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Austria - Day Three

evertonfc.com , 7th July 2011 - 17:15

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The look on his face was a familiar one. It was sort of halfway between disdain and contempt.

Occasionally this happened when you asked kitman Jimmy Martin for kit.

It was a tried and tested routine perfected over more than two decades of service for a man who began his association with the Club driving the team bus in the Howard Kendall era.

But with Jimmy, everyone gets the same treatment, his special brand of wit ensuring no ego is ever allowed to grow too big.

And after two days of wearing the same gear, I’d have stood there and let him slaughter me for an hour if it meant a fresh shirt.

It was a rare trip for me but one the players had to make daily, and something they no doubt would have done after their run on Thursday morning.

That run was meant to last around 20 minutes - but for reasons unbeknownst they opted for the scenic route!

After that it was the day’s main session with a couple hours of work on the main pitch at Obertraun’s Nationals Sports Centre.

The afternoon brought a break for the players and a trip high up into the Dachstein Mountains to take in the awesome scenery from the five fingers – a viewing platform that extends over a precipice, 2,100m above sea level, and an unbroken 1,200ft drop.

What that quickly turned into was a ‘who is the most scared of heights?’ competition.

Following his reaction to a bit of cold water in the river on Wednesday it was perhaps no surprise to see Aristote Nsiala emerge as an early frontrunner with some grim-faced reactions to the odd bump on the way up in the cable car.

But ‘Toto’, as his teammates call him, was spectacularly blown out of the water by the antics of petrified Academy masseur Craig Mazar.

Craig didn’t appear comfortable on the way up so it was a surprise to see him venturing out onto one of the fingers, legs buckling but feet firmly planted while he seized the railing, clinging on for grim life.

Spotting his weakness, Jose Baxter moved in with a predatory instinct and tried to pull his trousers down.

If there was a late challenger to Craig’s crown, however, it came on the way down when a wobble on the cable was met with a loud shriek, the perpetrator? An ashen-faced Marouane Fellaini.

Soon it was back to the base and the prospect of running the gauntlet in front of the first team quarters.

Predictably, the second floor windows soon filled up with usual pranksters – Baxter, Osman, Cahill etc... all lobbing buckets of water at those assembled below.

But with eyes fixed on hive of activity on the second floor, it took a veteran of pre-season tours to show them how it was done as Alan Stubbs emerged grinning from a third floor window, bucket in hand, and drenched a cluster of cowering staff below. 

David Moyes sat and chuckled a few yards away, safe underneath a large parasol.

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