Northampton Town vs Bath City Review

A stupendous comeback victory for Northampton Saints after a smash and grab first half for Bath at Franklins Gardens, game finishing Northampton Saints 15 Bath City 14.

Two tries from Geoff Williams, firstly pouncing on a costly slip by Harry Mallinder a couple of meters from his own try lined, secondly picking up after an intercepted pass bound for Luther Burrell. Two kicks upfield and a foot race with Ken Pisi later and he touched over to put Bath 14 up.
Teimana Harrison putting over in the corner to get 5 back while Bath had been down to 14 with Cook in the bin. A feel of injustice for the Saints with a high tackle stopping a clear try going unpunished, the follow up attack leading to an inconclusive try. Huge Try by Mike Haywood with a Myler Conversion in the 75th minute to go 15-14 up.

Could and should have been so much better for the Saints, first half 75% possession and the problem of recent weeks continuing, nine losses of possession within 8 meters of the Bath try line (3 from Lineouts). 45th Minute was pure chaos with several players slipping and not being able to handle the ball with around 4 turnovers. Both sides having tries disallowed for forward passes, nearly four times more tackles made by Bath, testament to the Saints possession and Territory.

Man of the Match- Teimana Harrison (Francois Louw equally deserving).

Should Harlequins win against London Irish tomorrow, Saints need to go to Gloucester and win to have a chance of getting European Champions Cup Rugby next season, should saints draw or lose they must hope that Sale or Harlequins also fail to win. If Harlequins lose against Irish, Saints will be in the European Champions Cup next season.

Night Ramblings 2

Why is there an almost expectation that as a University student that I must go out on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday to get absolutely hammered, off of my face on so much alcohol that I cannot watch my bank account be sucked dry infront of me, so much alcohol that in the morning I cannot remember what happened the night before, so much alcohol that the next day I am incapable of functioning as a human being.

An exert of a conversation between a  University Friend and Myself on Saturday afternoon;

Friend: So you out tonight Crag?

Me: Nope

Friend: Why not? Everyone waits all week to go out on a Saturday Night to go out. You are coming out tonight.

Me: Not me, firstly I don’t enjoy clubbing in Burnley and secondly I don’t enjoy clubbing full stop.

 

What’s my issue then? Aside from the aforementioned loss of money and raging hangovers scarring my memories of my bathroom, it is a quadruple threat of peeves. Firstly it is no industry secret that the alcohol put in cocktails are watered down or have such pitiful amounts put in so that the prices are cheaper. Rum and Coke-Cuba Libre, absolutely love it. Takes about 6-8 single Rum and Cokes to get me properly drunk and a lightweight night, at roughly £2.50 each that’s £15-£20 for which I could buy myself a bottle of rum from a supermarket, have a quarter to a third of it and be even more bladdered. Secondly, I’m a rock music fan, and to be quite frank even though I like a couple of the chart hits that would be played in a night club the majority of what I hear is pure drivel with lyrics that make no lyrical sense…I don’t want to hear 6 songs out of 7 with the only storyline being a guy telling us he likes girls with big asses. Thirdly, the people. Nightclubs, especially where I am are overcrowded, no space to actually move or dance, you end up standing still swaying slightly side to side, sipping at your drink, constantly getting bashed around like a pinball by people trying to squeeze past. The only time you throw your hands in the air is to make it clear that you aren’t trying to grope a girl making her way by. Also the belief that because girls are there you will pull. I honestly couldn’t care less, I’m happy being single, I’m happy not risking acting like an ass in the hope that a girl would come back to mine for a one night thing, within this, first of all a girl who goes to a nightclub looking for a guy is not really one who I would want to be with long term, and as a guy brought up to respect girls and be gentlemanly it is uncomfortable to have it over and done with without any follow up. Fourth, the notion that I would be able to do things that I wouldn’t normally do with a few drinks in me…as a person who does wacky and unexpected things for a hobby without being under influence this isn’t a selling point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the whole point of being awake and alive, is to remember what you have done so why would getting blind drunk be of appeal?

When I do go out on a Saturday, I spend pre-drinks (a ridiculous event within itself) with my mates then when we do head out I spend an hour with them in any uncomfortable club that they want then I leave to go to a rock bar where I can actually get given a pint of beer for a reasonable price or a straight glass of rum or whisky, either a live band or rock DJ is playing classics which I enjoy and even if you are by yourself that doesn’t matter. The amount of times that I have stood on the balcony with a pint looking at the night sky over the carpark and a group of guys have struck up a conversation with me and welcomed me in to their group for the night with the pure common interest of rock music, rock culture and beer. Then we would take over the stage to rock out once the band have left, bashing in to each other, inadvertantly knocking each other out for a few seconds, playing air guitar, headbanging and still joining together to belt out a classic song, all combined until 4/5am when it is time to head back.

Recently even to save myself a Sunday so I can work and be active, instead of going out on a Saturday and spending 20 to 30 quid, on a Friday I walk to the train station, hop on a random train and go to one of the many well known and picturesque towns and cities in the North West to visit people and generally have a fun touristic day out.

I just wish that people would understand and accept this is how I prefer to live my weeks and not try to tie me in to what they want. Who knows, on one of these random adventures in to the unknown I may meet my future wife, save a life, or experience something which changes my being forever…

Night Ramblings 1

Just because something isn’t what we are used to seeing, hearing or experiencing does not make it bad, weird or wrong (within the confines of the law). Some times the thing is what makes a person them, and who are we as a society to take that away from them?

If we watch a charity appeal video of a young impoverished African child who has to rummage through rubbish dumps in search of plastics and metals to sell and he is holding tightly a blue plastic bottle (Like a White Lightning Cider Bottle without a wrapper), almost hugging it with an incredibly large and joyful smile, who are we to take that feeling away from him by condemning it as odd, weird or strange.

We do not know what he has or what he has lost. He may have never seen a blue plastic bottle before. He may be able to get more money for the plastic based on its colour. He may have created an imaginary friendship with the bottle out of loneliness and desperation.

What I am trying to get at here is that without being inside of an individuals body or mindset we cannot truly understand what makes them happy-what makes them tick. Everybody deserves to be happy, so why as a wider society do we see irregularities and seek to ridicule or devalue them? What does that tell us about the individual mentalities of the mockers. Should we rather be trying to help them as they clearly have too much time and energy to reduce others to their level rather than spend on their own passions and building happiness.

Live and let live…

If Time Travel was Possible…

Recently asked by a friend; If you could go back to any point in your life and A) Stand there and watch yourself live it out, B) Re-Live it exactly how it was or C) Go back and be able to make changes without any repercussions when would you go back to? To their surprise I gave them the same answer to all 3, that being the 28th of February to 1st of October 2013.

Why and how would all of these propositions be solved by one period of time I guess you are wondering, well…

February: My Crush of about 5 months said that she would go to the Year 11 Prom with me.

March: A residential school trip, began with elation and turned in to excruciation after a few hours as after sitting round a campfire I found myself opposite my crush and to my shock she was there getting back with her ex boyfriend who treated her like an ass. Another twist in that night came as after the second most awkward selfie ever suffered, throughout a projection of  James Bond Skyfall, she sat and cuddled up to me as we played Mario Kart before she headed off in to the night following the film…the first major sign that I should run a mile and leave her well alone…but I didn’t.

April: Out of the blue she messaged me about going to play badminton one night by ourselves, of course I accepted and went easy on her…I still won every game…but afterwards standing outside waiting for her mum under a strange flurry of snow, we held each other tight with my jumper around her, a few moments of pre kiss tension brewed but before we could go any further the pick up arrived. Other event’s this month included her plucking my eyebrows, painting my nails and playing football together.

May: GCSE time…revision…nope. The only revision done was 10 minutes of history on a plane back from Sharm El Sheikh, however I managed to breeze on through. That holiday was one which saw the amount of sweet talking grow but was also when I believe she managed to become the one who got away…yet again. The only contradiction to this being a small kiss shared as Zorro awoke Snow White at a Fancy Dress Party.

June: Two weeks from prom we went on a school trip to the University of Leicester, all was fine while there but as soon as we returned back…she was picked up…by a random guy…who was kissing her. The suspicions were correct and all felt lost with my first week as a PE teaching Assistant being an odd feeling one.

July: Prom. The Big One. Heading in to it, my heart shattered in pieces, wanting to avoid most people, aiming to just get the night over and done with. We all funnel in to the hall, passing by the bar, wish tree (A bare tree where we hung tags of what we wished for our future careers) and sweets table. Emotions ran higher when I told my teachers I did not know if I would be going Sixth Form due to my coaching work at a local team taking a lot of time. A few photos outside taken, dinner eaten and the dancefloor fell quiet…leaving it to one of my best friends and I to kick off the evening with a jokey slow dance to Passenger’s Let It Go. After a few more dances I go back to sit down and chat with a few more friends. She spots me and comes over to get a selfie, the struggle to put a smile on my face was incredibly painful and evident…as soon as she had finished I got up and made a B Line for the photographer section with my best mate where we got a few pictures which made us look like we had just been joined in a Civil Partnership. Then she came over…and my friends all disappeared with a laugh and wave down the corridor, leaving us both to have photos taken infront of a growing crowd as the photographer tried to get me to relax while placing my hands awkwardly on her hips. Following the picture she disappeared outside again with the feelings of lost chances reappearing as I rejoined my friends on the dancefloor for a dance off and belting out our anthem of Oasis’ Wonderwall. I checked my phone to see a couple of missed calls and texts from her looking for me as the DJ announced that the next song would be the last. At that moment she stood in the doorway and spotted me, walked over and dragged me away from my friends. Time seemed to slow to a standstill as we slow danced to Don’t Stop Believing. As we spun around I could see all of our friends standing almost statuesque peering over as I smiled back, raised my eyebrows and winked.

If only that joy was not a one off…if only…what could have been…

August: I visited her on her NCS project where her and her best friend were working. To help their cause I paid for a face and arm paint as both her dad and project leader believed I was her boyfriend, a moment which was embarrassingly and painfully brushed off as she told them of our friendship.

September: Back at school for the start of Sixth Form, 2 days in I found out that her boyfriend had been talking to other girls while she was physically with him, a conversation which I overheard between her and her friends which left her teary eyed and me raging of how he could do such a thing. Over the month we had grown closer than ever before, even having our moments just waiting to be sealed with me asking her out…It was planned for the 1st of October…the bait being planted on the 29th as I visited where she worked, “Looking for a watch for my Dad’s Birthday”.

But it never happened, mere minutes before asking her on the way home from school I spotted her with the biggest jock and player in school, walking and laughing where I should have been standing…my heart sunk before shattering as it hit the floor of the pit of despair. Cemented in public understanding as the next day they made it official…leading to two of the most painful weeks of my life, avoiding her the majority of the time, leaving rooms as she entered. A rugby session saw he and I to come to blows following his unceremonious dumping of her leaving her crying in the middle of the classroom in to my chest.

This was the beginning of the end for us as I made a few rash and desperate decisions combined with the Crag Banna period and her infidelity, extending the on off saga for another 15 months.

This period provided me with some of the greatest and happiest times in my life and given me a view of what a crush, love and obsession is like…but also the pain created opportunity to grow and better myself, eventually learning from what had happened, teaching me to be less trusting…something I would never trade for the world.

Did I choose Sport or Sport choose Me?

Anyone who has read my bio or my “Train Like a Pro 2016” posts may notice that I’m a Sporty person with an interest in all things activity, fitness and leisure. However things haven’t always been this way…

Many people claim that over a lifetime you experience “lucky breaks” or “perception altering experiences” as a part of fate and steering you towards your true and often better path, providing you are willing to accept it and put the effort in. Up until and including the age of 14 I had been set on pursuing a career as a maintenance engineer or electrician, following in my dad’s footsteps and having a knack for excelling in Physics and Maths (Including taking my Maths GCSE a year early). But in Year 10 or the equivalent of the 9th Grade I was chosen by the school to be part of the Adidas, Adi-Star Young Ambassador Programme alongside two of my schoolmates. Why me? Why choose a Skinny, 8 stone when wet kid who is neither fast nor strong or adept in any particular sport having bounced in more sporting directions than a Rugby Ball? The answers to those questions may never be answered even though I suspect it was due to my current and predicted grades and that I had been better at the mental side of sport. However it was only after a lot of deliberation that I decided to take the school up on the offer as being a Lazy-Nerdy child with an allergy to summer grass I could think of better ways to spend a couple of my school holiday days.

With the course I became qualified as a Sport’s leader and umpire/referee in a variety of sports, given the responsibility of helping to run local and county Primary School Sport Events such as the Sainsbury’s Summer School Games, meeting many high profile Sporting Figures…still not enough to convert me towards a life in Sport. It was at this point that I became interested and invested in the Football Manager games (Including Premier Manager and Championship Manager), which made being a Premier League Coach or Manager be a very realistic career choice, at least an attractive choice in theory with the opportunity to just take a few coaching courses and maintaining my interest in Football Tactics delusionally being enough to get to that goal.

Over the following year I had been nominated as captain of my school’s house for Sport’s Day and the year long House Cup competition. Within PE lessons I became a go to guy for leading teams to victory despite theoretically having the weaker team’s, if I could do it here, I could do it anywhere, surely? That Sport’s Day has gone down as historic with my House not winning the competition for seven years, finally storming to a tense one point victory over the house captained by my best sporting friend… and not only did we win it that year, we won it the two years after with such dominant displays that the house was disbanded at the start of this school year. Following my GCSE’s that summer, the sporting friend and I worked as PE teachers for 6 weeks, teaching my own lessons, sorting equipment and having a friendly relationship with my fellow students, this opened up another window of opportunity for a future career in sport.

The first year of Sixth Form, a slow year for sport at the school with only two real large events, both coming at the end of the period with a continuation of the AdiStars programme all the way through. The first major event came in the form of the AdiStars national conference with six others from my school, meeting even more illustrious sporting figures and winning two of the three competitions between the attending schools. The second, possibly the greatest practical achievement of my sporting life came as the head of creating, running and captaining the school at the Sixth Form Olympics; creating a time table of 27 events over four different events over one day with four schools competing with around 200 students attending. I hand-picked each squad for each event, even competing myself in the Volleyball and Badminton where we came 1st and 3rd respectively. In the time I wasn’t playing I was officiating as well as mingling with various teachers from the other schools, motivating and supporting all of my schools’ participants. Everything had culminated in a perfect assembly, we had won, with a record amount of points and point margin with the school able to be crowned champions with 6 events remaining, the joy of receiving that trophy with my best friend in front of everybody is never likely to be beaten.

At this point in school life I had to begin choosing where to go to University and consider my other post 18 options, then I only had two ideas in mind; study Football Studies at Southampton Solent University or Nutrition at the University of Kent. But once again life served me a curve ball…literally as at a University Fair, my mates and I spotted that people had been given miniature footballs and as sports nuts unable to resist playing around we found where these footballs and in order to get one we needed to register our interest in joining a university around a 300th of the size of all the others with only 100 students in each year of study. Back then it sounded preposterous and minute but after the information they had sent me, the prospect of studying Sports Business from industry experts within the confines of a Premier League Football Stadium…later forming the University which I now call home.

The final year of Sixth Form I had been placed in another position of power as Head Boy as well as being in control of student sport following the successes of the Sixth Form Olympics. However with it being an academic based year the only opportunities for sporting competition were to captain the school’s Volleyball and Rugby Seven’s sides to wins in a couple of competitions, completing my record of being unbeaten in any competition where I have been captain another item which will never be broken.

That brings me to where I am now. Sports Business and Coaching student at UCFB Burnley, coaching young coaches in the local area, running a weekly football tournament as University Intramural Sport President (In control of all sport contested within the University) and as of the next academic year I will be in complete control of establishing and running the University’s Rugby Union team as Chairman, Coach, Marketeer and Player combined. Today I secured a placement at a second tier Rugby Union team for the summer within their Marketing teams as they attempt to improve upon their already profitable venture.

With this, who knows where life shall take me. As for the other two who started the AdiStars journey with me four and a half years ago; one is now a semi-proffessional footballer who works at a Sport’s Centre, my sporting best friend is a highly qualified football referee studying PE Teaching at Liverpool John Moores.

 

Train Like a Pro 2016-Quarter Two

The first three months of this year have been an exciting time as far as my personal venture in to sport and fitness has been concerned with the aches and benefits from this programme with the first quarter focusing more on bodily movement control, increasing core strength and improving flexibility over any other key aspect of physical fitness.

The second quarter will be be a continuation of the first to an extent as my overall goal of reaching 150 pounds by the end of May is still to be reached. However following May and its activities I shall begin to change my focus towards improving my aerobic endurance as I will cover a little later on in this piece as I work towards preparing for the next sporting season beginning in the Autumn.

So, here are the topics of activity and exercise for the second quarter:

April-Rugby Union (The sport I will be playing predominantly next season). It is often misconceived that all Rugby players are, are 6 ft 5, slabs of muscle and fat, it is very much far from it despite strength being a key aspect to the game and to continue the spirit of the successful Six Nations there is no better time than to give this a try. A Rugby team is split in to two distinct sections; Forwards and Backs. Forwards are the team powerhouses, used to push in the scrums and mauls, driving the team forward with brute strength and using their size and mass to protect the ball from the opponents at the ruck. The Backs on the other hand are creative and more often than not the pace orientated division of the team, often seen catching long kicks up-field by the opposition, providing width to the team as well as kicking long themselves for their team mates to fly on to. My role of Scrum-Half, being the player who receives the ball out of the Ruck and Scrum means that my handling of the ball is my key performance indicator, after receiving the ball I rarely go on runs with the ball and rather pass it off to a team mate, therefore requiring my upper body to be the strongest part of me, nevertheless I still cannot neglect not training my legs.  As a result this month’s work out will like January’s attempt to build muscle through using high weight and low repetitions on the days in the gym on the various machines available. However on top of this routine, create a free weight circuit using Medicine Balls and Dumbbells in exercises which replicate in game scenario’s. Examples of this being; Dumbbell Shovels to replicate passing off of the floor, Burpees including holding and doing push ups on the Medicine Ball to replicate picking up the ball and driving forward and Russian Twists with either piece of equipment to replicate the rotational movement experienced in the game. On the days “not at the gym” or on the rest day in between two gym days take part in some cardiovascular activity with some degree of resistance added, this can include running with ankle weights, attempting Fartlek training on treadmills or high resistance walking on Cross Trainers and Stationary Bikes.

May-Animal Flow. I admit that I know very little on this subject and therefore this will be as much a learning curve for me as for you. Animal Flow from my basic understanding, uses inspiration from the Animal Kingdom of their types of movement which allows various animals to grow and develop especially strong areas of their bodies. As in the previous months, I will be implementing the Animal Flow element on alternate days of that to my regular routine and in this I shall find and replicate 20 minute videos of the 2014 Exercise Fad.

June-Decathlon. With the Olympic Games arriving in this month, I will be drawing inspiration of arguably the most gruelling of all events with competitors required to be adapted to ten different events, offering themselves little time to recover from fatigue. As a result, again in those days where I am not already participating in my regular gym activity, I will create and complete a circuit session of at least 30 minutes in a HIIT style of Bodyweight (Or easily accessible resistance) Exercises such as the multiple variations upon the Push Up, Squat and Sit Up, utilising the entirety of every key muscle group rather than isolate specific muscles as well as allow myself to build a cardiovascular and muscular endurance due to the high intensity and changeover time between sets.

Apologies for focussing this piece so heavily on Rugby however, as a player, fan and coach it is a topic I am passionate and knowledgeable about, able to talk all day about. I hope these months are keeping your workouts enjoyable if you are taking part on this year long journey of discovery for optimal fitness.

Train Like a Pro 2016- March Review

Gymnastics and Rhythmic Gymnastics, not two sports you would associate with a 5 ft 11 Rugby Player and Rock Culture Enthusiast however this month has proved that there can be a huge benefit from venturing in to the unknown. Working with a Nene Valley Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach who wishes to remain nameless I was able to put together a series of stretching activities to complement a core strengthening series which often left my limbs feeling like wet spaghetti while my core was tight and cramping. Even though I’m informed that to perform the splits or any of the other well known gymnastic poses seen on the television I would require another solid six months of practice, every day of the week rather than every two days, I have felt a significant improvement in my flexibility, allowing me to have a greater reach in badminton which has itself led to greater performances and results for myself and my partner. Due to the intense core workouts I have found that my posture is now more rigid with less slouching with the increased strength of my muscles finding it easier to support my weight in a vertical position and I have also noticed a visual development in my abdominals and upper back which has been an important tool for stabilisation in the individual activities.

To improve upon this month I would create an almost Rewards-Goals system with regards to the flexibility exercises as after the first couple of weeks they became a little tedious and therefore I felt that I put less effort in to them. As a result a Rewards-Goals system would help to keep me motivated and focussed on the task in hand.

For the core workout videos I must recommend and credit Fitness Blender for creating videos which are simple to understand and follow while providing multiple alternative ways to train a section of your body using bodyweight exercises. Another honourable mention is the female orientated fitness channel called BikiniModelFitness, often found on the first page of YouTube searches for abdominal challenges who prove that the body and figure you are looking for is achievable and you can look good getting there.

An update on my progress towards my overall physical fitness objective is that with feeling quite lethargic within the final week of the month, with my goal weight at this point being: 146 Pounds, I am currently 140 pounds-a disappointing regression of 3 pounds rather than gaining 3 pounds, other factors contributing to this is that a gymnast training session is designed to maintain and define the body aesthetically rather than build muscle which it has done, as well as that I have not completed a regular gym workout in the past week due to moving home for Easter. Much effort and improvement is required in April to stop the decline and get back on track.

 

Links:

Fitness Blender: https://www.youtube.com/user/FitnessBlender

BikiniModelFitness: https://www.youtube.com/user/BikiniModelFitness