Brits Abroad - The Tour Diary
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.
A few of the boys went off in between training for a quick look at the famous ‘Rocky Steps’ and ‘Rocky Statue’ - one of the most famous movie filming locations in the world.
The 72 stone steps to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the most iconic attractions in Philadelphia after its appearance in the 1976 triple-Oscar-winning boxing film Rocky where actor Sylvester Stallone runs up the steps to the popular theme song Gonna Fly Now.
Running the steps is regarded by many as a symbol of perseverance and determination — a similar theme to Swansea’s rise to the Premier League, I suppose.
Each year, thousands of people recreate the scene from the legendary movie and make the climb up the steps.
Included in that list are now Angel Rangel, Federico Fernandez, Lukasz Fabianski and Roque Mesa who all behaved like your typical tourist by running up the steps before mimicking the famous Rocky pose with both arms in the air.
After a few selfies overlooking the Eakins Oval, Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Philadelphia City Hall, it was back down for a picture with the bronze statue of Rocky at the base of the steps
Apparently new signing Roque Mesa particularly enjoyed himself at a venue now renamed the ‘Roque Steps’.
In fairness Roque has settled into the group really well and looks a class act in training. His moustache also continues to attract attention, which I think he enjoys.
It has become part of his image now, so I’m thinking of trying to emulate him. Not with a new moustache, but my own Britton beard.
As you may know by now, Roque has refused to shave it off until he gets picked for the Spanish national team. So, I’ve decided not to shave or trim my beard until I’m picked for England. At nearly 35, I could be going for the ZZ Top look!
We had our first double training session of the tour on Friday, which was tough, with a hard 75 minutes in the morning and a full 90 in the evening. Typically it rained for both sessions, but while it felt like we were back in Wales, at least the rain helped take the strain away from the humidity.
The local media popped along to watch the morning session and grab a few interviews with the manager and some players.
And despite the heavy rain and storm warnings, there was a healthy turn out when we held an open training session for the fans in the evening.
It was great to see so many American-based Swans fans there, including the Philly Jacks supporters group who are growing all the time.
Every year we come to America - this is our fourth trip in recent years now - the fanbase seems to have increased, which is fantastic for the club. Hopefully we can continue to grow our support over here in the years to come.
Wayne Routledge nearly caused an international incident with a tweet he posted asking the question if it was acceptable to have a Philly cheesesteak without the cheese?
A popular regional fast food, the cheesesteak has its roots in Philadelphia, and is basically a sandwich made from thinly sliced pieces of beef steak and melted cheese in a long hoagie roll, similar to a baguette.
Not only was his Twitter feed full of Philly residents claiming his no cheese comments were near-blasphemous, he was met at the training ground for the open session with fans shouting cheese at him as he walked in!
So, you’ve got your answer there cheesy Wayne.
We had our first batch of initiation songs in Philadelphia. For those of you who don’t know, it is traditional for any new players or members of staff to get up and sing during dinner.
We’ve also extended it a bit over the last two years to include any players who have returned to the club after a lengthy loan spell.
So first up were Kyle Bartley, Matt Grimes and Mo Barrow who were all at Leeds United last season.
So while Barts and Matty sang a duet of Love Yourself by Justin Bieber, Mo took on the role of dancer.
In fairness, the singing was quite good, a bit like Chas and Dave, but the less said about Mo’s dancing the better.
I’ve seen better dance moves down Wind Street late on a Saturday night! (I was there for research purposes, of course).
Roque Mesa and Erwin Mulder also got up to sing, but a bit more about them next time, although I’m sure they have already popped up on social media somewhere.
Stay tuned for more episodes of Brits Abroad as the tour progresses . . .
If you missed it, you can catch the first part of Brits Abroad - The Tour Diary - here