The views in these blogs are those held by the individual blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton Football Club.
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Sitting at the rear of the plane waiting to whisk Everton’s players off to Austria, several things occurred to me.
Firstly, the air hostesses were Swedish.
Secondly, at the very least, 90 per cent of the Club’s backroom staff are frustrated ‘comedians’.
Thirdly, the air hostesses were Swedish and, finally, and quite bizarre that it should register so strongly – but I couldn’t see one single set of oversized headphones adorning the heads of the 40 or so footballers sitting ahead of me.
Admittedly, I also couldn’t see Louis Saha, but essentially what you had was a set of lads all catching up after their summer breaks and there was a relaxed feel as they sat, chatted briskly and chomped on compartmentalised food.
Senior players mingled with the ressies and Academy lads, in fact, later in the day, Twitter overlord Phil Neville even saw fit to absolutely slaughter at least three of the youngsters as we taxied to the terminal in Salzburg.
Obviously that sort of banter is inevitable when away with a football club and the media team is no different.
Most of the jibes that came our way seemed to follow the pattern of us treating the trip as some sort of booze-lashed exercise in debauchery.
Even Sylvain Distin got in on the act as it was frequently suggested the three members of the club’s web team intended to transform picturesque Obertraun (population 752) into some sort of miniature Faliraki.
Our accusers were obviously unaware of the almighty deluge of webchats, interviews, features and Q&As set to rain down upon them.
One individual who had cottoned on to our subterfuge was the perpetually smiley Apostolos Vellios.
Spotting the Greek sauntering to the toilets at the rear of the plane, shaking hands with all he passed, I ambushed him with a weighty questionnaire.
It was probably the only time his smile slipped.
It proved momentary, however, as he returned five minutes later grinning ear to ear, clutching a form filled out entirely in Greek.
A clammy ride to our base at Obertraun followed and it was an early night for all apart from us as we battled dismal connection speeds to update the website.
The next morning commenced with a sight I hope to never see again. No, not digital media manager Scott Mcleod in his pants, but Neville hurtling towards me on a bike as part of the lads’ first session of the day.
After that it was breakfast and then some lung-smashing exercises on pitch four at the bottom end of the site.
Wherever you stand at Obertraun’s National Sports Centre you can gaze up and marvel at the awe-inspiring Dachstein Mountains – the tranquillity only pierced by intrepid paragliders, base-jumpers, Marouane Fellaini’s head or some foul-mouthed grumbling from Jimmy Martin coming from behind you.
Somewhat surprisingly, the balls were out and seeing plenty of action – as were Fellaini and Louis Saha, who both finished last season on the treatment table.
It was also great to see Ross Barkley with the group and looking sharp.
After a couple of hours graft – largely drills at breakneck pace – it was time to cool off.
Fitness guru Dave Billows led the players back to the other end of the complex – Leon Osman giving Tony Hibbert ‘a backy’ on a mountain bike he had procured from somewhere – and to the edge of the river.
Not everyone embraced the idea. Jermaine Beckford looked decidedly dry on his way out but most, including the gaffer and Neville, who had stripped to his kecks, waded right in.
Predictably a water fight erupted amongst the lads with the anguished cries of Aristote Nsiala triggering avalanches two miles away.
There was still time for a quick interview with Cahill – and for Osman to lob a water bottle at his head while we were in the process (see the video on evertontv).
The price for that indiscretion? A webchat on Thursday night, win-win, maybe it’s time for a drink.
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