Blues footballers go to Spain and back

After Christmas the men’s football team pitched up in La Manga for some training. ZAC BAYNHAM-HERD tells us all about it.

ant childs cambridge united craven cottage CUAFC flying football goals Gorringe grass John Harrison kerrigan la manga light blue planes Rory Griffiths tab sport varsity football zac Baynham-herd

In preparation for a hugely important Lent term, last week the footy Blues travelled to southern Spain for the annual tour.

Like last year the week was split between the Pinatar Arena and La Manga club. With 4 crucial games coming up that will determine whether we stay in the BUCS Premiership, the tour was approached as professionally as possible from a footballing perspective.

In addition, Jez George, the adopted coach of the Blues this year and director of Football at Cambridge United, pledged to sacrifice a week’s work at the busiest time of the year for United to take the tour.

He was joined by his new assistant, and ex-blue Danny Kerrigan, who added significant value from a coaching perspective. However it appears after filling his suitcase with Kleenex and cheese rolls there was no space left for fun Danny. Fortunately though, the fresh-faced John Gorringe managed to persuade his mum to let him off a weeks’ school to supply constant laughs for the boys. 6th year Medic, and tour veteran James Day was also on hand to fill any dull moment with ‘hilarious’ anecdotes from 5 years ago.

We can only hope the players were delivering the same intensity as the coaches' stares!

We can only hope the players were delivering the same intensity as the coaches’ stares!

After arriving in Pinatar on the Sunday afternoon, we had a light session to wipe away the cobwebs and get us back on the balls. Perhaps the lack of football over Christmas was evident as we went 3-0 down to a decent Pinatar FC team on Monday. However the result was largely irrelevant and it was a good chance for a few of the newer lads to the team to stake a claim for a place.

After the game and with the coach Jez not arriving till morning the lads took the opportunity to hydrate ourselves in the nearby bar, and a guest appearance from Tyson Fury kept the locals entertained for much of the night.

Serious athletes or serious athletes?

Serious athletes or serious athletes?

We then travelled to La Manga club where we spent the next few days training twice a day alongside the likes of Dortmund, Germany U17’s, Standard Leige and Grenada. Even the Scotland manager Gordon Strachan made the trip to come and watch us, although in an apparent state of confusion he mistook Dortmund’s sessions for ours.

The week concluded on Friday with a match against a local team, who replaced the rather stronger Cartagena outfit that had to pull out at the last minute. A comprehensive 8-0 win for the Blues followed. Skipper Ant Childs, knocked in a ‘top bins’ (ed. no me neither) strike from 20 yards out and claimed his first clean sheet as captain while winger Rory Griffiths took a break from exploring the local Tinder talent to terrorise the Spaniards from the left flank grabbing two first half goals.

Up front Chris Hutton continued his fine La Manga form to also notch a brace – making that 3 goals from 4 La Manga appearances* for the imposing number 9 –  while Haitham Sheriff spent most of the game trying as hard as he could not to score, but eventually came good  in the second half with a brace. However the vast contingent of travelling fans were most surprised when I (Zac Baynham-Herd, Queens’, single…) despite usually hating to convert from seemingly certain scoring positions, nicked a goal.

Proof the author was in fact on the score sheet.

Proof (apparently) the author was in fact on the score sheet.

Importantly the team managed to implement the tactical and shape work that we had been working on in training all week as well as trying out new patterns of play. Furthermore it was pleasing to see tour debutees Gorringe, Painter, Grubic, Warne, Harrison and Wolstelhume playing lash cricket confidently and integrating into the squad well with a couple of shandies. Thanks also goes to (anti) social-sec Solomon Elliot, who despite his severe disdain for fun, managed to organise an extremely enjoyable and very successful tour.

Fun Hoover Social Sec: Solomon Elliot.

Fun Hoover Social Sec: Solomon Elliot.

As a result both the Blues and the Falcons will enter this term with confidence and high ambition. The Blues have 4 league games left to certify their Premiership status and prepare for Varsity in early April. The Falcons on the other hand are pushing for promotion and will be playing Oxford Centaurs in Cambridge on the 1st March.

The next Blues home game is against Chichester on Wed 22nd Jan at Emma pitches. This is a huge game and it would give the team a great boost to see as many of you down there as possible to support.

*stats supplied by Opta