New year, same old Gladiators…

November 7, 2012

Well, well, well, look what’s crawled back into civilisation. That’s right, the Colchester Gladiator Player Diary has re-emerged! It’s no coincidence that the blog’s last post was immediately prior to our Britbowl appearance, and you’ve not heard from me since. For those of you still perched on the edge of your seat wondering whether the plucky ’09 Gladiators triumphed over the Leicester Falcons on the hallowed turf the green and pleasant land the field of dreams the muddy pitch at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, well let me set your mind at ease… we didn’t. We lost by a point, and even now it’s a sore subject, so let’s not talk about it…

I mean it…

So, we’ve rounded out the 2012 season, and the team is very different. Gone are Singer the slinger, Beckford the beast, and Slider the speedster, and in come Action Jackson, Campbell the Quick, and… Curtis.

Now, you’ll know, if you’re a regular reader of the blog, that we specialise in making our team mates feel welcome, feel loved and appreciated, and sometimes, very very occasionally, we might make them feel a little foolish. Particularly if your first name is Dave.

And your surname is Crane.

And you resemble a Vanilla Gorilla…


Well, Dave has done a lot of good things recently. He’s lost a lot of weight. Then, after putting it on again, he lost some weight. Then after putting it on again he lost a little bit of weight. Now his weight has stabilised again. He’s also managed to find a new abode. Previously, he and his former housemate represented the ultimate “odd couple”, living together in a musty, testosterone fuelled love den. There’s was a unique relationship.  Crane would fall over after too many cognacs, and the housemate would point and laugh. Conversely, Crane saw the arrival of “the Jackhammer” – the superhero with the most unique power: to make love with a more consistent pounding rhythm than any other human being, and Crane would stand in the kitchen and hold the extractor fan to prevent the unit falling from the ceiling when the Jackhammer got to work. Fortunately this never bothered Crane, he never had to do it for very long before the inevitable cry of “I Win!” came from the  bedroom above…

So i thought, a new year, a new blog post, and a new set of team mates to deride for all sorts of reasons. The only question left is where to start?

Actually that’s easy. Curtis. Look no further. Too much to talk about here.

For those of you who don’t know, Curtis is only in the team because he’s Coach Karl Bourke’s son. That’s it. His talent is fairly negligible and if you watch the film you most likely won’t see him unless the camera pans around to the ambulance… I jest. Sort of.


Curtis is a youth team graduate and one of the founding members of the Gladiators Youth programme. He’s stuck to football through thick and thin over the years, and to be honest, you’d think he’d be better than he actually is. But he isn’t. And he’s still the best we’ve got. Not sure if that’s an indictment of him or us. Still, he is our QB1 – the man who makes the decisions, the one who leads the offence. The man who we look to for an articulate, intelligent, football minded leader. We look to him, then we look over his shoulder for a better option.

Young Bourke is pretty experienced, and quite worldly. He’s been to the continent with the Great Britain Youth team, and he’s been to… erm… Butlins at Minehead, so he’s very well travelled! As such, you’d expect he’s someone with an acute sense of style, some cultural distinction, and someone who is fond of a diverse range of cuisine. Allow me to debunk each one of these assumptions in turn…

In terms of his style, i think i’ve only ever seen him wear two things outside of his football uniform. One is a t-shirt emblazoned with Charlie Sheen’s face proclaiming that he’s “Winning”. The other is an old Abercrombie t-shirt that’s too small, but he clings to the past, thinking that it still fits. Neither is particularly alluring. When wearing the former, you see a spaced out, washed out child star who thinks he can convince everyone that he’s at the top of his game…who is wearing Charlie sheen on his chest. The other shirt yields little more than a Bourke muffin top. Not attractive. He also insists on wearing skinny jeans – his spindly little legs resemble two bendy straws as it is, so wearing jeans that look like he’s spray painted two walking sticks just makes me realise quite how fragile he is, and quite how much he lacks in the style department. This past weekend also provided a bit of an epiphany about Curtis’ style. Whilst stood in a field ready to practice against the University of Essex Blades, Curtis accused the Blades’ new QB of “swacking”. I was confused, so i looked closely…. His hands were not down his pants, so that’s not swacking. Nor were his hands near anyone else, so it wasn’t that. I thought it might have been some slang term for making good throws, but no, he didn’t register a pass attempt in that series. I was confused, and admitted defeat. Curtis enlightened me.

Swacking, [s-hwak-ing], adjective, informal. To hijack one’s “Swagger”. To imitate someone else’s style.


Swagger, [swag-er], verb (used without object), To walk or strut with a defiant or insolent air. To boast or brag noisily.

Yup, that just about sums up Curtis. So you’re accusing this guy of stealing your strut or your “insolent air”. Interesting. I guess this brings me to the cultural aspects of Curtis’ personality…

Cultural distinction – well, i’ve never met anyone quite so xenophobic as Curtis. In fact i might even argue that Curtis, despite being the whitest man in the world, is a little bit racist against white people… Yes, you heard me right. He will tell anyone who’ll listen that he’s “Black Verified”. What that means is that the few black people that he’s met have thought so little of him that they don’t even bother to ask him to go away, they just ignore him. This tacit acceptance is all that Curtis seeks, and so he takes delight in broadcasting this to anyone in the vicinity.

And in terms of his culinary expertise, well… he’s not exactly well versed in global tastes. Far from looking at texture, taste, aroma, colour, presentation or flavour, Curtis’ main criteria for food is that there needs to be lots of it, and if that consists of fried chicken then so much the better. Eat your heart out Fay Maschler… Two stories about Curtis and his foodie roots are fairly well known, both come from the same night, and both demonstrate how Curtis’ reputation as a culinary “renaissance man” is ill deserved.

Allow me to set some context. The Gladiators had been invited to appear on a daytime television show, where we’d be served up three course meals from two teams of Chefs/z-list celebrities, and we’d have to critique the food and score the offerings to determine the winners.


Simple right? Dish number 1 – Lobster linguine with tomato and chilli.

“Curtis, what did you think of this dish?”

“Amazing, one of the best things i’ve ever tasted”

“Great, so grade it out of 10?”

“Erm, a 7”.

Ok…. So you’ve never eaten anything you’d ever grade as more than a 6? I’m sure Lesley Bourke will be delighted to hear that you think of her home cooking so highly.

The second team present their starter –  Creamed Oyster broth with scallops and sole.

“So Curtis, what did you think of this dish?”

“Nice, but a bit salty. Don’t think i like it as much as the other one”

“Ok, so marks out of 10?”

“Erm, 7”

So what you’re saying is that this “salty” broth that isn’t as good as the last dish still ranks as the second best thing you’ve ever tasted, with the same points total as the first dish. Wow, if nothing else that’s truly an indictment of Mrs. Bourke’s food and perhaps her use of seasoning across the board…

This was merely the precursor to the true demonstration of culinary naivety that Curtis portrayed however. I guess, in truth, this wasn’t strictly an issue with his food knowledge, so much as it was to do with his awareness of Essex and it’s food industry. Still, it’s a quite spectacular gap in his knowledge.

So, we’re at dessert, one of which was a very pleasant Toffee Apple bread and butter pudding, but the second was a classic. The Jam Roly Poly. Who doesn’t love a Jam Roly Poly? A delicious pudding, and some fruity, sweet Jam. Jam that’s bursting with Essex flavour. Jam that contains the finest fruits that the East of England can cultivate. Delicious jam from the World famous Tiptree based Wilkin & Sons. A company renowned the world over, boasting a Royal Charter, 125 years of history, 850 acres of farms, and one of Essex’s most famous exports – even more so than “The Only Way Is Essex”. A mere 12 miles from where this show was being filmed no less.


“Curtis, what do you think of the dessert?”

“It’s nice. I didn’t know Tiptree made jam…”

Curtis, I love you dearly but really?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that i had a problem with Curtis, but truth is i love him dearly, and i hope he never changes. If he did, who would we laugh at? Oh right, Crane….