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Marbella - Day Six

A rest day for the lads, though there is a light session later in the day, none the less it’s still a hive of activity around the hotel.

14 July 2017

The lads are using the time wisely and relaxing, one or two are on the course for a round of golf – Joe Murphy I’m told is constantly beating all comers with the golf bat. Some are, as I write this update, lounging around or in the pool.


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We woke this morning to thick fog and clouds. You could hear the relief amongst the lads. One even suggested they go for a session on the pitch whilst it was cooler, but it was quickly dismissed.

The lads have the rest day for one simple reason – they have thoroughly deserved it. Lee is more than happy with the way the week has unfolded, about how much work the lads have done, the team spirit, bonding everything that he wanted from this trip, he’s received in abundance from every one of the lads.

He’s seen the team potentially ripped apart with two departures, a fear that it could affect the bond between the lads. It's exactly the opposite – it's made that bond stronger and the group as a whole are as one – it’s a team with plenty to offer and plenty to come.

Myself and my roomie (Ryan Lowe) went to Malaga Airport this afternoon to collect our new arrival, big Jim Henry joined us for the ride and off we went. With the SatNav on my mobile guiding us along the way – we developed a sudden problem. The voice over on the phone suddenly changed to Spanish, it was a simple fix, muted and off we went.

For years people have said to me, do you know Ryan Lowe. Obviously, the answer is yes, but there's a misconception that Ryan Lowe knows everyone. As we waited for the London flight to arrive, an earlier flight from Liverpool arrived – and it certainly did not surprise me as a group of people emerged from the arrivals hall and instantly recognised him. They were family friends from home – just typical I thought, a plane load of scousers and Lowey knows half of them…

As Big Jim sat in Lowey’s fun bus in the car park, in case it had to be moved, Lowey & I waited for an age for Nicky to find his suitcase. Many will question why he flew out for a day, it’s quite simple, the manager wanted him to bond with the lads now – rather than at 1 pm on Sunday, he wanted to get him through a fitness session with the lads now, rather than next week, he wanted to check his fitness now, rather than at 3 pm on Saturday.

Eventually, Nicky arrived through arrivals and I managed to get it on video, an attempt at a quirky signing story – hopefully it's gone down well with everyone. We threw Nicky into Lowey’s fun bus and set off on the 45KM drive back to the Hotel, where the chairman, manager and all his coaching staff were patiently waiting for his arrival in reception.

As soon as he was changed and into his new Kappa training kit, a few photos were snapped and sent back to Gigg Lane, where Gemma (our head of design and branding) set about creating the images for the article on the website, the social media post and the images I needed for the quirky video.

With that done, it was just a case of waiting for the paperwork to be finalised. Whilst waiting, I had already been in touch with Middlesbrough to confirm a time for the George Miller story to go live. With 4 pm set, it was simply a case of pressing the button and off it went.

On a personal note, I just want to wish George all the very best for this next part of his career, he’s a top lad and I know many at the club rate him heavily, from the Chairman, the Chief Exec, right down to Rose in the laundry. Good luck George. He left on the same flight with James Vaughan the other day. Before he left he came around to everyone one, every single person that had travelled to say his good byes.

George is one of those lads that you glance at, casually pass in the street or in the club, and he just makes you smile. He’s the most down to earth player I’ve come across, absolutely nothing fazes him. He’s the first on the training ground and the last of it for one reason, he wants to get better. I shall miss his little red Ford Fiesta in the car park, he told me that even though he had moved to a bigger club, he shall be keeping the beat up a little car to remind him of where he came from – a top lad, and he will progress and do well for Boro.

Once George Miller was done, the Nicky Ajose video was uploaded to YouTube, set to a private viewing and it was just a case of waiting. The article on the website was pre-loaded. As a training session was about to start, I made my way down the hill and waited for the call from Charlton. The time was set to 5:15. I could have sent the video and article at the same time, but Lee had requested his interview pitchside as the session was coming to a close.

So at 5:15 it was simply a case of changing the setting on the video to Public via my mobile, and send it to Social Media. The article on the site went live as soon as we got back to the hotel.

The gaffer confirmed Stephen Dawson as captain and told the lads, the round of applause was instant and deserved, Dawse (or shall we call him skip) was an obvious choice to me, especially after the game at Glanford Park last season, those that were there that day saw how he controlled the game.

So with video interviews with Lee and Dawse both done, it was over the road to the Golf Club where the Chairman had laid on a BBQ for the lads, and as usual with everything here – the food was stunning.

With all the new arrivals having murdered their favourite songs over the week, and we’ve had many, the sudden arrival of Nicky Ajose brought the spoon tapping on the glass from Jermaine Beckford – which signalled that somebody needed to sing. The look on Nicky’s face was priceless.

Nicky duly climbed onto his chair and belted out a rendition of Don’t look back in Anger, sorry I need to re—write that sentence. Nicky completely murdered a rendition of Don’t Look back in Anger. Stick to footy Nicky, there’s a good lad.

I’ve been asked why none of these singing sessions has made it to social media – the answer is quite simple. There is a fine for using your mobile in the dining room – and I am not paying any fines…

With dinner over, plans were laid for tomorrow. An early rise for a training session in the morning, as it’s a football session there will be no Facebook live. I will be there for photos plus to get an interview with the Chairman at the side of the pitch. The Chairman tells me he will put his suit on – in this weather!!!

Finally - injuries, the players are in fine fettle. Blisters is the main problem, but all are calming down. Joe Skarz has a sore pinkie after Zeli Ismail stomped on his foot in training, Phil Edwards has a slight knock to his knee and Callum Styles is being treated for heatstroke. There is however one serious injury, Physio Paul Smith has collected a stress fracture to his foot. The only injury from pre-season - is the physiological - typical...

Tomorrow is the final day and any updates from tomorrow will be live on the site once I get home, along with the preview for Sunday's game. I shall miss sitting on the balcony overlooking the pool working on video's, images or updating this blog. Its long hours, but worth every second. What about a blog for the Season???

So until tomorrow, from Marbella, Suite 235 Balcony – have a good night.

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