Tie break torture…

January 17, 2008

So, another Wednesday, another quiz night. As defending champions we strolled in, nonchalantly, with nothing to prove. People turned to watch us stride in, whispering and murmuring in the background as people recognised a group of winners entering the arena. Mark’s eyes narrowed as he caught sight of his nemesis. The opponent stared back, and Dave and I restrained Mark, and stopped him saying something he may regret.We sat out of the way this week, off the main “quiz floor” so as not to have dozens of pairs of eyes burning into us, examining our every move…

Ok, it was actually just really busy, and we had to find a table somewhere!

Anyway, the quiz got underway, and Eric, in his thick Stoke drawl began with…”Which satellite…”

“Telstar”, George pops up with immediately, probably because it’s the only one he’s heard of, but it was the best guess we had, so down it went. A positive start for the defending champs. Well, at least until the old Gilbranch curse comes out again, after only 4 questions. “Blimey, we’re looking good tonight boys – we could be on a winner…” Dave and I look at each other before yelping in despair! “Mark’s cursed us again. No hope now…”

However, the questions continued to come, and we still felt relatively confident. Surely a bad sign. We reached the halfway mark feeling good, a couple of guesses, but generally pretty solid.

A short break was followed by the second half, where our only aim was not to fall apart. And it was all going so well until the last 10 questions. “What is Trinitroluene better known as?” Blank looks from our quartet.

“Cereology is the study of what?” Erm… No Mark, not Shredded Wheat. I was sure i’d heard it before, but couldn’t place it. Something to do with farming? Crops? Maybe Crop circles? Don’t know, but Crop circles was as good a guess as any, so down it went.

“What was Lily Munster’s maiden name?” No Mark, it’s not Lily Savage! Well, she was some sort of vampire wasn’t she? Just stick down Dracula, he was a vampire too.

No! We can’t let it fall apart after 40 questions! But, fall apart it did. So, somewhat desolately, Mark trudged up to pass over the answer paper to Eric. Silence then ensued as the tension mounted…

“So, now the answers…” We were confident that our first half would put us in with a chance, but the second half would kill us. “Question 1, which satellite…” Again, George chirped up, “It’s Telstar, it must be.”

“…was Telstar.”

We let out a little cheer of contentment, and George grinned inanely.

Eric continued answering the questions, and the correct answers kept flowing. After the first 25 questions we had 21 points. One of which was an inspired guess that Dorking and Dark Cornish are breeds of chickens. But now we felt that our fate was decided. There surely wasn’t a chance of any type of victory with a poor performance in the second half.

So, on with the answers… and here something odd happens. We continue getting the answers right. In fact, the first 14 questions of round 2 were correct (including Dave’s inspired calculation that there were 22 boxes in Deal or No Deal). But we were still convinced there were problems brewing.

“Cereology is the study of…Crop Circles” What? You’re kidding? That was a guess, maybe slightly educated, but a guess nontheless…

“And Lily Munster’s maiden name was Dracula” Nothing educated about that one! Blind luck there…

All of a sudden we’re back in the running and we finish with a total of 41 out of 50. Could it be? A win out of nothing?

“Easy ones this week”, Eric insists. “So, anyone with 45 or above? Nobody? Have you all gone home? How about 42 or above? 40 or above?”

We erupt! Well, at least Mark squeaks a little before getting up and wandering over to claim 41. However, a familar face met him en route. His nemesis was stood, grasping an answer paper with 41 declared too. Eric would have to mark them both.

We sat, nervously. Mark sat chuntering about “how on earth that Ronnie Barker look-a-like can get 41”. Then Eric approached… “I only make it 40”. Our faces fell, but with Mark doing all the marking, anything is possible. I checked through it, and saw that he’d marked a question wrong, when it was actually correct. Eric admitted his error, and then…Tie break time!

Now, i should jsut explain something here. Instead of a traditional “nearest the answer wins” tie-breaker, Eric likes to ask another question. Well, actually he likes to ask another 2 questions (just to make sure!). So, firstly “Where is the HQ of the International Red Cross?” George again jumps to the fore, announcing that it’s Geneva. “Question 2, what does Bisto stand for?” Erm, we didn’t even know it was an acronym! But, we resigned ourselves to the fact that this might be the last question of the night, and engaged our sense of humour, writing – “BISTO = Beef Is So Tasty. Oooh”. Needless to say, that wasn’t correct. Interestingly though, neither was the nemesis’ reply. So, after two questions it was 1-1. Eric continues…

“In Malay, what does Orang-utan mean? And where do 80% of the world’s shoes get manufactured?”

Dave’s knowledge bank gets raided here, and he comes up with “Old Man of the Forest”, and China. Both correct, both matched by the opposition.

Questions 5 and 6, “What does the average American male do 5.33 times per week? And when was the first concentration camp built in Nazi Germany?”

Well, we’ve had the first one before, so we know that’s shaving. The second is trickier. War was in 1939, Hitler came to poer in 1933 (we think), so around 1936. Turns out, Hitler was more proactive than we gave him credit for, and he built it in 1933, but the opposition slipped up on that one too. So, 1-1 in that pair of questions. We continue…

“Question 7, Why was Cliff Richard forbidden from entering Singapore in 1978, despite his sell out tour? And question 8, what is French for ‘already seen’?”

Th second one is easy- that’s Deja vu, so even Mark got that. The first is trickier. Probably something to do with religion we decided. Turns out that’s what the opposition put too, but we were both wrong. Apparently his hair was too long. Hmm, that means only one thing…

“Tiebreak question 9, Which Hollywood star had measurements of 70-30-32?”

Only one question this time, but none of us can thinkof an woman with a bust of 70″! Cartoon characters get bandied around, and eventually we stick with Jessica Rabbit. It was Miss Piggy. Neither team got that.

“Tiebreak question 10, how many even prime numbers are there? And question 11, Who or what was ‘Big Willy’?”

Only one even prime number, and that’s 2. But Big Willy? George thinks a canon, i’m inclined to agree. Turns out it was a tank, but neither team knew that. So, more questions…

“Question 12, Which metal is most commonly found in the Earth? And Question 13, what does PDA stand for?”

Personal Digital Assistant…boy could we use one of those right now! Loads of Iron ore in the earth, must be that. No, it’s Aluminium. And the opposition got that right. But they didn’t get the PDA! So, more questions…

“Question 14, which Peanuts character carried a security blanket? And Question 15, who sang the theme to the bond film, “The Spy Who Loved Me”?”

Dave and I immediately say Linus for the first question, and George comes up with a winner – Carly Simon. 2/2 for us. Mark wanders up the now well trodden path to Eric’s booth. His nemesis presents his answers… One of which is wrong. WE WIN!

So, it took a total of 65 questions to separate us, but we’re the best! Reigning champions! Dynasty in the making! Well, we’ll see…

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January 16, 2008

So, the camps are over, and now we’re into some serious training. Pass the vaseline, the deep heat and the helmet, but not necessarily in that order…

Saturday practice goes kitted! An eager buzz of anticipation flows through the air. Time to get rid of the pent up aggression from having to spend Christmas day sat next to your 85 year old grandmother who is as deaf as a post, complains a lot, and smells a lot like old cabbage. Or was that just the sprouts…

So, warm up, agility, where the fat men wobble and the small men bounce, and then Coach Roberts utters the immortal words… “Get kitted”. The new players smile but approach the shoulder pads with trepidation. The returning players (even the linemen) sprint over, and yank the pads over their head.

So, back into positional stuff. Coach O’Hare further emphasised his involuntary celibacy by offering us his balls… tennis balls. “A bit of pass protection with a tennis ball under your chin will make you think about your fundamentals. Oh, and if you drop it, it’s 10 press-ups.” The rookies looked confused. The experienced players merely shoved it down between the chest and the shoulder pads, and wedged it in there. No hope of press ups for us!

Then we worked together as a team on fundamentals – this time it was tackling. It was deemed necessary that the whole team should learn to tackle correctly, so Coach Roberts recited the BAFCA level 1 manual to us, and got the team working at tackling technique. He was very detailed, outlining the “fit” (the approach to a tackle, and the positioning), the “rip” (ripping the arms through), “grip” (wrapping up the ball carrier, and grabbing cloth), and “drive” (driving through the tackle). We repped this a few times, before getting into 3 drills emphasising the use of the tackling technique. Firstly, tackling a runner coming through the line, then a reciever in open field lanes, and then a ball carrier breaking to the sideline. Every time it was “fit, rip, grip, drive”, keep repeating it, “fit, rip, grip, drive”, over and over again…

Then into a scrimmage. Full kit, full contact, give it large! Then, first play, the QB drops back, throws… “INTERCEPTION”. I key in on Scott Taylor who caught the ball, he’s coming towards me, and i’m reciting “fit, rip, grip, drive. Fit, rip grip, drive. Fit, rip, gr…” It’s at that point that i realise i’ve just dropped a shoulder, run straight through him, and sent him flying to the floor 2 yards back. Oh well, practice makes perfect…


Camp no. 2

January 16, 2008

Firstly, apologies for the delay in posting – time seems to have escaped me!

Now, just under a fortnight ago we held our second mini-camp for new and experienced players alike, and again it was a massive success – mainly because i didn’t keel over and die!

It began, bright and breezy on Saturday morning. Turnout was good, in excess of 50 guys there ready to play. A swift warm up was followed by some work in position specific units, which left the O-line in the capable hands of Coach Neil O’Hare. Rumour abounded that the Coach hadn’t got lucky in some time, seemingly reinforced by his desire to see some large chunks of humanity thrusting their hips. Personally, i think he likes it because we can’t run away too quickly…

Then, into some scrimmaging – the QBs enhanced their reputations as dainty little pretty boys by gently tossing passes for gains of about 5, and handing the ball off to the depleted running back corps – led by Duncan Flack. Duncan is the polar opposite to Neil, encouraging his guys to keep their hips level, and not thrust at all. Apparently running backs don’t need the thrust that linemen do. I’ve yet to ask one of Duncan’s recent conquests to verify this though.

Sunday saw more of the same, but with the added element of some agility training. And i have to tell you, if you’ve never seen a fat man wiggle, it’s quite hypnotic…. Run to the cones and back again. Then jump over the hurdle and run to the cone. Follow that with Bunny hops over more hurdles, running over tacklebags, sidestepping around cones, and then a bit of rhythmic shuffling through a ladder. Needless to say there were some small men who struggled with the hurdles, some big men who struggled with the hops, and some bigger men who finished with both feet tied together in the ladder. Still, we’re at the mercy of the Coaches…

More positional drills followed this, and as the linemen and i stood stamping our feet, i glanced over at the receivers and the DBs. They were running across the field retrieving balls and racing each other back. The linebackers were sprinting, back-pedalling, sprinting, recovering a fumble and running it back, and the running backs were running everywhere. I crouched in my stance, moved one foot forward 6 inches, before bringing it back. It was right then i realised i was probably playing in the right position…

More scrimmaging after that, a few new plays and some exciting new blocking schemes. That’s clearly a recipe for disaster, and sure enough the QBs were brought to the floor on more than one occasion, but there’s plenty of time to iron out the kinks. I hope.

All in all, both camps were a resounding success. We’ve got over 25 new players, many returning guys, and a strong looking roster for next season. With fixtures announced soon, were all excited and keen to put it all into practice as soon as we can.