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Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 13:36 GMT
The James Beattie column
James Beattie


Our run had to come to an end some time and we're all disappointed to have lost our unbeaten home record to Liverpool last Saturday.

But they say the sign of a good team is how they bounce back.

We've got the ideal opportunity to do that against Millwall on Saturday.

Any type of travelling - no matter how short - is not good for muscles

Millwall are on a good run themselves and we certainly won't be taking them lightly.

But a home tie in the fourth round of the FA Cup is the perfect platform for us to prove to ourselves as much as anybody that last Saturday was just a blip.

A lot of people have asked me about our format for away trips.

Talking to older and past professionals, it appears to have changed a lot over the past 10 years, but I haven't known any different since I became a pro.

The biggest difference appears to be that now we travel to all away games the day before and stay overnight.

Even the short trips to London, we'll go the day before, whereas in days gone by, teams would travel up on the day.

James Beattie climbs above Newcastle defender Stephen Caldwell
James Beattie gets airborne at Newcastle

The thought process is that we won't be affected by any stiffness from the journey, as apparently any type of travelling - no matter how short - is not good for muscles.

For that reason, clubs are keen to keep travelling time down to a minimum, and for most games in the north now, we tend to fly.

It might seem a bit of an extravagant luxury flying up to Manchester, or Leeds but it's a small cost considering the value of Premiership players these days.

Staying overnight gives us the scope for a good night's rest, and a light training session on the morning of the games to run any kinks out of our legs.

For an evening game like our trip to Sunderland next Tuesday, we'll fly up on Monday.

We'll train Tuesday morning, return to the hotel for an afternoon rest, and then meet up about three hours before kick-off for our pre-match meal.

Away trips do have their down side.

Bus passengers lend a helping hand
Away trips can be tough when you've lost!!

One is having to share a room with Wayne Bridge, but it could be worse, it could be Chris Marsden!

There's no doubt about the worst part of away trips - the journey back.

For trips to places like Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Sunderland we will charter a plane and fly back, but often we'll coach it back.

The coaches are pretty luxurious, but it's still a grind to sit on a bus for four or five hours, and the journey is even longer if we have lost.

When we're on the coach, we'll have a meal.

The coach is fully equipped and our kit man Malcolm Taylor is the Gary Rhodes of the microwave.

Again, this isn't an extravagance but a necessity as dieticians and nutritionist stress how important it is to replace the lost carbohydrates after a match.

It's pasta on the menu, but I fondly remember the days when we would stop for fish and chips.

Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online


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22 Jan 03 | FA Cup
18 Jan 03 | Eng Prem
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