Team vs Europa Point

Argyle in Spain | Day Four Blog

It’s matchday in Marbella. There’s an evening game in Estepona, which is probably a 20-minute drive from the hotel to look forward to.

After a light session in the morning, just to loosen the limbs a bit, the players have been given the rest of the afternoon off, to be fresh and ready for what is likely going to be a stinking hot night.

The early morning cloud cover was a tease, a slightly chilled start to the day gave you a slight bit of hope that there could be some respite for the lads, especially if the rumours of there being no shade at the place we’re playing are to be believed.

Anyway, we mustn’t complain, it’s been gorgeous out here, but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a British person if I didn’t get a little bit of a moan in about the weather.

When everyone is back to the hotel, Charlie Rose and I assume our normal position at the table in the reception and begin our work.

Editing, writing, scheduling and posting. It takes most of the afternoon, especially if you sprinkle in the odd distraction of Macaulay Gillesphey’s now daily request for a good photo of him.

At about 3pm we’re done. The players are making their way down to the meeting room for their pre-match meal and meeting, but Charlie and I have about an hour and a half to chill out before we get on the bus and go.

‘Wear blue’ I get a message on my phone, it’s from Charlie and it’s regarding the kit we’re all going to be wearing.

It’s a nice dark blue polo top with soft cotton shorts – the travel kit. Everyone wears the same when we make a journey together.

Great, ok. Done.

Changed and ready to go, I make my way downstairs and see the rest of the lads. I see Charlie clasping a spare top in his hand, “Are you not bringing a spare?’ he asks. My response is negative, a decision I will go on to regret.

When we arrive at the ground and get off the coach the heat immediately hits you. A short walk down the track from the spot the coach dropped us off at, down to the changing rooms reveals a magnificent, green playing surface.

The standard of pitches out here has been incredible. They are superbly maintained and the luscious green of the grass looks so out of place against the dry brownish backdrop of the rest of the surroundings.

From the dressing rooms you drop down a couple of steps and are on to the grass, the heat is concentrated, a stronger version of itself.

I look around and the rumours of no shade are no longer rumours, it’s true, not a single patch of shady area.

As I sit on the bench on the side of the pitch a thought pops into my head, ‘how on earth are they supposed to play a game in this, when I can’t even stand in it without sweating?’  And in blue, that’s not a good look.

Anyway, play they did.  A much-needed runout for the players who were able to put into practice the work they have been doing in training over the past couple of days.

After a quick chat with the handful of supporters who watched the match and having wrapped up all we needed to do, we make our way back onto the coach and head back to the hotel.

It’s about 10pm Spanish time and, I presume the time, over the last couple of days, that the lads generally settle down to catch up on their favourite TV show – Love Island.

There are three groups of guys huddled around a phone of someone who has managed to get enough 4G to log into the ITV Hub and get it up on their screen.

The echoed sound of the intro to Love Island rings around the bus and the Scottish twang of Ian Sterling’s voices reverberates from in front and behind me.

Personally, I have never got into the show, but it’s clear this is a massive part of team discussion. Everyone, bar a couple of the lads, is engrossed.

Cheers and excited voices begin to pop up, Ryan Hardie is at the front of the bus with one phone, while Dan Scarr is towards the back with another.

As the voices begin to get more excited, Finley Craske and Brandon Pursall, who are sitting behind me, get up and try to catch a glimpse.

It’s a real coupling night apparently, the girls are on their way back from Casa Amor while the boys have been back at base.

Now, for anyone who doesn’t follow the show, like me, this is where it gets interesting. Whilst away at the new casa, the show puts extra contestants in to tempt the existing ones who are already coupled up.

So, in Casa Amor a new group of guys have been getting to know the existing girls and at the main casa, new girls are in with the older boys – following?

Tonight, then, the girls who have been away are returning to the original casa and have either decided to take a new boy back with them or will come back alone, in a show of dedication to their existing partner. While the original boys will have already made their mind up and are either sitting with one of the new girls or will be alone hoping their partner from before, will remain faithful.

Anyway, by the sounds of things, it was all kicking off. Shouts, gasps, the occasional 'nooo wayyyy’ could be heard from each end of the bus.

The cheering and excitement was louder than when they scored in the match not an hour before.

Something big had happened, I know that, but what, I didn’t really care.

“That’s top TV, right there,” Mickel Miller says from the seat in front of me. It’s clear these group of lads are well into it and is another example of the unity in the squad. Love Island is definitely a tool of bringing them even closer together.

We arrive at the hotel and trudge off the bus, unpacking the kit from the hold below and make our way back to our rooms.

Another successful and exhausting day done, just one more to go.

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