Maccabi GB's Maccabiah Masters over-35's completed their training for the 19th Maccabiah Games with a three-day camp in Spain, based at the outstanding Marbella Football Centre in Spain.
Under the stewardship of Dan Jacobs and Jamie Cole, and with many changes to the initial squad since its selection a year ago, the group has really only come together in the last two months, despite only having played a number of non-competitive matchers throughout the season.
However, during that time they have had a three-day residential weekend at St George's Park that culminated in a match on the main Wembley replica pitch against a team made up of several ex-pros from Notts County and Nottingham Forest. They have also played four friendly matches at Rowley Lane against some high-quality Masters sides from around the UK - one of whom boasted no-less than Champions League winner Teddy Sheringham in their ranks - as well as a match against the Charlton Athletic Masters team, played at Loftus Road Stadium.
As well as creating a fabulous set of memories and experiences for the team, these games and training, in which the results and performances improved markedly, saw the squad in good shape for their Spanish trip and the main goal – the Maccabiah Games.
The side were treated like professional footballers from the off in Marbella - having two sets of two-hour training sessions, as well as two top level matches.
The first saw them play Marbella FC's over-35's. Team GB ran out 3-1 winners in an excellent game, courtesy of goals from Paul Linger (2) and Bradley Lazarus. Keeper James Swead was also in top form, making a couple of outstanding saves.
The next fixture saw the side take on a Spanish Police/Fire Masters XI who themselves are preparing for their Maccabiah Games equivalent - a World Cup that takes place in Belfast next month. This proved to be a more physical game, but, again, Maccabi GB were up to the challenge.
A strong defensive display from the group kept their opponents at bay with goals from Matt Kleinman and Andrew Myers secured a highly satisfactory win.
The only downside were a couple of injuries that were picked up, the most serious being an arm fracture to Jon Kent. However, the doctors say he will be fit for play at the Maccabiah Games. So the squad, having gelled so well not just on but off the pitch too, are in buoyant mood as departure date draws ever closer.