We were allowed to go home two days before Christmas, which was good, as it gave me the chance to spend a bit of time with my family and friends.
It was nice to have a rest, but even then I found myself going out for the odd run here and there so that I could keep on top of my fitness. The last thing I wanted to do was come back to work at a lower level than I was when I left, or I think the gaffer might have had something to say about it!
It goes without saying that everyone back home is excited and really proud about the fact that I have been given a professional contract with Carlisle United, and I suppose the break also gave me the time to let it sink in.
We also had the news that I have been nominated for the Football League Apprentice of the Year award. I’m not too sure what happens about it, as it came as a bit of a surprise, but it is really nice to be linked with something like that.
The first team manager, Greg Abbott, has already said that the hard work starts here. He told us (Jonny Blake, Andy Cook and myself) that we have done the first part by getting the contract, and it is now up to us to knuckle down and force our way in to the first team reckoning. That’s what I intend to do now so, whilst it was good to get away for a week or so, I’m also raring to go now that we are back to work.
The first training sessions that we had last week were tough, but I found that it got easier as the day went on. I trained at a place called Newton Rigg with the first team, which was good.
I hope that I’ll get to do that more now, because it is a very good standard. You certainly learn a lot, training with older players and, no disrespect to the youth team, but it is a much faster tempo. It’s really good to be involved in it as you know that everything you are doing is improving the skills that you already have.
Newton Rigg is a third generation pitch and is slightly different to grass, so you can’t slide in for tackles or do things like that. You have to adapt to the ground, but it is excellent for cold weather spells and it’s also handy to be able to work on a full sized pitch, even when the rest of our training areas have frozen over.
I got a bit of a rude awakening when I got back to the ground as my Youth team coach, Eric Kinder, was waiting for me and he took me back to the Youth team for some more work. I ended up running round the pitch and I found that to be very hard. I’d put a lot of effort in with the first team, so I started to feel it towards the end of the Youth team session.
We also have an indoor training facility at Brunton Park, called the Neil Centre, and that gets a lot of use during the bad weather spells. We tend to have morning sessions in there and then we will go on to weights or a bit of running in the afternoon. The last week or so has been really good fitness wise, and I think the last of the Christmas pudding has well and truly been seen off!
Youth Match: Carlisle United v Preston North End – POSTPONED
We were supposed to have a Youth game against Preston North End last Saturday, but it had to be called off due to the freezing temperatures. The Preston game is one that we always look forward to, as they are always tight games, so it’s a shame that it didn’t go ahead.
We were top of the table going in to the Christmas break so we really wanted to keep the pressure on by getting a few games under our belt and picking up some more points. It wasn’t to be though, so we’ll have to make do with our match against Blackpool this weekend as our first one of the New Year.