Bournemouth kick off the season as the new boys in National Two South next week but for captain Joe Rees the journey has been a long time coming compared to his teammates.
For five years the No.8 would make the trip from the Isle of Wight to Bournemouth for Tuesday and Thursday training sessions all in preparation for matchday at the weekend – a full nine hours comprising cars, ferries and trains.
“I would usually need to finish work around 3.30 and then drive back to my house to have a quick shower and grab the kit bag, drive to the port to get the boat,” Rees explains. “Get the boat across and then most of the time one of the boys would pick me up and we would drive down to Bournemouth.
“We would get there anywhere between 6.30pm and 7.30pm depending on the traffic.
“Then train with the team for a couple of hours and then get the train back. But a couple of times the boats would be cancelled because it was too windy or the weather was too bad.
“I would have to spend the night at one of the boys’ houses if it was really bad, or if it was just the passenger ferry cancelled then you can get the car ferry but that would be at midnight. Then you get in at 1am and I’m up at 6am for work.
“Me and my brother own a building company so it was quite lucky in the fact that it was all flexible with me being able to leave for the day.”
All that has now changed for Joe after he moved to Bournemouth and he says: “It’s made a massive difference. I am only 20 minutes from training now.”
With all eyes centred on starting strongly in their opener at Taunton Titans next Saturday, Rees is ready to give his all for a club who covered his travel expenses, which total close to £5,000.
“We want to secure ourselves in National Two. We have had a good pre-season, there’s been more emphasis on individual skill-sets because we’ve been playing the same pattern the last couple of years,” he says of last season’s South West Premier champions.
“It was the first promotion I’ve been involved in. I have always been close or there abouts. The year before losing out in the playoffs to then go and actually get promotion with four or five games left was amazing.
“The boys are all buzzing and looking forward to the challenge this year.”