50 – 10 = 40…

February 14, 2008

Quiz night again, and the intrepid foursome had high hopes of setting the standard in preparation for the Gladiators Quiz night next Friday. However, all good things come to an end, and after regaining their championship crown last week, it was cruelly stolen from them…mainly because Mark, our beloved primary school teacher, can’t count.

Anyway, we had a feeling it wasn’t going to be our night when the first question came up, “What is the name for a chicken that is less than a year old?” Erm…

But we recovered from an early stumble and rapidly pulled out some corking answers. Author of the Water Babies – Charles Kingsley, Jeroboam – 4 bottles, and my favourite, “if James is 5, Henry is 3 and Edward is 2, then who is 1?” Think about it. Could it be a trick question? Some kind of embedded code? Nope, it’s far simpler than that…It’s Thomas the Tank Engine!

However, throughout the quiz, George and Mark tried to make us slip up… “In equine terms, how much does a hand measure?” Mark and I were tossing numbers around, like 4 and a half inches, 6 inches, etc. And George chirps up… “18 inches” he says. Dave and i look at each other, before Dave replies, “Well, they say that a good size horse is about 17 hands, which would make it 25 and a half feet tall.” In fairness, that would be a good size horse… We settled on 4, more in hope than expectation, but we came up trumps on that one.

Another question that made us ponder was “Which is the only animal to have a tongue but cannot stick it out of its mouth?” Various things were mentioned – shark, crocodile, platypus – before we guessed at Crocodile, fully expecting the answer to be alligator! But, another moment of triumph when Crocodile earned us the point.

Comical moment of the night came when the question “Who was the arch enemy of cartoon character Elmer J. Fudd?” Dave, George and I leaned in to whisper the obvious answer, Bugs Bunny. But we all decided there was no point even saying it, because it was too obvious. So, naturally we expected Mark to be writing this down, but instead he broke out into hysterical laughter. When we asked him what was wrong, apparently the three of us simultaneously leaning forward and backwards tickled him. And, no, he didn’t know the answer. God only knows what Mark was doing when the rest of us were watching cartoons.

I do know for sure that he wasn’t sailing anywhere though. “How deep is a fathom of water?” Mark’s almost instantaneous reply was “12 miles”. No Mark. Just No…

So, we feel quietly confident with our score of 41, despite knowing that we’d mentioned a couple of answers in passing, and not written them down. However, our hopes are dashed when another team declares 41 as well. We fear a tie breaker on our hands, and after the 15 question marathon the other week, we were dreading the tension. But we needn’t have worried. Mark had added our scores wrong, and we only had 40. Despite checking and double checking, he still insisted that we had 41. A quick count revealed 10 wrong answers, and thus, a score of 40.

So, denied this week, but we’re hopeful that next week will help us add to the wine kitty…

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Super Bowl fever…

February 6, 2008

So, Super Bowl Weekend has been and gone for this year, but boy did it leave an impression!

This year, the Gladiators joined forces with the Essex Blades who were hosting a party at the University, so a small crowd of us wandered that way for the big game. Glads on parade were myself, our venerable Chairman Dave Hogarth, Dave Crane, a brace of Foxleys, George Meighan, Mark Gilbranch, and, Making his Super Bowl debut, Sam Hogarth. So, we sat towards the back watching the big screen, and something caught our eye. Something pink, something very tiny, and something just peeking out to say hello. At this point we realised that we were in a Student Union… in Essex… so of course it was a bright pink thong. Needless to say none of us minded a little distraction, and for some, that was the closest they’d been to a glimpse of flesh for quite some time…

Anyway, as we were admiring the view, Coach T comes over and specifies the rules for the night’s proceedings. Every kick that goes up, we drink for the hang time. Every first down is two fingers, as was every penalty. And at the end of a quarter, or when the ball was turned over, that was a shot of something short. We were mildly concerned by this, but, T’s our coach, we trust him implicitly and we do as he says…

So, the kick goes up, the beer goes down, and we’re underway. The beer flows, the shots go down and everybody is at ease. Well, almost everybody. Some idiot in a big hat jumps up and down a lot at the front. Someone else throws something at him and he sits down. Everybody is happy again. The pink thong makes another appearance, and everybody is even happier.

The game itself wasn’t the cleanest, most exciting football, and seemed a little cagey at times, but we were all gripped. At least, almost all of us. On occasion it was noticed that George and the Fabulous Foxley Brothers may have had somewhat heavy eyelids. Mind you, they weren’t doing the quantity of drink that the rest of us were.

Into the second half, and the first down celebrations became more animated, the beer (and later the snakebite) disappeared more quickly, and the shots were starting to pile up. As we hit the 4th quarter, 14 year old Sam makes a bold move, declaring that if the Patriots hold on for the win, he’d drink the remaining shots on the table. At this stage, there were 8 Apple Sourz waiting for him. However, it wasn’t to be, and when Eli Manning drove the Giants 80 yards down the field to snatch victory, deep into the 4th quarter, it meant that Sam’s thirst would go unquenched.

As we stumbled back down the stairs we came across the elusive Coach T, escorting a young lady into a taxi. We never saw her face, but we did see something else. Glinting in the moonlight we noticed something pink, something very tiny, and something just peeking out to say hello…


Mobile, Agile, Hostile…

February 6, 2008

So, quite possibly the coldest evening of the year preceded training this week. That meant one thing – frozen mud.

Needless to say the prospect of rolling around on hard icy ground was enough to put off a few people from training, but the hardcore members of Matt Roberts’ Barmy Army still continued to attend. And in fact, the frozen mud quickly turned to thick, wet mud as the morning, and the training session progressed.

So, as ever, the warm up was followed by the agility – 6 stations, each more devious than the last, where we push ourselves for a couple of minutes each.

So, firstly, “The wobbly cones of doom” – fairly straightforward this one, side shuffle around the cones, through Coach Wilkinson’s little maze, keeping head up, bum down, and avoiding knocking any cones over, on fear of death – well, that’s a touch exaggerated, but some people dread 10 press ups as much as they do death…

Next comes the first of the ladders. This requires two feet between each rung, keeping knees high, and powering forwards. Not too hard, but inevitably someone will trip, tangling the ladder in their feet, and dragging you down with them! We tend to spend most of this drill working on untying knots, usually consisting of mangled ladder and twisted ankles!

Thirdly is Coach Bourke’s drill. easy to understand, straightforward to execute, but the tempo and the repetition are what kills you! Basically this consists of a hurdle, and a cone. Vertical leap over the hurdle, bringing knees to chest, and then sprint to the cone as you land. Perhaps the most underrated, and the station where the most benefit can be gained, but after a leap, sprint and jog back, it’s already your turn to go again. It’s one quick circuit that is repeated over and over – no recovery time on this one! Tends to wear out even the guys with most stamina (and no, i don’t mean Adam Burrows and Tommy Clarke, although their late night sessions do emphasise remarkable stamina…)

Next comes the second ladder drill. Similar to the first, where you put two feet between each rung, but this time you go side to side rather than forward. You tend to see a lot of skipping linemen at this one, gently bouncing from side to side. Good tests for foot speed and balance, so you tend to see a lot of the Defensive line falling over on this one…

Then you’re confronted by the hurdles – bunny hop hell! 5 hurdles, two feet between each hurdle, so high kneed bunny hops are the order of the day. This is where the springy heeled DBs come into their own, but us lineman are left unimpressed at the prospect of picking up the hurdles we’ve inevitably knocked down.

And finally, Rick Rotondo’s Gauntlet run! Well, actually it’s not that exciting – all it consists of are a number of tackle bags laid on the floor, which you have to run through, stepping high over them. Firstly with long strides, then with shorter strides as you put two feet between each bag, and then with longer strides again. Always whilst Rick is yelling something aggressively and loudly, and inevitably followed by “Yeah baby, whoo!”.

So, each week we’re confronted by the 6 stages of hell, so, rest assured, if we ever find ourselves confronted by a hurdle or a tacklebag on the field this season, we’ll know exactly how to deal with it!

As ever training was well constructed, and allowed us to practice all facets of the game, rounded off nicely by a scrimmage. This week the scrimmage was recorded by Coach O’Hare, supposedly for training purposes, but the way he zoomed in on certain people left us a touch concerned… Either way, he managed to get my best side…my back.

So, aside from training, great strides have been made on the social front, and watch this space for details of our Gladiators Quiz night – or, more specifically, details of what clangers Mark can come out with in front of a new audience…