Pre-season can just about be one of most boring times of the footballing season. The close season is finally coming to an end and the new season is starting to bubble nicely in the thoughts of everyone’s mind.
The fixture list comes out and new signings are made as well some players leave for pasture new. But along all that is the thought of pre-season, which can be rather dull.
We caught up with new AFC Telford United defender Simon Grand to talk about what pre-season football is like for a non-league footballer.
Grand joined Telford this summer after two years at Southport FC. He made the move with boss Liam Watson who joined Telford following the final game of the 2012-2013 season.
Grand has played in both the football league and non-league football so he certainly is in a qualified position to talk about the difference between pre-season for non-league and a football league club and there isn’t much of a difference: “It’s not really much different from league clubs. I think the only difference will be between part time and full time. That doesn’t make it easier, just means you squeeze more work into a shorter period of time.”
One myth that people have about pre-season is that all you do as a player is run and run, lap after lap and not even kick a ball until the friendlies take place. But can Grand confirm this really is the case?
“Yes pre-season is all about regaining your fitness from over summer so running is always the case. Me personally I hate it ha ha. Don’t enjoy it one bit because its 8 weeks of pain and graft before the enjoyable football side starts. But it’s a necessity unfortunately.”
As previously mentioned Grand has played both in the football league and non-league for teams such as Morecambe, Rochdale, Aldershot, Northwhich Victoria and Fleetwood Town.
So despite pre-season being tough Grand does have some wonderful memories of pre-season including a trip to Austria Alps with Fleetwood Town FC in 2010, which includes a game against FC Universitatea Craiova which saw the Cod Army lose 3-0 but this trip ranked among the top time in pre-season for Grand: “ During my time at Fleetwood I was lucky enough to go to pre-season training camp in the Austrian Alps. It was hard high altitude training but something different and that made it enjoyable. Also spent a training camp in Ibiza with Carlisle and that was like torture because we weren’t allowed to do anything but train.”
He’s very old school. Lots of running on the running track and no ball work till the friendly games. It’s effective though because at Southport we were part time and one of the fittest teams in the league.
It’s not important too much as the results don’t matter. Playing against better opposition is always good because its good on a personal level to play against top players and good for fitness levels working hard against a better team, which is what pre season, is all about.
But in terms of Indivual games which one of the many pre-season games stand out in the mind for Simon. Well it dates back to 2004 as Carlisle (then in the Conference) played Barrow AFC, who was relegated alongside Grand’s new club AFC Telford from the Conference Premier last season. Grand explains why: “It’s not a big one but I was on trial at Carlisle playing against barrow away. I scored and played well and from there ended up staying at the club for 3 years. We won promotion through the Conference play offs and then won the League Two title.”
Some people claim that pre-season is not needed and teams should be able to start the season on the opening day of the season and be ready for it but that is not the case as Grand will tell you: “ Pre season is a must. I’ve been a pro for 14 years now and as much as I dislike all the running it is vital. Even the first few games of the season players aren’t at 100%. It takes a couple of competitive games to get to full fitness and to gel as a team.”
Looking ahead past pre-season and into the 2013-2014 season Grand believe the Bucks can achieve promotion and said that it is his personal aim to be lifting a trophy to get Telford promoted.