Brits Abroad - The Tour Diary

14th July


As the Swans set up camp in America ahead of the new Premier League campaign, leading from the front yet again is influential club captain Leon Britton. And the long-serving fans favourite will be keeping supporters up-to-date with an exclusive look behind the Stateside scenes in Philadelphia and North Carolina courtesy of his personal tour diary.


So here we go again, the clock is ticking to the start of another season. Things have certainly changed since I first joined the club way back in 2003.

My memory has been working overtime trying to recall all the pre-season tours I've been on with the Swans over the years.

My first taste of pre-season away from Swansea came under Bryan Flynn in League Two when we made the first of a number of trips to Holland. Since then I've completed pre-season in Dorset, St Athan, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Sweden and, of course, America where I am currently on my fourth visit.

Oh, yes, I had one pre-season with Sheffield United in between when we went to Malta. But that was just time off from the Swans for good behaviour!

It's certainly been an eventful start to this current tour. Having left Swansea in the early hours of Wednesday morning bound for Barnet, we lost our opening pre-season friendly 1-0 at The Hive.

Despite the defeat, and I'm going to throw in my first cliche here, the result wasn't important. It was more about shaking off the cobwebs and getting some opening minutes under our belts.

While it was nice to see new signing Roque Mesa pulling on the Swans shirt for the first time, it was a game I had to sit out with a calf injury.

It is not a serious injury and I will be able to train in America. It was more a precautionary measure. That's the downside of having massive calf muscles I suppose! Although they are nowhere near as big as Wayne Routledge's - they are not normal.

Having stayed overnight in a hotel at Heathrow Airport ready for the flight to Philadelphia the next day, breakfast was interrupted by the news that Gylfi Sigurdsson had decided not to join us.

It came as a bit of a surprise to everyone, especially after he played the secondhalf against Barnet.

It's disappointing for everyone, but that's football I suppose, so we shall have to wait and see what happens over the next few days or so.

There was a small silver lining for Łukasz Fabianski though. The big Pole was due to share a room with Gylfi on tour. Now he's got a room to himself, lucky boy!

All the players share rooms during the tour. I'm stuck with Tom Carroll so, even though he's already on tea duty for me, I will have to see how he rates over the course of the next 11 days.

I've had some interesting roomies over the years with the likes of Roberto Martinez, Garry Monk, Mark Gower, Alan Tate and big Dennis Lawrence. Of course, I had the double bed and his long, skinny legs were left hanging over the single bed.

Such is the power of social media that no sooner had we arrived at the airport to check in for the flight the news of Gylfi's absence was hitting the headlines, much to the disappointment of the club's media man who spent the next two hours stuck to his phone while the rest of the tour party enjoyed the comforts of the BA Lounge.

Well everyone except me that is. Because guess who had his passport refused at check-in. Yep, little old me.

Having lost my passport a few weeks before the trip, I was delighted when my new one arrived in plenty of time for the summer break.

But for some reason my new passport was registering as stolen at check-in instead of my old one. As a result my ESTA was also declined.

It took me an hour at check-in to resolve and a visit from the airport's on-duty Homeland Security agent seconded from the States.

I was having some good banter with the guy on the BA check-in desk, but he was quick to warn me not to joke around with Homeland Security or I wouldn't be going anywhere.

In fairness, both the BA and Homeland Security staff members were excellent and I was eventually able to join the rest of the party. Not that they were concerned with my absence because they thought I had gone off shopping to the Duty Free.

So after a 45-minute delay sitting on the plane while they fixed a dodgy door, we took to the skies for the seven-and-a-half hour and 6,000km flight, eventually touching down in Philadelphia late afternoon American time.

After a quick drive to the hotel we were back on the road for a light evening training session to flush out the legs and keep us awake that bit longer in order to adjust to local tap.

And instead of enjoying the USA heat, the Welsh weather had decided to follow us and we trained under black storm clouds and rain.

Stay tuned for more episodes of Brits Abroad as the tour progresses . . .