By Keith Brookman
Pre-season preparations have changed quite a lot since the 1950’s when manager Bert Tann would take his squad down to Weston super Mare for two weeks where they trained and slept under canvas.
On the first occasion Tann took his players off to Weston, a local journalist went with them and here are just a few of his findings.
‘The day begins at 7.00am when the keen types hop out of bed, run 200 yards across Weston Golf Course and have a dip in the sea. Breakfast is at 8.30am and the morning training session includes intensive ball practice, watched by hundreds of holidaymakers.’
‘The players then broke for lunch and take a look at what was on the menu; Roast lamb, mint sauce and boiled potatoes, carrots and peas, followed by jam sponge and custard. All that ahead of an afternoon training session!’
The reporter went on to say; ‘More tough training in the afternoon is followed by another cooked meal at 5.30pm then the local youngsters are put through 70 minutes of coaching and training.
‘The players are officially free at 8.00pm and left winger ‘Josser’ Watling provides some entertainment by leading a sing song on a portable organ brought from Bristol.’
‘Josser’ of course, is now the oldest surviving Bristol Rovers player and a proud member of the Bristol Rovers Former Players Association (BRFPA)
Ray Graydon took charge of two pre – seasons whilst manager of Rovers, in 2002 and 2003 and he favoured a tough approach to preparations.
There were some gruelling training Days at the Azimghur Army Barracks, Colerne, with the most onerous tasks being the log run in 2002 and a similar exercise the following year not with a log, but a stretcher bearing a very heavy fuel can filled with water. A couple of medicine balls were added, just for good measure!
Interesting to note that BRFPA members Simon Bryant, Trevor Challis and Dave Gilroy lead the way in the log run, while Dave (right) and Sonny Parker (left) let their team do all the work in the stretcher race!
The Log Run in 2002, followed by the Stretcher run in 2003 [Both Photos Credit – Alan Marshall]
As you can see from the photos, bandaged hands were the order of the day! Oh, and the shooting practice wasn’t always with a ball, as Rob Quinn found out!
Rovers were training full time at Colerne during Paul Trollope’s time as manager and whilst the sessions were tough, none were as gruelling as the log run or stretcher race.
BRFPA members Rickie Lambert and Trollope are seen putting in the miles in one of our photos, while they are joined by Steve Phillips, Byron Anthony, Chris Lines, Steve Elliott and Sean Rigg in the group photo.
If there are any members of that group who haven’t yet joined us, we would love to hear from them in order that they can be invited to our next function.
Whilst the facilities at the Army base were decent, it always seemed to be cold/chilly up there and with it being a wide open space (it was a former RAF Airfield) it certainly wasn’t the most popular of venues. *
In addition, it was some 20 miles away from Bristol and you were met with by an armed guard every morning on your way to work!