IN DAYS gone by, many senior professionals looked forward to dark mornings and the impending winter slog about as much as a turkey would relish the onset of Christmas.
Sardonic humour from many elder statesman in a changing room in ‘anticipation’ of training sessions played out in the teeth of a biting, freezing cold wind would not have been hard to detect – but do not expect to see much of that at Bradford City.
Or a resting upon laurels, either – according to the Bantams’ irrepressible captain Romain Vincelot.
The Frenchman with Anglophile footballing tendencies is one of those ultra-committed, salt-of-the-earth players that are the heartbeat of every successful Football League side.
Like with fellow 30-something Matt Kilgallon and Nathaniel Knight-Percival – a mere slip-of-a-lad at 30 – Vincelot recently penned fresh terms with the club and woe betide anyone who thinks that he and his two cohorts are feathering their own nests.
Displaying the right standards and mentality on a daily basis will be shown through the wind and the rain and no-one is ever likely to accuse them of slacking off in the months ahead now that the ink on a new contract has dried. Quite the opposite.
Vincelot, speaking ahead of this afternoon’s encounter with lowly Plymouth, said: “It is a good sign, especially when you have good pros like Killa and Nat who are happy here.
“It is not like when you sometimes have players who get a contract and then take it easy. When you get the right people like they are, you know they will take care of it as they want to enjoy it and want maybe another one (contract) if they do well.
“There is a comfort of being in a good club. They have been everywhere and know how good it is to be playing football at a team where it is going smoothly and you enjoy getting up and going training.”
Born in the West-Central city of Poitiers, Vincelot has quickly made West Yorkshire a home from home, embracing every part of English life from his love of pubs and dogs – as referenced in an interview with a national newspaper earlier this year – to his love of English football.
Look at the league table. The level between the teams is very, very close and nothing is going to be easy and we are aware of that.Bradford City’s Romain Vincelot
It is at this time of year that the national game starts to come into its own quintessential way with the sight of floodlights being on in the second half of matches on a Saturday adding to the sense of theatre on show.
Vincelot is a fan and even though getting used to shorter days in England took some getting used to for the Frenchman earlier in his career, you sense he would not swap his lot now.
He said: “I think I am used to it now. The light is more difficult, but like any Englishman, I am used to it now.
“For the first three or four years, you think where is the sun and light and that is the big issue. I do not mind the rain, it is not that bad compared to France. It is the light. When my mates came over two weeks ago, it was 3.30pm and they were saying: ‘It looks like it is 7 pm.’
“It is very important for the (playing) group, when they get up in the morning, to know that they are going to go training with your mates and to have a good session and laugh.
“There is nothing worse in the winter if you do not want to get up to go work, I guess, if your job is hard. It helps you through the winter.”
With thoughts of winter increasingly prevalent, so it also denotes an important staging post in the campaigns of aspiring football clubs.
It is the time of year which sorts out the genuine contenders from the pretenders with the test of any side wishing to stiffen their promotion claims revolving around finding a way to dig out wins during those tough months when pitches are not at their best and attitude is often prized as much as natural ability.
Vincelot concurs with the notion and mentality is likely to come to the fore this afternoon in a useful litmus test for the months ahead against a Plymouth side who are propping up the table – and are likely to make no apologies in their quest to stymie and frustrate the third-placed hosts this afternoon.
The table may point to a home win with 21 places and 19 points separating the two clubs, who also meet in the FA Cup on December 2, but Vincelot is keen to avoid any vestiges of complacency in the home camp.
His sentiments are uttered with good reason too and while Argyle may currently be at the bottom of the division, they head north with a bit more hope these days.
Optimism has been generated thanks to a five-match unbeaten run in all competitions, with Plymouth unbeaten in their past four league matches, while taking four points from their last two away games at AFC Wimbledon and Blackburn.
Vincelot said: “We should not be thinking: ‘okay, this one is going to be three and this next game is going to be a big one.’ The next one is the next one and the one we have to focus and completely give everything.
“We went to Bury – and look at the league table. The level between the teams is very, very close and nothing is going to be easy and we are aware of that.
“We must concentrate and we will have to be really patient – you never know.
“But maybe it is going to one of these games where we have a lot of ball and possession from side to side and not create as much as the people in the stands would maybe like.
“They (supporters) may like more action, but it is about being patient and not letting the frustration take over.
But it is going to hard and we will have to be patient.
“It is going to happen at other times in the season when teams come to Valley Parade and will be happy with to go away with a point.
“This is something we have to be used to and have a solution for it.”