He called us in, we all huddled round, watching and waiting. Twenty-four lads out on a training pitch waiting instructions.

A previous gaffer of mine named the team for the following day’s game by taking 11 of us over to the side of the pitch and telling the others to keep warm.

Then he lined us up in a formation, dragging us around like giant chess pieces, standing a foot away from each other - it seems easy to play the game.

If the ball goes here you go here, dragged by the arm in that direction.

Naming the team is a massive part of the week for any professional footballer; different managers have used different methods.

A previous gaffer called the group in and we huddle round cones that have been laid out on the grass and pointed at, 'this is you Benno', pointing at the red cone at the back. 'Ok gaffer'.

Eleven Bibs have been pulled out of a bag by a hunched over gaffer and flung in directions. He calls players names and positions. 'Benno, at the back'. 'Ok gaffer'.

Picking the team: AFC Wimbledon's Neil Cox and Neal Ardley

A gaffer raises his hand and starts naming the team. I’m being referred to as the right ring finger on the gaffer's raised hand showing us the team.

'This is you, Benno'. We’re called in. Eleven mannequins are in place on the pitch, the gaffer walks around; 'this fella who’s quicker than you is you, Benno'. 'Ok gaffer'.

The flip chart or whiteboard revelation of the team is a bit more dramatic. The lads are gathered around, usual chat instantly stops when the gaffer comes in and stands at the front and over goes the page and all is revealed. In or out, game time, sub or unused.

Players look instantly for their name and position. The pages can sometimes get stuck together and the suspense is held.

These team revelations can take place at hotels conference rooms, these business suites with their pre-arranged laid out pens and paper pads. Jugs filled with water and accompanying glasses.

This is an unnatural environment for a footballer, some lads test out the chairs comfort, springiness and if they can swivel, reach for the complimentary hard sweets and pocket a few.

The usual Alan Sugar ‘You're Fired’ Apprentice impression is thrown out. The only exposure to board room activities some lads get.

The Apprentice, Nick Hewer, Lord Sugar and Karren Brady
Your Fired! Benno says there is no shortage of Lord Sugar impressions in team-meetings

A now retired player at another club, who I won’t mention by name, was at one of these meetings waiting for the manager to appear and give them the team.

The players were kept waiting beyond the arranged meeting time. This player began to get annoyed and vocally started to air his doubts about the manager turning up, only to his surprise when the manager appeared from behind the curtain and had been there in the room the whole time!

When I played in the League of Ireland with Cork City we had one of these meetings and the manager wrote up big letters on the flip chart C....C....F....C, which represented Cork City Football Club.

He wanted the players under the banner of CCFC to be confident, consistent, focused and challenged. This was fine and motivational until he decided to call on players to come forward, take the marker pen and finish off spelling the words.

Slowly senior players made their way forward like school children to the blackboard. C..onfident, C...onsistent, F...ocused and the last one, C...hallenged stumped the player who decided to take it on.

A lot of head scratching, a letter then a crossed out letter and eventually the sheepish confession that he didn’t know how to spell it. 'Sit down,' the gaffer said to a chorus of sniggering from lads.

On the blower: Benno reckons it's a bad idea to use a phone in a meeting, unless you're the boss Neal Ardley of course!

A phone going off is another massive mistake in these meeting and players can ring other players to stitch them up. Lads walking into a meeting late is always a tense situation.

I made this mistake once myself having slept in and rushed down in a panic to find the manager of the Irish under 21 team telling me and my room-mate that if we’re late for a meeting we’ll be late on the pitch and  dropped us both from the squad for the game. I was never late for a meeting again!

The naming of the team is the important part of the week for a professional football player because that’s exactly what you are, a player, not a sitter or watcher, a player.

In the modern game most clubs have two players for each position, so with 22 players only 11 can start. This means there will be 11 disappointed lads in a group, maybe more if the squad is bigger.

When you work, whatever the work is, you work towards a goal or an achievement or an accomplishment. When you’re not given the opportunity to do this on a game day it can be very frustrating and disappointing, especially if it’s something your incredibly passionate about.

The more experienced I get the more I see the bigger picture but if the day comes that I’m not disappointed to be left out then it’s time to finish.

Thanks for reading,