Day 5: Monday 21st July 2014Straight into training again for the players after yet another bread-based breakfast, about which Matt Grimes is pulling his hair out. Actually, take that back, he’s gone a bit quiet on it. Reckon the players are becoming Brazilian and just letting any snags just flow over them.
In the regular daily meeting, Tis was asking the players who the worst player on show the night before when Flu played Santos. Young Ollie Watkins got the wrong match and nominated Matt Jay. Nice to know who your friends are. He’s been asking about getting a haircut since we got here. He is looking messy (look at the photos coming back to you, you’ll see). It must have grown over his ears.
Whilst they were training, Taggy, Bruce and I tried vainly to do some work at the Academy. We were up against the dual enemies of the weak wifi and the busting apart of data limits on phones. Taggy just can’t cope without a device to play with! Joke suggestions on a postcard please.
En route into Rio
Once sorted after a bean and rice lunch, actually very tasty, we hopped onto a coach for a few hours in Rio. Sadly it was one of those traffic days in Rio and we spent a couple of hours in Rio on the bus! It was the second one we used to make the trip. On the way into Rio, a crack in a side window just splintered and the whole window went.
Looking up at Christ the Redeemer
Amazingly a second coach was with us in minutes and we continued, some to be dropped off on Ipanema beach, some of us at the cable car up to Sugar Loaf Mountain. What an experience! Just a shame the time lost travelling meant we had less time at the top. The views are stunning. I could spend days up there. Rio is vast. The natural harbour is just huge. You can see how the original travelling Grecians in 1914 would have been impressed by its beauty. Those chaps on Ipanema being beaten at foot volleyball by the young female team missed out on something special. I’d love to go back up – 62 Real (£18) well spent.
The boys pose for a photo
At the same time, our assistant Luan was taking Tis and Mel up into a favela, plonked on the side of a hill/mountain. It was an experience, they said, to witness how people live and the ironies of Rio and Brazil, in fact, is that in the middle of the favela there was a brand new 3G artificial football pitch! Sadly it’s a bit far to come in the winter when Newton Abbot is unavailable.
Not only that but there was a little coffee outlet serving capucchino. It’s all higgledy-piggeldy says Mel. The new, the old and the rich, the poor all in the same place.
Heading up Sugar Loaf mountain
Had a great meat feast in the evening. Eric’s wife (thank you!) treated us to dinner at a restaurant near Ipanema. Luckily we were tipped off that one meal would serve two or even three people so the slabs of meat that arrived weren’t in the end over the top. The latest reason for a late night was that it did take rather a while to serve us (yes, getting used to it now) so the coach was sitting waiting for us for a while. How about that for a novelty? Are we now Brazilian?
Day 1 – Destination: Rio
Day 2 – Heathrow–Frankfurt–Rio–Xerem
Day 3 – Flying into the centenary match
Day 4 – 100 years in the making
Day 6 – Project visit in Juiz de Fora