Pondy reflects back on a memorable 2014 so far...
The Austrian mountains of Obertraun are a familiar setting for Nathan Pond.
The week-long trip abroad is one that proves vital to Fleetwood Town’s tough pre-season plans.
Graham Alexander, the Fleetwood Town manager, has got his players doing three different sessions over the course of the week as preparations for the upcoming season hits its peak.
Only two months ago, Pond was surrounded by the euphoria of another promotion at Wembley Stadium – his sixth promotion with the Club – and now he and Fleetwood are about take the next step of a meteoric journey through the football hierarchy.
The latest promotion is one that will stick with him for a lifetime. A dream come true.
“It was a brilliant feeling, especially on my testimonial season,” Pond said recalling Town’s 1-0 victory over Burton Albion in the Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final.
“It ended really well, but it doesn’t feel like we have had time off really. We got four or five weeks off, but it was worth it in the end.
“The lads were brilliant on the day and it is a memory that will stick with me for a lifetime.
“When I joined it was just a hobby really. We have gone up and up with the chairman Andy Pilley investing in the success we have had and the good players we have had. It’s a dream come true.
“It’s the Club’s biggest season, it’s my biggest season and probably will be for most of the players here. It’s the highest level they have played at for a few of them and we have got a point to prove.”
Whether it has been preparing for life in the Conference, League 2 or now League 1, the sessions in Austria are just as intense. No stone is left unturned.
Tonight, Pond and the rest of the team will face Russian Premier League side FC Terek Grozny in the Alps and after starting with a 5-0 victory over Colwyn Bay last week, the 29-year-old defender is looking forward to another competitive workout.
“I think it’s my fourth outing here now and every time it has been hard work so I’ m not expecting anything different, but the lads are in superb shape.
“The early morning run is not my favourite, but we have to get up and do it, but the football has been really good.
“I don’t much about the Russian Premier League, but we are expecting a good outfit and we are looking forward to a competitive match.”
Ten years on the Fylde Coast makes Pond the veteran amongst the Fleetwood ranks. Many players have come and gone during that period and three more have come through the door this summer as Alexander bolsters his squad for the Club’s first season in the third tier.
For Danny Andrew, Keith Southern and Jamie Proctor, settling in has not been a problem.
“They have settled in fine,” Pond added. “It’s an easy group to settle into, the lads are very welcoming and we all get on with each other extremely well.
“I have been here a long time, but all the lads have been great. The new players fit in very easily, they are all made to feel welcome and all the lads get on with each other.”