While Falkirk’s pre-season training camp might not be ‘Full Metal Jacket’ in its intensity it’s still an eye-opener to military discipline.
The Bairns marched in to accommodation in Aldershot barracks earlier this week, and while they’re not required to don military fatigues or spend their mornings polishing boots, players and coaching staff have still been expected to follow some of the Army’s notoriously strict rules and regulations while on site.
There’s no lounging around in tracksuits and flip-flops in the dining room, for example. Shirts and trousers is the minimum standard of dress required.
The players are also expected to ensure their rooms are kept to a decent standard.
The trip to Aldershot was arranged by former manager Gary Holt before he departed Westfield to return to Norwich City as a coach. Holt, famously, was a serving soldier before becoming a professional footballer, and remained an admirer of the Army’s conditioning and fitness training.
New Bairns boss Peter Houston might not have organised the trip but he still values it as an excellent pre-season get-together, which offers his recent new recruits the chance to get to know their teammates.
“The timing of the trip was perfect for us, with the new lads getting the chance to travel down and get to know everyone,” Houston told Heraldsport from the Aldershot camp.
“We’ve been doing a lot of ball work, not just focusing on fitness.”
There’s been the
opportunity for some more fun activities as well, with several players taking up the chance to try out some pellet gun target shooting.
On a more serious side, Falkirk played their second pre-season friendly of the summer when they took on their Army hosts. Neither side was at full-strength, with Houston fielding a team of young prospects, with the addition of experienced first-teamers Conor McGrandles and Olumide Durojaiye.
The Bairns ran-out 4-0 winners against the Army XI, thanks to a hat-trick from Botti Bia-bi and a strike from second half substitute Blair Alston.
“I wasn’t purely concerned with the performance,” explained Houston afterwards. “What I asked from them was to work hard throughout the 90 minutes. Results in pre-season don’t matter to me, they never have done.
“If I’m honest, we should have scored more goals, given the number of chances that we created. So that’s given us something to work on.”
Houston knows his players will face a much tougher test when they face Woking on Saturday at Kingsfield Stadium in Surrey.
The Cardinals might play in the Conference Premier -
English football’s fifth tier - but the budgets available to many Conference clubs far outstrips the majority of Scottish clubs outwith the
Woking, who finished ninth last season, can rely upon such experienced pros at striker Scott Rendell, who has scored goals for a variety of League One and Two clubs, and former West Ham youth graduate Josh Payne.
“It will be a good work out for the squad,” said Houston, who is likely to field as many as 20 of his players in the game.
“Woking play at a decent level and we will not be underestimating them.”
Houston does not expect to conclude any further player transfers while he remains in the south of England, but does admit he hopes to bring in at least two more players.
“I’m delighted with the quality of the players I have been able to bring in,” he said.
“A few quid has went out the door to do so, and I will have to discuss with the board about making other signings. But yes, I would like to make a couple of more.”