Opening day league win in thriller – development diary episode 1

Welcome to the first instalment of Development Diary from Neil Day, hopefully a bi-weekly platform charting the progress of the Women/NB Development side and a glimpse of life at Hackney Marshes on a Saturday morning.

I couldn’t start without saying how pleased I am to be back at a ground that has always been close to my heart.

While many things have changed for the better, many of the behind the scenes issues of running a football club/team still remain -in this case training facilities or should I say lack of.

Gone are the days where me and Woody (Chris Wood) would conduct training on the Spotted Dog pitch with ankle high mud sucking at your boots. Today the pitch is much more prized as a showpiece and quite rightly so, superb work behind the scenes has produced a playing surface to be proud of and only right that game/time on it has to be limited.

Hackney Marshes has done sterling service through the summer but supporters might be surprised at the lengths the Commitee has gone to to ensure good standard training facilities at a suitable price.

Despite last minute floodlight failures and amazingly long term floodlight failures, the show must go on, we’ve trained in rain, intense heat, the last dregs of daylight and on one occasion near darkness but every time the commitment has been outstanding and the effort put in unwavering.

The Development Team always train at the same facility as the First Team and a highly competitive match of sorts always closes out proceedings but in between the casual spectator is treated to a plethora of imaginatively designed drills designed to improve players and teams performance in key areas.

To me Development is a simple concept (complicated by most of us coaches) but involves improving players key basics and putting those basics within a team pattern/system which suits all styles. We work on those basics week in week out until they are ingrained. Train like you play is a great maxim but one which works, the more you reinforce in training the quicker things become automatic in games.

I’ve been very impressed how the players have taken on board lessons both myself and Brian have put over in training and to see them put those lessons into practise in the first game last Saturday was a very proud moment.

On a scorching hot morning we took on Queerspace in an eagerly awaited season opener. A fine individual effort from Moz and a well taken penalty by Lauren saw us take a 2-1 lead at the interval. A change of formation to four at the back ensued but a brilliant solo goal from Queerspace‘s star player looked like a point a piece would be shared.

But the pundits hadn’t reckoned on a masterly substitution late in the day which led to a deserved 3 point haul, a brief cameo from Maria and a cool finish settled the game 2 minutes from time.

To say I was pleased with the performance was an understatement, team spirit, togetherness, tenacity and no lack of skill, the game had it all and a great advert for football at this level. Big well done to everyone involved and looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this season, on early form and signs there’s no limits.

Regards, Neil