Life as an Apprentice is much tougher than everyone thinks. The stereotypical view that all we do is turn up for training, play some football, go home and get paid ridiculous amounts of money is completely wrong. Apprentice life isn’t easy.
We train on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and go to College at Selhurst Park Study Support Centre on Wednesdays. As well as trying to get a professional contract, we still have to continue our education and try and get some qualifications so that we have something to fall back on if things don’t work out for us.
We’re at College from 10am until 5pm and try to get the work done as quickly as possible. We also have NVQ logbooks that we have to do twice a week at the training ground.
On training days I’m up at 7am and we all have to be in at 8.45am at the latest. If you’re injured you have to be in at 8.30am. As soon as we get in we get our kit, go and get changed and then do our jobs.
All the apprentices have jobs to do. My job, along with Charlie Holness and Matt Parsons, is to look after the water bottles. We have to fill up all the water bottles for the youth team and the first team, change the water containers and clean them all out once a week. Other jobs include moving goals, getting the balls out, cleaning the changing room, tidying the gym and emptying out the bins.
After we have all done our jobs, we will go up to the canteen and have breakfast. If it’s a Monday morning we will have a team meeting about the game the previous Saturday. If not, we just relax until training starts. Team training normally starts at 10.30am but usually attacking players will go with Antonio Falanga and defenders with Gary Issot at 10am and do extra position specific work.
We then train until about 12.15pm after which some of us have to do our jobs again. We then chill out until lunch which is usually about 12.45pm, although the time we eat depends on how quickly the first team finish training, as we cannot eat until all the first team have come up and had lunch. Its safe to say they don’t break their backs and rush upstairs for us!
The afternoon then starts at about 2.15pm and we are all doing different things. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons we go out as a team and do a specific session based on what Gary thinks we need to work on. If you play a full game on the Saturday then on a Monday afternoon you will be in the gym working on your own weight programmes with Howard. If you didn’t get much playing time then you go out with Gary or Antonio and get some extra football-fitness work done.
Everyone is usually finished at about 3.30pm so then we have about 45 minutes to shower and get changed before a team meeting. Our team meeting at about 4.15pm is about what we’ve been working on in training throughout the day, the plan for the next day’s training and any other issues that need to be said. We all have pro’s boots to clean and we have to make sure they’re all done before we can leave. I have to clean Club captain Shaun Derry and Alan Lee’s boots, so I make sure I do them properly.
After the meeting some of the lads stay and play table tennis for a bit but some of us just go home. I’m home by about 5.15pm so I just relax for the rest of the evening and get ready for the next day.