Tour 2012: Bailey Blog 6
- 13 July 2012 09:51
- Posted by Chris Bailey
Moving a football team to a pre-season tour destination can be akin to shifting a small army and in City’s ranks Les Chapman is the kit generalissimo.
It is his job and that of his young travelling lieutenants Brandon Ashton and Ally Marland to make sure that every need and eventuality is catered for when it comes to playing gear and equipment.
That is why last month at the Blues’ Carrington headquarters, more than one thousand boxes of essentials were delivered, all of which had to be labelled and stored ready for Austria, China, Malaysia and the coming season.
Two vanloads of kit made the journey into the Alps ahead of the squad. Chappy takes up the story:
"The 1100 boxes of equipment were delivered in late June and they all had to be put into stores for the trip. We had to order from the printer two home strips and an away strip," he told me.
"The two trucks left with all the kit for the players and staff and all the match stuff apart from the personal gear the players wore for training on the day we flew out. The first truck left on the Friday as we flew out on the Sunday.
"As well as the kit itself there was equipment, mannequins, poles, mats, blow up defenders that the keepers use, all the medical skips, bags and of course even the backdrop for the website interview.
"We brought the rest of the stuff with us - all the boots, shin pads, keepers’ gloves, trainers and flip flops."
Once in Austria the kit room and massage resemble a ballroom and sizeable annex. All shades and sizes of every bit of football kit you could wish for is piled high and for the entire world it looks like a well-stocked department store.
There is also an abundance of leisure wear in evidence as the players are all required, in their footballing way, to dress for dinner.
A mannequin adorns the entrance to the players’ and staff restaurant to inform them what to wear around the hotel the following day.
"They have to look smart and all wear the same so we do have a lot of leisurewear wear t-shirts, polo shirts and shorts," Chappy, a veteran of more than 700 league games and former coach and manager continued.
"Players can be quite demanding so we have to make sure that every need is catered for wherever possible.
"The other main concern is the washing. We are here for 14 days which is a long time and because of the incredible cost of hotel laundry services in general, we send it out.
"The laundry collects the dirty kit at 8.30pm every evening and the next day we re-sort it all out. There is a staggering amount which is not surprising when you consider how many people are here – including the back room staff – and that most days we train twice!
"It is a continuous cycle and towards the end of the trip we will step that up to more laundry trips per day because we want to take home as much kit as possible that is washed and ready to use again. It is a very quick turnaround before we go to China.
"Brandon and I are used to the frenetic pace of pre-season and the intensity of it all but the sheer volume is probably a bit new to the latest recruit Ally who joined us, via Bolton and Blackburn, after Steve Aziz left for Sunderland.
I think people would be amazed to see how much work actually went into a tour from the support staff.
The latest bundle of washing came thanks to the last intense training session before the tour opener against Al Hilal in Innsbruck.
In an 11 v 11 game Nielsen (Pantilimon), Rekik, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Kompany, Lopes, triallist, Yaya, Tevez, triallist, and Bunn (Mancini) faced Lawlor (Johansen), Helan, Boyata, Savic, Kolo, Razak, Weiss, Scapuzzi, Elabdellaoui, Dzeko and Aguero.