for the better.
On yet another lovely summer's morning, we met up at the Training Ground at 10.30 in preparation for an 11am transfer to Heathrow Terminal Two where we were bound for Munich, en route to our home for the next seven days - Bad Haring in the Austrian Tyrol.
The B Squad were in before us and had set off for their location for the next five days, in Cheshire. There was a really good feel about the morning with both squads setting off for pre-season training on the back of encouraging victories against Bedfont Sports and AFC Wimbledon.
The main bulk of the equipment required, and the personal items of luggage of the players and staff, had been transported by van two days earlier.
The First-Team squad are lacking five players, namely Kamohelo Mokotjo and Julian Jeanvier, who are currently representing their respective countries in Egypt, Ezri Konsa, who is taking time off having been with the England Under 21 squad, and Saïd Benrahma and Mads Bech Sorensen, both of whom will be spending their time receiving treatment and recuperating in London following injuries. David Raya, whose signing had only been confirmed hours earlier, joined the Squad.
On arrival at Terminal Two it transpired that we weren’t the only club heading off to Austria on Saturday, albeit they were due on a later flight. I’ll keep you guessing as to who they were, other than giving you a clue - Shepherds Bush! Needless to say I kept myself very much to myself and boarded with the rest of the party around 2pm, slightly later than scheduled, and indeed the flight left around one hour late.
On arrival in Munich we thought we had encountered a problem as according to one of the players, his luggage had not manifested itself on the carousel, having waited until the said carousel was devoid of any further luggage. I was alerted and he and I made our way to the “lost baggage” office to report the missing baggage. Just prior to being seen by the clerk behind the counter I suggested to the player that he would need to show his boarding pass as it would have attached a receipt for his bag. He checked the boarding pass but there was nothing attached to it. It was then that he told me he had loaded the bag onto the van himself on Thursday which was why there was no receipt. I don’t think I have to tell you what I said! However, I did add that to save his embarrassment we could go and have a coffee for half an hour so that when we got onto the coach the waiting party would assume we had sorted out where his “lost” bag was. To save him any further embarrassment, I will not divulge who that numpty was.
The journey to the hotel, in Bad Haring, a beautiful spa town in the Austrian Tyrol, took about 90 minutes. (I will tell you more about the hotel, the town and the area in general over the next day or so). On arrival in Munich the temperature was 32F but by the time we reached our home for the next seven nights, the temperature had dipped down to a mere 21F. However, the air was so pure and the views from our Spa Hotel are to die for.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner, followed by a staff meeting to talk about the week ahead. The staff then sat and watched the final twenty minutes or so of Kamohelo and South Africa beating hosts, and favourites, Egypt to progress to the Quarter Final stage of the Africa Cup of Nations.
We are certainly in very special times when one, maybe two of our players, could be competing in the Quarter Finals of one of the world’s biggest football tournaments.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of countless others when I say I am exceptionally proud to be a Bee.