Ritchie Humphreys believes a lot has changed in football over the past 18 years, but his hunger to succeed is not one of them, writes Matthew Brooks.
Chesterfield’s utility man remembers a time when players used to run laps while wearing bin bags to shed any excess weight during pre-season.
But he says the physical demands of the modern game dictates any player of the ‘old mentality’ will get left behind.
“These days there are strength and conditioning coaches and programmes for the players to follow during the off season,” said the 35-year-old, who penned a one-year deal with the Spireites this summer.
“They give you a couple of weeks off and then you’re straight back into it. You have got to come back pretty fit from day one, otherwise you will get left behind.
“You’ve got to be chomping at the bit because the coaches really get their teeth into you. Anyone of the old school mentality who thinks they can get by on talent alone is kidding themselves.
“Don’t get me wrong, you have to have the talent, but you need the fitness now as well.”
It is a mentality Humphreys believes has filtered down from the top of the game and will stand the players in good stead for the rigours of a 46-game season.
He said: “It’s been a lot of hard work but it’s been good because it has taken us out of our comfort zones and we’ll see the benefits.”
The former Sheffield Wednesday man left Hartlepool United at the end of last season following 12 years at the Victoria Ground. He made over 500 appearances for the club and experienced promotions from the fourth tier of English football twice in 2003 and 2007. And the prospect of another promotion campaign excites Humphreys.
“I train every day like it’s my last and play every game like it’s my last,” he said. “Preparations have gone well and the players want to achieve as much as everyone else at the club. Teams aren’t going to lie down and let us beat them, we’ll have to earn the right to play.”