A Love Story: The NFL and I…

Blog, Sports Writing, Uncategorized

Since first developing an interest in the NFL, it has evolved into an incredibly strong passion and love for American Football. It didn’t really take long to become hooked, either, and I doubt I’ll ever look back.

Strangely enough, I was introduced to the game by playing EA Sports’ Madden on my PlayStation 4. Obviously, I had already experienced the Super Bowl and clips of ‘Hardest Tackles in the NFL’ on the internet, but Madden was where I really got into it.

Madden seems to be a game that is often slated online by other Football fans, for various reasons; inaccurate player stats, gameplay and so on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the other football too – soccer – and am a seasoned FIFA player, so I fully appreciate the issues people can have with EA games. However, I genuinely believe that I picked up the rules, tactics and player positions far quicker by ‘playing’ than I would have by watching. It’s just how I learn best, being pretty ‘kinaesthetic’.

Getting into American Football also allowed me to re-kindle my affiliation with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom I adopted as ‘my team’ on the back of a family holiday to Florida, many years ago. I remember, at the age of nine, coming home to the U.K. with a Bucs baseball cap and Mike Alstott jersey.

Of course, being a typical British sports fan, I am extremely passionate about my Buccaneers now. Also, being a typical Liverpool Football Club supporter, I’m extremely positive about our chances this coming season; a new coach, a talented quarterback going into his second season, and a much strengthened defense – what’s not to be excited about?

Jameis Winston

The Pre-Season starts tomorrow night, with Tampa Bay kicking off at midnight on Friday, and my NFL Game Pass subscription has been renewed, ready for the long awaited return of this beautiful sport. I really cannot wait; it’s just like being a kid on Christmas Eve.

The problem is, I don’t know many people who share my excitement. Most are looking forward to the Premier League starting, which I am too, but it’s not the same. American Football is growing over here though. We have amateur leagues, and I even have a ‘local team’ – Chester Romans – who play in the British American Football League’s NFC 2 West division.

On the occasions I’ve watched Chester, it has made me wish I had discovered my enthusiasm for it all far earlier, as I would love to have enjoyed being involved with Football out on the field, rather than being just a fan of the game. Sadly, I fear the age of twenty-six is a little late in the day to be starting out as a ‘rookie’.

On a slightly more ‘prolific’ scale, the NFL hosts the International Series, in which a handful of NFL fixtures take place on British soil. I imagine many American fans of the teams who lose a ‘home’ fixture to the UK get a bit hacked off, however looking at the bigger picture, it is a fantastic way to grow awareness of the sport they love on a global scale (and make the NFL a load of money in the process).

NFL at Wembley

With all of this happening on my doorstep, it’s evident that I’m not such a rare breed after all, which is a pretty good feeling.

If you haven’t given American Football a second thought, have the common misconception that it’s ‘just Rugby with helmets’, or even just don’t think you’ll understand what’s going on, I implore you to give it a try. You won’t regret it.


UK Election 2015: A None Vote is the Wrong Vote


Election 2015

Tomorrow is another huge day for British politics, and for the country as a whole. After five years, the 2015 general election is almost here, and local candidates far and wide, along with their volunteering supporters, have been knocking on your front doors, posting flyers through the letter box, and generally trying to get their face, name and party seen and heard as much as is humanly possible, in attempt to convince you that their party is the best option – rumour has it, the Green Party have even hired Snoop Dogg as entertainment for their next annual conference – and win your vote on 6th May, essentially assisting their party leaders through the doors of Number Ten.

The chances are that by now you either know who will have your vote, or you still haven’t got a clue.

If neither of the above match the position you find yourself in, I’m willing to bet that you ‘can’t be arsed’ voting, are taking a stand against democracy in general, or have been too busy trying to get to the next blasted level on Candy Crush for the last six months to even realise that David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s ‘Lib Con’ coalition has come to the end of its five year tenure.

35% of registered voters chose not to in the 2010 General Election

35% of those registered to vote, chose not to in the 2010 General Election

If you’re anywhere near the latter trio, that’s absolutely your decision, but you’d do well to remember that choice the next time you complain about the country you call home, and I urge you to reconsider, and have your say on the country’s next journey, regardless of it being late in the day to make a decision on who gets your ‘X’ tomorrow.

I’m currently pulled over on the outskirts of the ‘haven’t a clue’ region, and feel both relief and concern at the probability of many being equally undecided.

Do I stick with the same option as I’ve always gone with or not? Do I put my faith in the party that offer so much, yet fail to convince me that they’ll be able to come through with the goods once their leader has unpacked in Downing Street? Oh, wait, that’s every party. The point is though, that I’ve only ever voted Labour. This year, it’s difficult to be sure that this is the route to go down.

Which party will get your vote?

Which party will get your vote?

In all honesty, a lot of their policies sound great; ‘rescuing’ the NHS – Ed Miliband’s Batman to David Cameron’s Penguin being a hilarious vision – is a great point to focus on, however there is additional spending on the health service – admittedly several other areas too – being promised by every wo/man and their dog. This is probably down to the fact the NHS is a hot topic at some point during everybody’s day to day lives, whether it be the waiting times in A&E, the infuriating struggle to even get through to local surgeries to get an appointment, or those bloody inconsiderate ambulances’ wailing sirens forcing everybody to pull over, after you’ve been hard at work in the office all day and just want to get home in time for the soaps. The parties realise this, and that is why they feed promises to the masses.

It has to be of some concern to those usually voting for Labour, that the SNP could end up pulling the strings above Miliband, which causes me to wonder whether Aardman Animations have found a new direction, venturing away from Plasticine characters.

All jokes aside, this does beg the question, ‘a vote for Labour, is a vote for whom?’ As conflicting interests within Parliament is inevitable, given that there are MPs from multiple parties, constituencies and so on, in the room, but conflicting interests within the same leadership?

I suppose that was always going to be an issue in 2010, too, given the non-majority result forced two parties to become ‘one’. Something that is hard to deny, is that Cameron hasn’t done that badly with regards to the economy, which he’s seemed infatuated with telling us, and as reports suggest. Progress can only be aided by him having far more time on his hands since the re-branding of Lurpak’s advertising campaign.

It’s hard to say Cameron and Clegg have done alright, as the latter has seemingly served as little more than a strap-on in a five-year-long Conservative orgy. That statement in no way implies that he’s had any physical contact with any under-age rent boys, and this is an area I’ll leave well alone, given that it’s a rather touchy subject, and this is an unbiased piece.

Whatever your interests, from the economy to immigration, if you have a spare few minutes, I’d recommend visiting ‘Vote For Policies’ and going through the different categories, depending on where you feel your priorities lie. Once you’ve selected these, you’ll be shown the anonymous policies of the parties in your area, and you’ll select which ‘fit the bill’ in your eyes, before the most suitable party is calculated based on your answers.

I’d say that completing a little ‘quiz’ like this is the most sensible and logical resolution to the ‘who do I vote for?’ dilemma. You may be surprised at how much of a ‘bigot’ you turn out to be, or your original suspicions could possibly be confirmed that you do in fact have the underlying urge to go and live in the forest, ‘hugging trees’ and loving the planet. However, fear not, compadre, this isn’t a legally binding vote; you can change your mind on Election Day.

(from left): David Cameron - Conservatives, Ed Miliband - Labour, Nick Clegg - Liberal Democrats, Nigel Farage - UKIP, Natalie Bennett - Green Party

The Party Leaders (from left): David Cameron – Conservatives, Ed Miliband – Labour, Nick Clegg – Liberal Democrats, Nigel Farage – UKIP, Natalie Bennett – Green Party

Not that I’d recommend it, as it could possibly make your decision harder, but you could decide between your local candidates purely based on which of the party leaders you like the best. Or in some cases, who you think seems less of a smug bell-end, which is understandable, if you’ve ever watched a Parliament debate. At times, in the heat of a Labour vs Conservative face off, it’d be more constructive for the Wealdstone Raider to shout ‘you’ve got no plans!’ in response to everything anybody says. Perhaps we need to see Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G return, so he can explain the meaning of ‘restecp’ to them.

However you make your choice, whoever your choice is, make sure it means something, and use your right to vote on Thursday, otherwise, you essentially lose your right to complain for the next five years.

Fans bid farewell to Collingwood

Sports Writing, Uncategorized

English cricket supporters have paid tribute to Paul Collingwood and his services after his announcement  on Thursday that he would be retiring from Test cricket.

Collingwood, 34, made the announcement on the fourth day of the final match of the 2010-11 Ashes series against Australia.

England had already retained the Ashes at the time of Collingwood’s announcement, and the side on their way to winning the final test, the eventual victory ensuring that they also won the series 3-1.

He said of his decision: “I honestly think it’s the right time and in many ways it’s the perfect moment. This is what I’ve been playing the game of cricket for; to be in a position (to win the Ashes) against Australia, in Australia.”

Collingwood struggled with the bat throughout the series, scoring just 83 runs from six innings; an average of just 13.83. However he was still reliable as ever in the field, taking 9 catches to Australia wicket keeper Brad Haddin’s 8, including the incredible dismissal of Ricky Ponting in the 3rd Test in Perth.

Despite his dip in form, supporter Jonathan Hughes, of Lancaster, believes Collingwood’s retirement may have been premature: “I reckon he had a few more years left in him. People often imply that he’s not got a great deal of talent and works with what he’s got, but I think that’s unfair. You only have to watch his fielding to know that his athleticism and hand-eye coordination are second to none.”                           

Paul Collingwood Facts

  • Full Name: Paul David Collingwood
  • Born: May 26th 1976, Shotley Bridge, Co Durham
  • Age: 34
  • Test matches: 68
  • Test Runs & Average: 4259 at 40.56
  • Test Wickets & Average: 17 at 59.88
  • Test Catches: 96
  • For more stats please click here.

Collingwood’s underachievement with the bat isn’t the sole reason for his retirement from the Test side. He has admitted that up and coming players were also a large factor in his decision: “There are a lot of youngsters coming through, so this team will progress.”

It is thought that left handed batsman Eoin Morgan is set to step into Collinwood’s position for the next England Test series this summer, which is against Sri Lanka.

England fan Gareth Fox, of North Wales, believes that it was the right decision for Collingwood to retire: “I think that Collingwood leaving will strengthen the batting order but we’ll miss his fielding and genuine experience. I would bring in (Eoin) Morgan to bat 6, with (Ian) Bell moving up to 5 in the order.”

Whilst supporters will no longer see Paul Collingwood in the longer format of the game in an England shirt, he will continue to captain the Twenty20 side and be part of the One Day team.

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