With most teams still set to commence pre-season training, the management at Kirk Deighton Rangers AFC have already witnessed a handful of sessions completed as they brought the players back early to make sure that the new campaign would be met head on with fitness, both physical and match, at the best possible level they could reach.
Was it gamble to come back so early? After all, the World Cup still grips the nation and one could hardly blame the players (and management for that fact) for wanting a longer rest following a previous season that saw promotions and near misses achieved. Judging from the ever-increasing numbers down at Barr Field and the feedback post gruelling sessions, no it wasn’t! In fact, it seems to be the opposite, with feeling amongst all that it was the right thing to do and it is what is most definitely needed to make sure Rangers hit the new season running!
Following another punishing gathering in the beating West Yorkshire sunshine, First Team Manager Dan Marshall and First Team Head Coach Ben Lawrence took five minutes with Media Officer Pete Arnett to reflect on what had happened so far.
The sessions that he puts on are tough, but they are also enjoyable, the benefit that the players will get from them is massive.
Dan Marshall (First Team Manager) on Ben Lawrence
Pete Arnett (PA) “The numbers of players coming down are really encouraging, that’s got to be pleasing for you?”
Dan Marshall (DM) “Definitely, we had forty players a week ago, thirty odd at the first session. We had twenty-eight tonight, but we were told of a handful that couldn’t make it which would have taking it into the mid thirties again. Everyone is buying into it, which is what we want. Even with it being another hot one tonight, no-one complained which is great! It probably helps that we had a few ice baths available for them to use (laughs), but all-in-all I can’t complain, the attitude and commitment from everyone that has come down, and in every session so far, has been first class.”
Ben Lawrence (BL) “It’s been brilliant with the amount that have turned up. We had quite a few missing tonight through work, but they are wanting to come, which is great. All we can do is put on the sessions and hopefully they turn up and put in the hard work and train. Fingers crossed that we will see them all again on Saturday. Going forward and with pre-season games starting next month, it is looking good!”
(PA) “There is also a willingness to do it as well, you look round the lads and there is no moaning or groaning when asked to work hard.”
(BL) “I’ve been really impressed with their attitudes. I said to the lads at the first session that it’s going to be all hard work and that they probably wont touch much of the ball through June. Ultimately its up to them to come and put in the hard graft, but the numbers show how much they obviously want it. As a coach you put on these sessions and to get the good feedback and everyone enjoying them, that’s what you do it for.”
(DM) Absolutely bang on and it’s great to see isn’t it! I think what we have is a bit of an embarrassment of riches. We have lads coming down who are competing for places, but it’s not a first or second team at the moment, we are treating it as Saturday football and everyone has the right to challenge for a place. As the pre-season continues and the games start to kick-in, then we will start looking at squads, where people can fit in and systems that we want to use. Everyone has been coming down and has certainly been buying into the ideas that we have and the training that Ben has being putting on. I think that they (the players) have realised that this year, if they don’t come to training and don’t work hard, then they are going to struggle and with the numbers, possibly struggle to get into the second team. It’s a nice position to be in, but we do realise that we are not going to be able to keep everyone happy, but we will try to do so to the best of our ability and that is our challenge as management.”
We probably have two or three players in every positions, so we can mix it up more than before and we will be stronger in every position.
Ben Lawrence (First Team Head Coach)
(PA) “It’s got to be good for the club having someone like Ben onboard? With his UEFA B qualification, you can see from the sessions he puts on, which look technically challenging as well as physically, that the players are just lapping it up!”
(DM) “Oh most definitely. We are very lucky to have him. I’ve worked with him in different roles for a few years now and be honest with you, he’s probably got the world at his feet with the coaching. He works at Leeds United, but he’s always been a Kirk Deighton lad at heart and has an association with the club which is great for us.
The sessions that he puts on are tough, but they are also enjoyable, the benefit that the players will get from them is massive.”
(PA) “Changing topics a little, you aren’t pulling any punches with the pre-season matches this time around. Two teams from the West Yorkshire Premier, One from the York Premier and a few top Harrogate sides. You really want to give the lads a work out.”
(DM) “Yeah definitely. The thing with pre-season is I don’t necessarily look at the results. I will look at the performances and the systems we want to play and as we are looking to have some more versatility in the way we set up, that will be taken into account as well. We were quite rigid in our setup last season, but with the players we have now, we can be a bit more flexible and look at different systems and that is what pre-season is all about, but it has to be a challenge and get us ready to start on the right foot.”
(BL) “We have to make sure that the players gel together and also get the shape that we want to play. As Dan says, results mean nothing during pre-season. It’s all about getting the lads to play together and understand the way we want to play. We have a few more formations we want to try to be able to mix it up when we play different types of teams. We probably have two or three players in every positions, so we can mix it up more than before and we will be stronger in every position.”
With the pre-season ready to enter its second phase and the games about to start, it promises to be an exciting time at Barr Field. If the players continue with the hard work and routines that Ben, Dan and the rest of the club’s management set, then the coming season could be another one full of intrigue and reward.