World Book Day – Learning Stuff

It's been the best day ever!
It’s been the best day ever!

 

I’m amazed I went as long as I did before anyone got in touch to ask what the hell World Book Day has to do with American Football, anyway. It was something I thought about to be fair, before I started the day’s coverage, about whether it was something we should particularly get involved in. We don’t, for example, comment on politics, Kate Middleton’s new hairstyle or the F1.

I could be excused or defended as a former Literature graduate who can’t let go. I write on behalf of the club and people read it – like you, look! You’re reading right now!

But actually, when I started asking our coaches and players for book recommendations I was shocked at how many there were. I assumed they could read, of course – most of them, anyway. I have a small collection centred around ‘American Football for Dummies’ that I bought when still at college, in a desperate attempt to understand this peculiar sport that the man I planned on marrying was SO goddamn into, and I still pick it up now, before each season starts, just to … I don’t know. Check?

With the merging of two households the collection has grown enormously, and now includes various 49ers-based literature, coaching manuals, folders of BAFCA Levels 1 and 2 paperwork and a couple of George Plimpton books of mine. I didn’t even have to ask some of the players – Scott Smallman Tweeted us a photo of ‘Complete Linebacking’ one day when he was at work to let us know he was studying.

And that’s the point, isn’t it really – books are forced upon you at school in the name of learning stuff. The difficulty in getting good sports journalists is that people who know heaps about sport are probably playing it, and don’t have time to write about it. Coaches and ball players don’t necessarily spin chapter and verse of an eloquent substance either just because they know what they’re doing on the field, so I’ve often thought well-written books about sport would be hard to find.

However – wrong, as usual. There’s so many. So much to read about and learn about, for us backroomers as well as the starters, and it’s only one day a year to put the iPhone down and have a wee look at a book instead. I know I need it as a comfort blanket at the start of every season, and all the way through it. Just in case I learn something.

 

Here’s our ten favourites for today – until next year, book-learners!

Paper Lion: Confessions of a Third-String Quarterback by George Plimpton

Coaching Theory for Youth Teams by Robbie Paulin

Next Man Up: A Year Behind The Lines of Today’s NFL by John Feinstein

The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

The Rookie (Galactic Football League) by Scott Sigler

Complete Linebacking by Lou Tepper

A Civil War: Army vs. Navy by John Feinstein

American Football’s Forgotten Kings: The Rise and Fall of the London Monarchs by Alex Cassidy

Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, A Dream by H.G. Bissinger

The Best Game Ever – Giants v Colts, 1958 and the Birth of the Modern NFL by Mark Bowden

For The Love of Football

tempvalentines-great-catch-cp--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

It’s a strange love, between a young lady and American Football. On the one hand, men in leggings looking completely absurd. On the other, men in leggings whilst I wear two coats and still freeze in the snow on the side of the pitch wondering which one in the heap of bodies on the floor is my friend.

I can’t say I loved it in the beginning. My friend, he said, come to the game on Sunday, I’m playing, you might enjoy it.

I went to the game that Sunday, and more than six years later, I’ve still not come home.

By the end of University I was out on UEA Pirates team socials, watching every game, on the Away bus down to the Phantoms game at stupid o’ clock in the morning. I was winning the occasional medal as a ballroom dancer and once left practice two days before the Blackpool competition to rush down to Colney just to watch 10 minutes of their last game that saw them go to the playoffs.

I was working the night that they went to Sheffield for their last championship playoff game, feigned ‘digestive distress’ every 15 minutes to go to my locker and check my phone for the score. When they lost, I cried in front of seven separate customers, and didn’t care.

 

That friend is now my husband, and when we left the Pirates behind in 2012 we came to the Essex Spartans, who offered us each a home. Foolishly they’ve put me in a tremendous position of power, and two weeks ago got me to stand up in front of the players and introduce myself. I’ve spoken to the existing ones hundreds of times, emailed and welcome and collected paperwork on behalf of the new ones but got myself in a complete state still when I had to say who I was and what I do. It’s not like I struggle to talk particularly.

So at least the Spartans play through the summer so there’s less snow for me to have to stand through – got a bit of sunburn last year actually; that was nice. Training is cold, but since my welcoming and administrative skills are no longer required at the beginning of sessions it’s now acceptable for me to turn up at ten to three, not help with the equipment and wave at the players from my car with the heater on.

And it’s hard sometimes, driving for hours to get to an away game, then killing a couple of hours before kick-off in the pub (actually that bit is fine), standing around and trying to follow the game holding a phone, a notepad, simultaneously Tweeting and Facebook-updating the game live every five minutes for three and a half hours in the rain, win or lose, then driving home with my grumpy (assuming they lost) or aggravatingly over-excited (on a win) husband for a few more hours – then sitting down to write a match report and answer all the messages from this one pain-in-the-arse guy who says, “Isn’t anyone updating the scores?”

And then I check my bank balance and… oh yeah, we’re volunteers, better get up for work on Monday, that mortgage deposit isn’t going to save itself!

To outsiders it seems like an extortionate amount of work for ‘nothing’. None of us are paid; the players get battered and shouted at and give up their Sundays, pay subs for the privilege; coaches have to drive here, there and everywhere, write playbooks, fill up their cars with petrol again, take all the grief if we lose and still can’t have a pint if we win because they’ve got to get up for work in the morning.

So why bother then? Well that’s easy. For the love of the lads, the love of the team, and for the love of football.

Worth it then – enormously.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Super Bash and The Great Move

Like our new ground? That big '50' gets in the way a bit.
Like our new ground? That big ’50’ gets in the way a bit.

It’s been a little while! Everything within the club has been ticking along nicely so there’s not been a great deal happening aside from training, until the Super Bowl party last weekend thrown by our very own Social Sec Aaron Millar.

Between himself and myself (mostly himself!) more than 100 tickets were sold, over a £1000 was made for the club in raffle ticket sales and various enterprises related to the event and the people of Chelmsford for safe once again from the armies of the Greek city-states alliances. Or whatever.

I know – or rather, I gathered from professional opinion afterwards – that not everyone thought the half-time show was as cool as I did (I will concede that Chris Martin looked as out of place next to Beyoncé and Bruno Mars as Ace Ventura at a cocktail party) and that it was actually a bit of a clumsy game given that it was a final. But personally I had a great evening; explaining who Peyton Manning is to my brother-in-law and why it was important, accidentally kissing our Chairman full on the lips after missing his cheek and the joy of being half-passed out on the Head Coach’s shoulder most of the way up the A13 at 4 in the morning.

Happy days.

Our move to Gateway Academy in Tilbury is proving extremely illustrious indeed and we’re just thrilled with our new facilities. For the Academy it is such a massive step up and we’ve had a steady flurry of enquiries from Under 18s and their parents pretty much daily since the end of last season, with more still coming now. Their games will be played onsite at Gateway and I’m sure it’ll prove to be as fantastic a game day venue as it currently is a training facility for them.

For us old-timers in the seniors, we’ve got games at Thurrock Rugby Club to look forward to. I’m most excited by the prospect of a stand – not that there is, or has ever been, anything wrong with standing in the freezing cold and the rain and 90-mile-an-hour winds obscurely occurring in the middle of July, trying to write a match report in pencil on what is essentially a pad of pulp.

Oh and they have a bar, I’m looking forward to that too.

All we’ve got left really is our goalposts that are still up at our former home ground, and notwithstanding the amount of ‘How many Spartans does it take to…’ jokes we could make about this, we haven’t yet found an implement or vehicle big enough to move them, but there was an excellent suggestion that the players could rally around at 3 in the morning and carry them by hand up the motorway. Although with the current state of traffic around Thurrock it would probably be quicker to walk even if a lorry could be found – so there we go.

This week I saw a question on Twitter – “Could the Super Bowl ever be moved out of the USA?” It didn’t specify an alternative destination but I could assume they mean London, in the same way that the NFL International Series has now taken roots in Wembley. It was just a question I’m sure but it made me panic a bit – because how could that ever happen?

The Super Bowl is so outstandingly, disgracefully, gloriously American, with all its bottles of Budweiser and chicken wings and adverts that costs companies millions of dollars. We love it over here – obviously! – but I think that’d be a move too far. And what if they wanted to trade – the day the FA Cup between Millwall and Nottingham Forest is played at the Levi’s Stadium would be the day I book a one-way flight to the moon, to hide forever.

But for us, our little move has been a big success.

The Off-Season: Withdrawal Level – Vindaloo

It’s now reached a level of eye-watering, cough-inducing agony, which no amount of red wine or sweet Lassi can cure, on account of it’s still being January.

What we’ve seen – or rather, what I have seen as the administrator of no less than three @essexspartans email accounts – is an absolutely unprecedented amount of post-Come & Try enquiries about joining us. As such, we are now a football club with three official teams and more than 100 players.

Big stuff happened – the move, for example. In case you’ve been under a rock in Kent or some other home county that doesn’t sell Essex papers and haven’t seen the publicity, we have successfully negotiated a move out of Billericay and into Thurrock. The Gateway Academy in Tilbury has offered us a club-wide training facility and Thurrock Rugby Club is our new senior game day venue – floodlights, food and my favourite place: the bar.

We were able to secure a lot of coverage in local press for it and as such, we recruited a few local people as players and maybe some extra coaching staff from that alone – and there was me thinking that no one reads papers anymore! Where this extra influx has come from, I don’t really know, but I’m hoping it’s something to do with us being recognised in the community a great deal more now than we ever were. Whatever the reason, we hugely appreciate it.

So there we were this Sunday gone (yesterday, in fact!) getting guys and girls kitted up for the first time, freezing cold, and I watched them learn how to block and tackle and throw each other to the ground. It made excellent viewing, I must say. And in that state it’s hard not to get carried away; we have four potential female players for the season which we’ve not had before, and I was hinged and poised ready to draft a team submission letter to BAFA Women for the upcoming Sapphire Series before it was pointed out to me that unless I was coaching them, we weren’t quite there yet.

You just wouldn't cross any of them, would you?
You just wouldn’t cross any of them, would you?

And I’m no coach – I’m a mere minion at the side of the pitch with an iPhone and a notepad – so I suppose Women’s GB victory in Essex will have to wait a year.

We always start hopeful – all sports teams do – and sometimes pre-season pieces and interviews can get a bit ‘broken-record’ sounding with Yes, we’re very positive; Yes, the new players are looking great; Yes, 2013/14/15 will be our year. But actually we’ve never had an off-season with such momentous changes for the club’s future, followed by the biggest pre-registration numbers we’ve seen at practice, so maybe it is going to be a little different come April.

For senior football, our gentlemanly nemesis in the frankly unbeatable Bury Saints have taken their rightful place in Division One, which means we get to welcome the Cambridgeshire Cats to the division as a new opponent. It’s been a while since our two teams got together – long enough, I think, to have each become unrecognisable in the face of the other – so everything to prove going forward.

For the younger ones, they made their own massive shoes to fill last year with one of the most successful seasons we’ve ever had from a Spartans team – if it can be done once, I have every confidence they can do it again and I’m sure they do, too.

Bring on the daffodils – I can’t wait for the spring.

Resolute

It could be the year for black and gold fireworks across the land.
It could be the year for black and gold fireworks across the land.

It makes sense to say that the 2016 football season starts in 2016, and what with today being January 1st 2016 and all, that seems like as good a place as any to start. Except it already started, weeks and weeks ago – we’re in full swing of it, in fact.

I looked back already, so now would be a good time to start looking forward. Academy pre-season 101s have already taken place, Senior Football 101s are NOW – January 10th beginning, finishing in time for a big-ass Super Bowl party; my second favourite Spartan party of the year. It would be my absolute favourite but I could only get half a days’ holiday off afterwards this year – soldier on, brothers, soldier on!

It’s January 1st and I’m not actually hungover for a change. Personally I’ve just got back from holibobs in India so actually my biggest challenge for today, realistically this whole week, is the laundry.

I know what my big challenges for this year will be. I want to make the Essex Spartans the most well-known and widest-respected club in the south. I want to get through a whole game of live coverage without spelling a name wrong or putting out the score wrong by a digit. I’d like to do some research into WHY the Browns suck so, so badly and finally understand that particular on-field, unrelenting Armageddon.

Oh, and the laundry.

They’re not resolutions, I don’t do those. I don’t know about you but I’ve been ‘resoluting’ for 15 years – stop biting my nails, try harder at school, drink less (that’s really more of a five-year plan, that one) and it’s always out the window by February. I still have to have acrylic nails even today.

For me, it’s the Spartans who turn idle resolutions into goals – and I’m not just saying that because this blog shows up on their website. Nothing is too much like hard work for them and I start every year that way – I’m sure our coaches do, and our players as well.

It seems like every season we start by saying that we’re a young team, full of learners – this year, of course, no exception once again. So I don’t know what’s going to happen. Another mid-table clincher at the last or a jaw-dropping smash all the way to the bitter end; Watson and Benton’s black and gold armies marching off to the championship.

I’ll have some of that, for sure.

So there it is – you might be promising yourself that this year you’re going to lose that stone (I am) or drink less (oh yeah, me too) or master that long catch that will finally win us the division.

Whatever it is, we’re with you – and resolute.

Happy New Year!

 

Good Tidings from The Tide

Luckily, it's not got this festive yet.
Luckily, it’s not got this festive yet.

We did it!

Seven organisation-wide Come & Trys, two Academy Football 101s and a Meet The Coaches session later, we’ve almost made it Christmas. And we’re not actually finished either – the seniors have still got three Football 101s to go yet – but there’s much turkey and cranberry sauce to be had before we get that far.

It’s been an incredible year for us – not that much blood, fortunately, but buckets of sweat and a few tears, certainly. I remember the year starting off with incredible nervousness for me, as I took over this lovely write-nice-stuff-about-the-team-and-keep-us-out-of-libel-and-slander-court-please position formerly in January, and had to introduce myself to the Head Coach who I was marginally afraid of as when I announced his appointment as HC the previous year, I spelled his surname completely wrong.

There is no ‘s’ in Benton as it turned out, but there definitely is one in ‘I’m REALLY, REALLY sorry Coach …”.

I spelled it right when I was Tweeting about his ejection from the Hornets game, but that’s getting ahead on the story a bit.

We had nearly 100 people turn up to our Come & Trys in 2014 across the three teams and we had similar numbers again this year. It’s been an absolutely brilliant couple of months, AND no one had to arrive via a gondola like last year’s Dagenham adventure. We did lose a long-standing player for a few months after the pre-season-friendly-turned-mud-wrestling day in rainy Watford at the start of the season, but you can’t have everything.

Then there was ‘flag-gate’, probably less said, and then the amazing moment when our Academy became the first lot of Spartans in the club’s long history to beat some of the most formidable teams out there. The Under-17s almost won their league (and really deserved to), but instead went all the way to Cornwall to represent the club in the playoffs and made us all extremely proud.

We’ve been to Tilbury, Southend, Billericay, Dagenham and Chelmsford in thunder, lightning and in rain (well alright; drizzle, clouds and horrendous wind that one time) and we couldn’t be happier with the lot we’ve drawn this year. Again we’re going to be a young team, but again, we’re going to be a good one.

So we’re winding up for Christmas now (me especially – got a plane to catch) but there’ll still be the odd life-altering announcement and a standard Stitch-Up Thursday before it all goes quiet.

Thank you for sticking with us for another year – Merry Christmas and a joyful, undamaged ACL of a 2016 to you all.

ROLL TIDE!

Everyday Sexism

Gridiron girls - women working full-time in the NFL.
Gridiron girls – women working full-time in the NFL.

A university American Football team over to the west has been banned for the rest of the season because of a sexually-explicit and aggressively-motivated Facebook post by their social secretary.

Normally in the interest of context I’d put it here for reference, but it was the sort of thing that a person reads once, reads a second time in shock, and hopes never to have to see or read or hear anything so repugnant ever again. It really was one of those things that falls under the ‘Things We Wish We Could Un-See’ umbrella and whilst I’m sure its author (and to be honest, it brings down the term ‘author’ in a big, bad way) didn’t mean for this kind of kickback from the American Football world, in light of this happening over the weekend I feel it’s important to make the club’s stance on these kind of events very clear.

Unfortunately we are an extremely male-dominated organisation; we currently have four women working in volunteer roles, all of them administrative and all four women are wives of players or coaching staff. We sometimes have a female official on game days but apart from that, we currently have no female coaches, and no registered female players.

This is something we as a unit are working hard to change, because we believe very strongly that women in American Football differ only from the men in what WC door they go through when such is necessary. We do not believe that they are there solely for the off-field amusement of the players, which was the opinion of the social secretary whose team is, temporarily, no more. Such attitudes have absolutely no place in our organisation, in our league, in our sport or anywhere in this country. It’s not banter, it’s not legendary. It is harmful. It hurts people.

We are absolutely delighted to have drawn the attention of three individual females during this off-season who have made the time and effort to come down to our taster sessions to give the sport a go. Our only stumbling block to providing a dedicated women’s team at the Essex Spartans is coaching resources; nothing more. If you are reading this, male or female, and looking for somewhere to join, we encourage you to knock at our door.

Medals and success for British women in American Football (c) Jason Brown Photography
Medals and success for British women in American Football (c) Jason Brown Photography

We do not currently have a cheerleading squad as part of the club; some clubs do, we do not at this present time. But should we choose to take that step, they would be treated and subject to the same codes of conduct that we demand of our players – whether they be male or female by that particular stage. Any person who believed that they could behave otherwise would be served an immediate and lifelong ban from the Essex Spartans.

An apology is due from the aggressor, to the potentials who may have considered American Football before this incident, and now will not. We hope that, on behalf of more than 70 varsity teams and 60-ish senior teams around the UK that you do not revoke your interest on account of this – whether you are male or female, interested in playing or just hoped you could go along to a game and enjoy yourself without being made to feel uncomfortable.

I’m not sure if it’s immediately obvious but the club media person behind the blog, the website, the Twitter accounts and the Facebook pages – me – is very, very female. I volunteer here at the Spartans because my gender completely failed me as a qualified sports journalist out in the public domain, and one of the first questions I was ever asked at an American Football game was,

“If you aren’t a cheerleader, what the hell are you even doing here?”

Everyday sexism can be squashed and crushed out of sport, and events like this are thankfully rare, which proves we’re managing it. The ban on the team proves it isn’t tolerated either, which is all we can ask for.

This isn’t a PR post in response to something arbitrary that happened far away – this hurts.

This hurts a lot.

The Off-Season: Withdrawal Level – Madras

Up for it?
Up for it?

It’s hotting up.

In the blink of an eye the Academy Come & Trys have already finished – with an average of 18 attendees per session up at Gateway Academy in Tilbury, the coaches have been quick to express both their gratitude and their pride to all those that came. And some of them were even awesomely good already.

I made it down to one and I saw that with my own eyes – several minutes after someone asked me which one of the attending 16-year-olds was my son (I am 24. I am from Basildon but come ooooooon!) and I decided I needed a better moisturiser and more sleep. I will say this though – if any one of them was my son I would have been mightily impressed, and we’re so pleased that so many parents came to watch the session and let us know how much they, and their sons, enjoyed it.

They’ll be moving on now to Football 101s – a very important part of our introductory process where we combine classroom-based learning and on-field practice. I’ve been trying to wriggle in on one for years, as most of my pre-Spartan American Football knowledge comes from Noughties American Football movies (Remember The Titans, The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler and that scrummy rapper that chews sticks who’s name I can’t remember, etc.) and that episode of Friends where they beat the lights out of one another in the park on Thanksgiving day.

It’s nice to see the sport permeating popular culture in such a way, isn’t it?

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we’re having a first for us this year and are celebrating the American holiday as a club. We’ll be down at The Spread Eagle on Queens Road, Brentwood from 5pm next Thursday 26th November. There’ll be turkey, there’ll be beers (and wine, spirits, diet Coke and fizzy orange if that’s more your jam) and they will be screening the Thanksgiving Day NFL games there too. Any and all are welcome to join us for a drink, some food and a game or two – please come along!

So it’s almost time for the long-awaited Senior Come & Trys, which have been bubbling away in the background for a while now. We’ll be at Chelmsford this Sunday, and we’ll also be visiting the bright lights of Dagenham, Southend and Billericay in our search for future MVPs in the coming weeks.

Stay cool, folks – see you on the field!

The Off-Season: Withdrawal Level – Korma

With the amazingly successful first of three Academy Come and Try sessions under our belt, the madness is subsiding and we’re mostly at a pleasant, mild, coconut-based level of Spartan-homesickness.

We’re really busy as well – barely time to sleep off our Presentation Evening hangovers (alright – my presentation evening hangover) before we were back to the meeting room – literally – making plans for next year’s training and getting all our new players on board.

We were really pleased that 16 prospective teenagers came to the Academy Come & Try session, the vast majority of whom were asking how they could sign up and pay their subs before the session was even finished. We’ve still got six more Come & Trys across the board to run and that kind of attitude already is just so cool, especially from young people who notoriously have so many other things going on.

The club released its first episode of the new Black Tide podcast today, courtesy of our fine O-lineman Dave MacPherson, which we’re really excited about. It’s great to see all our black and gold arms spreading out into loads of different media and making sure the world is informed about HC Sean’s very old-school haircut, and unbelievably slow driving. Perhaps one day we’ll have some kind of Friday Night Lights-esque soap opera based on our activities, although hopefully with a slightly less bleak opening episode.

We’ve also said our sad farewells to Corinna Bourke this month too, our amazing social secretary who has run the gate, baked cakes, organised the awards evenings, the Super Bowl parties and all sorts of other stuff for the past couple of years. Although she’s been replaced by the almighty Aaron Millar and all good faith of social events to end all social events is held high, our greatest thanks to Corinna for all her hard work. You’ll still see Corinna at the gate, taking your coins and giving you programmes and cakes.

(You’re still bringing cakes, right?)

So that’s all from us for now – Come and Trys continue for the Academy this weekend and next, with the seniors taking place starting Sunday 22nd November in Chelmsford.

See you there!

9 Excellent Reasons to Join the Essex Spartans for 2016

Who could resist those faces, anyway?
Who could resist those faces, anyway?
  1. We’re real, we’re registered, we’re going to be there

This is no Sunday morning kick-about in shades to hide your hangover – the Essex Spartans AFO are formerly registered with BAFA and have been for over 25 years. If you want to guarantee your place representing South Essex in competitive American Football in 2016, you’ve come to the right place.

  1. We’re everywhere

We are, really. We have two Twitter accounts and two Facebook pages (one for Senior, one for Academy), a blog, a podcast, a website, live match-day coverage, an ex-NFL star who pops in to say Hi fairly frequently and a VERY sad media officer who is mates with all the newspapers and radio stations. Play for us and Local Hero** status is literally yours.

** got to play well though please, no flags!

  1. Spartans never sleep

During your off-season, the Spartans back-room staff carry on all year round. Committee meetings, coaching courses, first aid training, organising social events and of course – arranging our incredibly popular Come & Try sessions! When you join the Spartans you join an organisation that cares about the sport, the club and the players for 365 days of the year; not just when Sunday is a game day.

  1. Fierce and marvellous coaches

Senior HC Seán Benton was still being called up for Great Britain in his late thirties. Assistant HC Graeme ‘Geordie’ Saint is so Northern that, so they say, Jimmy Nail took vocal coaching for Auf Wiedersehen, Pet from him – and Academy HC Steve Watson has more rousing speeches up his sleeve than John C. McGinley and an overly-emotional Rambo put together. And of course – heaps of experience and eminently qualified, etc.

  1. Ankle-biters and knee-jerkers all welcome

Whether you’re 14 or 40, our Academy programme and senior team structure can cater for every age and every level of experience. We’re really proud to be able to take youngsters into the incredibly successful youth programme that we operate, and give every standard of knees the chance to touch grass (or astroturf, whatever) for as long as it’s healthy.

  1. Awesome Game Day experience

From the same social mastermind that brings us Super Bowl parties and Awards Evenings, comes the spectacle of Spartans Game Day. We’re talking merch on the gate, colour match-day programmes with team rosters, floodlights and a PA system for Saturday night games (yep, we have those!) and the legend of the ‘Spartan Burger’ that has to be eaten to be believed. Wembley, eat your £6-a-pint heart out.

  1. Clubmark accreditation

This isn’t amusing as such but it IS incredibly important. Your safety and well-being comes first, no matter how many years you’ve played contact sport, and our Clubmark accreditation says that we not only go above and beyond to ensure everything that happens under our watch is legit and above board, but also that through our existence, the local community benefits and hopefully improves. That stuff is important, and we honour it all.

  1. Instant family 

Personally I always wanted a brother – be careful what you wish for as they say, I ended up with about 60 of them, from little brothers of 15 to big brothers who turned 40 this year and are still playing. We play together, work out together, and have shed a tear together once or twice as well. Our organisation already has a few pairs of brothers, and husbands and wives within it too – which is always fun. The brotherhood found at the Spartans is strong and is a rare thing to find – it could be yours.

  1. One Vision

Day by day, we get better and better. Every training session and every game is an opportunity to make Spartans history. We have 25 years of history already but there’s room for so, so much more. We’ve invested a great deal time in our youth programmes and a strong and lengthy rebuild within the teams and throughout the organisation as a whole, and now we’re back to scratching at the playoff door once again, for the first time in a long time.

Now who wouldn’t want to be there for all of that?

Official blog of the Essex Spartans A.F.O.