After a lengthy hiatus the Gladiator Player’s diary returns. The 2015 season ended in defeat, but ultimately will be looked upon as a successful debut in the new BAFANL structure. Not only that, but Curtis Bourke managed to stay largely healthy, Phil Moreton managed to mitigate the effects of his plethora of injuries, Nick Foxley came out of retirement again, and Paul Brunsden threatened his retirement again – very much just another season in that respect.
But as this humble player arrived home earlier this week he was confronted by an unfamiliar site – a large Russian masseuse, gender still somewhat dubious, prepared to lay muscular hands on various members of the family. I was instructed that it was my turn, and having never had a massage before I opted to relax, close my eyes and to reflect on 2015 and most importantly contemplate the future in 2016.
As i lay on the table, my mind raced… what will the 2016 defence look like? Will this table support my ample girth? How many rookies will we have this year? Has this masseuse got really odd shaped feet, or are her socks just too small? Will Brunsden play again? Just how much oil is going onto my back?
So, as I received a Vodka fueled rubbing, i decided that there are three big questions for 2016. The first is Who will the Gladiators be playing in 2016?
A number of factors play into this – does our electing not to participate in the playoffs count against us? Technically forfeiting games should result in relegation, but it’s not clear whether that applies to playoff games or not. We presume the top two teams go up, but how many come down from the Premier? And how many get promoted from Division 2? Is there a chance we might have to travel to Bristol and to South Wales in the same season? We will likely enter the season with some level of confidence, but until the schedules are announced, we never know…
As the masseuse, who i decided resembled Edna from Monster’s Inc, dug her knuckles into my shoulder, the second question sprung to mind – When will training start? Historically this will kick off after Christmas, just in time for us to work off the extra mince pies and second round of Turkey sandwiches on Boxing day. We’ve seen that if you start training too early, people lose interest and get injured, start too late, and players aren’t ready for the season. It’s a delicate balance, but there’s one certainty – at some point someone will try and stage a fight in training to motivate people to work harder. Just waiting for the bookies to announce who they think will instigate that – smart money is on Garry…
And the third and final question, probably the most important of all the questions, What are the rookies going to be like? This can be broken into multiple subcategories – The rookie who talks non stop, is clearly an athlete, but is absolutely hopeless with pads on, the rookie who sends hundreds of emails telling you how excited and dedicated he is, only to drop off the face of the planet after two sessions. the quiet, unassuming rookie who hits like a train, and the one you see every single year – the “Glikofridis”: The first rookie to change their Facebook profile picture to them wearing pads and helmet. Every year it happens, and every year they are tortured for it….
Roll on 2016.