I must extend a huge thank you to the ground staff at Creasey Park because the pitch is looking tremendous. Overall as we go through pre-season you can see the new bunch of lads learning about each other. We are on a very steep learning curve and I have to say a unique situation for me. But that is the challenge I relish. Perspective is something we have to keep reminding ourselves of. We are a very young team, they are impressionable. In some cases they are lacking a bit of confidence and they don’t realise how good they are. But it will come. Because we are not lacking ability.
One of the challenges we face with our brand new crop of players is self-belief and confidence. We have to remind ourselves that we also were a very young team. Dare I say, not your typical Step 3 Southern league semi-professional outfit currently. Added to that we have had 9 training sessions, in our lives as a team. In those 9 sessions we have had to fit in a recruitment program, followed by a pre-season. When most of our competitors were starting pre-season games in gleaming new kit, we were still drilling down on a new squad selection after rustling together some footballs. So, this is very much a fledgling outfit. All things considered then I feel we are in exciting times when you consider that against two excellent similar level teams we have more than held our own and have put fear into team’s defenses.
These lads have got a load of work to do, but I’m so proud of them already. We had two 17 year olds on the pitch yesterday. I’m so confident in their ability, they are not filled with that confidence yet, but they should be, they were terrific. When I see Aaron Hudson whipping down the line, beating his opponent, showing great skill I couldn’t help but smile. The score didn’t bother me one bit in moments like that. Brandy Makuendi in centre midfield also, you wouldn’t believe he is just 18 as he demands the ball and shows great ability to stay on it. That’s bravery. Nimmy up front, 17, hangs on every word you tell him. I think if I asked him to make his runs from the defending corner flag he would do it. These young men are learning fast and we will watch them mature as young men as we go. In the next bracket we have a group of 19-23 year olds desperate to learn and willing to work hard to improve. That leaves some pressure on our experienced ‘old’ players, Scott Betts (24) and Skipper John Sonuga (28). These chaps have shown great calmness. Fantastic role models.
We should give a mention to the guys off the pitch. The people who volunteered to save this club and now work tirelessly to get the club prepared for genuine football matches. We still have kit to sort out, we are rustling together water bottles for the lads along with many other things which they are sorting and have sorted. But the ladies and gentlemen behind the scenes are all on the same page in that we want to create a togetherness and professional approach from here in. There is a real solution and can do approach and it has created a buzz around the pitch and place. The fans have been brilliant to the players, they understand the dynamics and there patience and support is hugely appreciated. The amount of young children in Dunstable Town and Luton Town kits enjoying a night out was also great to see.
I’ve got to thank all the people that have stepped forward to help me and the club already. Like my old colleague from west London Justin Lucas-Hill. He has been providing professional medical support for us as well as helping with staff recruitment. He hasn’t asked for one penny so I feel obliged to tell people how wonderful he is and if you feel you need treatment please visit Sports & Physiotherapy Ltd. He might even be able to meet you at the club moving forward
When I look in the eyes of the people running the club I see such decent transparent people, guys discussing ways to improve things for the lads well post 10pm. I even got a nice bit of homemade cake. When I walked back to the changing rooms I left a chairman sweeping it out in his suit. That is the ego free football environment I’ve always striven to work in, all hands on deck. As I walked back to my car with the stadium lights off and loaded with equipment I reflected on what I had just seen and thought to myself…
This is going to be a long hard season, with many ups and downs. But, one thing I know for sure, I want to do everything I can to give these great lads, fans and people running the club a glorious football day they will never forget.
Read Tony's full blog here.