Argyle in Spain | Day Five Blog
The final day and I am writing this from the club coach somewhere just outside of Bristol, with the sun setting giving off a glorious warm glow. We’re back in England, but the weather seems to have followed us.
Now, before you start, I know I am a little late with this entry but knowing my history with airports I wanted to make sure that the drama was done. Thankfully, apart from a slight mix-up when someone took my bag off the luggage carousel, it was smooth sailing.
So, excuses out of the way, now to the good stuff.
Reflecting on the week, I can’t help but come to the same conclusion – what an incredible success.
Five days of hard, relentless, and intense work, in great weather and with some great people.
That final point, about the people, is maybe the most striking. Of course, this trip was about the football and the fitness, but seeing these lads in the downtime, talking about life or football or whatever, and getting to know them better, you realise what a great bunch they are.
I have lost count of the number of times in interviews with the players I’ve heard the phrase, ‘we’ve got a great dressing room’ or ‘this is a great set of lads.’ I always believed it, but now I have seen it first-hand.
The final full day out in Marbella started like the previous four, down at breakfast for 8 and then off to the training pitches for 10. Rather than going through the hard workout in the previous few days, this one was gentle. A quick loosener in the gym before a couple of slow laps around the pitch.
Again, as with the previous sessions, I stand by the side of the pitch and have a chat with the gaffer. But, instead of talking through our plans for coverage, we just chat. He’s off to play golf with Mark Hughes, Luke Jephcott and Ryan Hardie later and is looking forward to the meal out later on in the day.
He’s relaxed, he’s happy and he’s content that the shape of the squad is in a good place.
When the session is done, we walk back to the hotel. Charlie and I are joined by Callum Burton and Mike Cooper. Again, the chat isn’t football related, it’s more general, about cars, holidays, houses. I felt less a media officer, more a mate.
Back at the hotel, we make our separate ways, Coops is also off to play golf while Cal is off to relax.
Charlie and I take our seats in reception to hammer out the daily content plan. But today it’s quicker. Usually, we would spend a good 10 hours plugged in and working but today we got it done in half that time. A chance to go to the pool.
After a couple of hours, it’s time to head into Puerto Banus for a steak dinner and some drinks.
The food is incredible, I go for a sirloin and baked potato, and everyone cleans their plates.
The gaffer taps his glass and starts a speech, “I just want to say thanks to all you lot. Your hard work this week, doing all you do for us and the club.
“It’s been a hard work, hasn’t it? But it’s been a great one. Enjoy yourself tonight, have a couple of drinks and let your hair down, you deserve to.”
With that we head back out into the town and see some of the lads and spend an hour sitting with them. Again, this felt different to times I have sat and chatted to them before. James Wilson comes over and puts his arms on my back.
“Good week Char? It’s been great having you lads here; I hope you’ve felt part of it.”
Oh, I do James.
It’s those moments, the down time, the walks from the hotel to the training ground that make you feel part of it.
It’s a special group of players we have at Argyle, they are united, as one, all the cliches, but they care about people.
In the time it’s taken me to write this, the sun has now set and Love Island is playing on the coach TV. It’s quiet, a bus full of tired bodies, but it’s a united bus. Everyone inside wants the same thing - to do well for Argyle and I have full confidence we will.