The lads were simply going through the rituals, as they religiously do at Park Island like any other summer's night in Napier on Tuesdays.
Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United players had been locked in their muscle-activation, warm-up mobility routines where clusters of four were passing, receiving and trapping balls within the stately surrounds of the Bluewater Stadium this week.
About half an hour into the session a whip-like crack had abruptly broken the flow of the incessant cacophony one becomes so accustomed to at a football park that Bay United call home.
"I think one of the boys might have said it's a gun, you know," says Bay United co-coach Chris Greatholder whose instant reaction was not to be silly before they host Waitakere United in week seven of the national summer league when it kicks off at 2pm on Sunday.
"This is Park Island, you know, this sort of stuff doesn't happen here."
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Training resumed just momentarily when another cracking sound had punctuated the tranquillity of the sprawling sport and recreational reserve. Blokes so adept at barking orders at each other were now frozen and all ears.
Mmmm ... that wasn't the sound of a car backfiring or, for that matter, firecrackers they had heard just the other night, long after Halloween and Guy Fawkes night.
Even to the untrained ears, the timbre and volume of the noise breaking the sound barrier was markedly distinct from the chaotic rhythm of a swooshing sky rocket or a belching muffler.
"Yeah, we heard another one so we looked over the main stand and we could see within 50 metres, or maybe 100 meters, a couple of police [officers] flanking a guy sat down in the middle," says Greatholder who works in tandem with player-coach Bill Robertson whose troops would have then progressed from the enclosure to the unconfined back field, adjacent to the hockey turfs, for some mock matches.
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It had suddenly dawned on the team the matter was serious after an alleged gunman had fired what was believed to be shots at a motorist. The police had instructed the players to seek sanctuary indoors so they made a beeline for the clubrooms.
"It was strange, I guess, surreal and not what you'd expect on a Tuesday night and we've done that forever," says Greatholder. "How we handled it, I don't know, but we just did what we thought was the right thing to do."
The 45-minute confinement of the clubrooms gave them a fair view of what was unfolding outside during the Park Island lockdown.
"There were lots more police around, with both sides of the roads coming into Park Island cordoned off so we could see the whole thing happening."
With some of the players on social media, their fears of alleged gun shots fired had been confirmed and rumours were rife that someone also had been allegedly shot.
"At that stage we knew it was significant and, I suppose, it had shocked as a little bit, maybe."
The players had waved to the group of Armed Offenders Squad members who had in turn responded with signals to reiterate the need for them to stay put in the clubrooms.
Not long after the police held discussions with the players before asking them if they were prepared to leave the clubrooms around 7.30pm.
"For safety reasons we had to get out of there very quickly, get into our cars and, basically, go the other way [home]."
Needless to say, Greatholder hopes it'll never happen again.
"I suppose the seriousness of it all isn't lost on everybody," he says, lauding the police officers for their expertise and composure. "They were more skilful so it was a no-brainer for us to get ourselves out of there safe."
Having put out a media release, the premiership franchise club feels it's important to separate facts from conjecture and rumour.
"The boys have come through it okay and there have been offers of support if they need additional help," he says, confirming last night's training went smoothly at the same venue.
Fortunately Greatholder's employment, pertaining with building a rapport with people, came in handy in an impromptu scenario.
"I guess until you're in that sort of situation you're not sure how you're going to react but, you know, some people are trained to react like that although our boys would have never, ever thought they'd be in a situation like that."
He says the coaching stable, already programmed to look after the welfare of players, had handled the matter with aplomb.
Greatholder says the incident disrupted their build up but they have done some aspects of the training remotely via video technology and football had kicked off again.
"Last night's session was heavier than we wanted it to be but there was a lot we had to go through," he says as they were going to train again tonight.
Greatholder echoed Robertson's post-match remarks after eking out a third stalemate on the trot, albeit one defeat in the opener to Auckland City FC from six matches.
"I do feel we've left a few points out there this season," he says, after the Ruben Parker Hanks-captained side had conceded goals in the dying minutes to surrender their lead.
"No one has beaten us in five games and, in isolation, we've had some good results."
Should Bay United use home advantage to claim three points, he says, the single points on the road will be put in perspective.
The 25C weather forecast, with light easterly breezes, will test teams again where lethargy will dictate to the brains.
"That's where I can come in, I suppose, as a coach but it's the same for both sides and we've talked a lot about that."
Greatholder says Bay United are partial to an aggressive blueprint in attack but with that comes an element of risk.
Waitakere, he believes, are of a similar ilk and tend to bring energy and passion.
"They're a good club, on the up and they're enjoying themselves so it'll be a very hard game."
He says the emphasis for Bay United is to be more clinical at both ends of the park.
However, Greatholder prefers to juxtapose the season so far with the corresponding stage last summer.
Bay United, he says, have scored twice as many goals, conceded fewer and crowd numbers have doubled.
"We know we need a couple of wins if we want to justify our place on the top but, to be honest with you, we'd have taken this start."
■ Hawke's Bay Utd: 1. Ruben Parker Hanks (GK, c), 4. Kaeden Atkins, 6. Jack Parker, 7. Sho Goto, 8. Karan Mandair, 9. Ahinga Selemani, 10. Dylan Sacramento, 14. Gavin Hoy, 15. Josh Murphy, 16. Joshua Signey, 17. Fergus Neil, 19. Bjorn Christensen, 20. Bill Robertson, 21. Shea Stapleton, 22. Ihaia Delaney, 23. Jorge Akers.
Co-coaches: Chris Greatholder, Bill Robertson.
■ Waitakere Utd: 1. Nic Draper (GK), 4. Robert Tipelu, 5. Flynn O'Brien, 7. Alex Connor-McClean, 8. Sam Burfoot (c), 10. Jake Porter, 11. Lachlan McIsaac, 12. Nico Steinmetz, 13. Jack Duncan, 14. Gerard Garriga Gibert, 15. Clarke Foulds, 19. Andrew Abba, 20. Regont Murati, 21. Luke Searle, 22. Kyrylo Bolharyn (RGK), 23. Joshua Redfern
Coach: Paul Hobson.