We think the boys have only now just come down off their high from their trip to England so we thought we would share the experience with everyone.
Straight off the plane at Heathrow airport, London and surprisingly all the boys were allowed into the country! We were picked up by our bus for the week and straight off to QPR's (Queens Park Rangers, Championship club) training ground. From the pictures you can see how the pitch was in perfect condition..although not quite as good as our fields ;) The boys did a light session here for an hour before we drove into London to grab some lunch and walk around Covent gardens. Later they settled into the hotel and got some well earned rest.
Full English breakfast was on the cards for everyone. That was devoured by most and then it was off to Wembley Stadium (England Football teams national stadium) to watch Chelsea vs Arsenal in the Community shield. Great atmosphere and exciting game as it finished 1-1 so it meant we went straight to penalties...and bad news for the Chelsea fans in the group as they missed two and Arsenal scored all of theirs to win. It was a great experience and one game that I know the boys will remember for their lifetime.
Up early and off to play in our first friendly match against Broadwater United. Broadwater United are famous for developing hundreds of players who have gone on to play professional soccer for teams like Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Newcastle to name a few. The club has a great history and Clasford Stirling who has been running it for many years has actually even been honored with an MBE by the Queen for his services to the area.
The boys got ready in the changing rooms (which they had never experienced before, but is very common in the UK) before warming up. They posed for a quick picture with an ex pro Jude Stirling and it was game on. The boys were stunned with how good the other team were and it took our boys a while to get into the game. Both teams played some great stuff and the game finished 5-4 to Broadwater, which was a terrific result, knowing that some of the boys we played against were probably going to be on some pro teams books very shortly. After the game, the club were very kind to provide the boys with some homecooked Caribbean food, which was fantastic.
After the game and it was off to London to do some sightseeing. We went on a river boat cruise, went on the London eye, saw the houses of parliaments, clock tower at big ben, tried to make the guards smile/move..unsuccessfully and even said hi to the Queen at Buckingham palace! Great day and everyone passed out early.
Our time in London, for now, was done. We got up early and we were off up to Chester (Located inbetween Liverpool and Chester). Before we left though, we had a session planned with two top coaches from Tottenhams FC Academy. The boys were put through their paces as the parents and coach Gavin worked on their finishing! Great session and the boys were buzzing.
On the way we stopped off at Sratford-upon-Avon which is famous for being where William Shakespeare was born and brought up in. After everyone finished their fish and chips..it was back on the bus and onto Chester.
Another English breakfast to give us energy for the day before we set off to Old Trafford (Manchester Uniteds stadium). For the Man United fans among the group it was a dream come true. It really is a great tour and the boys got to sit where the players get ready in the changing rooms, sit where Jose Mourinho does his press conference, be on the bench where the Man United players sit and most importantly walking out of the tunnel to the loud roars of the fans! After that it was a quick tour of their museum and souvenir time in the Club superstore.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off in the center of Manchester where we had some lunch, did some shopping and a few boys checked out the Football museum where they got to hold the English Premier League trophy.
We then had a very special session planned for the boys before we returned to the hotel. Tosh Farrell, who is very well known for developing Wayne Rooney at Everton, ran a superb session for the boys. He had the boys working hard and had the parents in stitches while he was at it. Another very memorable moment for the boys.
Back to the hotel and some parents joined Coach Gavin at the local Indian restaurant where they sampled some fantastic food.
It was an early start again as the group were off to Wales. We stopped at a town called Conwy where the group did a tour of the castle. It was a great little town by the ocean and there were a lot more fish and chips devoured!
On the way back from Conway, we stopped off in Liverpool where we went to the Cavern club (where the Beatles were first discovered) to listen to some music, follwed by some shopping. Quick drive by of Liverpool and Everton's stadiums, which are only 1 mile apart and then it was off to the boys second friendly game versus Frodsham United.
Another exciting game and great soccer being played all game. It was great to see the boys respond to the home sides early dominance and nearly come back but it finished with a narrow win to Frodsham.
Again, after the game, Frodsham were very generous to offer the boys dinner at their local pub. We stayed for several hours and both teams mixed together really well..the English boys asking our boys to say certain words and laughing as soon as they did. It was a great atmosphere and all the parents got on well..definitely great experience and I don't think anyone wanted to leave.
Some parents got up early and did a walking tour of Chester before we all got on the bus and had to set off for our final destination. We stopped off at Oxford to have some lunch and to take a look around the University before setting off again.
We then played our last game against Bedfont Eagles. They have their own little stadium with brand new turf and it was very professional for a youth team to be playing there. Our boys were extremely impressed with how good this team were. They were strong, fast and very technical and they ran out deserved winners. It was great for the boys to see just how good they were and after the game the coach said that 5 or 6 of the boys are being scouted for Arsenal and Chelsea at the moment.
We checked in to our hotel by the airport, had some dinner and then had to say our goodbyes to our terrific tour guides (Rami, Rob and Ben).
We all then said our goodbyes to each other, some of us flying back home and some of us going off to Paris, London for a few more days or even up to Bonnie Scotland.
Overall, it was an amazing experience for the boys and even the parents. It will be a trip that the boys will never forget. They did so much over the 7-8 days they were there and got to experience things that they might not ever do again. It was also great for them to play against boys of similar ages over there so that they could see the differences.
LTSC will be offering a similar tour to teams/players in the near future so look out for those details.
Thank you to the parents, the boys and XL tours.