Gary Johnson: Doing our very best to ensure safety of everyone at the club

Torbay Weekly

Those of us of a certain age will remember a time when seat belts in cars were made the law.

I think I'm right in saying that vaccination programmes have meant that it's rare to hear of cases of measles, rubella and other conditions that were widespread at one time.

And it wasn't long ago that smoking indoors in public places was banned.

People argued against all those rules, and some even rebelled against them, but the vast majority of us now accept that they were the right thing to do.

And they've all helped to keep us that little bit safer.

I know we live in a so-called 'free society' but I do struggle with the idea that, at a time when Covid-19 and its new strains are having such a devastating effect on all our lives, there are people who refuse to be vaccinated.

The reason why so many Premier League games are being called off is due to Covid cases and self-isolating.

It wasn't mandatory to be tested for a long time but  because the players were young, fit men, quite a few were probably going round with the virus but asymptomatic.

The ideal situation is that everyone in your club - players, football and office staff - are all vaccinated.

However, at every club there are always a few who, for one reason or another, don't want it.

We've gone to great lengths at Plainmoor to try and keep the virus away.

To give you an insight - players test themselves every day, hand the kits in and are temperature tested, wait in their cars for the results to be checked and then, without even mixing in dressing rooms, go straight onto the training pitch.

The lads wore their masks for six or seven hours on the bus to Tonbridge last weekend, we used sanitation 'fogging' to keep the coach clean and even had to think about keeping certain players, like our two goalkeepers Shaun MacDonald and Mark Halstead, apart.

At our hotel, guests were mixing freely without masks, as they are allowed to do, so we formed our own 'bubble', the players stayed in their rooms nearly all the time and we hired a separate room for our own meals and team meetings.

We've taken those sort of measures for a long time now.

Even the strictest protocols don't mean that none of us will ever catch the virus but no one can accuse us of not doing our absolute best.

I see FIFA is still talking about having a World Cup every two years, instead of every four!

It seems that Arsene Wenger is keen on the idea, because he reckons it will help the development of the game beyond places like Europe and South America.

But let's face it, the reason why people really want to have more of these tournaments is because football at that level is such a money-spinner for the ruling bodies and national organisations.

I did work at international level for a while in Latvia. And I know well that if players do refuse to play for their country because of club commitments, they can stop you playing for your club anyway.

More and more managers are complaining about too much football as things are, so how on earth is a World Cup final every two years - and don't forget the qualifying tournaments and European Championships as well - going to help that situation?

I'm sorry, Arsene, but I can't see how it would work.

It goes without saying that we were very disappointed to go out of the FA Trophy to Tonbridge Angels last Saturday.

Well done to them, and to Plymouth Parkway for reaching the fourth round but we have to move on quickly and throw all our efforts into the game against Yeovil Town at Plainmoor on Boxing Day.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible then.

But, in the meantime, have a good, happy and healthy Christmas - and always remember our wonderful NHS staff who are under so much pressure at a time when the rest of us are enjoying ourselves.

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