Sunday marked an early start for the Magpies squad – a 2.30am departure from Meadow Lane to Birmingham Airport. Tired eyes and subdued chatter was all the squad could muster, evidently thinking of their beds.
There’s time for rest on the plane, which sets off for Malaga at 6am, and on the bus during an hour-long bus journey to our training camp in Benahavis. An early arrival sees us pull lunch forward, though there’s a short wait that is easily filled with a few games of table tennis.
Kitman Steve Cross leads the encounters, taking on Dean Leacock before a highly competitive match with Keith Curle. The gaffer comes out on top – just edging it – though there’s a hint that further competition could follow later in the week.
Following a healthy dinner, there’s a break for everyone to settle in but not time for a sustained period of sleep, just to make sure that everyone’s sleeping patterns are not thrown out. The initiator of this rule, strength & conditioning coach Nick Ward, then hosts a presentation, emphasising key points on how the players have to look after themselves, not only on the trip but also throughout the season.
Next up is a circuit stretching workout and swimming. The latter involved numerous exercises before switching to a hilarious game of polo, involving a tennis ball that saw Lee Hughes initiate a headlock to his advantage.
The receiver of the headlock, Nick, also had a bit of trouble with his phone… Trying to coax a couple of players into the pool, he leapt in himself, forgetting about his phone, which did not make it out of the water in a working condition.
Now that the cobwebs of a long day have been dusted off, training is set to be stepped up on day two. Keep checking back for the latest update.
Coverage of the day one activities will appear on Magpie Player later today.