Andy Woodman

Goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman is undoubtedly the biggest character in Newcastle's dressing room, and the stopper is spending the week keeping United fans up to date with the goings-on during the Club's tour of Germany and Austria. Wednesday's instalment sees Woody reflect on Steve Harper's performance and practical jokes...


When I last wrote, we were heading into Munich for an afternoon of leisure and it was quite an experience.

A few staff members and three of the players got the coach in, we had a bit of a wander around the city and saw a few sights. It's a lovely place with some stuninng sights and was a nice bit of down-time for us.

Back to the training pitch, and the intensity of our sessions have really started to crank up over the course of the week. It's all geared towards the friendly matches and the lads have adapted well.

Steve Harper got 90 minutes on Monday night as we beat Monaco, and you may well have seen the brilliant save he made with his face. I don't think he knew too much about it, but as an ex-goalie it's always nice to see a fellow keeper take one right in the nose!

We all had a little chuckle about that, but in all seriousness it was a great stop and I was delighted for Harps.

It's easy to forget that he hasn't played a lot of football in the last year, but he looked in good form. He had a few problems with his knee last year, but hopefully he can stay injury-free this year and get right back in the mix of the squad and competing for a place.

Speaking from experience, it's a difficult role for Harps and Robbie Elliot being back-up keepers. I did it for many years behind Nigel Martyn at Crystal Palace and it's tough.

You get your chance to play in pre-season but it takes a little bit of time to get up to speed. However. Harps and Robbie have both laid down a marker to the manager during the last couple of games, reminding him that they are here.

Tim returned to the squad on Monday afternoon, watched the game against Monaco from the stands (sorry, stand!) and then trained on Tuesday morning.

It was our first session but he was in fantastic shape and form, and we've already started plotting what we are looking to achieve within the goalkeeping department this season.

He's going to have a couple of hard weeks ahead of him with some real tough graft to make sure he's right going into the last few games of pre-season.

The boys have been ribbing me about it, saying my son is back and that it's the first time I've smiled all week, but that isn't strictly true, and if you subscribe to nufcTV you will know exactly why.

On Harps' video diary you may have seen a little stunt I was pulling, hiding in a cupboard and jumping out on people. I was hoping to get one or two of the players - I really wanted to get Demba - but I had to settle for a few members of staff instead.

I then got done myself by Club Photographer Ian Horrocks, which was brilliant because I genuinely had no idea he had sneaked in there before me. If you haven't watched it already then do!

I've got a couple of other things up my sleeve and I love that sort of stuff. It's good because we are locked away for ten days and it can get a bit boring.

People think it's a great life, and it is, but there are days when you know you have to keep everyone ticking over and that was one of them. So watch this space because I'm gunning for one or two people!

After a light, recovery session on Tuesday morning we again headed into Munich in the afternoon for an afternoon of leisure.

It also happened to be physio Dave Henderson's 50th birthday, so we dressed him up in lederhosen and went to the famous Hofbrauhause to toast his milestone with a stein of beer.

It was a nice, relaxing afternoon and to be fair to Hendo the fancy dress was better than his normal gear - he actually looked alright!

As I write this, we are on our way to do white water rafting as a team bonding exercise, which is geared towards making sure we are all working together.

It's something I've never done before, and I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to it. However, I think a few people may be trying to put me out there without a life jacket, which worries me a little bit!

But it should be great fun and I'm looking forward to seeing who keeps their bottle once we're in the boats! I'll let you know how we get on next time!

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