January 5, 2013

So, let me just start this by saying… I was robbed. Completely and utterly robbed.


I love my team mates, I’ve made friends for life in this sport, I’ve made enemies, i’ve been involved in politics, I’ve had very happy memories, and I’ve taken many downs alongside many ups. I love football, and I love my team mates.


Most of the time. I was robbed.


Now, we train hard, we work hard, the core of the team have an amazing bond, and there’s a group of a dozen or so of us who dedicate ourselves to football above just about anything else. I have a connection and a relationship with them like nobody else.


But there’s one time when I loathe them. I loathe them and everything they stand for. I was robbed.


This time comes just around Christmas every year. A time when peace and goodwill resonates around 99% of the world’s population. A time when people rejoice in giving and receiving gifts, a time when smiles prevail and all is right with the world, when robins sit atop every snow covered post box, every child wears mittens to build wonky snowmen, and a time when a jolly fat man visits every child in the world.


It’s fair to say there was no jolly fat man in my house this year. I was robbed.


Fantasy football is not a game, it’s a life experience, and on Christmas eve, as I had the NFL offices on speed dial to insist that the games were replayed, and the Police on the other line as I tried to register the rape, pillage and general destruction I’d fallen victim to, I held my head in my hands and I sobbed.


Why? Two words – Arian. Foster. The guy who had taken me all the way, the guy who I’d taken in the First round of the draft, and the guy who had been healthy all year long. That guy. That guy who was predicted to net me 25+ points, and brought home… 2. Now, had he been injured I’d be sympathetic. Had he been performing poorly and was pulled, I could have lived with that. But he wasn’t. He was taken out of the game for… wait for it… an irregular heartbeat. Yes, you heard me right. His heart wasn’t beating the same as everyone else’s. Now listen up you Texan trainers, did it not occur to you that this is a guy with virtually zero body fat, a guy with more muscle than the average prize bull, a guy honed to athletic perfection, and in the top 1% of sports athletes in the world? Take that under consideration and is it any wonder that his heartbeat wasn’t the same as your average American couch potato? I mean, come on! Seriously! The guy’s black, that means his heartbeat just has rythym – the pasty college interns probably don’t know a funky beat when they hear it! Hang on, is that racist? Let me clarify that I know plenty of white guys with rythym, like…. well… like…erm…


And equally, I know black guys with no rythym like Joe Stickings. I mean, that guy dances more like a white guy than any black fella I know. He got a chance to prove me wrong on TV, but failed miserably, waving his arms around and relying on his “peachy bum” to do the talking.


So, Arian Foster let me down, but so did just about everyone else on my team! Colin Kaepernick was unspectacular, Stevan Ridley didn’t deliver. And in fact I could go on about my team, but let’s be honest, in the cold light of day you need to take a deep breath and admit… Casey just got lucky. That bum didn’t deserve it, it’s my title, I was top of the table, I was the number 1 seed, I should have won it. I was robbed!


Breathe…. Breathe… 1…2…3…4…


Ok, i’m calm. For now. Congratulations Casey – I had to type it because I couldn’t physically say it between my firmly gritted teeth. There’s always next year. I said that last year too, when I finished second…again. So depressing.


Still, the end of the fantasy season does bring one reward, the Gladiators Pre-season is soon to be upon us. It’s the time of year when I realise how unfit I’ve got over the winter, as I tried desperately to rehab an ankle injury from the last game of the 2012 season. So, new year, new me – back running as I try to prepare for the season. Not far, but little and often… Running a mile a day for the first couple of weeks, and then i’ll start ratcheting up the pace and the distance. As I’ve said to some, I’m aiming for a 5K by March. I know others have been working hard through the off season, in the gym and losing weight. Kudos to them, I’m late to the party, but I’m working to get better. What are you doing to get ready?



October 17, 2007

Welcome to the very first instalment of the Touchdown News player diary, where I’ll be chronicling the highs and lows of the Colchester Gladiators in 2008.


Now, as many of you will know, the Gladiators are looking to bounce back from a poor 2007, where we finished without winning a single game in Division 1 of the British American Football League. Following the season, the Club parted ways with head coach Karl Bourke, and set out to find someone to lead us into the next stage of the Club’s development. Anyone who has been around Britball for any number of years may be familiar with the history surrounding the Gladiators, and what a prominent and successful Club it has been. The new generation of Gladiators are seeking to restore the glory days back to Colchester, and this season we expect to be competing hard in Division 2.


So, who are we? Well through the season many of the guys will be mentioned in this column, so it might be worth introducing some of the key members now…


Author - Tom BurridgeI’m Tom Burridge, #67, Centre. I’ve been with the team since it’s reformation 4 years ago, and I like to think I’m the lynchpin on the offensive line (but many in the team would disagree!).

Dave Hogarth - Club Chairman, Running Back, and 10th string QB…Dave Hogarth is our veteran chairman, he wears 28 and has been spotted at linebacker, full back and tailback over past seasons. Dave was with the Club through the glory days in the 80s, and is working exceptionally hard to promote the Club and get us back to the top. He’s toyed with retirement more times than I care to mention, but we have no doubt we’ll see him in kit this season.

Duncan Flack - Septic Running BackDuncan Flack is our token American*, and despite having lived in the UK for at least 10 years still has a deep Texas twang to his voice. He’s a running back, and he wears 44.

 On top of these guys, we have a strong contingent of younger players, led by graduates of the Essex Blades in the collegiate league.

Tommy Clarke - He’s quick, and plays both waysTommy Clarke is a fleet footed receiver or cornerback (depending on how he feels when he gets out of bed!) and a vital part of our special teams. He wears 21.

Adam Burrows - Lineman and ladies manAdam Burrows is an up and coming young lineman, again out of the Essex Blades finishing school. “Rugby” as he’s fondly known is a real charmer with the ladies, and promises me that his best is yet to come. Whether that’s on or off the field is anyone’s guess!

Mark Gilbranch - Jack of all trades…Mark Gilbranch is another of the new breed of Gladiators. A teacher by trade Mark still hasn’t found his true calling on the football field and has (in the past two seasons) played full back, tail back, tight end, wide receiver, middle linebacker and outside linebacker. Rumour has it that his 88 shirt will be seen under centre any day now…


We’re a close knit bunch, and can regularly be seen out and about around Colchester, either in full kit handing out fliers for the Club, or in various pubs and clubs around the town. Our social side is very important to us, and rest assured, any stories that arise are liable to be published here!


So, next stop for us is our awards night at the start of November, before we get stuck into the pre-season training and rookie days. Between now and then we’re still on the hunt for a head coach, and there’s plenty of promotional work to be done, not least for the “Great British Tailgate Party” at Wembley at the end of the month. So, watch this space for all the news and developments from the Colchester Gladiators over the coming months!

*Duncan’s asked me to point out that he’s not a token American, but in fact was born and lived in the UK until he was 20, then moved to the US for 13 years, but has since been back in the UK for almost 2 years. So, he’s given away his age (old git), and shown that he’s not an American ringer – looks like linebackers won’t be too scared of him next season…