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TRAINING CAMP DIARY DAY 2: THORGE KNOWS JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING!

Training camp in Herzlake – FC St Pauli's pre-season preparations are underway! What goes on during the energy-sapping workouts and friendlies? And what happens in between? Each day, Colin from the club's media team brings you an informative and sometimes irreverent look at what it's like to be in training camp.

I don't know about you, but I slept like a log last night. The problem is my back feels the same way. Ow! That meant morning yoga stretches were the order of the day. At least for the Boys in Brown, who limbered up in the gym to some relaxing tunes in preparation for a busy second day of training in Herzlake.

Two high-intensity sessions were lined up for the players on Tuesday. In the morning, there was more athletic development and ball work in a series of passing drills and small-sided games. And in the afternoon, the focus switched to set pieces, where skill at throw-ins and tactical intelligence at corners isn't enough. You need savvy, too, whether you're attacking or defending. At any rate, the ball took centre stage. That might sound only logical, but in logistical terms, it's not that simple.

A total of 40 balls must be pumped up and ready for every session. Fortunately, some neat technical accessories are available to make this task a bit easier. Imagine if the players still had to pump the balls up by hand! With this touch of nostalgia, I am reminded of my less than illustrious football boyhood, when the stupid needle of the stupid pump would get stuck in the ball and when you pulled it out - all the effort was for nothing. Thankfully, that's not the case here.

But wait, logistics doesn't stop at footballs. The players have long and short-sleeved training shirts, shorts, and track-suit bottoms in all manner of sizes and colours, which adds up to a huge pile of laundry after every session. When I think back to my abortive career on the recreation ground again, my brand-new kit always looked like something from one of those washing-powder commercials. The 'before' version, that is.

Who deals with all this? Who makes sure the balls are inflated? Who makes sure the players have training gear and boots in the right size? And who makes sure everything is where it should be during the training sessions and friendlies? You guessed it, our kit managers, of whom we have three. One of them is in Herzlake and answers to the name of Thorge Blöcker. When it comes to removing grass stains from training gear and remembering which player wears what size kit, this guy is a walking encyclopaedia. Thorge knows just about everything!

It's also comforting to know that neither of us made it any further than Sunday league football. I feel you, bro! But how you get to become a kitman? "The Under-23s were looking for someone to look after the team and I just saw myself in that role," the 35-year-old explains. "I then moved up to the senior squad and have been at the club for six years now."

Here at training camp, Thorge's alarm clock sounds a bit later than usual. He starts work around seven, whereas back in Hamburg he kicks off the day by taking the dog for a long walk at about half past five – and why not? "I've always liked to get to the Kollau a bit earlier," he says. "When the early shift starts, the first thing I do is make coffee. That was especially important when André Trulsen was in charge. Things could get uncomfortable if there wasn't any coffee!"

As well as preparing the kit and the equipment, the job entails quite a lot of admin work. Organisation and procurement – logistics is the name of the game for a kit manager. "Everything has to be available," he explains. "Sometimes a player will pop by needing another bag or something. In general, we're like one big family, which is something I really appreciate about this job. And although I'm in the background, it's always fantastic to be able to experience moments like a derby win. They are absolute highlights."

Hopefully, there will be more special St. Pauli moments to come next season. But hold on, I have one last question. Which player always has the dirtiest kit after training? Thorge grins: "It depends on the weather. All I can say is that nothing, no shirts, no shorts, is ever left clean." Well, at least that's something I had in common with the professionals during my career on the rec (wink emoji!).

 

That's all for now. Best wishes from Herzlake!

Photos: FC St. Pauli/Witters

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