Going on trial

PNE took on Bamber Bridge ina pre-season friendly at the newly-named Sir Tom Finney Stadium
PNE took on Bamber Bridge ina pre-season friendly at the newly-named Sir Tom Finney Stadium
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Somewhere, beaming from ear to ear, are Mr and Mrs Trialist.

What a proud week it has been for them, their very many offspring having been playing for football teams up and down the country.

‘A Trialist’ is a name which has been appearing on a team sheet near you, so many in fact that you wonder how Mrs and Mrs Trialist chooses which one to go and watch.

Five of the Trialist clan turned out for Blackpool in their friendly at Penrith this time last week.

Two more of them were in the Halifax team which took on Preston on Tuesday night.

And turn up to watch any friendly today or tomorrow and I will wager a bet that the talented Trialist family will be represented.

I write in jest of course, my way of a light-hearted dig at this ridiculous secrecy which football throws over players who are trying out with clubs in pre-season.

Footballers attempting to win contracts or training with a club to keep fit are part and parcel of the game.

So why try and keep their name out of the public domain and opt for the ‘trialist’ nom de plume? Once upon a time it was easy to keep the identity of a player secret.

But in the digital age of social media, one tweet can undercover that the bloke with no squad number is a former Arbroath centre-back.

I presume that all trialists are insured to play in games and not naming them is not a ruse to hoodwink the football authorities.

So come on managers and coaches everywhere, let’s have some proper names.

Mind you, on the subject of multiple trialists, it gave rise to one of the funniest team sheets posted on Twitter this week.

Those behind Hyde United’s official social media don’t take themselves too seriously and their tweets are a hoot.

For their midweek friendly with Mossley, the Hyde team was packed with trialists.

So rather than just list trialist after trialist, everyone on the team-sheet was named after different characters from television blockbuster Game of Thrones!

Thankfully, PNE have not gone down the trialist route this summer and so it has been an easy ride for us local hacks.

They have done in the past, meaning the occasional game of ‘Guess Who?’ in pre-seasons gone by.

A couple of summers ago they ran the rule over a number of goalkeepers I seem to recall after Richard Wright got ‘homesick’ for East Anglia and cured himself by trebling his weekly wage at Manchester City which last time I looked was not quite on the Norfolk and Suffolk border.

This week was a busy one for North End on the friendly beat, with four bounce games to sharpen the squad’s fitness.

Steadily you can see a first-choice team starting to emerge, and you can probably hazard a good guess at six or so of the players who will start the season.

It is fair to say that PNE got more out of the Liverpool game last Saturday than they did the corresponding fixture 12 months ago. Much more confident, much more on the front foot in the first half, they deservedly led through the pre-season goal machine that is Josh Brownhill.

Bamber Bridge on Tuesday evening was a strange old affair, purely because of the journey there.

Roadworks gridlocked Preston at teatime, forcing the kick-off to be delayed at Brig for 15 minutes. It didn’t spoil a good occasion though, nearly 1,500 supporters packing into the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

On Wednesday, the Shay was almost unrecognisable to the 198 PNE fans who made the journey over the tops, not least because Preston’s last visit to Halifax was way back in February 1987!

A plus from both Brig and Halifax was the weather – I can report that the tan is coming along famously!