Pg's Tour Diary

FIRST-TEAM Coach Peter Grant keeps us up to date with West Ham United's pre-season tour of Sweden.

Friday 15th July

"Double training day is never one the squad looks forward to! Today it would comprise of football work in the morning for those players who didn't play against Falkenbergs FF, while those that played in the game would be swimming.

"Scottish weather struck the shores of Sweden during the night, and after two days of sun we were hit with belting rain the entire day.

"It was a really good day for the players though. In the morning those that didn't play against Falkenbergs did a football session up at the local stadium, while those that did play did some swimming in a nearby sports centre.

"The afternoon saw Tony Strudwick take the entire squad for a gym session at a local health club. This was a really tough session, including some boxing and weight training. The players worked extremely hard and were rewarded with some aching muscles that evening!"

Saturday 16th July

"Another game day. With only one day's break between games the players seem to be enjoying the schedule of playing matches in quick succession. This is a 1.00pm kick-off against FC Trollhättan, and with over an hour's drive ahead of us to the ground there is only time for some pre-match breakfast before we get on the coach. It's fines for any late arrivals, which makes for a punctual departure!

"The game itself goes very well. A 3-0 win, but more importantly a fit and energetic performance. We're delighted with the players overall fitness at this stage of pre-season and the way the team played, particularly in the first-half, is very encouraging.

"Second-half the players tired after such a difficult day on Friday, but if we keep putting in performances like that then we're going to have a big selection headache when the start of the season comes around.

"The aim of pre-season is to get everyone as fit as possible, and to get back their footballing legs back after the close season break. But at this point we are very happy, and the players are given a night off to relax and unwind after the game with a recovery day schedule for Sunday."

Sunday 17th July

"With no training scheduled for today the players report for lunch at 1.00pm. The rest days are important because the players are working very hard in training and it's important both mentally and physically that you have a breather.

"The players understand that this is a period where they have to work extra hard, and to a man they have done that on this trip.

"The boys spent the afternoon relaxing, some heading off to the theme park and cinemas in town, while others staying to relax around the hotel and brush up on their table tennis.

"The squad have put together a double's tournament and Sunday was the day when we had to complete all the first round matches. I'm playing with the gaffer, or should I say was playing, because we went down in a closely fought match against Tomas Repka and Teddy Sheringham. It was one of the best games of the tournament so far, but we eventually went down 21/19.

"There was an upset when two big favourites went out in the evening games. Christian Dailly and Malky Mackay are looking like the favourites just now, but the dynamic duo of Marlon Harewood and Anton Ferdinand could run them close!"

Monday 18th July

"Back to work with another double session planned for today. In the morning all the players report for duty at the local Kungsbacka stadium, where we'll be playing our final game of the pre-season tour on Tuesday night.

"Malky Mackay is the only player who has not been able to figure in training so far this trip, but after having extensive treatment on a slight knock, he joins in with the rest of the team.

"The lads have enjoyed some time to themselves but get stuck back into the training regime, with a similarly tough session to Friday's one laying in wait.

"After a couple of days of heavy rain the sun returns with force and the players have to cope with some uncomfortable temperatures, but still put in an excellent morning's work.

"After a 1.00pm lunch it's another gym session booked for the afternoon with a heavy weight's session for the players. Once again, this is a very tough work out and leaves many of the lads nursing some aching muscles at dinner that evening.

"Of course, there was still time for some table tennis action, with the semi-finals of the West Ham United World Championships taking place! And there were a couple of upsets.

"In the first game Matty Etherington and Elliott Ward knocked out the heavily fancied pair of Anton Ferdinand and Marlon Harewood, while in the second match Teddy Sheringham and Tomas Repka were too strong for the pride of Scotland - Malky Mackay and Christian Dailly!

"The final is scheduled for tomorrow after morning training. It's sure to be a big occasion, with my support going for the Sheringham/Repka pair - at least then we'll have lost to the champions!"

Tuesday 19th July

"This would be our last full day of this year's tour to Sweden, and I think I speak for everyone involved when I say it has been a success. In the morning the lads were put through their paces up at the local Kungsbacka Stadium, where we would be playing that evening.

"Once again it was a tough session, particularly for those who would not be starting in the evening. Every player, without expection, has worked extremely hard on this trip and in terms of preparing the team physically things have gone very well.

"After lunch the players went back to their rooms to rest up for the final game. For the backroom staff there was little rest though as they prepared the kit for the game. Without them tour's such as this one could not even happen and a big thank you must go to them for making the trip possible.

"We met down in the hotel reception room for a pre-match meeting at 4.30pm only to find the heavens had opened! A huge rainstorm had been unleashed on Kungsbacka and as we boared the bus our local hosts must have wondered whether the game would go ahead at all.

"But the groundstaff did a fantastic job to clear the pitch of water and we kicked-off on schedule at 7.00pm. The game was probably the most competitive of the three and the first-half was tough for us. The players have given a lot on the tour and you could see that it had taken its toll.

"However, we upped the tempo in the second-half and did very well to run out 3-0 winners, an excellent way to round off the tour. It was a tremendous effort from the players. Three wins out of three is a great way to start our pre-season campaign, but more importantly we have achieved a great deal in terms of preparation for the coming season.

"It was just left to round off one last issue - the table tennis final! Teddy and Tomas up against Matty and Elliott! Although it was a closely fought game, watched by the entire squad, experience won the day and the English/Czech combination scooped the title, along with a few Kronor for their efforts!

"Justification for the management team who were beaten in the first round by the eventual winners. Perhaps an easier route to the fina might have seen us with more of a chance!"

Wednesday 20th July

"An early start for the lads with a 6.45am plane to catch from Gothenburg airport. After a long week the squad were glad to be heading home and could look back on a rewarding trip. Our hosts, Sports International and the Hotel Halland, the local people of Kungsbacka and all the places we visited treated us magnificently well and our thanks go out to everyone who helped make this such a successful tour.

"Now it will be a couple of days off before we're back in training and preparing for our first pre-season game on English soil at Yeovil Town this Saturday."