Day 5 – Monday 30 May 2016.
It was tough to get out of bed this morning, with most people being weary and aching from yesterday’s game or was it just from the after match social. As with every day so far on this tour, we were keen to make the most of the time we have over here in the USA, so there was no time to feel sorry ourselves.
With one win behind us it was time to relax and head in to Washington DC. Photographs and TV shows do not do this extraordinary place justice. The Americans know exactly how to honour a tragic loss and celebrate patriotism. We parked the bus and walked towards The Needle and The War Memorial Monument. The views were beautiful and it was surprisingly quiet for Memorial Weekend.
We moved on past The Martin Luther King Memorial towards The White House, some of the team managed to catch a glimpse of Barack Obama going “home” in a huge convoy of armoured vehicles. From there we headed over to the Pool of Reflection and The Lincoln Memorial. I’ve seen both in a lot of films, but having never been there before, the experience itself was so surreal.
For me all of the sights were beautiful but I think the best part was walking around wearing the British Army Badge on our chests. The amount of times we were stopped and asked about our tour, asked about why we were there, and thanked for our service was unreal. There is such a sense of pride and admiration with regards to the military over here. It really does make you feel proud to serve.
From Washington we set off on the long drive to our next stop in Brooklyn, ready to start preparing for our game against New York City. We didn’t get to our hotel until late so once we had done all of our admin and had a little walk around the neighbourhood it was time to get some rest in preparation for the game the next day.
Day 6 – Tuesday 31 May 2016
So it’s game day!!
We awoke in the most glorious hotel (NOT), which is part of the Days Inn chain. This example is not the most salubrious and obviously rents rooms by the hour and apparently has no understanding of cannabis abuse laws – affectionately known to the team as “The Weed House” or “The Bonking House”. I am sure that the head of the Days Inn chain would not be happy to have the corporate name attached to this place.
At 0900 hrs we wandered to a park, with great views of NYC, where a relaxing, recovery yoga session took place, lead by the team physio, Lucy Cornish. The team displayed a great range of flexibility, some more than others, particularly some of the management. We even had some locals decide to join in with us.
On our return to the hotel we had some down time. Opposite the hotel there is a Fire Department of New York Fire House. We met some of the fire fighter heroes and arranged a squad photo a little later in the afternoon. It was really interesting to talk these guys, as their fire house had responded to the awful events on 9/11 as they are only 3 miles from Ground Zero. As is often the way, at the arranged time, the fire truck was on a call and we had to wait. We did get a team photo taken when the fire truck returned.
We then all had a few hours to go and explore the wonderful Brooklyn. We met again at 16:00 hrs to make our way to a team meal at a Sicilian restaurant where we all filled our bellies with pasta ready for the game at 21:00 against NYC. We played at the most amazing location in Manhattan, called Pier 40 which is a stone’s throw from Ground Zero. The venue sticks out into the River and affords amazing views of the Manhattan skyline.
After the game our hosts walked us to an Irish bar where we were welcomed with a warm reception and some great tasting pizzas that disappeared all too quickly.
Congratulations to our forward of the match Fran Athawes and back of the match Dani Phan…great game ladies.
Day 7 – Wednesday 01 June 2016
Despite the late night, everyone woke up in high spirits and raring to move on to New Jersey for our next match. By 0900 the buses were loaded and we made the fairly short trip out of New York City to our new hotel in South Plainsfield. Compared to the previous accommodation this felt like luxury, and the team quickly settled in.
After some lunch, we took our first trip over to the pitch where we’d be playing The All American Collegiate All-stars (USA U23’s) in 3 days time. The reality of playing two games in four days was starting to set in, so it was a relief for everyone to have another recovery yoga session with the Physio Lucy. Feeling nicely stretched out, there was some high ball practice and a game of “Rugby Rounders”, which somehow despite our exhaustion quickly turned into a contact sport.
After a fairly hectic few days everyone was keen to relax in the evening, with most people having dinner and an early night, though a few girls did manage to muster up the energy for a spot of Karaoke. Refreshed from a day of relative rest, thoughts were firmly turned towards preparation for the game ahead.
Day 8 – Thursday 02 June 2016
Despite the constant heat, humidity and early mornings. The morale of the squad remains high. Everybody is excited about the potential of pulling on the red jersey for the upcoming fixture against the All American Collegiate All Stars (USA U23s).
It was another training day today. The coach, Capt Glyn Barraclough wanted to capitalise on the recent wins by conducting a position specific contact session in the morning. The afternoon session was slightly less arduous; a video analysis of the last two fixtures. The primary focus was the teams improvements and the need for positional awareness, groundwork and defensive play.
Special thanks go to WO1 (RSM) Rob Russell who’s continued effort in recording our fixtures and training has allowed us to develop by identifying our strengths and areas for improvement.
In order to gain further intelligence on the opposition USA (U23) Cpl Leonard and WO1 (RSM) Russell attempted to execute a Close Target Reccy by means of leopard crawling through the neighbouring bushes into enemy territory. Unfortunately the Reccy didn’t go to plan, when Cpl Leanord and WO1 Russell where spotted by USA head coach. They then tactically withdrew back to the squad with no intelligence and feeling slightly embarrassed.
There has been very little down time In between training for the coaches as they have constantly been providing individual player profiling, which has been of great value to the players.
The day ended with the squad visiting a variety of eateries, with some ending up in a Karaoke bar, only to be disappointed as there was no Karaoke