The Saddlers in the Peak District...THE SADDLERS took advantage of our free weekend with a two-day team-building and problem-solving trip to the Peak District.
The challenges began in earnest as the players were asked to make their own way to the meeting point deep in the Derbyshire countryside complete with packed lunch and walking gear.
A seven-mile hike was an ideal way to digest breakfast as the lads had to overcome numerous obstacles along the way, including a charging horse and a marauding sheep, which scattered the group even though the animals involved were probably more scared of us than we were of them!
There were a few fallers along the way, including Richard O’Kelly whose fall was broken by Intern, Hannah Price’s shoulder, but eventually the group made it to the highest point on the Roaches in one piece where lunch was taken.
It took three and-a-half hours to complete the hike as Jon Whitney’s infamous map reading skills reared its ugly head once more.
Back at base, the Mermaid Inn, the players were split into four groups. One group was responsible for all of the cooking, another group looked after the cleaning whilst the other two groups had to organise a pool and table football tournament.
Having tucked into Shepherd’s Pie with treacle sponge for dessert, the evening was spent with various team-building challenges and quizzes taking place.
There was an early start for breakfast the following morning before a bracing three-mile hike and then a series of group tasks blew away any cobwebs.
A de-brief from Dean Smith and Richard O’Kelly rounded off what had been an extremely productive and worthwhile couple of days.
“The attitude of everyone involved was fantastic,” said manager, Dean Smith. “There were no negatives; each challenge was faced head on and the application of the lads was superb throughout.
“It was a great opportunity for us to step out of our normal routine and take the players away from their comfort zones.
“They all got stuck in and even though the weather wasn’t kind to us, it was an enjoyable experience.
“We can use the skills learned on the trip as a springboard for the second half of the season. There were situations throughout the two days where they had to adapt and also work together as a team, qualities that will stand us in good stead.
“I would like to thank everyone at The Mermaid Inn for their hospitality and help in making our stay such a successful one.”
As ever, Senior Physiotherapist, Jon Whitney, played a key role in developing the Itinerary. “We all returned home unscathed and refreshed, which is the main thing,” he said. “It was a tough couple of days, but enjoyable at the same time.
“The togetherness that already exists here was strengthened ever further and it was an alternative way of coaching without stepping onto a football field.
“One of the key things was to be able to get away to a different and scenic environment and for everyone to get to know each other away from the club.
“We got a lot out of the trip and now we will return with a high tempo session on Thursday as we prepare to get back into action at the weekend.”
Look out for a collection of photos from the trip, which will appear in the Matchday Programme for our game against Brentford on January 18th.