Pools legend Brian Honour on taking the players running in the dene, beating Man United 6-0 and his impatience for the new campaign to kick-off.
Hello and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.
I don't know about you but I can't wait for the season to come round now. It’s exactly like when I was a player – you come to the end of the season and you’re ready for a break but after a couple of weeks you’re dying to be back again in among the banter and meeting any new lads who have come in.
Obviously we’ve had a couple of friendlies in Holland and we’ve got a few more coming up but I think that there will clearly be a big difference when the league games come up and this period now is all about getting the match fitness.
If I’m being honest I was never a great lover of friendly games – as a player I couldn’t really see the point in them because all I knew was wanting to win and I couldn’t get my head round being told the result didn’t matter! You would go in for a tackle and get told to calm down and sometimes get a pat on the back after a defeat - I just couldn’t get my nut round it.
It’s difficult to assess results in pre season because of that attitude; I mean, I remember one year that we beat Manchester United 6-0 at The Vic! We had lost to Whitby a couple of nights before and there was bit of concern, then we thump Man United and everyone is telling us we’re going to win the league!
If I remember rightly Paul Dalton played for Man United that night having signed for them from Brandon – but they also had the likes of Paul McGrath, Mike Duxbury and Chris Turner in the team, they were no mugs!
It’s funny but once we beat them everyone was saying we would steam-roller the league and I think we were marooned at the bottom after five or six games until we picked up and went on a little run!
Over the summer I took a few of the players out in Castle Eden Dene to do some of the running work I used to do as a player – it was things I did for years under Billy Horner and then it was taken up by John Bird from there. The runs are full of hills and steps – it’s brutal to be honest with you!
I remember Alan Little saying that the runs are good for getting you physically fit, but they also get you mentally fit. I know that times have changed and there is sports science in the game now but I swear by this type of exercise and sometimes it does you no harm to have a bit of old school sweat on the brow.
Considering the sessions were totally voluntary we had a great turn out, some younger lads came too and even some players who were no longer with the Club came along to take part and build their fitness.
All the lads looked in good nick to me; none of them struggled much with the running we did in the summer. There’s an early part of the run called The Triangles, which is two-minute runs up hills racing against an opponent – if you can do those in the times and pace the lads were getting then we’re looking alright!
Antony Sweeney never missed a single session and I would love to see the condition he has been in during pre season training because from what I’ve seen he’s really got his head on for the new season and looks like he took the relegation personally.
I’m a big fan of Sweens and I think he’s a player that came in for a bit of unnecessary stick last season – sometimes he made runs in to the box and didn’t get the ball and that makes people think he’s not involved. But he just kept on making those runs and didn’t get the rub of the green and you can see from the stands the effort he puts in.
He can definitely be a key player for us in the coming season; those balls that didn’t quite reach him may fall kinder this time or he may get a bit more luck. I certainly think after seeing him working this summer and his intensity, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t have a fantastic season.
The new management team of Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett seems a good one to me; I’m very excited about it. I know Colin a little, he’s a colliery lad and has come through the school at Middlesbrough and was a very, very good player.
I’ve heard he’s very organised and professional and that all bodes well. I think he can bring that extra something to the table; he is strong on the discipline side and won’t be taken for a ride which is good and he calls a spade a spade. It’s a new manager, a new season, a new kit and a new division – hopefully over the next ten months of so we can have a very happy campaign.
Some of those cold games last season were hard to take and drained the enthusiasm a little, but we’re all coming back fresh now – I’ve missed the football and I can’t wait for the first game to come around and get back down to The Vic.
All the best,