TOUR DIARY: Day four

First published in Sport by

INITIATIONS are funny old things.

Plenty of institutions have their own rituals of initiation – a Christian baptism, the swearing in of the President of the United States, downing a dirty pint and running naked through campus – all of which share varying levels of pomp, circumstance and excess.

And football is no different, as we have discovered on Swindon Town’s pre-season tour of Italy, as the rites of passage for a modern-day footballer have been played out in front of us at their team hotel on the banks of Lake Garda.

It’s hard to know whether each individual player’s song choice gives an insight into their character, but you’d like to think it offers some kind of indication.

On that basis, what can we make of Jay McEveley opting for a spot of Dean Martin, Troy Archibald-Henville belting out ‘Amarillo’ and James Collins interrupting lunch to unleash a few verses of Uncle Kracker’s ‘Follow Me’?

Make of it what you like but one thing is for sure - the squad love and loathe the entire ceremony - and ceremony is exactly the right word for it.

I’ve made a handful of speeches in my time in front of small to medium-sized crowds and it’s tough keeping your composure looking down onto a sea of eyeballs.

And when it comes to singing, well there’s as much chance of me signing up to open mic night as there is Paolo Di Canio taking to the stage with Toploa… oh.

Anyway, you get my point. It’s a daunting prospect. And not one many people would chase willingly.

As I write, Gary Roberts, Tommy Miller, Andy Williams and Alan Navarro are yet to have had their X Factor moment, and I know for a fact that at least Roberts and Miller are dreading their turn in the spotlight.

But what was evident after Collins had completed his brief set, standing on a chair in the Hotel Veronello restaurant yesterday lunchtime, was how these occasions really bond a team together.

The striker had his new teammates clapping along to his performance, smiling and joking together about his vocal abilities (which didn’t sound too bad from where I was stood in reception) and generally having a laugh.

It’s that kind of unified ethic that must win games when all other margins are as tight as they can possibly be.

Away from the meal-time sing-a-long, the players were put through their paces in a fascinating 11-a-side drill yesterday morning, which focused on formation, shape and movement.

Playing against a static defence, each team would pass the ball across the defence and midfield before the wide men provided the ammunition for the strikers to fire at goal.

At the end of each passage of play Paolo Di Canio would bark instructions and the attacking side would have to drop into a defensive position to cover an invisible full-back in possession.

It was meticulous, brilliantly absorbing to watch and repeated again and again until the Town boss was fully satisfied.

Whatever happens next season it will be impossible to suggest the Swindon squad was either underprepared or untogether.

Comments (6)

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6:46am Thu 5 Jul 12

dreamofacleansheet2 says...

Singing fine, but the last few paragraphs of this report are what really excites me about our manager. His meticulousness and attention to detail are tremendous. Love to hear about that in training. As Yas would say the only was is up.....
Singing fine, but the last few paragraphs of this report are what really excites me about our manager. His meticulousness and attention to detail are tremendous. Love to hear about that in training. As Yas would say the only was is up..... dreamofacleansheet2
  • Score: 0

7:26am Thu 5 Jul 12

thesixtyniner says...

Absorbing stuff. Brilliant insight into the obsessive perfectionist that is Di Canio. We're lucky to have him and should enjoy every moment.

Sounds like Collins is making his mark already, can see him being the best bit of business we do this pre-season. On the official site PDC talks of how impressed he was with Collins when asked if the training was too hard. The young man replied something along the lines of, 'well, you lot finished above everyone else last season so it must be the right way.'

Well done Sam, loving the diary.
Absorbing stuff. Brilliant insight into the obsessive perfectionist that is Di Canio. We're lucky to have him and should enjoy every moment. Sounds like Collins is making his mark already, can see him being the best bit of business we do this pre-season. On the official site PDC talks of how impressed he was with Collins when asked if the training was too hard. The young man replied something along the lines of, 'well, you lot finished above everyone else last season so it must be the right way.' Well done Sam, loving the diary. thesixtyniner
  • Score: 0

8:36am Thu 5 Jul 12

London Red says...

Collins attitude is top notch and a lot of younger players could learn from him!
.
PdC says in a podcast Fabrizio asked him how he was finding it - he sai he was obviously tired but only one team won the league last season and it was Swindon and as he wants to experience the feeling of parading the cup around the pitch he knows it is worth it!
.
Not the first time I have been impressed with his comments - think he may well get his wish of being a STFC hero!
Collins attitude is top notch and a lot of younger players could learn from him! . PdC says in a podcast Fabrizio asked him how he was finding it - he sai he was obviously tired but only one team won the league last season and it was Swindon and as he wants to experience the feeling of parading the cup around the pitch he knows it is worth it! . Not the first time I have been impressed with his comments - think he may well get his wish of being a STFC hero! London Red
  • Score: 0

8:53am Thu 5 Jul 12

Steve. Brentford says...

London Red wrote:
Collins attitude is top notch and a lot of younger players could learn from him!
.
PdC says in a podcast Fabrizio asked him how he was finding it - he sai he was obviously tired but only one team won the league last season and it was Swindon and as he wants to experience the feeling of parading the cup around the pitch he knows it is worth it!
.
Not the first time I have been impressed with his comments - think he may well get his wish of being a STFC hero!
Well hopefully James but it will take a lot more than attitude to get there.

I look forward each morning to reading about the goings on in Italy, well done Sam Morshead, by the way what colour is the quilt in your room? eh eh you missed that didnt you.
[quote][p][bold]London Red[/bold] wrote: Collins attitude is top notch and a lot of younger players could learn from him! . PdC says in a podcast Fabrizio asked him how he was finding it - he sai he was obviously tired but only one team won the league last season and it was Swindon and as he wants to experience the feeling of parading the cup around the pitch he knows it is worth it! . Not the first time I have been impressed with his comments - think he may well get his wish of being a STFC hero![/p][/quote]Well hopefully James but it will take a lot more than attitude to get there. I look forward each morning to reading about the goings on in Italy, well done Sam Morshead, by the way what colour is the quilt in your room? eh eh you missed that didnt you. Steve. Brentford
  • Score: 0

1:26pm Thu 5 Jul 12

London Red says...

Yes - you do need the talent to go with it - but as we have seen many many time before talent gets wasted very easily
.
It is no coincidence that all the top players are also always the hardest workers (well 99% of the time anyway)
.
If we can crack the mentality thing in England we might see some of our youngster really make the grade of our overseas counterparts
Yes - you do need the talent to go with it - but as we have seen many many time before talent gets wasted very easily . It is no coincidence that all the top players are also always the hardest workers (well 99% of the time anyway) . If we can crack the mentality thing in England we might see some of our youngster really make the grade of our overseas counterparts London Red
  • Score: 0

5:27pm Thu 5 Jul 12

Is that you Lovesey says...

I love it, cant wait for the season....
I love it, cant wait for the season.... Is that you Lovesey
  • Score: 0

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