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2017 tour to Valencia

During the half-term break a party of 49 students and five staff departed from the school in the middle of the night for a football development tour in Valencia. The collapse of Monarch airline put the tour on hold for a few days but ultimately, it only meant a rescheduled flight from Luton to Barcelona and then a four hour transfer down the coastal E15 motorway to the 4 star Hotel Mas Camerena, which was about a fifteen minute walk from our training facilities in Valencia CF’s Ciudad Deportiva de Paterna complex. The touring party enjoyed fantastic weather and the considerable expertise of Valencia CF’s staff over five 90 minute coaching sessions, which improved their overall game and helped them to compete against some talented local clubs.

Eight games were played in total, with three won, three lost and two drawn. Everyone played to their full potential, putting into practice skills and moves developed earlier on the training ground. From these games, ‘Man of the Match’ awards went to Matt Leatherdale, Joe Woolley, Sam Dibble, Anand Dosanjh, Oscar Tuvey, Dan Kingman, Diggory Lynch and James Farrelly. A further award went to Charlie Curtis for the ‘Goal of the Tour’; a thumping shot from twenty five yards which soared into the top corner of the net, with many in the touring party of the belief that this strike was not actually as spectacular as his viciously ‘whipping and dipping’ free-kick from the edge of the box during the same game. A special mention should go to Matt Leatherdale, who somehow managed to put the ball into his own goal five times over three games, despite being one of the stand-out players of the tour. Dan Buxton also performed brilliantly, pulling off some tremendous saves and avoiding defeat in the four games that he stood between the sticks.

Highlights of the trip included a tour of Valencia CF’s Mestalla stadium and a visit to the nearby Heron City entertainment complex, where we had our fill of fast grub at a Frankie and Bennyesque restaurant, followed by a game of 10-pin bowling when Nick Martlew showcased his ‘curve ball’. Even more memorable was our arrival at the Camp Nou in the middle of a thunder storm for Barcelona’s Champions League game against Olympiakos. This featured the world’s best footballer finding the net in a comfortable 3-1 victory against the lacklustre Greeks. A guided tour on the final day in torrential rain descended into a farce. After a short stop to take in the city views from the enchanting Museu Nacional d’Art Catalunya, a quick traipse around the imposing Sagrada Familia left us all soaked to the skin. Fortunately, the weather was far too wet and miserable in Catalonia’s capital for the independence movement to campaign during our brief stay and we made it to the airport for a change of clothes before departure, without any sign of civil war. Sing-song of the tour was a toss-up between ‘September’ by Earth, Wind and Fire and numerous renditions on the coach, in the rain, hotel dining room and on the training ground of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, to mark Michael Choi’s coming of age. It was only after we got home that the teaching staff discovered his birthday wasn’t for another three weeks! The trip proved to be a great success, despite some re-arranged logistics and contrasted nicely with the weekly chaos of Friday night football back at the school.