Captain’s Blog: Friday 20th March

Ryan Donaldson, Hartlepool United

Well, this is all very strange isn’t it?

I think we could sense something really starting to change last Friday when we had set off for the game at Sutton United but no sooner had we got on the road than the Premier League and EFL took the decision to postpone all their weekend fixtures.

Most of the players assumed that the National League would follow suit but, as we all know, they are not that way inclined so it was when we were training at Oxford on our way south that the gaffer told us he’d had confirmation our game would be going ahead.

The weirdest bit was then seeing quite a few games being called off by the clubs themselves in the hours that followed, and it became apparent that the situation could change very quickly. What if Sutton called to say some of their players had symptoms and we weren’t playing after all? It was difficult to get your head around.

From my point of view, it was a game of football and, of course, you want to play. But everything felt so up in the air. We were told the game was on but you start thinking about how long it will go on and wonder whether we’re just forcing it a bit for the season to be called-off anyway. It was all very strange because you’re used to playing when you know where the finish line is and what is up for grabs. We’re just thankful we got a decent point in the end.

Obviously, we’ve never had anything like this before, certainly not in my lifetime and it’s a worrying time for a lot of people. We’ve already seen plenty of stories about people losing their jobs or their businesses coming under strain. Now the schools are closing as well, which may put a bit of extra pressure on people so it’s all very concerning.

We trained on Monday and it was just a normal Monday session after a game really – though we were based at The Vic so we could have a closer control over the environment, limited outside influences and minimal added risk.

On Tuesday there was an 11 v 11 for an hour which was a really intensive workout for the lads. Then that was it. We were sent away and given different sessions to do on our own away from training.

Yesterday (Thursday) we did a 7km run which we had to record on an app we’d been asked to download and then we had to post our results in to the group chat. As you can imagine, that’s caused some debate in the chat…

Jason Kennedy was miles ahead of everyone else, he flew through it to such an extent that I’m not convinced he wasn’t on a bike! Ben Killip was through in a good time but managed to do it all on the wrong app – so in my head, that’s a void result really. And then Josh Hawkes’ app managed to conveniently switch off when he was only 5.75km through so we’re not sure when he’s going to get out and finish that off with the missing 1.25km!

We’ve got another run to complete today which is to do with more high-speed work and then another one planned in for Sunday, which is pretty similar. The plan as it stands now is to return to training on Tuesday but if anything changes between now and then I am sure we’ll be informed quickly.

I think you very quickly miss the routine when you’re not getting up and going to training – that’s what I’ve become used to in my life. I have spent a bit more time reading in the last few days (I’ve started Jonny Wilkinson’s book again because I didn’t finish it last time) and the dog has been walked a couple more miles as well.

At the moment it’s a bit of novelty having more time at home – I am sure that will get harder the longer it goes on and develops.

On behalf of all the players, I want to pass on best wishes to each and every one of you. Football rightly takes a back seat at the current time and the number one priority is making sure that we all stay safe and look after our families.

Take care.

Ryan.