The Not So Secret Footballer: The Football League season begins
It has been a while since my last article, writes Jack Midson, but I am pleased to say I have been asked to write again. Thanks for all the feedback from the previous pieces. This latest article is an insight into what I’ve been up to since going back to pre-season training and what a footballer may encounter on the lead-up to the start of the season.
In the past, a pre-season break would normally mean eight weeks off. It seems as if the breaks are getting shorter and shorter. Although I am a fan of the play-offs in every league, giving more teams something to play for towards the end of the season, it does eat into some well-needed rest for players and staff. Before you know it, you are back training. Although you prepare yourself for it mentally, sometimes your body is just not ready which is physically beyond your control. Thankfully, most clubs now have staff that really know what they are doing and ease you into the training.
Every year pre-season does involve quite a bit of running and a lot of clubs get you doing laps of an athletics track. The running isn’t too bad but I’m glad AFC Wimbledon’s training was very football-orientated rather than just concentrating on fitness. Getting the ball out early in pre-season feels like it gives you a better level of preparation and will prove beneficial throughout the course of the season. I am normally okay when we start back and don’t lose much fitness during the summer, probably because I play and coach a bit of tennis to keep myself ticking over during the off-season as well as a bit of running.
I had to do a full medical when I joined Wimbledon. Once that was completed, the physio Mike Rayner introduced me to the exercises that all players must do before each training session and before matches where possible. I don’t mind doing things like this as there is a good reason behind them and it all seems to be benefiting my body so far. The fitness coach Jason Moriarty has also been doing a lot of strength training and plyometrics work with us. I haven’t done much of this before, but again it seems to be having a positive effect on my body.
It’s always hard settling into a new team when you join but the players made me feel welcome straight away and it also helps when you know people already. I’ve played with a few of the Wimbledon players at other clubs in the past – Matt Mitchell-King and Gareth Gwillam at Histon and Max Porter at Bishop’s Stortford. It’s much harder to feel settled when you go to a club on loan or join during the season as some of the players think you’re obviously not going to be there for that long and treat you differently than they would have done if you’d signed permanently. When you join a club in the summer that you’ve signed for on a permanent basis, you feel as if you’re part of the squad straight away and you join at the same time as other new players which also makes a difference.
Presently I am travelling in from where I live along with team-mates from the same area. We are called the Kent car school and there are also other car schools from Essex and London. We take it in turns to drive in to training and seems to help you to bond with other players. Ideally I’d like to relocate closer to the training ground but that isn’t always an option. I think a lot of footballers from the lower leagues have car schools and travel in together rather than relocating. It seems far easier for players in higher leagues to get a new house straight away close to their new clubs.
There are no bad eggs in the squad and everyone pulls their weight. We all work very hard in training which will serve us well when preparing for match days. I was disappointed that we got knocked out of the Carling Cup. On a personal note I’m glad I scored but I’m always disappointed to lose any match and was looking forward to the next round against Crystal Palace. We also lost our first league game at home to Bristol Rovers live on Sky Sports. We got off to a nervous start and went 2-0 down after 20 minutes or so. We managed to get it back to 2-2, looked good for a draw and maybe could have gone on to win. Unfortunately we gave away a silly penalty with just five minutes left on the clock.
We have scored four goals in the last two games but we’ve conceded too many. The manager is encouraging us to play good football from the back which is a lot better than hoofing the ball forward. We have to be confident to do this but we must cut out the silly mistakes and not concede as easily as we have. We will be okay – we believe what we are doing is right and will continue to play our football. I’m sure it will all come good soon.
League Two is always competitive but there seems to be a lot of teams that could compete at the top this year. The teams that come down from League One don’t normally do that well straight away but Bristol Rovers, Swindon and Dagenham & Redbridge all got off to good starts and I think they will all be up at the top of the league for most of the campaign.
I would be more than happy to answer any questions in my next article so please don’t hesitate to ask and I will respond in the next article or in the comments below.