Many boys from the A and B team set off bright and early for a very intense yet enjoyable tour to Villarreal. How will they cope upon high levels of intensity in games and an extremely tiering schedule? 

Upon arrival to our hotel and filling our plates with Paella or for Jimmy Bristow (A team Centre-Back) a full plate of chips with pasta. A combination that Jamie Oliver would add to one of his books. We went over to the local beach where we supposedly played a, ‘friendly game’ of football against each other in the biggest rivalry known to exist; also known as the A’s vs B’s. Quickly upon kickoff, the idea of football was scrapped as the A’s had ‘parked their bus’ digging up trenches along their goal line turning a game of football into trench warfare, proving to be an excellent form of defence. Even though the main man himself- Jose Mourinho would approve of this, we came to a realisation that this tactic couldn’t be used in our two upcoming games against challenging Spanish sides. 
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After an, ‘early night’ things had got very ‘real’ very quick. A 90 minute training session lead by Villarreal coaches themselves had tuned us up and prepped us efficiently for our first set of games on tour. A long coach journey had set us off to the beautiful city of Valencia. Consequently we had gone onto the pitches seeing a group of under 7’s warming up opposite us; bringing smiles upon all the players faces as the thought of a tikki taka style of football from a classical Spanish team wasn’t a thought that had encountered us. However, we were quick to know that we were on the wrong pitch and we are going to play two teams who were our age. These Spanish teams may have a tikki takka style of play but would they be able to handle a good old fashioned Hampton Press? 

The A’s had kicked off and discovered that our press was too good to handle leading us to score early on. After further domination Alex DiSoccio ( A team Attacking Midfielder) and Matt Moffat (A team Defensive Midfielder) decide to turn Spanish momentarily playing a few short passes amongst themselves into the opponents box and scoring. A goal that would have made Xavi and Iniesta reconsider their status as the best passers. After constant battling the game ended in a convincing 3-0 win for Hampton. The B’s had an extremely tight contest with some intense end to end style of football. Unfortunately despite encouragement from the A team belting out, “#Conor is my Captain!” Nothing came from the game ending in a tough 0-0 draw. Lots to be learnt and taken forward into our next game versus the Villarreal academies. Despite the thought of our next game we collectively performed our own concert on the coach back with the music being DJ’d by Adam Coombs (A team Striker), Harley McKenzie (A team winger) and Stanley Cumming (B team Midfielder). Luckily, no one in Spain mistook us for the Voices of Lions but probably more as the Voices of Kittens. Should we make a feature in Glastonbury? Probably not. We should stick to football which fortunately we did.

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On our final full day after a tiering training session we went to Villarreals’ stadium and had a tour. During the tour we were lucky enough to catch a few words from Cristiano Ronaldo, also known as Ben Robinson (A team Winger) or Benaldo, as we like to call himself after performing a few of Ronaldos’ very own skills. We were only lucky enough to ask him one question as we had a special guest appearing soon. The question we were lucky to ask him was, “How is life as Benaldo?” which he replied in an articulate fashion, “It’s good.” Cristiano Benaldo was quickly kicked off as we saw the entrance of our special guest, the infamous Joseph Tracey (A team Striker) from Hampton courageously stepping up onto the stage. Before we even managed to ask a question began on a rant of how he claimed to score 50 goals in a game where he won 50-0, an incredible achievement to have considering the legend Ronaldinho scored 23 goals in his team’s 23-0 victory. However, we aren’t completely certain if he was playing against a group of children from nursery or reception. A question we would’ve loved to ask. After the enjoyable stadium tour we went over to play the Villarreal academy, which we all knew would be a difficult game. 
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The A’s played first and had confidence in the press however it may have slipped all our minds that we are playing an academy and that we would need to execute the press to the best of our ability. Regardless, the academy battled hard as well as our Hampton side did leaving the score at halftime 1-0 to Villarreal. Unfortunately as the game went on the fatigue kicked in for all of our players ultimately turning our press into a scene of desperation. The game had quickly turned extremely one side with the final score ending up to be a cruel 7-0. We couldn’t understand what they were saying in Spanish but they must’ve been saying the traditional Sunday league phrase, ‘It’s nil nil…’ being an unfortunate way to end the tour for the A team. The B team were set to play another team from their academy however, regardless of the tough fight given by the boys the score was still 4-0 to Villarreal completely outclassing the Hampton teams. Even though both of the games were lost there was lots we could take from the tour overall not just from the football aspect but also, from the aspect of normal day to day life. One of these ideas would be not to leave packing for after the game but to do majority of it before when we still have some energy in us.

Overall this tour was an extremely prosperous tour. With many positives to take on for the rest of the season.