‘The lyrics might be an 18 certificate’ – Tom Pope on training, tests and an offer to Robbie Williams



It was the hottest day of the year and five months since we’d played a match when we had our first little taste of football again this week.

We played an in-house game on Wednesday, four 10 minutes, and it’s been tough – really tough.

You feel the heat but you don’t feel as tired and leggy when you’re actually playing a game compared to going out and running. And we’ve been doing quite enough running over the last couple of weeks. You always feel it worse when you haven’t got a ball at your feet and all you have to think about is dragging one foot in front of the other.

It was nice to get that going, nice to feel that surge of competitiveness.

Rusty? Well, we’re all in the same boat. No one can complain in League One or League Two because lockdown’s been the same for everyone. There are no excuses.

To get this far we had to have our Covid-19 tests last week. A fair few of you might have had one by now and won’t need reminding that it’s not very nice to get a cotton bud tickling your tonsils and then the same thing shoved up your nose.

It’s not painful but it’s not pleasant and I’d rather have an injection. But the good news was that everyone came back negative and that allowed us to crack on.

It’s our first friendly this weekend, against Blackpool, but while it’s nicer to get a game and easier than just working with poles and cones, it’d be wrong to think that I was buzzing.

What I’m missing is the match when there are points on the line – and what I’m really missing is a chance to play in front of our fans again.

You want the fans. That’s what makes football. Firstly, at our level it’s so important for income compared to the Premier League clubs who can survive with prize money and TV rights. Everyone in League Two needs ticket sales.

As a player, though, it’s what separates professional football from park football and playing in front of five men and a dog. There is nothing like running out and scoring in front of five, 10, 15 thousand supporters.

The world’s got to carry on and it’ll be better to have football in some form than not at all but I can’t wait for people to be allowed in grounds and hopefully it will happen as soon as possible.

We’ve seen this week that we’re still selling season tickets, even when no one knows how or when they’ll actually be able to use them.

We’ve said a million times how great our fans are but this is unreal. It’s about supporting the club and Carol (Shanahan). Everyone trusts her, everyone wants to help. If she says we need something then we’ll all jump. It shows the relationship that is so special between club, players, owners, and fans.

In years gone by would we have sold 2,000 season tickets in this situation? Thanks to everyone, it’s a special thing to be part of.

I LIKE our new home kit and you’ll all really like the away one when you see it. It’s lovely.

It’s black and white but it’s fair to say that Robbie Williams and Carol Shanahan have designed something different. I think it’s going to be one of those retro shirts like the Kalamazoo one that will go down in history. It’ll stand out when people look back.

Now Robbie has done us a favour, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t need anything off me in return.

I could write a good song, I reckon, but I couldn’t sing it… and the lyrics might need an 18 certificate. If he needs a hand, I’m here.

IT HAS been interesting to see the reaction to the punishment for Macclesfield Town this week.

I know it’s unfair on players and fans to see the club have points deducted and relegated but you just can’t run a football club that way.

What I would like to see happen in situations like this is for the EFL or the FA to step in and take the club back. If players and bills aren’t being paid, the fans should be given something like a three-month period to find someone suitable, with support during that time from the football world.

You can’t wait for a club to go bust until you find out there are people willing to take it on, people who are dedicated to running it sensibly.

If you don’t pay your mortgage your house will get repossessed but a football club is so important to a local community. There’s a couple of thousand people who love that club and they’ll carry on going whatever level they’re playing at.

It is disappointing that it took until pre-season to sort out the Macclesfield situation. It’s been a long-running problem.

It highlights how we’re very lucky now. We’ve got owners who are looking after more people than you can imagine – despite coming in at a terrible time for the world and economy – and there isn’t a single person you could find who’d have a bad word to say.

They’ve done everything from fund players to help underprivileged kids and people thrive off that generosity. We’ve got a leader.





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