American Blog: Day Five
Chris Williams continues his diary as United step up for their second game in America.
After a night of singing (in the loosest possible terms: see the hysterical video of the sing-off in Yellow Player) there is a touching moment for us all this morning as Peter Leven reminds us of those we have left behind.
You know that bit in ‘I’m a Celebrity’ where they give them letters from home? Well today we have a similar experience as we are sent a video by our loved ones back in the UK. Since they have missed our sing-along Alan Chapman, Max Crocombe and Coach Dan Bond have recorded their own song in the physio room back in Oxford and sent it across. Top work and surely a magical moment for us all. I almost cry. Mostly at Chappy’s haircut.
After breakfast the players set off for a light jog and stretch around the grounds of the Residence Inn. They worked hard yesterday and have a game tonight so there is nothing too strenuous this morning. It may be a scorcher back in the UK but it is raining here in New Hampshire and with no umbrellas in the kitbag I opt for a spot of writing and video editing instead. The new look www.oufc.co.uk looks great and I fiddle about trying to sort out a few of the teething problems we have. Not least of which is me being the wrong side of the Atlantic and in the wrong time zone for the support desk. Will we have a Gallery of tonight’s game? Who knows?
We have lunch and then with a free afternoon there is just time for a quick shuffleboard then the players go for a rest while Dave Pritchard and I head in to the nearest town, Portsmouth, for a look around and some light retail therapy. I am hoping to buy Kanu.
Portsmouth is a nice harbour town, but a working harbour rather than a picture postcard Cornish version. The quaint gift shops and coffee houses are kept apart by piles of aggregate and the odd crane. It’s very nice and kind of like if our Portsmouth and Brighton got married and had a little baby harbour.
We try to blend in and not look like tourists. Dave has a cake the size of his head. I drink coffee even though I don’t like it. I jaywalk, without knowing how to. We buy petrol and get confused at the pump, watched by amused customers and an attendant who is determined not to help. Being English there is only one thing for it. We stroll in to the shop and act posh. It’s like two Hugh Grants have arrived from space, and the effect is startling. “Where are you all from?” asks Petrolman. “My dear old thing, what frightful grammar” I reply. In my head.
Our ten minute road trip, surely the poorest version of Thelma and Louise ever seen, ends back at the hotel where things are gearing up for tonight’s match. Spike, who told me off today for labelling him as Kitman instead of his real title of Sports Therapist, is busy preparing the kit. Bottles are being filled and the players have had their pre-match meal and are starting to get their game heads on.
It’s interesting to see the build up from this close. The players are nice guys for 99% of their lives but as kick-off approaches you can see the psyching up process happening. On Tuesday night I was on the bench before the game and my usually quiet car school had turned into hardened foot soldiers by the time the game kicked off.
For now they are fair to middling berserkers: happy to load the cars but icy stares at the ready. Tonight’s game is against the slightly stronger Seacoast United Phantoms, and it should be a good test once again of the progress being made. There has been talk of experimenting a little tonight so anything could happen, but hopefully another win will boost confidence once again.
Read the full report right here, and follow @OUFClive throughout the match to see how things work out.