Defender Michael Raynes on new arrivals and aiming high
Defender Michael Raynes returned to pre-season training on Wednesday having been away for the birth of his baby daughter – ahead of schedule – at the end of last week.
We spoke to him ahead of training on Thursday morning about his very welcome new arrival.
“It’s going alright, to be honest,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a wake-up call but I’m enjoying it. It was perfect timing in the end because she was due today [4 August] but ended up coming a week early. That means I’ll be nice and fresh for the game on Saturday.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have happen and I’m really enjoying life. It’s an absolute blessing. She isn’t sleeping, of course, and the lads have been really helpful by reassuring me that it doesn’t get any easier.
“We had a few complications with it all but touch wood everything is fine now. The gaffer and lads have been amazing and they couldn’t have been any more supportive for me and my family. I can’t thank them enough for that.”
The smiles very quickly turned to a serious expression when we asked him to look ahead to the big season opener on Saturday.
“This is what pays the bills,” he insisted. “We’ve had a tough pre-season but it’s back to business now. The summer seems to pass by quicker every year and this one has definitely flown by. That’s the work done and now it’s time for the enjoyment bit. All I can say is we’re going to try to have a heck of a go.
“The anticipation and excitement is exactly the same for the players as it is for the fans. We’re all full of optimism and we had a lot of good stories to tell from last year. Hopefully we can add a few more this year.”
“People talk about it being a good dressing room here and I can tell you it’s a fact,” he commented. “We have a good group and I’m a strong believer that if you enjoy your job and get on with the people you work with you’re going to be successful. Fingers crossed we’re on the right lines for that.
“It’s about pulling together and riding storms when we have to. It won’t always be the case that we’re playing well, so there will be times when we’ll need to grind results out. We’ve all been in the game long enough to know that has to be done on occasions.”
As to whether or not this group can mount a serious challenge, he said: “I can’t see why we won’t do it. You’ve got to reach for the stars and you have to try to be the best. If you look at the other teams in our league, and compare them to what’s in our squad, I wouldn’t swap many for what we’ve got here.
“I think it’s fair to say last year was one of my most enjoyable seasons in football. The way we played, the lads, the style of football – it all meant I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Hopefully we can do it again.
“We know Portsmouth will be tough but we went there a few years ago when I was with Oxford and they had a full house. It was a great atmosphere and we went down there and did really well.
“We know wherever we go we’ll have a great following behind us and Portsmouth is a nice place to start things rolling for everyone. We have a lot of miles ahead to put in, together with the fans, but we think it’s going to be exciting.”
And with the baby keeping him busy at home it comes as no surprise to hear what he has planned for those long hours on the road this season.
“I’ll be sleeping,” he said. “The missus bought me one of those things which go round your neck to help me to catch up on my sleep.
“To be fair, I sit next to Danny Grainger so it’ll be easy to fall asleep listening to him talk about his time up in Scotland ... again!”
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