Day 4 proved to be the kind of day I hope to tell my grandchildren about. Even Ella (one of my beautiful nearly 6 year old triplets) said..... No, you're kidding...
It's going to be a lengthy blog. Sorry. None of that 140 character tweet crap. Some things are worth savoring, and the beginning is an excellent place to start.
Woke to find Bobby and Trevor outside my room. Maybe the east stand should be named after Scot Parker. Breakfast, skipped the full deal. Staying in shape prepares me physically for the one moment Avram peers over and sees me as the answer to his troubles.
Off to Littleheath heavy with the fresh smell of an English victory. Small French man with hand in jacket seen running into bushes. Au revior. It's time for another session with the U17 blended squad. Solid warm up incorporating another version of the multiple touches drill. We're all watching the lad who needs a rocket. He gets it. The others are sharp and agile. It's time to put the tall center back on trial from Chelsea through his paces - Nick sets up a 8v8 game situation emphasizing heading - thus putting our trialist under pressure. You can tell he may have a chance by looking at the way the other players involve him. I'm not the expert but he doesn't look out of place and the other players work him in.
Magically, the group moves to a 6v4 defensive drill. I am the happiest man out there. Spent a career beating the defense so back four organization is not my strong point. OH MY - it's simple, again. OK, so I get it and now will take The Gryphons to a state championship as no one will ever score against us.
Having solved the mystery of the 'back four' (a close second behind mysteries such as the offside rule, Boy George's gender and who shot J.F. Kennedy) I contemplate moving on to bringing peace to the Middle East. Ah, at West Ham, so instead, I pick Paul's brains on beating a US style sweeper system. Another joyous moment. Park Tudor, I'd start pulling a Chinese number and building a bloody big wall. Or give your lad a broom and send him off to the dressing room.
Sandwiches and the Matrix.
Mmmmmm. Interesting and I know there are lots of people out there who will want to buy this. Personally I have two alternatives:
a) four people calling out numbers out to you
b) six bits of ply from Lowes / Wickes and a box of screws
Somewhat of an inside joke there - sorry. A picture speaks a 1000 words.
At Chadwell Heath we are being coached by Paul Heffer again.
It's a grueling 2 hours for a 41 year old, the boys do a good job (us coaches) - Mark is full of beans, Mike shines and Darren, from Gillingham FC knows his stuff. Once again, so many drills I'll need time to lay them out for you. Paul has us combining technical skills with vision. It's really hard to continue to concentrate. That may be how everyone feels, or is it time to up my dosage? One huge reason it is difficult is the reserves training over the back and a couple of goalkeepers working out. Just too far away to see who they are......but there they are. Then Kevin Keen walks over. Just one magic touch away from that contract.... Paul takes us through a selection of warm up drills emphasizing touches, we work on communication when passing in a diamond, play some 3v3 and end with a little 7v7 end zone. The last game is cracking - one player for each team in a end zone. Get them the ball to score. Play it forward whenever you can. Magic.
When the first team and reserves train at Chadwell Heath everyone else stays away. But life is all about timing. In the space of 5 minutes while running an errand I see Benny McCarthy, get a nod from Jack Collison and a "morning" from Robbie Keane. None of them want a hug right now - at home I managed to keep my distance from Jeff Saturday each day at school - So I can do it here but it's tough especially as Keano looks like he is a cuddly kind of guy. So, nothing too cra-za-sie. Later, however, I pull a Rodney and really embarrass myself. Get to watch the reserves train for a moment. Nice.
Back at Chadwell Heath, Ben Illingworth makes good on his promise and we re-visit the home dressing room and pitch. We take a seat in the dressing room like Ben is going to tear into us for conceding 2 goals in the last 15 minutes when in walks Robert Green. A nod then he disappears. Seconds later he is back and sits with us - a quick chat as Ben fills him in on who we all are - Robert chats and then it's clear he's in for a shower.
We leave. No pics, sorry ladies. Mr. Green is polite, quiet and super fit. I need a month at the gym to recover my self esteem.
Now it's time to visit the pitch. Doug, the head groundsman explains the story of the field. It's cutting edge, 90% sand with a kind of matting underneath, partly artificial turf and has two undersoil heating systems.
One is piping with water 10" down working at temps down to -10 celcius, the other is a subsurface air system that can literally vacuum water away and in reverse keep water at the surface in the summer.
Blimey. Worth kissing after all. A number of comical stories relating to the placement of ashes ensue. Not for this blog, sorry.
And the magical bit? I'll save you the words and just bullet point. It's too much to write about. I get to:
a) walk across the pitch
b) have my picture taken at the Bobby Moore end
c) kiss the center circle
d) kiss the Hammers badge as you walk out
e) walk around like it is the prematch walkabout at the FA Cup final
f) sit in Avram's recaro seat
g) make a movie of me kicking off, attacking and scoring to save West Ham from relegation.
OK - that should do it.
Wait, no. I drop $300 in the store and will have my new jacket printed with MS tomorrow. Pics to follow. All the guys buy stuff and a staff discount rocks. Thanks ladies for staying open longer.
Dinner. Steak. Fish and Chips with brown sauce. Chocolate Cake and cream. And I still have my secret sticky pudding in the drawer.
So there it is. A fabulous day. I am forever blowing bubbles. I really am...