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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2006, 20:53 GMT
Kevin Nolan column
Kevin Nolan

By Kevin Nolan
Bolton captain

Fans turn up to watch a football match for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon but I want to give you a glimpse of what happens to players before and afterwards.

Coronation Street
After dinner at our hotel on a Friday I try to rush to my room to watch Coronation Street

This Saturday Bolton play Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

We will train on Friday, eat lunch and then travel on our team coach to a hotel close to Sheffield.

If an away fixture is more than an hour or so from Bolton we normally travel the day before the match - though if it is in London we take the train or perhaps fly if the destination is further afield.

I expect that we will arrive at our hotel between 5 and 6pm - that is normally the case.

The evening meal takes place at 7 - I tend to have pasta with chicken and a few vegetables.

The coach is stocked with cold foods - energy bars, yoghurts and the like - and occasionally I'll have a salad as we travel.

If this is the case I might just have some cereal for dinner with a piece or toast - simple but full of carbohydrates.

If possible I try to rush to my room to watch Coronation Street and EastEnders - though we often watch a video about the opposition to make sure we are focused when we go to bed.

When I was a young player I did suffer from boredom but I have got used to it. I am also helped greatly by my ability to sleep.

Some lads do suffer from boredom and play pool or table tennis - these things certainly become more important if the trip is for more than one night.

Most of the players get up for breakfast on Saturday but I'm not a big morning person.

I need plenty of sleep and usually do not meet up with them until we go for our team walk. We meet in the reception at about 12 and take a 20-minute stroll.

We might have a chat about the game, start loosening up and get some fresh air.

Kevin Davies
Kevin Davies likes to have a massage before a match

Upon arriving back at the hotel we eat our pre-match meal - again for me that will probably be some cereal - and then I'll head back to my room and pack up all my gear.

We normally watch a video before we leave and try to arrive at the ground at 1.45.

Some lads have a massage before they start their warm-up, Kevin Davies is big on this, while others, such as Gary Speed, go through a lot of stretching exercises.

Quite a few of the squad are superstitious - the likes of Stelios and quite a few of the foreign players - who always go through the same routines.

We do not see too much of Sam Allardyce once we have arrived at the ground.

He might give us a bit of a talk to help psyche us up but generally he leaves us to get on with it.

The gaffer is very thorough and has given us everything we need - though just before kick-off he will often come into the dressing room to wish us good luck.

Whether or not he says anything afterwards depends on the result.

Most of the players use plunge pools - an ice cold bath and another filled with really hot water - as part of their recovery at the end of the game and then have a shower.

After that it is a case of making sure everyone heads back to the coach as quickly as possible so we can get back to Bolton.

After most games a player or two will do some interviews - who they are depends on what has happened during the game, who the press want to speak to and who our PR people approve.

If an away game is in the north west we will head to Bolton individually on the day of the match and then head to the venue on the coach.

In many ways the routine for a home game is quite similar.

Obviously the players are at home on a Friday and head to the Reebok on Saturday, arriving by 1.30pm having eaten their pre-match meal at home.

When we go into the ground we are given a video to watch and then go through our pre-match routines.

Some of my mates from home want tickets when we play Liverpool or Everton - if they're not supporting Bolton I insist they pay for them

Some players arrive earlier to give them more times for massages and stretching.

Most players do not tend to spend much time at the ground after the match.

There is not as much corporate activity afterwards as you might think - perhaps the man of the match will meet the sponsors who have nominated him.

Sometimes I do interviews - as skipper I quite often speak to the press after a defeat and try to be as honest as possible.

I cannot really think of any instances when the players have been told not to speak to the media.

The manager and his team have a lot of faith and trust in us as players to say the right things and know when to keep our heads down.

Afterwards I make my way up to the players lounge to meet family and friends and then head off home.

I have about 10 people who come and watch every home game - though that number increases dramatically when Bolton play Everton or Liverpool as I have a lot of mates who support those teams.

I try to sort them out with some tickets in the away end but, as they are not coming to support Bolton, I make sure they pay for them.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Do you mix a lot with other players from other clubs? Are any of your friends celebrities?
Arjun, UK

I have not got too many friends from other clubs, though if I see players out from opposing sides I will often have a chat with them.

If I do go out with footballers it will tend to be with people from Bolton.

I do have a couple of celebrities who are friends.

The best friend of one of my cousins is Big Brother contestant Mikey Dalton.

We used to go out quite a lot in Liverpool before he went into the house but now it is a nightmare because people surround him all the time - you just cannot have a proper conversation.

I have always known him as Dalton - it was very weird when everyone in the Big Brother house was calling him Mikey.

Hey Kevin, love the column!

I go to the same school you used to go to, Blue Coat, and recently missed a penalty in an important cup match.

The teacher told me that you too missed a penalty. How do cope with the pressure of taking penalties and what is your technique?
Joe Fiske, England

I cannot remember missing a penalty for them. Oh, maybe there was one in a game against Archbishop Beck. We lost that match.

I think the best option when taking a penalty is to make sure you keep your head down and over the ball and then blast it as hard as you can.

Most times with pace and power it will go in - but keep your head up Joe and don't worry too much - even the best in the world miss them.

Hi Kevin, great column. Do you have to give your feet any special treatment as a footballer, and who advices you on feet matters?
Chris Tattersall, Canada

We have a chiropodist who comes in every week to make sure that we are not showing signs of an ingrown toenail and things like that.

If a player has a problem with blisters the physios are often on hand to help out.

I do have quite soft feet so I do get a lot of blisters. To avoid this I tape my feet up before training and games.

You mentioned last week that your own fans can have a positive effect on your performance, but at away games can the opposition fans put you off?
Paul, England

Definitely - though I like playing at grounds where fans really get behind their team and sing throughout the game.

It gives me a bit of a buzz and makes me try even harder. You can see, though, on the faces of your opponents how much it gives them a lift.

  • Kevin will continue to answer a selection of your questions each week throughout the season. Send us your questions using the post form in the top right-hand corner.



  • Send Kevin your questions using this form and read his answers to a selection of last week's at the bottom of the page
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