Knight: Gone are Pompey pre-seasons of dodging nettles and brambles

Former Pompey boss Frank Burrows

Saturday marks the first day of July – and already Pompey will be in friendly action.

It’s definitely very early to be back playing matches following the close season, although that is down to the old regime.

The fixture at Salisbury was organised by Paul Cook and new boss Kenny Jackett will be fulfilling it.

Regardless, it will be used as a training exercise after only a few days back.

I certainly didn’t play a pre-season fixture so early – but let’s face it, these days players return to training in pretty good shape.

My maiden Pompey pre-season was in the summer of 1978 when Jimmy Dickinson and Ray Crawford were in charge, with Billy Hunter the youth coach.

From that moment I endured what is a necessity of the game, being beasted for two weeks and often running until you were sick.

I don’t think anyone particularly liked it, yet you got on with it. It was part of the process of playing matches – which is what all footballers want.

We would be stationed at HMS Mercury, near Petersfield, and be handed daily 7am cross-country runs through brambles and stinging nettles.

If you got back in time you would get breakfast, although I was often too late!

Then from 10am the PT instructor would work you incredibly hard, leaving us with legs like lead in the afternoon for our ball work training.

At night we had to remain on the base, although on Wednesday evenings were allowed to go home and see our families, having to return by 10pm.

Obviously, one or two deviated from that and went out for a few shandies. One summer, Frank Burrows walked down the corridors counting who were in their rooms.

On Tuesdays, however, we were allowed to play bingo at what is now the Jami Mosque in Southsea, with a few of the lads sneaking in pints, while on Thursdays it was off to the cinema.

It was all about fitness, though, and I can recall Colin Garwood turning up for pre-season with a big beard and overweight, so had to run around in bin liners for two weeks trying to lose it. It worked!

Crucially, it is important no-one picks up any injuries. You don’t want to go down in pre-season because you’ll end up playing catch-up.

This current Pompey team are naturally a fit bunch and I’m sure will return on Thursday in pretty good shape.

They will have followed their training regimes during the close season to ensure they are in reasonable shape ahead of meeting their new boss.

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