The names you always look out for
Hi, hope you are all well.
As you know I have represented quite a few clubs in my career and as a consequence that means there are a lot of results to look out for on a Saturday after my own match has finished.
Some clubs obviously mean more to me than others purely because of the length of time I spent there and the friendships that are built up over the years.
I feel quite lucky in a sense that I have always left clubs on good terms so when I do look out for their results I genuinely hope they have won. It's quite a frightening sign of just how old you are getting when you look through the teams in the Sunday papers and realise that you have played with just about every player in the bottom two leagues at some point in your career! That said, there are certain names that you look out for every week. Good friends that regardless of what part of the country you end up playing in, you always keep in touch with.
One such name is that of Ritchie Humphreys. I feel quite guilty about the pre-conceptions I had of Ritchie when I first joined Hartlepool United. I thought, because of his (how shall I put it?) "stocky" frame, that the reason he had slipped down the footballing ladder after bursting on to the scene at Sheffield Wednesday was because of an excessive lifestyle. Maybe you thought the same.
I have never been more wrong about a player in my whole career. Ritchie is the ultimate professional and I am not embarrassed to admit that I learned an awful lot from him in terms of how to look after your body as a football player. The strange thing is that I didn't actually realise this until I left Hartlepool and the fact that I did not until quite a late stage in my career is one of the few regrets I have.
Now, although I admire him, this could be taking it to the extreme. A little birdie told me that on a pre-season run he stripped right down to his compression garments because it was raining and he didn't want the wet kit to weigh him down. That is a sight I am glad I was not there to see!
In all seriousness the man is a legend at Hartlepool and is a tremendous role model to the Hartlepool youngsters that he now coaches. He has a street named after him, he is the club's ambassador, he has currently played over 300 games for the club and he was also selected in the club's all-time eleven. Did not see my name in it, must have been an oversight (only joking).
Notts County achieved a 2-1 victory at Port Vale on Saturday. It was a thoroughly deserved victory which keeps us hot on the heels of the teams in the play-off positions. The win itself was down to a lot of good football but also a new found mental toughness which is evolving at the club. Last season, if we conceded an equaliser just after half time (which is what happened at the weekend) we would invariably lose the game but on Saturday we managed to regain control of things and earn the three points.
The only negative aspect of my weekend was the defeat that my son's under 8's team suffered. They are a new team and have so far played four, lost three and drawn one. However, they seem to be having fun which is the main thing. So much fun in fact that when they were getting beat 6-0 and their goal was under siege my little boy was up the other end pretending to be an aeroplane! Don't think the gaffer would be too pleased if I tried the same thing.