On arrival at the stadium at around 10am, we were met by Cherry Bear and our tour guide, Steve Cuss.
A group of around 20 were firstly taken to the Balfour Suite, where the room had been set up to show us how it could be used for presentations and meetings.
We then went on to the boardroom where the large table was set out how it would be on match day for the home and away directors.
In this room was our trophy cabinet along with some memorable pictures, including the four goal scorers at the Millennium Stadium, the 1998 squad walking out at Wembley and a picture of Jermaine Defoe.
We were then going to go and see Rob Page for the match analysis, but another group were still in there so we headed off to the top floor restaurant where again we were told what the room was used for on match days and for non match day events.
We finally headed back down stairs for a presentation with Rob Page, the performance analyst, who showed us what his role at the club is.
On a match day he and two students will record the game in full and with some fantastic software he is able to mark the recording every time there is an incident, whether it is a corner, free kick or goal and show Bradbury at half time and full time these incidents instantly. This means that Bradbury can tell the lads what to do in the second half and or give praise/criticism at the end of the match instead of waiting until the next day.
The software also enables Rob to record stats, such as how many corners were taken from the right or how many times the goalkeeper had to make a save, this is done for both teams. Someone asked can the software record individual pass completion rate and distance run, but Rob said that it was only available through Prozone , which cost £60k per game to run so it is only used by the elite clubs!
We then headed down to the changing room, as I saw these just after the Division 2 play off final I was intrigued to see how they had changed.
As we entered the changing rooms, we were met by Mike the kit man, modelling the new 3rd kit.
The new changing rooms were amazing!
They were set out as if it was a match day with each player having their own peg, which would have their kit, drinks, towel and a match day programme. The showers also looked totally different, gone are the wheelie bins full of ice and in their place is a nice big ice bath. We also got the chance to meet Steve Hard in the physio room.
The away changing room remained untouched giving a nice before and after effect of the changes!
We then headed down the tunnel, where Steve Cuss got the kids to line up and run out to us adults cheering them on to pitch, some adults also wanted to join the back of the line up so they could run out the tunnel, but thought better of it.
We then headed over to the East Stand passing the housing development which has quickly gone up.
In the East Stand we learnt that the youth team were now permanently based at the stadium and saw the teaching facility that they now have.
The new youth team set up sounded very impressive and the staff were very enthusiastic about the changes that have been made.
In true tour style, we were then taken to the club shop to pick up our souvenirs of the day and talk to Mattieu Baudry, Joe Partington, Steven Gregory and Fletch. On our way home we passed a massive queue waiting for their turn for the tour.
The only other football stadium tour I have done before was at the Nou Camp in Barcelona, while their museum may be a little bit better than our trophy cabinet, the rest of the tour at Dean Court was just as good if not better and it was fantastic to have a behind the scenes view of everything at our club.
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