Preparations for the new campaign couldn’t be more different to when Alan Curtis was wearing the Swansea City shirt.
Curt enjoyed an illustrious career that spanned over two decades which included three different spells with the Swans along with 35 international caps for Wales.
Now, in his role as Swans first-team coach, the man known as “legend” around the club is looking forward to another Barclays Premier League campaign.
And, while watching the players being put through their paces in the first few days of pre-season this week, Curt had a wry smile as he recalled the gruelling preparations he had to endure during his playing days.
“A typical start to pre-season in my time as a player at the club would start with a coach ride from the Vetch to Three Cliffs Bay. We’d run along the golf course to the bottom where the sand dunes are – it was horrendous for us players as we would get pounded with drills,” he said.
“Then we would run from Pennard to Caswell Bay, where the coach would pick us up. We would be out for about three hours or so. We would be knackered.”
Just a young pro starting off in the game at the time, one memory in particular stands out for Curt.
He recalled: “One of the first times we went out it was a scorching hot day and Tony Millington, Barry Hole and Jeff Thomas were wearing trousers.
“I couldn’t understand it because it was so hot, so I asked Jeff ‘why have you got those on?’
“He looked at me as if I’d asked a stupid question, and then he said ‘where do you think I’ll keep my fags?’.
“It was funny because when we stopped the bus on the way back to get out and stretch, the three lads disappeared and all you could see was a big puff of smoke behind this building they had snuck behind.
“It wasn’t the best way of preparing, but the boys I played with went on to make 500 or 600 appearances in the game.
“But it still makes me laugh to this day.
“Obviously in today’s game every aspect is looked in to. Football has come on leaps and bounds in terms of sports science and medicine. We have health checks, saliva tests, dental records are looked into – it’s come a long way from my days in the game.
“Years ago we wouldn’t kick a ball for ten days or even a fortnight into pre-season. It probably wasn’t the best preparation, but at that time it was believed to be the best way to get in shape.
“In the last few years sports science has absolutely revolutionised what we do.”
That was evident this week as the squad reported back for pre-season duty, which included a variety of tests held at Swansea University and at the club’s training ground.
With the squad departing for their two-week tour to America today (Sunday), demanding training sessions prepare Garry Monk’s squad before match sharpness is boosted via friendly matches with Chivas Guadalajara and Minnesota United.
“Players used to make the most of pre-season to get themselves in shape for the season, but now it’s totally different,” added Curt.
“They are finely-tuned athletes these days, not just professional footballers.
“Players look after themselves and do fitness work throughout the summer to ensure they return in good shape.
“They know they can’t come back in bad shape because they will fall behind.
“And, as we’ve seen this week, everyone looked after themselves throughout the summer and came back in very good condition.
“That’s great for us because a solid pre-season can play a big part in ensuring you get your season off to a flying start.”