Category: American Football


Dramatic finale for the Essex Spartans

In an emotional and dramatic climax to the Essex Spartans‘ disappointing 2013 season, head coach Marc Saunders stepped down after their ninth defeat this year at home to the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders.

Guidance | Former Philhadelphia Eagles star Cecil Martin flanks two Essex Spartans players. (Image | Emma Webb)

Guidance | Former Philadelphia Eagles star Cecil Martin poses with two Essex Spartans players. (Image | Emma Webb)

The team were also visited by Sky Sports analyst and former Philadelphia Eagles fullback Cecil Martin, fresh off the plane from running youth camps and football clinics across the continent.

The Spartans struggled from the off this year, with some moments of great game play but no visible results for their efforts.

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Currently second from bottom of the second tier of the National league, the Essex Spartans have suffered five losses and only picked up one win so far this season.

WORD | Caption. (Image | Emma Webb)

Struggle | The Essex Spartans have only picked up one win out of six games so far this season. (Image | Emma Webb)

Kicking off back in April with a brand new and enthusiastic committee, a thoroughly rejuvenated youth squad and a roster of 58 senior players, the Spartans took to the field with every confidence that this season belonged to the Black Tide. So where did it all go wrong?

Head coach Marc Saunders said: “The results speak for themselves, but they don’t paint the full picture.

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The Essex Spartans youth team are going from strength to strength following a record turnout for junior training last weekend, with 27 players on the pitch aged between 13 and 17 years old.

A youth development | Young Spartans take part in mass training session. (Image | Emma Webb)

A youth development | Young Spartans take part in a mass training session last weekend. (Image | Emma Webb)

Headed up by Steve Mitchell and assisted by hiatus senior player Oli Huke, the youth movement has taken several years to take shape and develop, but has come on leaps and bounds in the past eighteen months.

Growing from a core group of five to six dedicated young players, the Spartans are now in a position to offer teenagers a taste of on-field competitive American football for the first time in the club’s history.

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Cecil Martin meets the Essex Spartans

Former National Football League (NFL) star and Sky Sports analyst Cecil Martin stopped off in Billericay, Essex, last week as part of a national tour to further American football at grassroots level.

Martin has been meeting American football youth teams, coaching training sessions and speaking to fans all in the name of promoting sport and a positive attitude among young people.

Popular | Youngsters from the Essex Spartans pose with former NFL player Cecil Martin. (Image | Emma Webb)

Most valuable player | Youngsters from the Essex Spartans pose with former NFL fullback Cecil Martin. (Image | Emma Webb)

In the dimming dusk at Hannakin’s Farm, Martin was infinitely charismatic and friendly. He personally introduced himself, shaking hands with every parent and helper on the sidelines before taking group photographs for his Twitter page.

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Former National Football League (NFL) star Cecil Martin made his way from college football to the NFL draft in 1999, when he joined the Philadelphia Eagles.

Advice | We caught up with former NFL star Cecil Martin as he visited the Essex Spartans American football team last week. (Image | Emma Webb)

Advice | We caught up with former NFL star Cecil Martin as he visited the Essex Spartans American football team last week. (Image | Emma Webb)

A spell on the practice team of the Oakland Raiders followed, before Martin made his first appearance for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and last in the NFL, in 2003.

Martin currently works across the United States as an advisor to high school student athletes, speaking about the college recruitment process on behalf of the National Collegiate Scouting Association.

Emma Webb caught up with the Sky Sports NFL analyst* as he paid a visit to the Essex Spartans American football team in Billericay last week:

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They may not be the most glamorous football team in Essex (albeit not by much), but Essex Spartans of the BANAFL are making big steps in building a franchise (Image | Romford Recorder)

They may not be the most glamorous football team in Essex (albeit not by much), but Essex Spartans of the BANAFL are making big steps in building a franchise (Image | Romford Recorder)

In the latest of TAP’s exclusive interviews, we’ve spread our wings again in our constant ambition to bring you news from as many different walking sports as we can. This time around, Emma Webb speaks to Marc Saunders, an American Football evangelist and the head coach of the Essex Spartans, about recruiting players and building a team philosophy.

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People love stories, particularly tales of greatness, and a major reason as to why the London 2012 Olympic Games held such thrall in Britain was the daily accounts of athletes finding the best of themselves.

Enn-chanting | Jessica Ennis storms to first place in the 200m, part of her hepthathlon glory at London 2012. (Image | Evening Standard)

Enn-chanting | Jessica Ennis storms to first place in the 200m, part of her heptathlon triumph at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Image | Evening Standard)

We had yarns of the woman who grabbed her last chance of glory, Katherine Grainger; the chosen one adored by her public, Jessica Ennis; or the wounded king that ruthlessly crushed those who would usurp him, Usain Bolt. They were the legends of our time, not just athletes.

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Fallen sporting heroes #2: O.J. Simpson

The second instalment of The Armchair Pundits’ “fallen sporting heroes” series looks at O.J. Simpson and his spectacular fall from grace from a long career in football.

There are few names as famous as his in modern sporting history, and here Josh Mott gives the low-down on the notorious former sportsman.

Trouble | 95 million Americans tuned in to watch O.J. Simpson flee chasing police cars on Interstate 405. (Image | Biker Gallery)

When Orenthal James Simpson and his friend Al Cowling drove down Interstate 405 in a white Ford Bronco truck, 95 million Americans tuned into cable news channels to watch the chase from the police helicopter.

As one of the most charismatic sportsmen of the time, Simpson was heading not just towards the most famous murder trial in American history, but also a life that would be punctuated by peculiarity right up to the present day.

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The black and white of the NFL’s refereeing fiasco

The catch that never was | Monday’s incident has brought the referee issue firmly to the fore. (Image | Associated Press)

It is official, the National Football League (NFL) labour hold out with its game day referees has reached breaking point.

Monday Night Football‘s match-up featuring the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks was the last straw in a weekend plagued with disastrous and arguably game-changing decisions made by the NFL’s replacement referees.

After a Hail Mary pass in the dying seconds of the game by Seahawks rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson, two replacement officials looked at each other in overwhelming bewilderment.

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NFL preview: part two

Can San Francisco retain their crown as NFC champions? There is plenty of opposition on their heels (Image | Getty)

If you’ve had a check of TAP since yesterday evening you’ll have seen the first part of Josh Mott’s team-by-team breakdown of the 2012-13 NFL season. Josh returns today, completing his travails with a thorough breakdown of the NFL’s NFC (National Football Conference) competitors and outlining just why he believes this will be one of the closest NFL seasons in memory.

Tonight: previewing the NFC

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