Bacon’s Bites: Pre-season training in two weeks? Are you having a laugh?

The balls and cones will soon be out again for the region's non-league players.... before July is ev

The balls and cones will soon be out again for the region's non-league players.... before July is even with us!

MIKE BACON tackles year-round football, Tiger Woods’ fall from grace and the Arsene Wenger debate in his latest Bacon’s Bites column.

Reece Dobson of Needham charges down the ball. Like many non-league clubs, Needham will be back in p

Reece Dobson of Needham charges down the ball. Like many non-league clubs, Needham will be back in pre-season training soon. Photo: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

Did you know that many non-league football teams, including plenty in this area, start pre-season training in two weeks?

Yes, I did say two weeks!

That’s the middle of June to you and me.

Don’t get me wrong because I’m a big fan of non-league football, but pre-season training in the middle of June?


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Most players haven’t had a chance to get their training kit washed from the end of last season yet, some won’t have even booked their summer holidays, let alone been on them.

Football is becoming a 12-month sport in this country and I’m afraid that while the pro clubs and those with money buck the trend, more clubs further down the pyramid are likely to fold with less players wanting to commit to the game all year round.

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I know plenty of people eat, sleep, drink football and good for them, I admire their passion and commitment.

Sad times right now for Tiger Woods

Sad times right now for Tiger Woods - Credit: Archant

However, if they want to take players, especially younger ones, along with them for the ride, they are going to have to understand that there is so much more for youngsters to do in this day and age, apart from football.

I talk to players from my era of playing and they are frustrated by today’s players’ lack of commitment. But come on guys, we didn’t go back pre-season training until August.

We had a proper break from the game and went out and let ourselves indulge a bit before coming back pre-season to get fit.

Today’s non-league players hardly have time to stuff a doner kebab down their necks before they are up and running once more for the new season ahead – and football, football, football until next April!

Seriously, football has to understand it is not the only gig in town.

Many non-league teams continue to fold and more players at all ages give up the game.

From my experience numbers dropping off can often come as a result of the amount of football so many have played by the time they are 18 – a decade in some cases.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger celebrates another trophy. Another two years of this for Arsenal fans

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger celebrates another trophy. Another two years of this for Arsenal fans - including my mate Pete - how tragic for them. - Credit: PA

The working week is now seven days a week rather than Monday to Friday, while family comes first for more and more.

Pre-season training, just six or seven weeks after the end of the previous campaign, won’t impress many.

Yes, non-league football is great and has many qualities.

However, if it is to thrive and if we are not to lose more players to the game – and ultimately more teams – then it has to see the bigger picture.

It was sad to see the latest mugshots of Tiger Woods.

The former world number one golfer was found at the wheel of his Mercedes and had to be woken by a police officer early on Monday.

Charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Woods blamed “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medication”.

He maintains that alcohol was not involved in the incident.

All very tragic that a player who was set to eclipse everything in the golfing world now stands on the verge of being remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Yet, I have never been a huge Tiger fan, like so many.

Of course I admired his brilliant golf, but perhaps, as a journalist, it’s because I look for other qualities in a sportsman or woman, like charisma, politeness to the press and general demeanour while participating. I felt Woods fell short in some areas.

No way, however, would I have liked to see his career be dragged through the gutter as it has been in recent years.

Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major victories looked severely threatened by Woods when Tiger went on to major number 14 after winning the US Open in 2008.

That’s almost 10 years ago.

Nicklaus’ record seems more secure with every passing month.

I’m going to have it out with my mate Pete when we holiday in Spain later this summer.

He’s a big Gooner fan and, like so many, wanted rid of Arsene Wenger.

“Why?”, I keep asking him.

“You keep winning trophies.”

But it seems to fall on stoney ground as Pete and many Arsenal supporters, want change.

Even winning the FA Cup this season seems not to have placated many of them, with Wenger set to stay at The Emirates for a couple more years.

It often gets thrown at fans by ‘The Great and the Good’ to be careful what they wish for as another trophy-less season wimpers by!

In Arsenal fans’ cases however, I really would be careful. There are plenty of fans who would like their club to be managed by someone with Wenger’s record.

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