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All aboard for Bisham Abbey ….

So proud to be a part of this team …(Part 1)

Before I start recalling the weekend’s activities, I think it only right and proper that we quickly remember how close we came to not having a County Youth under-18 team.

In May 2015 ahead of any official news being released, I received a text message telling me that the CCFA were going to withdraw its under-18 side from representative football.

As I was going to reveal this shock news in my Sunday Independent column, it was only correct to inform the CCFA of my intention and boy did I press the right buttons at HQ Bodmin!

The same afternoon as receiving my email, they released a statement announcing that, although reluctant, the decision had been made to withdraw the county's U18s side for the 2015/16 season after a £19,000 reduction in grant money from the FA.

Although initially insisting that the controversial move would stand, I’m glad to say that within a week the county FA had secured sufficient funding to be able to reverse the original decision which had rocked the local football scene!

Glynn Hooper was appointed as the new manager and he started to build a team around him, using quality coaches already well versed in the younger age set-ups as well as bringing in highly respected former players as specialist coaches. He also wanted the profile of the under-18 county side to be given more outside exposure, across the county, and that’s when I became involved and I can’t tell you how proud I was seeing the squad walk out at Barnet on Saturday and to be there witnessing history in the making!

Glynn Hooper, coach John Fabby, physio Toby Wellington, ex-pro and coach Jamie Day

Goalkeeper coach Dennis Annear

Coach Andy Graham and assistant manager and coach Alan Yendell

Next ……………..

We’re off! The plan on the Friday was for the Team coach to have a fairly easy run up to where we were staying overnight, following a carefully pre-planned schedule including times.

The all suitably kitted out squad in their sponsored May, Whetter & Grose track suits, players and coaching staff, were booked into the Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre. The CCFA’s Richard Pallot was also there with them as the ‘father figure’. While the remainder of the passengers (CCFA officials, family members and accompanying media guests were staying three miles away in Marlow).

Of course, you note I said “a pre-planned schedule including times, because that pretty much went out the window, even before we left. Even Mattie Buchan got to our pick up base at the Truro City FC before the coach!

Depart 9.00 am – no! The coach had to complete an early morning school run first before picking us up, and then of course, to comply with driving regulations, it also meant the driver had to stop for a 45 minute break before we were to get to the lunch stop.

Not for the first time on a Youth trip away this season, Richard Pallot was busy on his mobile, phoning ahead to keep everyone informed.

So basically instead of getting to our near Bristol Lunch Stop at approx. midday, it was more like half one likewise we got to Bisham Abbey a similar later time. However, I must give the driver credit for getting through the tight corners and chicane made up of what seemed abandoned cars in the training centre car park!

With the players dropped off and looking forward to a training session, we were back on the road to Marlow. It was presumably the scenic route instead of the main dual carriageway approach.

I say scenic as we came across a very ornate, famous old bridge to go across, but unfortunately not for coaches and heavy traffic! A turn around and back the way we came, which included passing the Sports Centre!

A quick check in at the hotel (where Oxford United were staying ahead of the Sunday Wembley Cup final) and for us media guys a taxi back to see the lads stretching their legs and going through some last minute work on set moves etc in the training session.

Bisham was an ideal stop-over for the players as the focus stepped up a gear towards the match the next day. The biggest day for sure in the county’s under-18 playing records as history was being made with our first appearance in a nationally based competition.

It was to be our first, compared to opponents Middlesex’s 11th with their most recent only two seasons ago.

One issue to be discussed between the coaching staff and to think about what alternatives would be available was possibly going to be the fitness of left back James Heywood.

Back at the hotel, the evening didn’t consist of as much talk about how the next day would pan out, but instead, the topic to take over the evening, as the four of us media guys enjoyed the hotel specialist curry menu, was a goat by the name of Sylvia!

Some time when you’ve got absolutely nothing else to talk about, ask Steve Massey to let you know more about the Theatre Royal Haymarket production!

Training session at the Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre

Next ……………..

Onto Barnet FC….Read on