It's been a real mix of early morning weather conditions here in Shangri-La, Austria. I say Shangri-La because that is how it has appeared to me.
For those wondering what on earth I’m talking about let me try and explain.
Shangri-La is a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains.
Now in fairness, and to the best of my knowledge there is no lamasery in the vicinity as there’s little requirement for Tibetan Buddhism in these parts. However, the valley over which I peer out on every morning, is certainly mystical in its appearance, and most definitely harmonious with Nature itself. In respect its fair to say that this particular valley is not on the western end of the Kunlun Mountains which are about 6,700 kilometres away, but it is at the eastern end of the Tyrollean Mountains.
OK, time to move on, not literally, that’s tomorrow. It was a pretty standard morning with breakfast following by medical prep and then on by coach to our new short time training ground in Worgl. The sessions followed a similar pattern as previously, but with extra verve and vigour in the knowledge that this would be the last training session here in the Tyrol.
On completion Kev had organised a football based competition for players and staff alike, as part of the week long competition, which was ultimately won by Messrs Gunnarsson, C Dasilva, Dalsgaard, Canos, Sawyers, Shaibu, Haslam, King, Stopforth and Greig.
Now at this juncture I should own up to an error in a previous Blog when I gave credit to Christian Norgaard for being in the triumphant Quiz Team. Not a reflection on Christian but it should have read Chris (Haslam) as being the brainier of the two, or at least fortunate enough to have been in the winning team. My sincere apologies to all concerned, and of course their respective families.
My other ricket? I have been misspelling Tyrollean incorrectly each day until now. I hope it didn’t detract from you reading the Blog!
After lunch there was down time for the players except Ollie, Rico, Jan, Cole and Ali who joined up with members of staff for the Big Match - Brian’s team versus Thomas’ team.
With the crowd in place, well myself and four others, the match kicked off when the referee Jan Zamburek gave some sort of signal. The kick off had already been delayed when it was realised no one had picked up the bag of balls from the hotel. Crucial to the game methinks.
The Teams were TEAM THOMAS: Thomas, Harvey, Kevin, Luke, Saif, Sladey and Big Bob.
TEAM BRIAN: Brian, Ciaran, Matt, Taylor, Zaheer, Chris (Not to be confused with Christian Norgaard) and Nick.
The game was split up into three logical halves (!!!) of 20, 15 and 18 minutes. Whilst the game was seven-a-side, within two minutes Team Thomas were reduced to six as Big Bob limped off.
The games first goal came after four minutes from a slick move initiated by Chris, on to Brian who set up a fine goal by Nick Stubbings. Ten minutes later an awful challenge by the legend that is Kev on Ciaran (it was he and the ref who said it was awful) resulted in a yellow card and a very sore leg (Kev got the card and Ciaran the sore leg).
Moments later Zaheer played the ball back to the stricken keeper Ciaran, but forgot to check if he was there first, and it was 1-1.
One minute into the second period Zaheer, two yards out from a totally open goal had the heaven sent chance to make amends, but suffice it to say the score remained the same.
Two minute before the next break, Harvey Parsons hit a scorching free kick into the back of the net ... Team Thomas 2, Team Brian 1.
In the final 18 minutes the game really came alive with four more goals:
37th minute: Brian bullet to level the score
38th minute: Luke Stopforth scrambled home to make it 3-2 to Team Thomas
40th minute; Brian’s shot was inadvertently dropped by Sladey before rolling into the net to level the scores again 3-3
48th minute: Excellent strike from Kev to make it 4-3 to Team Thomas.
In the final minute there were scenes rarely, if ever, witnessed when the Brentford Football Club “Hall of Famer” kicked the ball away in total disrespect and rightly received a second yellow, plus the red. He walked off with his head held low and everyone else looking on in total disbelief of his actions. 501 appearances for the Bees which included and just one harsh red card.....and now this.
Then on the advice of Assistant Rico Henry, referee Zamburek awarded a penalty. You can imagine the atmosphere in the stadium as Brian stepped up to lash the ball past Sladey and so bring the scores level at 4-4. Well he didn’t!!
So Team Thomas who ended up with five players to Team Brian’s seven, were the victors.
After the game, the Analyst/Cameraman/Commentator Ollie Watkins, and yours truly decided to give the MOTM award to Sladey for his memorable performance in goal.
After the game it was back to the Hotel for Dinner for the last time. Just prior to Dinner I gave a presentation entitled “Brentford FC - A Very Special Club” which gave me the opportunity to talk to the players about THE Club they represent, and an awareness of how we got to where we are. I’m a great believer if you have job satisfaction in whatever job you do and have pride in the company you work for, then you will always aim to give of your best. Seemingly the presentation went down very well.
That’s it pretty much for the Blogs as tomorrow is match day and the Comms and Media will cover it totally.
Thank you for reading my Blogs. Thank you Brentford Football Club for affording me the opportunity to be here to write them. Now, following tomorrow’s game, I will carry on “living the dream” back in Blighty.
Come On You Reds.