Falkirk reported for pre-season training on Thursday to begin season 2016-17 ahead of a trip to a training camp in Ireland on Wednesday.
The Bairns will be based 35 minutes from Dublin, in accommodation used previously by Liverpool and Hearts, for five days which takes in matches against Bray Wanderers and Shelbourne before a return on Monday, July 4.
It’s been a summer schedule in the making since February, but only finalised once the new season start dates were known, and the Bairns’ season concluded in the play-of final with Kilmarnock, explained Creag Robertson.
The head of football operations explained: “Last season we had a good time in Ireland for pre-season, so were open to doing something similar again – the facilities were excellent – and we started planning earlier in the year.”
To organise a tour the club uses intermediaries to help organise the hotel and arrange challenge matches. With the Bairns satisfied with the accommodation, opposition needs to be arranged to make the trip worthwhile in a training regime, but it’s also a positive experience for the management to spend longer time than usual with the players and for team-building.
“You can learn a lot from those few days with new players,” explained the club’s head of football operations. “The management are in their company longer than they would be at training or during the season so you pick up things about them – their habits, how they mix, how they spend their time, their character – much quicker than would normally be possible.
“There’s a games room at the hotel for the players to socialise too because although their are games and double sessions and gym work to be done, it’s a team-bonding exercise for them too.”
Vital to the planning is the accommodation, and ensuring the gym facilities and training pitches are suitable.
“We look for a good standard of training pitch, we know the hotel has good gym facilities and that is important,” he added.
So too though is the food and nutrition. The Bairns have sent on the dietary requirements of the team and their individual needs for their programmes in order to be in the best possible shape for the new season.
“The hotel is aware of that. They are used to it too having dealt with clubs in the past.
“We have our dietary requirements sent on and also the timings of the meals which have been fit around our training schedules.
“The management team have planned the sessions in advance. There is no question it will be very organised so the meals play a big part in that too – the hotel knows what we are looking for and when, though they are very accommodating if our schedules change – and they can depending on the intensity of training sessions, recovery and games.”
The Bairns will be taking physio Ross Grady along with them to continue rehabilitation with the likes of Peter Grant and ironing out any pre-season niggles picked up from the month’s break.
They’ll also take a video analyst along to monitor the matches with Bray and Shelbourne and feedback to Peter Houston, James McDonaugh and Alan Maybury.
“It’s all important for the preparation,” explained Robertson, who will stay behind and take the training sessions for the development squad.
“Shelbourne and Bray are decent opposition for us, which is good although it’s less about the result and more about the performance and work put in on trips such as this one.”
The Bairns head out on Wednesday and will check in to their countryside base before a pre-match meal and heading to meet Bray at New Carlisle Park. Following Saturday’s match in Dublin with Shelbourne they’ll have another night in Enfield before heading home to resume training at Westfield and a friendly with Albion Rovers.