Thursday afternoon brought the first of the punishing run/football sessions that are planned for the pre-season weeks ahead ... and we’ve found that it’s always a good time to grab a player for an interview immediately afterwards with a bit of ‘mood’ added to the chat as the sweat rolls down the face.
Jordan Gibson was our first victim, and we spoke to him first about a testing 90 minutes out on the grass.
“It’s always tough, isn’t it,” he said. “But it’s just good to be back with the lads. It’s near enough the same group at the moment and we’ve obviously enjoyed our time off, but we’re ready to work now so it’s been good.
“The fact that we won at Wembley makes it easier to come back in and see everybody again. Obviously it’s tough work in pre-season, that’s the same no matter where you are and whatever happened the season before.
“It’s been a graft but also enjoyable so far. We did the 1,600 metres this afternoon and it weighs on you all day because you know it’s coming. You think about it from the moment you wake up.
“Mentally you’ve just got to know what it is you’ve got to do and you’ve got to get through it. All of the lads have put in a real shift today and got it done.”
With the fixtures out and the boots back on, is it now that it all starts to feel real?
“Yeah, I’m buzzing,” he told us. “When you see the teams in the league, the likes of Derby, Charlton, Bolton, we’ve got some massive clubs to play.
“It’s going to be a challenge but there’s so much to look forward to. Each game will be tough, it’s a step up in level, but with the belief and togetherness we’ve got with the lads here I’m sure we’ll be putting in a hundred percent anyway, and we’ll see where we go.
“It’s just exciting. Some of these clubs play in front of 20,000 every week and when you’re up against them you’re showcasing your ability. We saw the lads put in a lot of work last season, showed their ability in League Two, and we’ve got to do it in League One now.”
Having secured the promotion just over a month ago we wondered if that was a feeling we could feed off.
“It’s got to give the lads confidence going into the new season,” he agreed. “What an occasion for everybody and it ended with the promotion for us.
“It’s mad, I really don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I’ve watched it back, I’ve looked at the videos online and there are the photos, but I don’t think it will properly sink in until we play that first game.
“We all know that days like that don’t come around often, and it might never happen again. To have my family and friends at the game to witness that was unbelievable.
“My mum, we talk about it in every interview, and I always say how happy I am to make her proud every day. To have her there and to see it with us was unbelievable.
“I’m very proud of being part of it as well. It’s the highlight of my career so far. I’m just buzzing to be part of a club that’s done that.”
As he rightly said at the start of the interview, that’s gone now, and it’s all about looking forwards to the next 10 months.
“I can’t wait to test myself,” he said. “I was at Bradford and played a few times in League One with them, but that was when I was younger and it was just mostly coming off the bench.
“For me I just want to do well in pre-season, put my marker down and try to play as many games as I can.
“Looking back to last season I don’t think I scored enough goals and I want more of that. I was in and out of the team so no matter what role I have this year I want to give it my all and contribute more.”
“There’ll be competition for places but that’s good,” he commented. “We know more players are coming in, but we never know too much about who it is.
“To see Robbo and Alfie back is brilliant. They helped us last season, they played their part, and I’m sure they’ll be a good addition.
“Right now it’s time to rest and recover! I think a few of us will go for a coffee, maybe play a bit of cards in the house and chill out a bit.
“We know it’ll be just as tough when we’re back at it tomorrow so it’s important to rest now and make sure we recover properly.”