Pre-season tours and trips away – what could possibly go wrong? Er, quite a lot actually, says Richard Edwards...
1) Spartak go off the rails
As anyone who’s spent any time on the Northern Line can attest, underground rail travel is soul-destroying. So when Spartak Moscow found their bus stranded on the way to the Luzhniki Stadium to play Inter and decided to hop on the rush-hour metro in 2006, it was always a recipe for disaster. Coach Vladimir Fedotov may have delivered a unique team talk in front of a carriage of cheering commuters, but his side conceded in the first minute and lost. At least they didn’t endure signal failure at Tooting Bec, mind.
2) Pompey take flight
With the club on the brink of implosion in July 2010, Pompey’s pre-season U.S. tour always seemed doomed to disaster – and lady luck did her worst, showering Steve Cotterill’s men lavishly with foul fortune. They endured a 42-hour trip to San Diego before a storm grounded them in Chicago. A 4-0 defeat to DC United – while wearing the opposition’s away kit, as theirs was lost in transit – seemed an apt way for it to end. “Painful,” concluded Cotterill.
3) Tangerine nightmare
Blackpool’s Christmas haul to Portsmouth in 1954 was an absolute rotter. “We had to take the bus from Blackpool to Preston, then a train from Preston to London, stay overnight in London, get up the next morning, get on a bus to Waterloo station where we took the train to Portsmouth,” grumbles Jimmy Armfield, before probably adding some stuff about sleeping in a hedge and cleaning his teeth with bark.
4) Thai’d in knots
There’s never an ideal time for your coach to conk out, but Bangkok, in a heatwave, with a full-blown riot going on, takes some beating. Peter Reid had that unique pleasure in October 2008 while managing Thailand. “It was 110 degrees and we were pushing the bus up a ramp,” remembers the gaffer. “And they were fighting outside the airport.” No wonder he later described the Plymouth bus – aka the Black Pastie – breaking down as a “walk in the park” in comparison.
5) Fight for your right to party
“Pipe down with that ruddy carnival, won’t you?” NEVER say this to a Rio resident: if you want to bother a Brazilian, tell them the party’s over. That’s what happened when the Selecao’s World Cup-winning victory parade was cut short in July 2002. One stop short of the Copacabana, the bus turned and headed home. Rocks rained down and players feared for their lives as the fun-hungry revellers became dangerously irked.