Chris talks from behind-the-scenesWelsh international Chris Gunter is the Royals' roving reporter for pre-season 2014 - and he has penned his second blog of the summer, as the Royals step up their pre-season scedule. Read part one here.
Hello everybody. I'm back with an update of how pre season has been going so far, as we look forward to our first game of the season at Wigan Athletic.
Since the last blog, we've obviously been on another trip away, and played a couple of games. Before that though, we had a full week's training at Hogwood, where we continued our hard work from the previous week. It was nice being back at the training ground - where I could pick up from where I left off last season on the pool table. Being the number one seed at the club comes with a huge pressure, but I've dealt with it well! The attitude of the players has been brilliant towards the longer than normal days (kicking a ball around, I know you're all thinking it!!), but on a serious note we have really been putting the work in both on the pitch and in the gym ready for a long season.
I'm sure some of you would have seen the YouTube video from the photoshoot, launching the home and away tops a few weeks back. These days, every photo shoot for the new kit has one instruction...look serious! Being the type of guy who struggles once I have a laugh and a giggle, having Jem and Morro in the same room isn't the greatest combination in the world. Some of the things they come out with is probably indescribable, unless your actually there! One of them is bad enough, but when they are around each other its a nightmare for that type of situation. They knew they had me from the start, and the whole process took a lot longer than it should have! It was all good fun though, and having tried on the new kits they look and feel wicked, hopefully there's a successful season in store.
We headed off to Devon looking forward to the two games that week. As good and intense as you can make training, nothing can replicate the feel of a match situation. Getting back into the swing of things, the pre-match meal, the build up in the dressing room and everything that comes with a match day. First up was Exeter on the Tuesday, where the whole squad shared 45 minutes. Results are not the most important thing from a pre-season friendly, but to come away with a 1-0 victory after a well taken goal from Ryan Edwards, we went back to the hotel happy with the nights work.
On Wednesday we were back out onto the training pitch for another good session, and the highlight of the day was probably as follow. First team Dean Wilkins was doing a demo for one of the passing drills, and from right underneath him up popped a sprinkler to completely soak him! Everybody was laughing, while he continued with the demo through the sprinkler - the whole squad were in stitches! None more so than our big Russian Pav, who couldn’t hold it together. Everybody was still chuckling away other than Dean - being angry and soaked through wasn’t a good look, Deano!
Saturday was Yeovil away, and the game was split between an hour for some and 30 minutes for others. It was another display with good bits of play and movement, and even more minutes in the legs. Again, we went one-nil up early in the second half as Ryan repaid Pav’s assist for him at Exeter by producing an unbelievable cross for Pav to head home. Yeovil scored from a set play later in the game, but it was a another good afternoon for us and we headed home unbeaten in the matches, and ending the week fitter and stronger than when it started. We must mention the fans who came to both games, I think we had more than 200 at each of the games, and to travel all that way in the summer to support us was hugely appreciated by all the staff and players. It makes a massive difference, so thank you.
Again, I can't leave you without explaining what happened within the camp while we were away. The Thursday evening was quiz night, the same teams as the 'pop idol' groups from Champneys. Quiz masters Jem and Kells (Stephen Kelly) spent a lot of time putting it together, and produced a full-on quiz night. The six teams took it very seriously, because Jem announced that the team who came bottom had to perform the song they sang at Champneys! To cut a long story short, my team won. Namely because of one man, our Sports Scientist Tristan Baker. How he knew some of the answers, I'll never know. He was backed up by Nick Harvey, proving that the two Sport Scientists know more than just how to get us fit. Myself, Jordan, Hec, Shauny C and Ryan Edwards may as well not have been there - I pretended to nod my head as the answers came flying in, not really having a clue!
There was a break in proceedings though half way through when there was a loud crack from the back of the room. Everybody looked back, and then down, to see one of the staff members in a heap on the floor, and the chair he was sat on next to him in a right mess. He was given a dodgy chair just before the quiz, which (so he says), added to the fact he was rocking back and forward, it gave way and he ended up in a world of trouble. As I’m sure you were told in school Sal, a chair has four legs, so use them mate!! Oh and by the way, Feds’ team lost, so his group had to perform the song from a few weeks back, needless to say they weren’t happy! Especially when they caught another team cheating on one of the answers - it didn’t affect the outcome of the scores though, so I'll spare the individual the public hammering. But it was another good evening, and trips away allow you to bond even closer as a group. Add that to the hard work, and it was another good week.
And finally to finish with two other bits, I’m sure you would have all seen G (McCleary) had an operation last week, and join me in wishing him a very speedy recovery. He was a huge player for us last season, and the sooner we get him back the better. And also because he is my roomie on trips away - we sit next to each other on the bus and wind people up most of the time...so without him to back me up I’m taking a step back from that whilst he’s not there! On a more positive note, the gaffer told us on the trip away that Jem is our new club captain. Well done Jemba! As everybody knows he’s a complete joker, and loves making people laugh, but more importantly than that he is respected by every single player in the team and all of the staff. As soon as he’s on the pitch he does everything properly, and that's why he will be a brilliant captain for many years to come. It’ll be massive for us when he’s back 100% fit and leading us out.
Until next time, have a great few weeks.