We’re going to take it easier on the preseason running this year,” we were told on the first day back.
Forfar assistant manager Ian ‘Pink’ Campbell uttered that very phrase on the first night of preseason as the annual slog got underway once again.
Another year, another hill, another burning pair of lungs. As a player you would expect to be used to it by now but nothing really prepares you.
To be fair the days of black bin bags being donned on the first night, desperately sweating out the summer excess, have long gone. Well, when I say long gone, what I really mean is it’s eight years since I’ve seen one and that player happens to be still going so it must work somehow.
The catch with Pink’s comments was that we had a huge amount of games against full time opposition lined up to really get the legs working hard. The other catch was that they just ran us anyway, as Aberdour’s football pitches became glorified airport runways with a variety of multicoloured cones and poles everywhere.
Yet running is always at its hardest when you are chasing a ball around a football park in desperate hope of getting a touch. Nothing moves faster than the ball we are told, and if you lose possession against full time teams who are generally fitter and play with a ball every day, then it can seem like an eternity until you get it back.
And when you eventually do, your legs are so heavy you can barely muster the energy to do anything with the ball anyway.
Already we’ve played Motherwell, Raith Rovers and St. Johnstone, giving a decent account of ourselves in each game, with Dundee, Dundee Utd and the small matter of Everton to deal with in the coming fortnight.
It’s a great thrill to have a chance to play against Premier League opposition, though nobody is expecting to see Tim Cahill or Mikel Arteta strolling around Station Park. More likely it will be the next Wayne Rooney as they throw their young guns at us every which way we look.
Whoever it is will be of a high quality and it will still be an exciting prospect for every single Forfar player.