A guide to pre-season friendlies

by Mystical Mike

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

It’s that time of year again when your team heads out to the most remote of locations to play out a meaningless goalless draw against the local non league pub side. So what’s the point pf the pre-season friendly? Is it worth parting with a fiver to watch your whole squad take on Kettering Town?

On Saturday alone, the football results brought up more bizarre names than you find in the first qualifying round of the Inter-toto-Johnstones-Paint-Shield. Tranmere saw of Marine 4-0 whilst Stockport overcame Cammell Laird 3-2. Meanwhile, Darlington managed a draw against the mighty, and I kid you not, Norton and Stockton Ancients!

So is there really a point in going to these games? There’s certainly a NEED for them for the players to get fit, for match practice etc etc but who goes to these strolls in the park, which is basically what they turn out to be? Even if the scorelines are close, as in Norton and Stockton Ancients’ best ever result at the weekend, was, you still get a snails’ pace of a game with no real inclination of what the season will hold.

Yet, each pre-season, plenty of hardy souls rush out to Lincoln (United), (AFC) Wimbledon and Newcastle (Town) to see their heroes take to the park. I’ve been one of those people before and I can’t explain why I used to trek to the outskirts of Northampton to Raunds every summer. I think it comes down to just wanting to watch some football again, even though there’s a month to go until the season.

So for anyone like me, or anyone even thinking about going to a friendly in the coming week, here’s a safe set of rules to go by as you pass through the turnstiles (well, car parks at least)…


Thou shalt not worry if you don’t score ten past faversham town…

Gillingham beat Faversham 8-0 over the weekend but the number one rule is don’t start grumbling if the goals aren’t going in and you’re not five up by half time. Pre-season games are generally nothing more than passing exercises and you’ll not see many goals.


Thou shalt never buy hot dogs…

Traveling to the outskirts of nowhere to see your side means dodgy territory food wise most of the time. If there’s a McDonalds nearby (there is near Raunds), that’s your best bet.


Thou shalt never judge a big win…

If your side does manage to get a 12-2 win because the home sides’ keeper a) doesn’t show up or b) is Neville Southall, don’t get too excited. It does not mean you’re about to win the treble because you’ve just beaten Heybridge Swifts.


Thou shalt always park far away…

Don’t take your car anywhere near the ground if you’re playing a non-league side with no stands. Generally the car parks are near the ground and any wayward shot from the big forward threatens your vehicles’ existence.


Thou shalt take precautions…

One for pre-season and for general life, think of it as a bonus piece of advice if you like. Don’t, if you don’t like. Anyway, where was I? Ah, pre-season, yes. Take precautions in case the game gets dull, which, lets face it, it will. A local newspaper perhaps, to identify the new signings.


Thou shalt never be fooled by giveaways…

Just a personal one now from an experience at Kettering Town a few years back. A big free giveaway was taking place at half-time and we were all wondering what the prize would be as we watched the first goalless half. It turned out to be nothing more, nothing less, than…a light bulb.

So there’s your survival kit for the pre-season. I hope you all have good fun and look forward to getting the real action going on August 9th!

** Norton and Stockton Ancients are in the Arngrove Northern League Division Two, along with the likes of Esh Winning, Brandon United and Jarrow Roofing.**


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  • Jamie Farrier

    Superb article, and mainly because some of those stories are a bit too insane to be true. Though I can see where you’re coming from with Neville Southall.

    Best pre-season I ever went to was Kingstonian v Chelsea, which was a regular friendly during the mid-nineties. The place was packed to the rafters, and we’re talking about a time when Chelsea’s definition of lavish overseas talent was Erland Johnson.

    Even when Kevin Hitchcock (back-up to the Russian mullet wonder himself, Dimitri Kharine) went off injured, you would never see such a hoard of teenage fans mob a reserve ‘keeper in they way the locals set upon him. Even seeing David Rocastle in the flesh had a sense of awe and wonder to it.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    thou shalt wear a hat to avoid getting half of ones face and body sunburnt, this will remove the act of being laughed at by the whole company on Monday morning!

  • http://aloadofcobblers.blogspot.com Danny Brothers

    Speaking from experience Darren?

    The friendlies do bring you closer to the big names if you follow a smaller side…I remember Arsenal reserves shacking up at Sixfields and Tony Adams being mobbed before he gave away the winning goal.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    sure am, it was Barnet v Arsenal, a beautiful sunny day, I was stood half under the stand hence why half my body was burnt and the rest wasn’t. Crazy days!!

    The thing that always happens in these friendlies is you turn up expecting to see your brand new signing yet you end up seeing the under 18’s, that’s Wenger for you!

  • dexylongshot

    Actually, i wouldn’t mind paying a fiver to see Wengers under 18s. He has the best young squad in the country if he called all his loanees back. Fran Merida……..
    mark my words, give it another couple of years, wallop!!!!

    As for my pre=-season ritual, it’s Upton park to see Villareal next week. Will be good to see Freddie Sears in action……
    mark my words, give him another couple of years, wallop!!!!

    Anyone seen Biancas eldest in Eastenders, mark my words………

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    ok, it’s only a friendly and crap opposition, but how good did Nicholas Bentner look in Arsenals 2-10 victory this evening?

    A hat-trick for Carlos Vela too. Lets hope he’s as good in the Premier League!!

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