CRAIG LINDFIELD: I meet at a Little Chef for a lift, have breakfast in a pub and then watch a team-mate do a 'Klinsmann' through a freezing puddle in his underwear!
12:54 GMT, 16 January 2013
15:38 GMT, 16 January 2013
As Sportsmail's Footballers' Football Column continues to lift the lid on the lives of those who play, coach and administer the game, Accrington Stanley midfielder takes us through his typical week. A product of the famed Liverpool Academy, 24-year-old Lindfield has scored five times in 73 appearances for Stanley. Here's his take on life in League Two…
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(Sportsmail asked Lindfield to start his diary on December 13)
TRIBUTE: STANLEY'S MOST FAMOUS FAN… DAVID 'BUMBLE' LLOYD
'Craig is enjoying his second spell
with us and is a midfielder who has filled in really well at full back in
'He's a real team player who would do anything for this club,
including playing out of position if that's what we need.
'We are in a really
difficult situation at the moment and need committed players like Craig.
good lad and we are in safe hands with the likes
of him in our colours.'
Bumble is a cricket columnist for Sportsmail and played for Accrington Stanley Under 18s (second picture) before embarking on his cricket career.
8.45 am My day starts by meeting at the Little Chef to share a lift to training. In League Two, money is tight and finding a ‘car school’ is vital to save petrol.
It is my turn to drive and the lads hate my car, a Renault Megane convertible, with zero leg room in the back. I wouldn’t mind but Charlie Barnett is about four-feet tall. It’s a 45-minute journey and today I receive 45 minutes of abuse about my car.
9.30 am The lads arrive in their ‘car schools’, the usual banter about people’s choice of clothing is rife. The same old faces wearing the same embarrassing clothes.
Dean Winnard is the main culprit,
wearing his Diesel jeans with his Asics running shoes. Then it’s over to
the pub for breakfast, the owners are paid a monthly sum by the players
to provide us with breakfast and lunch.
have a bowl of Alpen, whereas some of the more adventurous members of
the squad have Nutella on toast, mainly Rommy Boco our Benin winger,. He
often tries to be different from us British lads with such acts.
is followed by a game of darts for Charlie Barnett, Padraig Amond and I
that ends in a rare win for Charlie, who only needs two darts at double
18. The dartboard is one of the perks, of having breakfast in a pub.
Youth club: Lindfield (left) with Adam Hammill celebrate Liverpool's 2006 FA Youth Cup victory over Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium
How they stand in npower League Two
11am Training today is indoors, the temperature is minus-three. We start with a possession circle and Peter Murphy has a season ticket as a chaser, as he’s constantly giving the ball away.
Then we have possession games, these got a bit ‘tasty’ and there is a real competitive edge, fuelled by some dodgy refereeing decisions from the staff.
The highlight was when Toto Nsiala, our 6ft 2in centre half, squealed like a girl when he got his little toe stood on.
1pm Back to the pub for our lunch and we are having pasta bolognese, I think Emma, the cook, may have got our food mixed up with their dogs today.
Some lads are rationed on food because yesterday there wasn’t enough to go round. Marcus Carver, a first year pro, ate a whole tray to himself. This didn’t go down well with some of the senior pros, to say the least.
2.30pm The gaffer (Leam Richardson) has called for a fitness session for the lads who have not played as much football recently. Unfortunately, as I share a lift, I have to wait in the Starbucks with Peter for our third member Charlie to be put through his paces.
4.30pm Arrive back to the meeting point after a journey of our creative midfielder Charlie Barnett rapping to 50 Cent, sometimes I think he’s in the wrong business.
Jan 12: Aldershot 2-0 Accrington
Jan 5: Accrington 0-2 Dag & Red
Jan 1: Accrington 1-0 Chesterfield
Dec 29: Rotherham 4-1 Accrington
Dec 26: Bradford 2-1 Accrington
Dec 22: Accrington 1-1 Plymouth
Dec 18: Oxford 2-0 Accrington
(FA Cup 2nd rnd)
Dec 15: Accrington 0-2 Wycombe
11am Today I had a lie-in as we didn’t have to report for training until 11am, this was to let the Astroturf thaw out to train outside.
Firstly we had a team meeting to take us through some clips showing the strengths and weaknesses of tomorrow’s opponents Wycombe.
Our physio Les Parry controls the laptop and as usual starts the session with a funny picture to lighten the mood.
Today it is as rude as ever – his banter is usually far more intelligent – but we don’t have the brightest of squads so he has to stoop to a very immature level to give the likes of Will Hatfield a chance to understand the joke.
Will is possibly the dumbest lad in football. One evening Padraig Amond said he was thinking about placing a bet on the horses, Will asked: 'It’s eight o’clock at night how can the horses see where they are going'
12pm The lads arrive for training at the local college, getting up there quickly is a must as parking spaces are limited and today Peter Murphy reversed into a grass verge when attempting a three-point turn after arriving last.
The starting XI is named by the gaffer and they are taken separately to go through set pieces while the remaining lads, who often call themselves the ‘bomb squad’, have a game of possession which is taken by coach, Paul Lodge.
Lodgey gets the short straw as he has to put up with the grumpy faces of us players who are not starting this week and today I’m unfortunately in this group.
It is freezing cold today and the southern softies, mainly Matty Whichelow, are really feeling the pain.
The Watford winger was heard on many occasions this morning saying: 'You can’t be serious, bruv'
All in the timing: Accrington's Craig Lindfield has kept his League Two diary for Sportsmail's Footballer' Football Column
The bosses: Accrington manager Leam Richardson (left) and player-coach James Beattie share a joke before the match at Northampton earlier this season
Third choice: Stanley's Padraig Amond (left) and Luke Joyce sport Accrington's new third away kit
1pm The lads have never been as grateful for the Accrington Stanley shower facilities as they are today, rushing to get our wet kit off and get the first places in our four available slots.
The worst part of the day has to be queuing for a shower and in today’s temperatures I made sure I was one of the first four. Whichelow decides to offer 50 to any player who is brave enough to provide the lads with some entertainment by performing a ‘Klinsmann dive’ on the pitch in the ice cold rain, the catch being they have to do it in just their undies.
Toto Nsiala has very little common sense and quick as a flash he’s out of the door, all the lads run out to see our big centre half slide head first straight through the biggest puddle on the pitch.
Everyone’s buzzing including Toto, until he realises that he is not getting his 50 as the lads back Matty up when he says he had his fingers crossed, Toto’s not happy and now has to queue back up for the showers!
11am It’s Saturday morning, game day, as it’s a home match I am only just waking up. I have my usual match-day breakfast of poached eggs on toast with brown sauce, made by my girlfriend as my cooking skills stretch to a piece of toast.
I watch Soccer AM, then put my tracksuit on, grab my wash bag and I’m on my way to meet the ‘car school’.
Meet the lads at the Little Chef and get into Charlie Barnett’s car
today, he has little legs so there is no fighting about getting the
front seat, because you have just as much room sat behind the little
My ‘car school’ usually arrives at the ground at 1pm on the day of a
home game, we don’t have to meet until 1.30pm, but we always allow some
time for traffic.
go on two of the quietest motorways, the M58 and M65, so delays are rare
but it’s better to be cautious. Good preparation is a vital ingredient
to success and I feel that it is important to have a routine on match
Not everyone has
the same preparation, I like to watch the early kick-off on the TV in
the home dressing room, read the match programme, and get changed pretty
I hate the
time between arriving at the ground and going out to warm-up, usually I
am one of the first changed and desperate to get out on the pitch.
are far more relaxed and take their time getting changed, Charlie
Barnett, Rommy Boco and Toto Nsiala are examples of this.
Stanley standards: Linfield's revelations show life in League Two is hard, fun and extremely professional
I’m usually kit on, boots and all, and then look to my left to see Charlie still in his tracksuit. We have the music on the speakers, James Beattie has his tunes on, occasionally we let the captain Luke Joyce have his music on, but he plays it very safe with a lot of David Guetta and for some reason won’t let the lads put his iPod on shuffle – we all know he has some awful songs though so it’s probably for the best.
I can’t imagine the boys being motivated for the game by listening to The Kooks or Take That. Some of the lads get pre-match massages, Murph must be the stiffest 23-year-old around because he gets one every game.
Some people have superstitions such as Podge (Padraig Amond) who has a picture of his girlfriend on his shin pads and wears a bobble of hers round his wrist, but each to their own and all that…
2pm Gaffer names the team and subs, usually we know the starting XI from the day before. Then he gives information such as which people are to mark from set pieces, once the opposition’s team sheet is in.
2.15pm Go out for the warm up. Match-day warm-up is taken by Lodgey and is the same for every game, jog, stretches, passing drill, possession and five minutes of individual work.
3pm Kick-off, all the work and preparation during the weeks training is geared to the next 90 minutes and this is where we have to earn our money and keep our shirt.
We don’t get the biggest gates but Stanley Ultras are the best and most loyal fans you could ask for and it’s a great feeling to walk out onto the pitch for the start of the game.
Unfortunately the team have a bad day at the office and concede two first-half goals without reply. In the second half Wycombe are reduced to 10 men, but despite some late pressure, the ball just would not fall to a Stanley man inside the oppositions penalty box.
We lose the match 2-0 and the lads are very down.
Head boy: Lindfield climbs high to beat Dagenham's Luke Wilkinson to the ball
5pm Gaffer has his full-time team talk, some managers like to go into detail straight after games, but Leam Richardson prefers to keep this initial assessment very brief and watch the video before he speaks to us at more length in the following days.
One of the worst feelings in football is a defeat, especially a home defeat and the sound of silence in our changing room in comparison to the loud music and laughter coming from the visitors changing room is a sound that makes you sick to the stomach.
5.15pm After the race for the showers comes the race for some food, the pizzas are brought into the changing room, and if you’re not quick you may not get many slices.
As a general rule of thumb the lads know to make sure the starting XI have all eaten a slice before they tuck in. Then it's tracksuit back on and depart in our separate ‘car schools’.
9.15am Meet the lads at the Little Chef and pile into Murph’s car, I think he’s the worst driver out of our ‘car school’ so I make sure I keep my eyes open for the duration of today’s trip.
10am The day after a game we generally do one of two things either go to the gym and split into two groups, lads who play cool down and the rest of the lads do some fitness work or we come to the ground for some video analysis.
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Today we meet at the ground and watch the DVD of yesterday’s match. It’s never enjoyable to relive defeats and as a player it has to be one of the hardest things to do but it is important that you can take criticism the right way and learn from the mistakes, because watching it again is all geared to improving and not repeating the same errors in the next game.
It’s a common name in football: ‘video nasty’ but we do watch DVD’s of positive results too, analysis and statistics are vital components of the modern game.
Different gaffers have their own way of approaching these sessions, some like to just dictate to the players but our gaffer Leam likes the players to have their say and is very open to our opinions.
Today it isn’t pleasant viewing but a lot of issues are addressed and with a massive FA Cup fixture coming up on Tuesday night it’s good to clear the air and stick together and be positive.
A short memory is a must in football, as you don’t have time to sulk after setbacks as the games come thick and fast.
12.30pm We go out on to the pitch to do some light training. We do a warm-up and a circle of keep ball, a passing drill and finish with some crossing and shooting.
It’s an enjoyable session, Luke Clark is ‘on fire’ crossing with his weaker left foot but James Gray blasts two out of the ground, the stand behind the goal is only 10-rows deep, but it still takes some doing to clear it.
1.30pm Leave training and with it all the negative thoughts from the weekend.
8.45am Meet the lads at the usual meeting place and put some diesel in as it’s my drive today. We decide to treat ourselves today and get a coffee for the journey.
9.30am Just arrived with the ‘car school’ to training in my Megane, surprisingly not much moaning about the lack of leg room today.
Over to the pub for breakfast, the mood among the lads is a positive one, the weekend defeat is a forgotten occurrence now. No darts today, a shorter breakfast as there is a team meeting at 10.30 in preparation for the biggest game of our season so far.
10.30am The reward for a victory is a lucrative tie in the FA Cup third round at home to Sheffield United and a sum of money that will keep the club away from financial trouble for the next 12 months at least.
The gaffer takes the meeting and talks us through the shape that we will be playing.
11.15am We then go out on the pitch and put it into practice what has been said. Some of the lads struggle to understand on a screen and find it easier when stood on the pitch in the positions this is the reason for the two methods being used.
We then play an 11 v 11 match on the pitch and the side in bibs are set up in the same formation that the manager expects the opposition to play tomorrow.
Then we play freely until a situation occurs where the manager or coach feels a coaching point is necessary to help should it arise in the game the next day.
This is tough for a player on the bibs team because it usually means you are not starting the game, but you are very important to help the lads who are starting as you will be instructed to play like the opposition and help prepare the starting team for what they are to expect to come up against.
In a football squad we win together and we lose together and everyone is behind one another. We finish by taking penalties. Obviously you cannot replicate the pressure involved on the night, but Beatts (James Beattie) of all people was one of the few to miss in practice. Today though there is no messing about, everyone is focused on the importance of tomorrow’s match.
1.30pm Cottage pie for lunch with peas and gravy, at least this is what it was meant to resemble, I think. Then once the gaffer passes a couple of sheets with the squad to travel and details of times and meeting points, its time to go home and prepare for the biggest game this season to date.
The club that wouldn't die: Players of Accrington Stanley and Fulham walk out ahead of their 2010 FA Cup tie
1.15pm Meet the coach on the M6 junction 19 at the Windmill pub, pay 5 to park and jump on the bus. Today is FA Cup day and an away fixture with Oxford United.
Usually the lads take their own pre-match meal, but today we are stopping at a hotel near to Oxford’s stadium to have pre-match laid on for us.
2.30pm Been on the bus an hour now and most people are doing different things: Will Hatfield is listening to his iPod and tweeting the world, he loves his Twitter account and never puts his phone down; Peter Murphy is trying to win promotion back to the Premier League and is concentrating all his focus on this (on Football Manager of course); Rommy Boco is spending hours on the phone talking French, him and Ian Dunbavin usually play cards together but Bavo is injured and I think Rommy is a bit lost without him. The majority of the other lads are watching DVDs, Beattie never buys his own he’s always lending them off Luke Joyce.
No bad food (e.g. sweets and chocolate) are allowed on the trip only healthy snacks such as fruit and yoghurts, but the odd chocolate bar is usually knocking about, I’m not going to grass anyone up though…
5pm Pre-match at the hotel, some lads eating more than others, but everyone having the standard chicken, pasta and vegetables, I usually have a coffee too.
6pm Once we have all eaten we have a brief meeting about the game, where the Gaffer runs through some small details, then we all pile back on the coach to the ground.
By now everyone’s mind is totally focused on the game, all the individual bits and bobs are placed away and the majority of lads have headphones in listening to music and visualising what they are going to do on the pitch.
This is usually the time that sees a lot of water being drunk to keep hydrated, our bottles are like shot glasses so Naz the kit man is usually up and down passing them round every two minutes.
Old struggles: Mrs Sarah Dewhirst taking away the washing machine from the club's former Peel Park ground at Accrington after the club was forced to resign from the league in 1962
6.30pm Arrive at the Kassam Stadium, all the players go out to inspect the pitch and see what type of stud you are going to wear. It’s a chance to stretch our legs after the journey, and gives the kit man a chance to lay the kit out.
7pm We have been listening to Joycey’s rubbish music now for too long and everyone is about ready to get out the changing rooms to warm-up.
Beatts likes to do some stretching before we go out, I like to get changed quickly then sit and relax before I go out, others like Dean Winnard get fired up and loud even at this early stage, everyone has different routines.
7.45pm After a quick run through set pieces and some final words of advice from the coaching staff and manager, we are sent out to battle, this is our livelihood, this is what makes all the training and hard work worthwhile, we now have 90 minutes to win a football match.
All the preparation has been geared towards this moment and this is the best part of being a footballer at any level.
10pm We lost the game 2-0 and we are out of the Cup. We had some injuries to key players and it’s a bitter pill to swallow, this results in a very disheartened and quiet bus journey home.
The lads tuck into the pizzas that are on the bus and the journey drags on much longer than on the way there.
The bus has a very different atmosphere after a win, loud music lots of laughter and banter, but tonight is unrecognisable to the likes of that.