Barons Academy Players Take England Trip

Training with Reading Academy Team

Five South Jersey Barons Academy players are on a Eight day trip to Reading, England over the Easter Weekend and the following week. The boys will spend the weekend sight seeing and attending professional games then spend the week training with the Reading Academy U18 Team. Barons GM Neil Holloway will send daily updates about their trip.

Barons General Manager Neil Holloway is accompanied on the trip by U17 Barons Giovanni Tacconelli, Alec Golini, U18 Barons John Granese, Austin Johnson and Joey D’Ascenzo. Here are Neils daily updates.

Day 1
Just wanted to let you all know that we landed on time this morning safely and have checked into our hotel in downtown
Reading. We arrived to beautiful English weather this morning………….. yes it is raining and looks like it will continue for the rest of the day. We have changed dollars into pounds, taken a walk around town and had some lunch. We are off to watch Reading play this evening.

Day 2
Today we went to the Reading FC training ground we were met some coaches and watched bits of the U12, U15 and U16 Reading Academy teams in action against
CrystalPalace. We left early to head to London to watch Spurs vs. West Ham. Great game 1-0 to Spurs. Crowd were noisy and the atmosphere was great. Everyone is doing well.

Tomorrow we will have a relaxed morning and then head of to tour Wembley Stadium in the afternoon, followed by dinner at the Holloway house. I’ll update again tomorrow.

Day 3

Yesterday we were up and about early for a full day of action.

The lads met my friend and coach of the mighty Fox & Hound pub team Saturday night and were looking forward to seeing a real pub soccer game Sunday morning.

So we took the opportunity to watch the Fox & hounds in action and have a kick around at the same time.

It was a terrible game of soccer and the lads learned how not to talk to the referee!  I was asked to make a cameo appearance in the game for the last 10 mins, so I put on a uniform went into the game and set up the winning goal!

After the game we headed straight to Wembley Stadium. We took the tour and visited the store. Everyone agrees that Wembely stadium is probably the most impressive stadium anyone can ever visit, it was spectacular!

After Wembley we headed straight for the Holloway’s house. My parents had invited us all round for a traditional English Sunday roast. We had dinner, watched some more soccer on TV and then headed down to visit the famous Fox & Hounds pub, who were still celebrating their victory from early in the day.

After that we headed back to the hotel for an early night and some rest.

Day 4
Being that it is Easter Monday it turns out that all Reading teams have been given the day off and no practice as it is a national holiday. So, we have set up a training session for this evening for just the five of our lads.

So, we are all having a rest this morning, but will be heading to watch QPR vs. Sheffield Wednesday play at 3pm today. There are no EPL games but the Championship have game and being that Reading are playing away this is the closet game we can get to. So, we will watch the game and then head back for our practice this evening.

All is good, everyone is having a good time, and the sun is even shining today!

Also, all the lads were given a big chocolate Cadbury Easter Egg from my parents!

I’ll update again tomorrow after they have done a real days training with Reading Academy U18’s.

Day 5
Today was a great day. It was a beautiful day with the sun shinning bright and temperatures were surprisingly hot for England in April.

After a good nights rest we headed off for our first real days training at Reading Football Clubs training ground, "Hogwood" at 9:30am.

Our boys joined in with the Reading Academy players ranging from 15 - 18 years old.  After they done a group warm up for 45 minutes with the sports science coach, the morning session was broken down into three groups of technical training. Whilst the boys were training there were many of the Reading superstars on the next field.  The reserve team was training, which included the likes of Harper, Kitson, Lita, Little etc.  Irish international players, Stephen Hunt, Noel Hunt and Kevin Doyle were jogging around and taking a light stretch after playing in the 2-2 draw with Blackpool the day before.  The Hunt brother stopped by to watch the boys in action for a little bit.

We broke for lunch where the boys sat down and mixed in with the Reading players.  Austin decided to sit at the coaches table and Alec sat next the Kevin Doyle!
After lunch was the second training session of the day where the players were broken down into position specific training and then finished as one big group with a finishing exercise.

After a full days practice at 4:30pm Academy director Eamon Dolan spent 10 minutes talking to the boys, to tell them how well they had done.

With the boys on a high and coach Holloway feeling inspired by the boys performance in training, it was then off to watch our newly adopted favorite team in action, the Fox & Hounds.  Holloway made another cameo appearance, this time for 30 minutes at the end, and provided the boys with some entertainment by scoring a hat-trick, including a 35 yard bullet!

The day was not yet over, as we then went to watch the thrilling Chelsea vs Liverpool Champions League game which ended 4-4!  We finish a magnificent day with Fish & Chips!

Day 5
Today we had a well deserved rest in the morning.

We took a walk around the shops and then went to the Madjedski Stadium to the club shop and watch the Reading reserves play Charlton reserves.

Reading lost 2-0 but it was good to see some of the young Reading players on action with the likes of Lita and Roseniar, as our boys trained with these same young players the day before.

After that we went to the training ground and our lads trained for a couple of hours in the beautiful English sun that we have had for the past two days!

After training we rushed back to the hotel and then went straight into town to a sports bar where we saw both Champions League games.

Another great day in soccer heaven!

Day 6
We were up early for another ‘Full English Breakfast’ and then off to the training ground. The boys trained hard for 3 hours alongside some of the Reading players that had played in the reserves the day before. They finished training with a three team 9 v 9 game, where our boys got to compete in a game setting.  Everyone competed toe to toe with the Reading boys. After training we had lunch and played around in the games room at the training ground, where they have a pool table, table tennis and x-box!

We then had the evening to do some final shopping at the Oracle center. We finished the evening by going for a meal lead by Gio and then watch Manchester City on TV in the Uefa cup.

Day 7
With our bags packed we checked out of the hotel and went to the training ground for a final training session. The rain was coming down a little, but this
could not dampen everyone spirits as we finished off a fantastic week. The boys trained for 2 hours next to the Reading 1st team who were preparing for their game vs. Barnsley on Saturday. After training we said our good-byes to all the Reading staff and went straight to the airport to catch our flight back to Philly.

It was a fantastic experience for all of our Barons boys to train alongside and compete with the Reading players, many of whom will go on to become professional players.  Our boys can be proud of there display all week as they impressed the Reading coaching staff. A big thanks to everyone at Reading Football Club for their hospitality and a week to remember.

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