The first of a brand new monthly column on Football in Bracknell from our very own secret footballer. We’ve imaginatively called them ‘The Insider’.
In the first column, The Insider takes a look at pre season and all the different types of player to look out for – see any you recognise and more importantly, which one are you?
Ever been to a pre season where around 45 players turn up to the first session? Yeah, same. Pre-season in non league is rarely used for fitness purposes.
It’s more often used for players to flirt their way around a variety of clubs to see what fit is best for them, be it money or friendships. There are of course exceptions, and today, we take a look at the various ‘types’ of people you can expect to see at any pre season session.
“The eager beaver”
This could be an existing player, this could be a new player. Often, the eager beaver is seen badgering the manager, being over-friendly and seen having a ‘fake’ laugh at any, if not, all of the manager’s jokes. This player typically had one very good season 8 years ago and is still living off it. He will be in charge of the fines list and will make sure you pay every single penny of it from June. The manager will justify his place in the squad with phrases such as “yeah, but he’s a good lad” and it will see this player start your first game of the season.
“The freak athlete”
Everybody’s worst enemy come the first few weeks of pre-season. This player completes the bleep test and laps everyone 4 times in the 12 minute run. His favourite phrase is “that was alright actually”. The worst part about this guy is he’s always really enthusiastic about helping others get through the running with phrases such as “come on lads only 4 laps to go”. When not at football, this person’s Instagram is filled with marathon, triathlon and iron man action photos.
“The old timer”
Somebody who everyone respects at pre-season because they’re there simply for their love of the game. The kind of person you’d love to be up against in the running and agility because they’ll make you look super quick. There are, however, tiered levels to the old timer. Some offer valuable experience, will have played at a much higher level and be technical wizards despite being 3 stone overweight. Others are listed in the programme as “a great servant to the club” which is the polite way of asking them to retire as soon as possible with a testimonial imminent.
This player is the worst kind of person at pre-season. His off season will have been spent flirting with 8 different managers on twitter, without taking into account they all speak to each other. You’ll only see him once a week if you’re lucky, often when there is no running involved. This type of player is normally after money, and will barter for the sake of fiver. If you scroll through twitter, he will be on 8 different team sheets in pre-season. This player makes his decision towards the end of July and moves clubs three times a season when he gets benched.
“The headline grabber”
You absolutely hate that you love this person. Last season’s headline grabber who has bags of ability but uses it to get out of all of the running. “I’ve tweaked my hammy” is the most common phrase used by this player, knowing full well that it’ll be fine come the match at the end of the session. Existing players tolerate the laziness because come first game of the season they’ll score the winner and all will be forgotten. Will never pay a fine and will refuse to accept any criticism.
Often the bane of all managers’ pre-season. This player invites himself to pre-season, and simply won’t take no for an answer. Always the sub in the practice match. Always the “wall pass” in keep ball. Despite conversations from the manager saying he should look for another club this player will still turn up to pre-season until the season starts. Normally gets the message in mid-October.
“The young talent”
For step 5 teams this is the lad that has just been released from Reading development team. Always looks like a good player and will seek any opportunity to nutmeg someone. Will only wear the Reading training gear to remind everybody of where he was. The manager raves about him. The senior player in his position will say “he’s alright” swiftly followed by “a bit lightweight for this division though”. Like “the club hopper” will also attend 8 different clubs in the same area.
The Insider is a look in to the semi professional game from the players point of view. Look out for a new column on the last Thursday of every month. Got a question? Ask via our Contribute page.