So pre-season friendlies are upon us once again. Not one of Stanley's favourite things, if he's honest. Whenever Stanley peruses the match reports of City games at this time of the year it always reminds him of Tosh.
Tosh was a fella Stanley used play football with when Stanley found himself, for a brief period of the 1990s, exiled in London. Stan would always play 7-a-side football on a Friday night at Coram's Fields on a three-quarter sized pitch but with full-size goals.
One of the fellas Stanley played with was a 40-something moustachioed architect called Tosh. Now Tosh had a 'claim to fame'. He spent a couple of seasons, before deciding to go off and train to be an architect, playing in goal for Berwick Rangers.
Tosh was a paid professional for about the worst professional team in Britain, the kind of team which gets thrashed 9-0 by Rangers in the Scottish Cup and views it as a damage limitation job well done. But a professional none the less. And the thing was, even 20-odd years later as it was then, Tosh was the best player on the pitch by a country mile.
He hardly ever ran, didn't need to, he was always two moves ahead of the game and when he went in goal it was as if the full-size goal had been replaced with a 5-a-side one. He was head and shoulders above everyone else without ever trying. The kind of fella you think 'I need to be on Tosh's side otherwise I'll never score'.
When Stanley, or for that matter anyone else, scored, in the pub after the match it was always, 'Yes, but was it against Tosh?'. If no the goal didn't seem to really count, if, on those all too rare occasions, it was yes then the sage like nodding and smiling which followed meant that Stanley carried with him a warm glow of satisfaction all week until the next Friday and the resumption of the 'Tosh Challenge'.
Thinking and writing about the 'Tosh Challenge' even 10 years later leaves Stanley once again glowing. Stanley got a lot out of his Friday nights with Tosh, but what exactly, Stanley often wondered, did Tosh get out of it? Was it a kind of psychological redemption, where Tosh was Rangers to Stanley's Berwick Rangers? Stanley always meant to ask, but it just never seemed the polite thing to do.
All quite frankly like pre-season friendlies, I can see what the teams we have played get out of it, but what do we get out of it? Does beating a team from Suffolk 12-0 help us with our mental preparation for our next trip to the home of the 'Great Satan'? Or prepare us for what is coming our way at Deepdale on August 11?
The only time a pre-season friendly had an impact on the season was when Bellamy got injured playing in one at Colchester. As far as Stanley is concerned pre-season friendlies really are a load of old Tosh.