2012 European Tour Diary
Finally we publish the tour diary. It was completed by Tarun Freestone - this years Tour Captain.
Day 1 and 2
We embarked fromsydney airport with a lot of hugs kisses and fanfare to arrive in hong kong early in their morning. We had a toss up between golf or the city of hong kong, after the tour captain lied about golfing being ridiculously expensive the boys begrudgingly agreed to visit the city. Everything from backstreet hustling to a trip long argument of who is better ronaldo or messi which originated in an underground McDonalds the boys made there way back to the airport before arriving ‘in time’ (late) to catch the england bound flight. 17 pounds!!!
Dora: was alone in the baggage but not for long.
The weather shock hit everyone and we were sat quietly, still perplexed as we ate our breakfast on the other side of the world the jet lag left many feeling tired especially matty payne, bretty boy and razor. Throughout the next few days boys were falling asleep at unusually times in even more unusual places. With haste we made our way to our first EPL game, first in more than one way. Some of us were to experience the lights and sounds for the first time other veterans like jack da silva we seasoned pro’s. Matty Payne, Austin and Eddy boy all got interviewed at the Park by the local news crew for being aussies in a foreign land. Their 15 seconds of fame was a great buzz that all the boys feed off. The score at the end of the day was 1-1, but it was just a taster of what was to come.
Dora: Matty medz received the lovely lady and held on for the next 2 days this sort of 2-3 day love fests were going to be normal throughout the trip.
Our first training session with Tom at the Bolton youth fields. Lots of enthusiasm and leg activation drills warmed us up for a long day, With Gwill taking the reins from stevie who had a couple of days off, he would come to cherish those days away from us as we tormented him for the next week and a half. The reebok stadium tour was amazing, as it was nat Loufthouse memorial day a sombre tone clouded the stadium on an otherwise crisp bright day. The theater of dreams was next, the colossus loomed ahead and as we made our way through the history museum there was more silverware than you could poke a stick at. Truly the best club ever. The eyes of everyone, Red devil supporter or not lit up as we walked into the stands, the field lights gently warming the grass. The history of the place was mesmerizing as well as sad; passing the munich memorial.
This was the tour captains favourite day: Everton training session at finch farm at 10 in the morning, the ice clumping the 3g turf together, everton coaches looking on from the glass windows in the club house. What more could you ask for, phil took us through our paces as we did our best to learn and impress. Ending there we moved onto Anfield. It was okay. Next we had our first match both teams versed local competition who were in the selection pool of the liverpool academies both teams recording massive winds, the seniors 10-2, the juniors 13-1 (or something like that). Finishing up we saw our second EPL match wigan vs Man city with man city scrapping through with a 1 goal victory it was a great day.
Dora: jake relieved matty Meds of his duty and went onto hold dora for a record 3 days. Something about being constantly late.
This was the tour captains worst day; we made our way to ethiad stadium and to the youth 6 aside fields. We trained well until the end of our pass and check minded session. We received a host of injuries tarun injuring his left pinky and Matty Payne in pain as he nursed as swollen nose and face from point blank impact. The goalies we beaten but not broken.(well we didnt think that at the time anyway). We later went on into london for our first visit to lilywhites. It was a mad scramble and not many individuals bought much however in the end we were happy to suss out the store nd return to our accommodation for a few yarns (Mel Konies’ stories) and a we deserved dinner.
Windsor castle had the boys excited not because of the princes birthday or because of the history but because of the fit looking group of school girls on their excursion needless to say Alex hatz felt he was in with the best chance due to his baby face looks and charm.
After the chest puffing was complete we went to our evening session with our reading youth coach. The session was a very defense minded session. We learn’t a great deal on movement off the ball and communication in a drill consisting of teams tring to tag one another and reach the other side of the field with 2 members one in and the other moving to be in clear space it was a enjoyable evening made better by and impromptu Youth league match played at readings home ground.
First up our match with the Watford second string boys, we were all keen to work together and to impress man of the match jacky boy led by example showing us his comfortability not only on the ball but in the foreign theatre. Razor, Cenk and Fillip all played out of their skins but to no avail as the boys went down to an older well drilled Watford out fit. Still downtrodden our sprits somewhat rose as we saw the cutting edge facilities and field that is the gunner home, Emirates stadium. Many shirts were bought by our resident arsenal nut, Matty payne, yes the same who loves Villa; dont ask. But we were more focused on the spa sauna the players showers had than the audio tour we all struggled to use.
To commiserate our loss, we all went into london and had possibly the most hilarious bus ride through the history and past soaked streets of london. The city itself was beautiful the guide on the microphone hard to hear at times but enthusiastic and very knowledgable. But the real beauty of the night were the one liners songs and jokes emanating from a rowdy group of aussie lads on top of a double Decker bus through the alcoves and lane ways of the city that never sleeps. The main culprits were jameel, Mel, fillip, jayden and the laugh of Bretty boy. Finishing up with a shoe or two at lilywhites the boys turned a bad day into one they’ll never forget; for all the right reasons.
A windy day in the south of england translated into a cold chelsea stadium tour, the captain of the tour was more excited about driving past abby road to be honest. But a tip of the hat and a gleam of admiration from everyone was apparent as we entered the stadium. The tour was exceptional with a interview from fernando torres translated by Balotelli, Phillip Gutierrez ever the comedic genius. We Looked forward to our training session with Fulham and the team prayed to catch Schwarzzer but to no avail missing him by minutes. The session was in a temperature and air lock controlled taro dome. Not something you get everyday. A canberra goalie school we also using the space and the three keepers were thrilled to be able to join in what can hardly be described as ‘Foot’ ball training. The session exposed some weaker areas for us to work on and techniques we could use to counteract this, the fulham session was easily the best for the 3 keepers and word has it its wasn’t to bad for the field players either.
Dora: now belonging too the micky mouse of the group Omar Cenk after he like the infamous Eminem sometimes ‘just lose it’.
Unfortunately it was time to leave the motherland but like our forefathers who traveled on the ocean we would go under it. Traveling on the euro star was an experience non of us will forget, for both good and not so good reasons. Mad, and I mean mad scrambling to get our luggage onboard, then a trip starting with many sitting on stools in the transition compartments between cars finally few of us got bumped up to silver class. Right so this next bus we got was like a furnace, it was humid sweaty but dont worry we had airflow coming up from underneath the road. Because the floor was missing in the isle. About a 45 cm square gap. And our introduction to france got better, it smelt, we had a Polish driver who took us the wrong way with a gps that didnt work, and on top of all things the toilet was locked, broken and well, I doubt it was useable. After a 3 hour drive into the middle of what felt like nowhere we jumped out and tour captain freestone lead the way by parkouring over a group of cars and smashing down a french fries sausage bagguet. The game went the way of the blue team; the white team were lol u mad? and the visiting supporters were locked up like monkeys in a small upper tier section like cage. They went nuts when they won. It was a unique way to start our france portion of the trip. On a completely unrelated topic there was no toilets just urinals, which begs the question do women even go to french matches???
Dora: Lucky Phillip G was too receive dora after late arrival.
The expected cloudy weather and the ‘budget’ holiday inn buffet awaited us in the morning. It was at this point in the trip were pastries, chocolate and Nutella crepes became a staple in our diet hence the extra few kilos you found around your sons stomach upon arrival at sydney airport. We took the field, at a 5 aside indoor field only miles from our hotel, it was here that Matty Payne continued to show superb form stopping blistering shots as well as making reflex parry’s from deflections. True on scoring, Matt ‘Medz’ Medzenski proved that even though he prefers the midfield and backline he is a brutal finisher, taking the game away from the opposition within the span of a 3 minute devastating run on goals notching 4 in the bank. As both matches progressed things started to heat up with Phil G using his superior strength to assert himself through the field time and time again, the retaliation from the opposition left the young ‘Porcuspine’ in pain after a careless tackle. The ref Charles stepped in to reassert the friendly nature of the match. This also carried into the older match with hard hits and challenges but it was a little more give and take with both teams just dancing on the line between hard and dangerous. After a early adrenaline rush it was time to visit the tower. The effiel tower stands 280 meters tall with the 360 degree view of the vast city below. Not only was the beauty of paris all around us it was also flirting with Eduardo as well in the form of a voluptuous pink coated Mademoiselle. Unbeknown to olga for sometime, but not completely, finding out after 15 minutes of fame for the charming tour coach. So all in all a wonderful day one each lad will remember and I’m sure one Eduardo wont forget, neither will olga.
We arrived on the 12th day to possibly the best facility we had experienced yet, it was phenomenal. The ref from the day before was actually not just a ref. He was a past french international under 17 player now playing for his international team of toga in africa. He presented us with challenging and complex drills that started reasonably basic but then demanded the best of us, Shinning examples of those who picked it up quickly were, Jack “da silva” campbell, Fillip, Aston ‘son of lam lam’, Jameel ‘baby face’ ‘jam jam’ ‘sexy jam pie’ ‘jameelieon’, and Mel. Display early enthusiasm even bretty boy started putting the ball where he wanted it. The keepers went to ‘the cage’ as Charles called it and the lads were instructed to pass the ball with such adjectives as, POW, BRRRAT, and my favourite IMMEDIATELY. Despite the language barrier charles did an exceptional job, the drills evolved into a numbered passing drill with channels down either side of the field. And as Charles donned a bib, Ramsin ‘Razor’ took him on it was a all mighty battle between the midfielders. Razor did an amazing job to not only with the ball of him at points but to hold him off. However Razor couldn’t hold him off forever and in one instance went down. But amongst all the great passing and spectacular goals from Fillip Laus and omar. The team started to gel and really began to enjoy each others playing style. They began to read each other both in attack and defense. It was a memory that the boys will I’m sure cherish. On a final note, perhaps contender for Goal of the tour occurred with 12 minutes left in our session. A cross floated from left to right across the mouth of goals, missing all but one. Skidding and spinning (‘even Ronald would of taken a touch, stated a perplexed Jameel upon reflection’). The ball on the half volley was struck with such venom, such raw strength it flew through the crowd, past a diving Charles past a diving Payne into the net. Shushing the crowd and with a celebration reminisce of Nani, Tarun Freestone was as shocked as the rest of the Tour including his own father stating later, (‘It looked like he had his eyes closed when he struck it’). That night was truly unforgettable with the boys running across the city of paris we thoroughly enjoyed singing Michael Jackson’s ‘dont stop till you get enough’ Kopsala showing us he’s a man of many talents. Dancing across the city scape, reminisce of his drumline stomp the yard booty shaking throwdown outside of lily whites only nights before.
Dora: Laus and Campbell now share the lovely lady.
We departed france and headed for italy, unfortunately the whole day was devoted to travel. There was many practical jokes, many ridiculous moments, To much of rocky and not enough of Bourne ultimatum. Philosophical discussion and ay etu sergi pergo playing throughout the bus, along with Jameel and Taruns, What she order??? Fish fillet. Stopping and gorging on chocolate so cheap it would be illegal in Australia. We all arrived to a pleasant surprise as our hotel was rather luxurious. Settling in for the night, we had a late dinner at a McDonalds then bunked down after our nightly team discussions.
We spent this day focusing on sight seeing with beautiful alps in the backdrop turin’s 400 year old arch free tower displayed both a must do as well as the engineering brilliance required to do such a feat. Those that did brave the scary and frightfull elevator ride up to the top were treated to a spectacular sight as the swiss alps glimmered in the midday sun, their white crests piercing the horizon, the white looked as soft as silk and the rocky outcrops as sharp as blades. The image is still vivid even as I write. Seeing such beauty was truly privilege not wasted on the tour. Whilst the snow glittered on distant mountains, bretty boy, jammeel and the godfather were looking at something much smaller that glittered down below in the stores of turin. The godfather chose Armani, jameel and brett shocks. Mel and Jack were busy with Phil G looking for a good pair of jeans.
Everyone managed to get some rather nice gifts for loved ones back home.
Dora: I’ll simply say it was another sharing couple of bretty boy and Jameel, I dont think Jameel was thrilled about it but he soon came round, (when he got home to australia).
Today was the day, today we trained with Juventus. The boys were split up into groups after a brief warm up drill focusing on movement off and on the ball. Quickly we were into volley and control drills, finishing up the technical side of things with strength and mobility training. Finally we had the chance to show our skills with attacking defending drill on goals, the keepers had a hard time. No literally they were diving on worn out synthetic, similar to diving on concrete. The attackers were merciless driving from close range. The day still didn’t end there we were ready for a match against the reserve Juventus under 20’s team. We once again were in a little over our heads, we strove to complete our game plan but the fitter, stronger, older lazius cut us in half. We were able to control 5 minutes slots of play and looked dangerous a few times but there deviance was well drilled and not more than a handful of shots were managed against the opposition’s net. With the first half nearly over Freestone took himself out of the game bitter and in pain at his lackluster performance. Kopsala eagerly applied his skills on the field demonstrating yet again his many talents even performing a uncounted amount of step overs fooling nobody but himself. However the scoreline didn’t reflect the passion and effort the boys put in it was still a blow out. Special mention to Fillip Laus and Ramsin and Jack for there leadership, courage and never give up attitude. The boys beaten retired for the evening.
We made our way to Milan early in the morning, we finally started spending our money on the clothes the food and the hot chocolate/coffee we were waiting for. Milan offered us a chance to explore the sights and sounds of italy. W e received a tour of the San siro stadium in all its glory. The photographs and video’s taken really dont do it justice its scale is colossal. Much like the modern colosseum reminisce of the countries past associated with large sporting and gladiatorial arenas. What was kept from us is the small fact that we would actually be watching that evenings game, once again a great thanks to Steve who came through for us as he so did countless times during the trip scoring us fan side tickets in the AC Milan section. Each of the boys will have very different memries of this tour but the san siro we can all agree was the optimized place to watch a soccer match, amongst those who lived and breathed the game(also breathing a fair amount of cigarette smoke) but if you could ignore that you would expose the senses to what it really means to love the game. The game was a hard fought contest with AC Milan’ keeper saving his team more than just once with goal line saves. At 1-1 the game looked set to be a draw until on the 62nd minute robinho sent a cracking volley sailing into the net. With moments left the giant lumbering forward that is zlatan ibrahimovich found himself in space and with the ball with just the keep to beat he made no mistake sealing the victory with his pattened one arm flying fist pump. We slept well that night, still fresh in our dreams were the sounds of the chants and screams of victory that rumbled around the stadium.
Dora: James pits was clutching dora tightly as he missed home.
Traveling for 14 hours in a bus does things to a man, unnatural things, weird conversations and pathetic dehydrated and drowsy induced ramblings occurred between Razor and Tour captain freestone, who was hungry again. Eventually we stopped to see the world renowned leaning tower of piza standing 90 meters tall now. The local government had recently just finished works to stop the tipping process. The crisp night air offered a underlit and clear view of the tower, in the presence of such ancient structures once again the boys did either on of two things, bought rubber band helicopters or discussed weather or not there was an afterlife. Both extremely intriguing and incredulous pursuits.
We stumbled into our rome hotel which actually was possibly the best one we had stayed at of the entire tour.
The Vatican really is massive, over 700 rooms each with another hidden trinket of holy object, the walls, the masonry, the domes, the paintings, the architecture, the dark history, the gravity of where we were dawned on us. It was mind bending, we spent over 3 hours there and barely even scratched the surface of what the Vatican was. It really is a city within a city. We grabbed lunch and took our happy snaps before rushing off to the colosseum, the scale and size was truly belittling, the boys split up and went their own way
In little groups before we eventually went by nightfall to the de trevi fountain. It was such a beautiful and romantic place Phil and Tarun shared a Nutella Crepe and the boys literally scattered some went shopping others went eating some went to the perfume store and emptied there wallets. We enjoyed a lovely dinner in a boutique still Italian resturaunt and stuffed our faces for the 4th consecutive night in a row. When leaving the street merchant and fake merchandise hustlers were out in full force. That was until they were dispersed by the ‘POLIZIA!!!!!!’. As a group member falsely called, they literally grabbed there booty and as Chris Brown does, legout.
That night was our award and reflection ceremony each tour group member spoke many tears were shed and I wont divulge much about that night due to the personal bond and trust associated with it. But I will share that it was a emotional and moving end to our Tour
We all wearily boarded our plane and proceeded back home.
It was the best trip of my life.
Special Thanks goes to:
•EPL sports tours
•Steve, Andy and Gwill (All the Crazy bus drivers)
•The parents and families of each tour member (for allowing them to come, and financing)
•The parents who came on the tour
•Tour Coach Eduardo
•Tour Organiser Nass Martino (who made all this possible)
•Finally the players who made my experience amazing and unforgettable