It’s been non-stop telephone calls, meetings, persuasion, budget, finance, targets, recommendations, scouts, staff, players, conditions, positions and kicks up the backside. All in all, a busy week.
I sat myself in front of the TV yesterday, ready to watch the big game of the day. The pre-match interviews of Paul Buckle and Graham Westley, the expectation, tension, anxiety, the match being played at Old Trafford, these two outstanding managers – it got me going, it got my head racing and whet my appetite. I sat there wondering what it would be like to be involved in something like that this time next year.
Paul Buckle is a fantastic young manager – how he gets players down there with a low budget and so far away from everybody I will never know. He has Shaun North as his coach, who I know well from my soccer schools back in the eighties. The pair of them work so hard, Paul got Torquay promoted through the play-offs at Conference level and to be challenging to take his team up to League 1 is quite remarkable.
Graham Westley has now had two straight promotions, from Conference through to League 1. He has done a good job wherever he has been and he certainly maximises the workload of his players, builds them up physically and mentally to be winners. Stevenage will be tough opposition next season.
So here I am now, bombing up the M40 from London to Old Trafford to watch the League 1 Play-Off Final between Huddersfield and Peterborough. All a bit spooky really, everything from that first paragraph and working 24/7 is all about trying to reach something like this occasion today . I will watch the teams walk out on the pitch, I will watch as they warm up, I will soak up the atmosphere and fantasise, dream and store these memories for when my players come back for the ten month competition ahead.
Of course, there are potential dangers in me doing this today; on the way home in my car, bursting with pride, energy, determination and focus, the gentle persuasion of agents to get their players to accept my offers could well turn to threats!
So much is riding on the next two weeks, without a ball being kicked or a game being played – it really is make-or-break.
Saying that, I’m looking forward to my summer break. I’ve been working now as a volunteer for the charity Coaching For Hope for a couple of years and I’m going out again to Africa to work in Botswana, help the coaches to coach, train and develop the young people who don’t always have it easy. It will be so far away from the world that I work and live in and I think it will be ideal preparation for me, and to appreciate just how lucky I am with my health, with my family and to have a job that I love doing.
The relationship between Pro FC and Coaching For Hope, hopefully over the years will see some players from Africa coming over to England – for Pro FC to have a player come over from a Township to train at a professional club would be a dream come true.