Woendsag 30 Juli
We had our first match of the tour today against the Under-19 side of top Eredivisie club FC Twente, so it was a quiet morning. We started the day by going for a walk through the woods to get our legs going after Tuesday’s double session.
We then went on to have a team meeting discussing what we wanted from the game and how we were going to play. After going through our roles in and out of possession we split up into four groups and each group had to prepare the tactics for our set pieces which we were going to use for the day’s game.
We then presented those to the rest of the squad. It was a good start to the preparation and we had our minds set on the game early on.
FC Twente won the Dutch league four years ago under Steve McLaren and the facilities at their training ground were almost as good as Vitesse’s, where we spent Tuesday.
They shared their base with an athletics stadium (named after hurdler Fanny Blankers-Koen, star of the 1948 Olympics) with the changing rooms and offices part of a small stadium with stands and a grass pitch surrounded by an athletics track.
Behind the stadium we found four full-sized grass pitches which were at a very high quality, along with a 3G pitch, which we played on.
Unfortunately the outcome wasn’t what we had hoped for. We lost 3-0 but recovered from a poor start (we conceded all three goals in the first 25 minutes) to put in a good second half and create some great chances.
They were a good side and were very hard to break down and defend against, but we learnt a lot from the first half and managed to keep a clean sheet in the second half.
It was a great opportunity to learn from a Dutch team and understand the way they played and hopefully we can walk away with what we learnt and bring into our game.
They were a technical side who wanted to keep possession and play through the thirds and they were very compact and patient when out of possession, which made it hard for us to play the way we wanted. The most important thing is that we gained experience, gained fitness and became more understanding towards each other as a team.
It’s been a long day packed with hard work and we’re all ready for an early night.
Donderdag 31 Juli
Today has been a relaxing day, with a bit of fun, but mostly focusing on recovering from the game on Wednesday and getting the rest needed for Friday’s training and preparation for Saturday’s game against Vitesse Arnhem. Thankfully, we got an extra hour in bed before heading down to breakfast followed by a short swim session, as well as a rehab session.
After lunch we all got told to meet in the hotel reception of our hotel, the Golden Tulip in Doorwerth, wearing swim shorts because we were going rafting on the lake in the hotel grouds. When we got down to the lake, we were divided into 4 groups of 5 (one group consisting of staff only), and each group was given 8 logs each, 4 plastic barrels and a lot of ropes. We were then told to make a raft from these objects, which we were then going to race across the lake!
On the way to the other side of the lake and back we also had to do several other tasks on the way, such as picking up Frisbees and then throwing them into two goals placed on each side of the lake before heading back to the starting point.
The biggest challenge was actually building a stable raft which would make it across the lake and back whilst carrying five people as well as being able to take a couple of knocks from opponents. It was competitive and good fun, but the winning team – consisting of Lewis Gill, Brandon Joseph-Buadi, Fahad Rwakarambwe, Kaleem Haitham and myself – cruised in to an easy victory finishing before one of the teams had even managed to finish building their raft!
However, we struggled on the second race, which was a straight sprint across the lake and back as quick as possible. We were even given time to rebuild the raft or just fix whatever that had been damaged on the first race.
Unfortunately, we decided to go for a slight change in our construction which ended in a massive disaster, with three members of our group hanging by the sides of the raft with barrels and paddles floating around the lake (as you’ll see from the video below)
We eventually managed to drag the raft over the finish line, but despite our exceptionally slow time we still didn’t finish last because the group of staff didn’t even manage to launch their raft: it fell apart as soon as they carried it into the water!
We had a quick play in the outdoor pool and some time relaxing and playing some table tennis, we went for a quick bike ride to the local shops, and somehow when we were about to head back, ‘Chambo’ (Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain) managed to snap his key when trying to unlock his bike. It’s not a regular lock where you lock your bike to something else, it just locks your back wheel so it’s as if your brakes were constantly on. So the only way for him to bring his bike back was to lift the back wheel up and walk it all the way back to the hotel. This was quite a walk when carrying a bike!
Thankfully for him, the staff came up with an idea and Chambo arrived back at the hotel a couple of minutes after us on a bike that wasn’t his. I think he owes the conditioner, Cookey, a big favour.
We also had a few more performances today, with the best one being Dory and Calvin’s cover of Elvis Presley’s hits Suspicious Minds and Hound dog. We’ve still got more people performing tomorrow so I’ll keep you updated on any mind-blowing or comical performances.
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