The Town striker's exclusive blog
Devastation...misery...fatigue. That's how my close-season began. With the disappointment of losing at the home of football in front of 30,000 loyal fans, that was a tough pill to swallow. To even begin to look forward to holidays and time off was impossible at that time and personally for a good week afterwards.
The handshakes and 'have a good break' conversations were short and sweet after the final, knowing you may not see your team-mates again. The summer is full of outgoings and incomings and a team can drastically change from what finished the season.
With the heartache gone, although memories of the day still fresh in the memory, the off season is mainly about rest and relaxation for players and staff, and I'm pretty sure you all needed a little break as well.
So a lot of us jet abroad with the family or let off some steam with friends. I'm classed as a senior member nowadays at the tender age of 26 so my holiday was for rest purposes only.
Boredom definitely kicks in half way through the break. The Euros have softened the blow slightly and, by the time the Olympics starts, we will be well into the slog of pre-season! As a player you do enjoy the rest but personally I cannot sit still and am usually annoying my family members or friends suggesting alternatives to burn off some energy.
With two weeks to 10 days before pre-season begins I start with some light running and gym work. It's important in today's level of football that you come back for pre-season training at a moderate fitness level. Body fats and weigh ins are not uncommon in the first few days and as you can imagine these are the butt of most jokes and banter in the dressing room...I will be keeping the lads' body fat percentages to myself (for a small fee).
This will be my 10th season as a professional and pre-season still brings a few butterflies on the first day, whether you are a new player at a club or going back as a regular. It's the not knowing what lies ahead: a lot of managers give out itineraries, yet some still like to hold the cards close to their chests. This makes for nervous chat between the players before training begins!
There will be new lads coming in and a few who will leave - it's part and parcel of modern day football. It makes for pleasant viewing when the initiation songs have to be sung. The initiation process is different at all clubs. I remember it was a dance at Cheltenham Town and I remember at the time I very happy that I didn't have to do that one!
So, as we all look forward to the season with optimism, hope, enthusiasm and all the excitement of a small child, we, the players, will be working hard to get our bodies and minds ready for a 50-plus-game season with many highs, lows and controversy along the journey. Just pray we get that little bit of luck too.