Sacrifice, Victory, Stupidity…

July 17, 2008

Now, i can’t help but develop a slight crisis of conscience at this point. I’ll openly admit that i have been somewhat slack in my blogging exploits over the last few weeks, but that’s really down to two reasons: firstly, deadlines at work are rapidly approaching and encroaching on my “Gladiators time”; and secondly, my “Gladiators time” is growing and growing week on week, due to the amount of stuff we’ve got going on! So, that leaves me with three choices:

1) Focus on work – after all it’s what i’m paid for! Glads and blogs will wait.

2) Focus on Gladiators business – i’ve got lots of fingers in lots of Gladiatorial pies at the moment, all of which would benefit from a bit more attention.

3) Blog away ’til my heart’s content – perhaps the easy option; a shameless personal plug, and to the detriment of my paid employment and at the expense of the Club.

Now, on the surface this looks a fairly easy decision, and the consequences are pretty clear. But, here’s the thing… If you read the Gladiators forum, you’ll have noticed that i appear to be under some pressure from a certain defensive back, who also moonlights as the club Vice-Chairman, as well as a certain unnamed Linebackers coach to continue blogging. So, with that in mind, never let it be said that i neglect my many legions of fans (well, my two fans at least), and to the detriment of the Gladiators, and quite possibly my career, here i sit, blogging hat on, and fingers on the keys. Nick – if the club suffers, they can blame you…

So, with fingertips gently poised on the keys, what can i document this time? Well, the obvious would be the game – 5 weeks after the last gasp victory in Maidstone, the Gladiators return home to take on the undefeated Cambridgeshire Cats, in temperatures somewhat more moderate, and a crowd somewhat more enthusiastic than Maidstone provided. Cambridge brought a QB with an arm made of rubber who could sling the ball for miles, but seemed to leave the receivers at home. The Gladiators, on the other hand, brought a fearsome defence, a secondary made of granite, and an offense that seemingly could score from anywhere on the field. Finally, the team came together, and although there were few exceptional performances, the team as a whole can be very satisfied with the performance. The match report goes into more detail, and tells the story better than i could on here, but it does leave out some key observations from the day…

Leo Beckford was making his debut in the blue and gold this week, and for those who don’t know him, he’s been a stand-out player for the Essex Blades for quite some time.

Leo is known for two real things – the muscles on his left arm, and the muscles on his right arm: that’s right, another little gym bunny who loves nothing more than polishing his guns (to put it in perspective, where our beloved Mark Gilbranch packs some pistols, Leo models his mortars). Seriously though, Leo is an athlete – an exceptional 400m runner, or at least he was until he met Adam Burrows who introduced him to the world of cheap booze and cheaper women. Then, when they turned off the internet, Burrows introduced him to American Football.


So, the day began for me as i went to collect messrs Beckford and Tommy Clarks from their humble abode, and proceeded to pay a visit to Sir Charles Lucas school, where we were able to dig out a blue helmet for our debutant. After some poking and prodding, and some manipulation of the padding, Leo seemed happy enough with the fit, until Burrows revealed that it was his old helmet and may have been used for activities other than football. The mind wanders far and wide at this point, but Burrows assures me that it was nothing more sinister than doubling as his bicycle helmet. Yeah. Right. Believe that and you’ll believe anything…

The warm-ups pass without anything too drastic happening – the mascot walks into the changing room, and the innuendo level rises as ever.

Comedy moment of the first half – Mark Gilbranch comes off the field, and in front of the main stand, full of families, kids (4 of which are from his class at school), he yells….a very bad word. Kids, if you’re reading this, it’s a bad word, Mr. Gilbranch didn’t mean it, and don’t ever repeat it. Instead, next time he takes the register, just fold your arms, shake your head, and tut loudly at him… The look on Mark’s face when he realised what he’d done was priceless.

Comedy moment of the second half – I’d love to say that Slider’s touchdown dance was my favourite moment of the second half, but I’d be lying. It was really down to Cambridge. Picture the scene – the Gladiators are leading, but you’re marching downfield. you want a score to bring yourselves back into the game. The crowd are watching expectantly, and the heart is pounding. The QB goes under centre ready to call the cadence… and all of a sudden the ball is snapped, through your legs, nowhere near your hands. Disaster. But pure comedy gold. The entire Cambridge offence stands still. The QB is still under centre waiting for the ball, none of the Offensive line have even blinked. The entire Gladiators defence rumbles through them and recovers the football. The Cambridge players don’t seem to understand what’s going on, but just about all of the Gladiators sideline is in hysterics.

Spanner of the day (or week, or month, or ever!) – Nick Foxley. Surely the only reason he wants me to write the blog is so that he can read what i scribble about his hit. So i’m not going to say anything…


…except that it was huge, it was bone shattering, and i believe the echo is still being heard somewhere in the Pacific right now.

Anyway, if you hadn’t already guessed, it was a fantastic result for the Gladiators, knocking off the undefeated Cats, and keeping their playoff hopes alive.


So, in other news this week, we didn’t win the quiz – i know, i know, unbelievable as it is, we don’t win every week. But the team has been strengthened by the addition of Dave “Once a week” Crane.

Dave’s recent move to inhabit Mark’s spare room has meant that he’s available and ready to contribute each Wednesday. His “once a week” moniker has been the subject of much debate, as there are a number of possible origins…It could be that he’s only sober once a week. Or that he only eats vegetables once a week. Or that his constipated body allows a release only once a week. Or that he has to top up the dye in his strawberry blonde locks once a week. Or, most likely, is that he’ll only answer one question each week in the quiz.

This week, a touch of glamour was added to proceedings as an old friend of our beloved chairman joined us – a lady by the name of Wendy joined the table, and immediately was the subject of much interest from the singletons in the ranks. Any time she mentioned a woman’s name – either a friend, relative, sibling, or offspring – Mark chirped up with “is she single?” Now, not that Mark’s desperate or anything, but he only has three requirements from a potential partner – 1) a pulse, 2) breathing, 3) female; but he’s flexible enough that he’ll accept 2 out of 3… In fact, if there are any kids from Marks’ class reading this, then feel free to set him up with an older sister, or a single aunt. That’ll give me something to write about once the season is over!

As Mark was being less than subtle, George heard a little hint of a recent hospital visit in Wendy’s stories, and leapt on it like a fat kid on a cupcake. “So, you were in hospital recently? I work there you know. Who did you see? Oh yes, he’s a very good doctor. I’ll put in a good word with him for you next time…” then a cheeky wink, a big broad smile and…. Hogarth sneaks in and changes the subject somewhat abruptly by asking “is there a man in your life at the moment Wendy?” Dave’s subtlety is normally his strength, but suspected the direct approach might garner him more success. Unfortunately this backfired pretty badly as Wendy spills her heart out about a lost love that nearly leaves us in tears. Still, nice try Dave…

Wendy then takes control, asking us what we all do for a living. We skirt around my job, because i don’t even know what i’m supposed to be doing, so i’ve no idea how i’m supposed to explain that to someone else! George is obviously at the Hospital, Dave’s a jack-of-all-trades, Mark’s a teacher, and then we get to Mr Crane who imparts that he’s a Youth Worker. Wendy seems impressed…

“Oooh, you must have lots of patience!”

“No love, i said Youth Worker, not a doctor.”

Dave, get with the programme….

Still victory escapes us once again, but no doubt we’ll continue to press for quiz glory. For anyone keeping score, we’ve got about 10 bottles of wine to drink in winnings – not sure when would be appropriate for that, but we’re working on it.

So, despite all the fun and games of the last few weeks, the last word, as ever, goes to my beloved Ria. Driving with her in the car the other week, we had the radio on. The DJ was doing a feature about the “worst games to play on the radio”. Having done Hangman, spot the difference, and snakes and ladders, he moved on to Connect 4. So, two callers on the line, one would be red, and one would be yellow, they’d call out a number from 1-7, corresponding with the column that they wanted the disc to be put into. Seems simple enough – truly enthralling radio i’m sure you’ll agree. They get underway, and there are discs going all over the place. Eventually we sense a pattern emerging, and i start to urge one of the players (yellow) to go with column 6 for the win. Three in a row diagonally – i can picture it – and it’s begging for the fourth. I turn to Ria…

“If he slots it in number 6, he wins!”

“No he won’t, he needs five in a row.”


“Love, what game are we playing here?”


Not even Mark could pull that one off….