Niall McGinn Blog One
Niall McGinn has kindly agreed to do regular blog for us here on afc.co.uk, giving us an insight into life in isolation for a professional footballer. Over the next few weeks, we will also get to know Niall better as we cover a wide range of subjects, including getting the Northern Irish international to look back on his career, as well as looking ahead to the resumption of football, whenever that may be.
Niall McGinn Blog 1
We are all living in very difficult times right now. We are at a crucial point in the crisis.
It’s something none of us have experienced in our lifetime.
It is strange seeing so few people. The only people you see are out walking or on a bike. You see people in shops but keeping your distance so there is no interaction.
As a footballer, you miss seeing all your teammates and it’s strange not being in that day to day environment in the dressing room, in the canteen, in the gym and out on the training pitch. You miss interacting with everyone and all the laughs.
I think you miss the simple things most, things like going for a coffee with the boys after training or
going down to the gym for a sauna or a swim. Until it’s all taken away from you, you maybe don’t fully realise or appreciate how good a life you do have as a professional footballer. In ordinary times, I guess you can take it for granted.
At Aberdeen we are very well looked after. We are used to going into training and getting everything done for us, such as our breakfast and lunch made. We now have to do everything ourselves which is maybe not a bad thing! It makes you appreciate what you have and how lucky we are. When we do get back, we will appreciate things even more.
I took a few days off initially when the football stopped before then getting back into it. I bought myself a mountain bike, so I went out for a cycle on Wednesday last week. Our sports scientist Graham Kirk along with the coaches arranged some sessions remotely, so I did that on Thursday and went back on the bike Friday and Saturday. Last week was just about keeping the legs going.
Graham then set up a new programme which started from Monday. The way it is set up, he can keep an eye on us, as can the manager and all the staff. We have all downloaded the app Strava so we can do all our training and he can monitor all the work that we are doing. I can do it all through my Apple watch, which acts as a tracker device.
We can also monitor what each other is doing so we can see who has been out for a jog, who has been out for a cycle. It all logs up automatically.
All the boys are trying to do the work at around the same time, a similar time to when we train normally. Most of the guys are doing their outdoor work in the morning, our one trip outside under the government rules, so the sports science guys can turn around the information at lunchtime, then we do some gym stuff in the afternoon inside.
We now have sessions to do on a Monday and Tuesday – a morning session and an afternoon one. Wednesday is a day off and then double sessions on Thursday and Friday and we do our own work over the weekend. The coaches will build the workload up over the next couple of weeks.
We don’t know what is going to happen, so we have to maintain our fitness and also where possible get outside to get some fresh air. We will just keep ticking over and doing as much as we can.
Away from the training, it is just a case of trying to relax and to keep yourself entertained, which means loads of Netfix! I have been watching Shooter. I have also started on Tiger King. I watch the first three episodes yesterday which I enjoyed.
I quite enjoy watching true stories and documentaries. There are a lot of good ones about at the moment.
I like the crime drama Narcos as well, which is very good. There is plenty to watch, so it is just a case of getting into them and seeing which ones you enjoy.
I do a lot of FaceTime. My best mate is in San Francisco and he is in lockdown over there too, as are my family and my mates in Northern Ireland. I try and keep in touch with them as often as I can.
All my family still live back home so it is important to keep tabs on them – that’s my mum, my dad, my twin sisters and an older brother. I have five nieces and two nephews as well. I have a close family and I speak to them a lot. Even when things are normal, I try and keep in contact with them all. It is hard when you are a professional sportsman as you don’t have much time off to see your family. I have time away from football now and still can’t see them! So that is tough.
I have put out a few different videos on social media. I was asked to do some stuff for the club, which I am always very happy to do, and also Northern Ireland, who wanted a message to try and help out the NHS, something I was delighted to help with. Then on social media you get asked to do a few messages, just wee things to help brighten up people’s days, which is always good, especially at the moment.
There are no easy answers, but we all want the season to finish.
It all depends really on when we do get back. Teams are more than likely going to need a pre-season again. You can run all day or train all day but none of that is ever the same as doing all the work together as a team and actually playing football.
There are different options. I know league reconstruction is one option being spoken about. I don’t know how realistic that is, but is it an opportunity to sit down and see how we can improve Scottish football? I can maybe speak more about that in the weeks ahead as things develop.
The Scottish Cup is separate from the league, so regardless what decisions the SPFL make, the cup competition should get finished, even if that means the semi-final against Celtic is our first game back.
That has to be the hope anyway.
Who knows, we will just have to wait and see what happens. But there are far more important things than football at the moment.
The Red Army
Please stay safe. Only go out for exercise or for your essentials, or if you have to help elderly relatives or neighbours. Please listen to the government advice.
Stay positive and we will all look forward to getting back out there on a Saturday or a Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever it may be, and we will try to put a smile on the faces of the fans again.
Niall was speaking to the Red Matchday Editor.