|As a special freebie for
buying the new home shirt this season, it came along with a free ticket
to attend a training day at White Hart Lane to see the players in a
session on the pitch.
The new shirt is nice, I must say. Clean, simple design (well, little design at all), with a whiteness that exemplifies our lilywhite history. The mesh bits, I'm not so sure about and the fact that the shirt shop could not be forward thinking enough to have a large enough supply of 8's so that Defoe 18 could be put on my son's shirt !!
But then not everything is perfect in this world.
Certainly nothing to do with Tottenham that is. A chance to see our new signings ... or was that the Cagliari match ? New signing Sean Davis was not there, but Mendes, Robinson and Edman were along with the management team of Arnesen, Santini, Jol, Chris Hughton, Dominique Cuperley and Clive Allen.
Other absentees were Redknapp, Davies and Defendi (who's current status is yet to be determined ... have we completed his signing yet ?).
Gates opened at 10.00 a.m. apparently, with Jumbotron entertainment until the training started. When I got in at just about 10.50, the goalkeepers were out with Segers putting them through their paces and the screen was showing interviews with players and some of the pre-season action. The sun blazed down as the main players took to the field for their session, which started at 11.00.
Paul Robinson, Kasey Keller, Marton Fulop (as I later found out who he was), Rob Burch and Nicky Eyre all seemed happy working with Segers as they had keepy-uppy sessions, kicking drills and some shot saving exercises down at the Paxton end.
When the main squad entered the stadium to applause from the 3,000 at the ground, they were split into two main groups of players - the ones who had played at Forest the day before and the ones who were in the squad and those on the fringes of the squad/members of the development squad. Chris Hughton took the microphone to identify some of the players for the crowd and to explain the drills and sessions they were carrying out.
The members of the team that played the previous day (Defoe, Kanoute, Carr, Doherty, Jackson, King and Mendes) were taking part in a warm-down session which is typical of the day after a match. Gentle jogging, some stretches and some ball-work - keepy uppies, passing games and head tennis. Mendes left the group first, as he was due to sign autographs in the Spurs store, while Jackson left tenderly holding the back of his thigh and was not taking any chances.
The other group consisted of those who are in and those who are pushing for a place in the First team. This included Brown, Bunjy, Richards, Ricketts, new signing Erik Edman, Marcel McKie, Michael Malcolm, Paul O'Donoghue, Owen Price, Mark Yeates, Mark Hughes and Dean Marney. The running with both groups was taken by Dominique Cuperley, who is the Assistant coach - fitness.
This second group then undertook some drills with Martin Jol (Assistant coach - tactics) setting them their tasks. One was to cross the ball and the recipient had to beat the provider to score in one of two goals with Robinson and Burch trying to prevent them. Robinson showed what a good shot stopper he was and Edman showed that he might be a scorer as well as a defender, with some good finishes. Ricketts finished one by nut-megging Burch and Marney had a good run of goals against Robbo !!
Then they played some passing games and a match with certain progressive conditions put on them, such as two touch or having players standing behind the goal-line to come one and play one touch while everyone else could have as many as they wanted. All the players put a lot of effort in under the hot sun and regular breaks for water intake were made ... mind you, it was good preparation for Seville !! Jol often stopped the play to explain what he wanted and when people were not doing what he wanted. His voice was the loudest there.
Clive Allen and Jacques Santini were in regular discussion, as were all the other coaches and there was no sign of the well-reported rift between them. In fact, all the players were in good spirits and were having fun. Even Stephen Carr was smiling (and I have the photo to prove it !!).
Mauricio Taricco and Anthony Gardner both jogged around the pitch as they were getting over injuries and only stayed out in the middle for a short time.
On their way to the ground, ten youngsters wearing the new shirt were chosen to take part with the players from the Forest game in a kick-about. They were all under about eight years old and there was one lad who was very skilful. The rest chased after the men as they tried to keep the ball, but they didn't always succeed and ended up losing about 6-1 to the kids !! Fredi Kanoute took two of the little ones out with an attempted scoop over one's head that caught him full in the face and another copped one in the stomach. Both were accidents and it all ended happily with photos and autographs for all the chosen children before they left the pitch.
Interviews at the side of the pitch were conducted by Pete Abbot (voice of the Jumbotron) with Santini, Arnesen, Robinson and Erik Edman. They were all optimistic for the coming season and revealed that they were happy and proud to be at the club. When asked how he had been accepted by his new team-mates, Edman said he had only been at the club two hours !! He did say that having played at Euro 2004, he felt confident to come to Spurs in the Premier League and that it was a boost for his career. Robinson said he was adjusting to the climate, as it was a bit different in Yorkshire !!
It was a good morning's entertainment and the fans and the players seemed to enjoy it. It is a shame it was seen as a marketing tool to get people to buy the shirts and I understand that sales were improved by it, as people wanted to attend and ended up buying more shirts so all the family could go. I did write to Daniel Levy some time back suggesting such a day as this (along the lines of El Tel's triumphant arrival at the Nou Camp), but my idea was that we should all pay a couple of quid to cover the turnstile operators wages and stewards, with the food outlets and the shop open, the club would make money on the day anyway ... plus it would open it up to people who could not usually access the matches for cost or other reasons. While thinking of money is not a bad thing in today's football climate, they do need to take the longer view sometimes.
Still, it must be commended as a pro-active initiative and hopefully, there will be more days like this to make the club more open to the fans and the Press.
[Some photos from the day will follow in the next few days]
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