28 August 2012

Training Tedium!

Recently I had to attend a compulsory  training session at my workplace.  Now there is nothing unusual with this at all. Virtually every employee at one time or another will have to undergo some sort of training courses. 

In my opinion there are two types of training.  On the one hand (lets call it the left hand, as I am a proud leftie) there are the training sessions that are enjoyable, interactive and you actually come away feeling like you have learned something.  Then, on the other (right) hand there's the bland, boring, dictatorial type of training.  You know what they are like - you don't want to attend them but you have to.  You make your way to the training room knowing that the next 120 minutes will feel like a lifetime. 

Well the session I attended recently was of the bland and boring type. I was glad that I had a strong coffee prior to my attendance, as my general phobia of training is falling asleep! 

The session got off to a bad start.  The trainer was late and had actually got stuck in a lift for 5 minutes before being rescued! I started laughing as I thought the trainer was joking when he told the group.  Apparently he was not!  I should mention that in the training room there were about 12 people.  Some were of an IT background (you could tell that by the clothes they were wearing).  Then there was the Analysts (moi included) who made up about a third of the group.  Finally, there were the nerds.  These are the ones who take copious notes and ask a million questions, normally really obvious ones too.

Whilst I will give the trainer credit for being professional, articulate and knowledgeable - it was still an extremely boring session.  The reason for this was that we were being trained on how to use a database via an intranet connection.  My first thought was - "why are we spending two hours on this?".  The training could have easily been catered for by an email and a PowerPoint presentation. It was going to be a tough 2 hours - and it was.

I tried to keep myself occupied by occasionally glancing at my fellow attendees. Within 15 minutes one of them was falling asleep.  Thank God it wasn't me, I thought. The nerds were furiously scribbling notes and being all enthusiastic. I, on the other hand, was eyeing the bowl of fantales.  I ate one and then another.  Unfortunately I guessed the film stars on the wrapper straight away. So that didn't help me kill the time.  

About half way through the session, I had completely switched off. I noticed one of the IT geeks was playing a game on his phone.  It was probably one of those 'Kill the Zombies' type of games.  Then, suddenly, he left.  The lady sitting to the right of me was writing in a notebook.  She didn't look like a nerd, so I glanced over my shoulder.  I was right.  She wasn't a nerd.  In her notebook was a shopping list.  She had written down things such as - Saturday, buy bread, sausages, milk, cheese, washing powder etc.  Also, there was a note for her husband to get the barbecue ready.  It was clear that her mind was not on the bland subject matter but on food!

For the last 30 minutes I decided to bite my finger. Why? For two reasons.  Firstly, to stay awake. Secondly, to see if I was dreaming and having a nightmare.  Alas for me it was a real life nightmare!

The two hours were up.  I put yet another fantale in my mouth.  At last I could get back to reality.  But no, the pain would linger on for a few more minutes.  The nerds started asking a million and one questions.  What the???  Why couldn't they just keep quiet! 

At last the training was finished.  We all left the training room as quickly as we could.  That was hard, that was painful, that was needless.

I made a note to bring a notepad to the next training session.  Maybe I could write down my own shopping list!

16 August 2012

Ebbsfleet United v Braintree Town

The following is the article I wrote for the Ebbsfleet United v Braintree Town match.  Unfortunately, the Fleet lost :-(

Now that the euphoria of the London Olympics is slowly dying down, we can all turn our attention to the Blue Square Premier League and our first home game of the season.  Before going any further, I would like to send out a huge ‘well done’ to Team GB on their massive haul of medals.  They certainly did us all proud!  The GB football team did fairly well too, until that deadly quarter final penalty phobia struck again!

For Ebbsfleet United, and all teams nationwide, the football season is like an Olympic marathon.  It’s all about pacing yourself so that you can get to the finish line well ahead of your rivals, and thus ensuring a great final position.  In the case of an athlete, the goal is to get onto the winner’s podium with a gold, silver or bronze medal around your neck.   In our case, the gold medal equivalent would be a mid-table, or higher, finish in the League and possibly a nice FA Cup run as well.  I’m sure the club would not be adverse to a third round away tie versus Chelsea or Arsenal!

A marathon runner typically has to adapt to the circumstances in which they are competing.  From hot days to cold and wet conditions, a runner has to have the flexibility to be able to cope with anything that is put in their way.  Tactics play a big part too.  Does the athlete try and push the pace early, or sit back and try to time themselves for a barnstorming finish?  It is also the ability and self-belief, of the athlete that decides the final outcome.

Likewise, Liam Daish has to take into account a number of factors when deciding on the starting line-up and the tactics that need to be employed.  These factors can include current injuries to players, the condition of the playing field, how the opposition is likely to play, and the best way to counter this together with ensuring that the chemistry of the team remains unchanged.  Over the course of the next 8 months we will be able to see how all of this will unfold.

Following the departure of a number of key players in the close season, Liam has been busy in the transfer market finding suitable replacements.  A big welcome to new Fleet players  Moses Ashikodi, Nathan Elder, Patrick Ada, Phil Walsh and the return of Liam Enver-Marum and Ryan Blake.  Let’s get behind our new signings and hope that they settle in as quickly as possible.  Certainly during the pre-season games they all performed extremely well.

A big welcome to Braintree Town who are our first visitors to Stonebridge Road.  Like ourselves, they finished comfortably in mid-table last season.  They too will want to get the new season off to a flying start.  So we should be in for a fantastic evening of football.  Their manager, Alan Devonshire, knows exactly what is required to compete at this level and will be ensuring that he has a squad good enough to perform in this division.

Enjoy the game and please get behind the players.  We have seen what happens at the Olympics when there are 80,000 spectators cheering on their country.  So let’s do likewise here.   Also, a club like ours can always do with some extra help.  If you feel like you would like to assist then please contact the club, or MYFC (www.myfootballclub.co.uk) for further information. 


06 August 2012

Ebbsfleet Utd v Gillingham Pre-Season

The following is the article I wrote for the Ebbsfleet United v Gillingham Pre-Season game, which the Gills won 3-2.

Today we welcome our near neighbours Gillingham for what is on paper a mouth-watering pre-season friendly.  It is certain to be a no-holds barred encounter with both sets of players keen to impress their respective managers. 

For Ebbsfleet it has been a pretty good pre-season so far.  A win at Tonbridge was followed by a narrow loss to Reading and then a great 1-0 home win against Leyton Orient.  A number of players have impressed in these pre-season games, and it was good to see new signing Nathan Elder score the winner against the O’s. 

Talking of new signings, we extend a warm welcome to defender Patrick Ada who has signed for the Fleet from Burton Albion.  To date he is developing a useful partnership with our defensive stalwart, and inspirational skipper, Paul Lorraine.  If his pre-season form is a sign of what we can expect, then Ada will have a very good season with the club.

The match versus Leyton Orient was a special one indeed.  It was also played to recognise Liam Daish as being the longest serving manager in the club’s history.  To celebrate this feat, a stand has been named in his honour, for all the tireless work he has done at this club over the past 8 years.  Loyalty is an extremely rare word in football circles, but we should be very proud, and lucky, that Liam Daish has shown the club this trait. 

Since being manager Liam Daish has had to contend with a number of issues, but has certainly come out on top more often than not.  An FA Trophy victory and a Blue Square South play-off victory are just two of the highlights of his reign so far.  Let’s hope there are many more successes in store for both the manager and club.

Gillingham come here today with a new manager and a squad that is gradually being rebuilt to the way that Martin Allen requires.  The Gills had a 1-0 victory last week at neighbours Dartford with the goal coming from new signing Ben Strevens.  The new Gills manager has certainly been living up to his unconventional ways by having his dog Monty with him in the dugout! One thing is for certain, it will not be a boring season for Gillingham with Martin Allen in charge of the team!

We can certainly expect a full blooded encounter between these two teams, whose managers believe in ensuring that their players give 110% effort.  Hopefully, there will also be a large crowd that will add to the atmosphere today at Stonebridge Road.

Finally, a plea to all the supporters at the game today.  Ebbsfleet United is run on an extremely tight budget where every penny counts.  We do not have the luxury of large attendances, or substantial amounts of revenue coming in from other sources.  If you want to help the club out, you could decide to sponsor one of the Fleet’s players, or alternatively become a member of My Football Club - MYFC (www.myfootballclub.co.uk).  MYFC gives all members the chance to take decisions in the day to day running of a football club, as well as becoming a co-owner of the Fleet!

Please consider helping out the club where possible, as we all want to see the Fleet continue on an upwards direction.  Hopefully one day Ebbsfleet United v Gillingham will become a regular fixture in League 2 or above!

Enjoy the game, and Up the Fleet!