'It was a bit of a party holiday. I’ve never had a pre-season like it' - Adam Barton on Portsmouth's drinking sessions which inspired success under Paul Cook
Adam Barton has revealed how pre-season tours under Paul Cook represented ‘party holidays’.
Yet he believes those regular nights out drinking generated an outstanding team spirit which was the driving force behind capturing the League Two title.
Barton joined Pompey in June 2015 and attended a week-long stay in the Algarve designed for team bonding and warm weather training.
The following summer, the team travelled to Dublin, where they also played Sligo and Bohemians during six days away.
And Barton is convinced those eventful Cook trips laid the foundations to success.
‘Drinking on pre-season tours at Pompey was a standard thing, I have never known anything like it,’ he told The News.
‘We all knew Paul Cook liked to relax with a drink and that’s how we celebrated. Sometimes during the season, if we won on our travels it was back to the clubhouse. We all had to be in it together.
‘When you have a drink you start coming out of your shell a bit more, and everyone became everybody’s best mate. It really did work too. We got to the play-off semi-finals the first year and won the title the next.
‘Cook didn’t do it just to get drunk, he did it for a reason and it created fantastic team spirit.
‘Normally on a pre-season tour, you get that one night out. If you work hard, you have your evening off to do what you want.
‘That tended to be the last night – yet under Cook it was three nights of the four or five!
‘For my first summer with Pompey, we went to Portugal and one evening sat at a massive table in the hotel to eat. Mark Catlin was there and he ordered players drinks after drinks after drinks. It was “Blimey”.
‘We had our fair share, then ended up going to this little square where there was live music and a few bars.
‘Then a few people started wandering away, while the rest of us went to a nightclub. It was quite a heavy night and Catlin was still there at the end with Cook.
‘We immediately thought “This is going to be a bit of a party holiday”. I’ve never had a pre-season like it – and we then trained the next morning.
‘The following year it was Ireland and one night me, Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts got a taxi somewhere. We returned to the hotel in the early hours, but couldn’t remember our rooms, so slept on the settees in the lobby.
‘We were woken in the morning by Paul Cook walking past saying “Come on lads, we need to go, we’re getting on a bus to the airport”. It was time to go home!’
Yet he believes the consequences of drinking ensured he missed the entire 2015 pre-season friendly programme through injury.
He added: ‘After a bit of a heavy night in Portugal, the next day we trained on the beach – with alcohol in our systems.
‘I ended up getting injured. I’d never had a groin injury in my life – and had also never been drunk and asked to run up sand dunes and sprint on a beach the day after!
‘I put that down to the drinking, our muscles weren’t right and that affected me. At the time I was annoyed, but if you didn’t drink people would think “Why is he being boring?”.
‘It was all led by Paul Cook. As a player, we wouldn’t think of doing something like that and I have never done that since or before.
‘In Ireland, it was actually getting too much for some of us, it really was. Some of the lads did it all the time, but for other boys it was a bit too much.’
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