Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Football Challenge: Match One, The Ron Goreham Memorial El Classico Cup Of The World Birthday Final

Football is the UK's National Sport, so surely it should be an easy sport for 'local hero' The Everyman Olympian to get involved in, right?....wrong!

I've tried all sorts of approaches and efforts to get a game, well 6 to be more precise; you see in order for me to complete The Football Challenge I need to play in six, 90 minute, 11-a-side matches, but I seem to be having a little difficulty.

Regardless of this particular quest, or even of The Everyman Olympics, when the opportunity to play in The Ron Goreham El Classico Cup Of The World Birthday Final I lept in with both feet like a decent long jumper into the sandpit*.

This match was the brainchild of my mate Josh Goreham, and a combination of a tribute to his wonderful father Ron Goreham and a celebration of his own birthday.

As you may have guessed from the title for the fixture, the competing squads would take on the persona's of Spain's greatest teams; the Galacticos of Real Madrid and the free flowing Magicians of Barcelona.

Barcelona wearing green, with Real Madrid in white (OK so the kits were different),
The Everyman Olympian is 3rd from Bottom Right

The first half got underway with Barcelona displaying all their trademark flair and invention, while us Galactico's focused on chasing the ball and the opposition in our own half.

The Everyman Olympian takes the near post as Real Madrid defend a Barcelona corner.

Goal! Jeff scored from a looping free kick from 35 yards out, it missed everyone (sadly including our keeper) and Barca went 1-0 up.

Josh, our Player/Manager/Jose Mourinho made a strategic switch: moving me from right midfield to right back and taking up an attacking wingers position himself - this almost payed off within seconds but his short range effort on goal missed by mere feet.

Then the 'Catalunian's' excellent goalie made a rare blunder, kicking straight out to the white's Bass, who made no mistake in levelling the tie to 1-1. The crowd went wild. Or more specifically, the crowd momentarily looked up from its morning papers and dothed its collective cap.

Bird launched a throw-in to Barca's star outfield player, Jeff - he turned the defender and drilled a shot into the bottom left corner of our net, 2-1 Barcelona.

Real were growing into the game but now in need of a goal before half time to give themselves a chance for victory. Jamie Grech launched a probing cross forward in another of our attacks, though no-one in a white shirt managed to get close enough to it, nor did the opposition - 2-2!

I started the second half as I had finished the first, on the sidelines; Coach Goreham (Josh) was being fantastic in ensuring all players had their turn on the pitch and in the break, as well as making a spurring speech to the boys, he made substitutional changes to give more chances to those that hadn't featured much.

Again, Barca's probing runs paid dividends: Dec set Nick up for an easy tap in, 3-2 Barcelona.

This time we didn't have to wait too long for yet another leveller, though perhaps we were becoming a little too reliant on lady luck - Ben scuffed a ball goal wards, Barcelona's tiring defence missed another speculative effort and the ball trickled over the line to joyous reaction from our team, 3-3.

Extra time reared it's ugly head, both teams pleading this was unwanted punishment but Josh 'Mourinho' Goreham insisted that this event would have an outright winner, and so after a short rest the official referee blew his whistle and the game was restarted.

The first half passed without major incident, a quick change of sides and we were off again - by now I was playing as striker and while making what I felt were some good runs, I was acting more as a decoy for my strike partner; who Real's midfield were more confident in passing to.

The clock ticked on and penalties looked imminent, but Barca's star man had other ideas - Jeff broke clear of our defence and unselfishly put teammate Steve in for simple finish past our beleaguered keeps; Madrid hearts were shattered in the final minute, Barcelona winning the game 4-3.

This was more than a win or a loss though, it was an ace way to celebrate Josh's birthday and more than that too, it was a fitting tribute to a great man, Ron Goreham.

Josh Goreham and The Everyman Olympian

One match down, I've 5 more to play to achieve The Football Challenge, if you can help me please email me at:

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Everyman Olympian visits the real Olympics

On a day that started with my being completely shattered from my second Boxing training session at Southend Amateur Boxing Club, I popped to the paper shop to find myself involved in the national news and then topped it all off after work with a first visit to the actual Olympic Games!

Coach Daley set the Boxing session in motion with a 3 or so mile warm-up jog before we joined a busy gym for a full skipping session, which our Heavyweight coach also took. Then Gary (Daley) instructed the lads to glove up for a bag session; this involved a few minutes each pounding the variety of punch bags which are positioned around the walls, before a short break and a shuffle along to the next bag in line.

As well as being introduced to punchbags this time around, I was given instruction on punching combinations and technique by Coach Condon as he wore pads for me to hit. This came prior to the bag session, which itself was followed by the concluding floor work to the session.

The floor work hurt: ten gruling exercises which worked much like a mini circuit training session, though without the break for breathing and moving between stations - exercises from sit-ups to burpees to press-ups to squat thrusts are ALL performed back-to-back with Coach Daley driving through the process with ease himself whilst barking instructions for the group to follow at pace.

Hence my walk to the shop for breakfast supplies was left till the last available minute, but boy was it worth it...

I flicked eagerly through the paper while eating my muesli/honey/milk/blueberry combo, and then I nearly spat my breakfast cocktail out with joy - for there on page 24 of yesterday's Times was a write-up on The Everyman Olympics:

The Times, Page 24, 31st July 2012 edition

Humbled by the memories of the help I've received to make it to this point, a point which makes our collective efforts worth reading about, I inhaled the remainder of my cereal and popped the kettle on while I read the article once more.

It was now 5:45PM. To my right sat my brother, Mike, and all around us were complete strangers, yet fellow sharers in a spectacle that would see history made before our eyes, for we were all party to witnessing the world's best 4 men's foil fencers battle it out for Olympics 2012 honours.

In the first Semi-Final, Mike and I had opted to support Italian, Andrea Baldini, against World Number 9, China's Lei Sheng.

Baldini (Left) prepares to attack Lei

The second Semi-Final presented a no-brainer for our support; Egypt have never had a medalling fencer at the Olympic Games, so when we heard that Alaaeldin Abouelkassem (just 21) had beaten a Triple World Champion AND a Double World Champion on his route to the last four, so he had our full backing as he fought the somewhat spirited and more eagerly supported (by 5 or so very well organised countrymen - one man chanting with a group chorus reply) Byungchul Choi from South Korea.

In both instances the bigger of the men went through to the final, and our support produced mixed results: Baldini's all out attacking style failed against the composed, accurate sword of the chinaman, but our unpronounceably named Egyptian triumphed with a large degree of flare against the feisty Choi.

There was a short break, which we spent pointlessly joining a que to buy drinks which we never waited for and then returned to our seats in the rafters of the temporary 20,000 seater arena within the nationally famous Excel exhibition space. Next up was the battle for bronze, a match between the tiddlers which didn't disappoint; the clash was so close that the final was delayed as these two attacking foes took it the distance - Choi winning out 15-14 to tremendous celebrations from the South Korean contingent sat just yards away.

'Egypt, Egypt, Egypt' the crowd called in support, Aladin (near enough) was starting to make us feel like he'd been granted his three wishes by the genie - after an injury break in which our Egyptian protagonist received treatment for what looked like a mix between cramp and the attentions of Lei's sword, Abouelkassem had somehow scored to lead 13-12; he'd last lead at 2-1.

3 points later and it was all over, Lei coolly struck three in a row to become victorious, though in truth there two winners in the arena last night.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Snap Happy Week

So what does a week's holiday look like for The Everyman Olympian? Well for starters it involves almost as much sport as a BBC montage on the real Olympics!

I awoke two Saturday's ago, wished my missus a top time on her own hols - she was off to Ibiza with the girls, for an altogether different time - and I got comfy in my car for the 3 hour journey to join my mate Josh and his pals for The Ron Goreham Memorial El Classico Cup Of The World Birthday Final; a match Josh put together in memory of his father whereby each side took on the persona of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Arriving at the match I was met by my parents, with my brother Mike (he was playing for Barca) and his missus. Also there to greet me for the first time of many this week was Beach, a local photographer who runs his own firm: 8-19 Photography; he'd heard about my antics on Southend Radio Station while I was being interviewed the week before and had made it his mission to help me get into the national press.

While I got kitted out in my Real Madrid team kit (OK so it wasn't exactly the correct kit but who cares, this was a fantastic occasion to be part of), Beach surveyed the pitch and set his gear up - two impressive looking cameras; I would soon know what around 0.01% of being a Premier League star feels like.

Beach snapped plenty of pics while I took to offering the team as much help as I could as we chased a deficit against a more free-flowing Barcelona side.

Beach met me at every opportunity he could that week, and all the while he gained more of an insight into the adventure that is The Everyman Olympics; not just a sporting effort for a fat lad having a go but also a logistical nightmare which poses many a challenge of its own.

We covered Basketball with Southend Swifts, Modern Pentathlon training - on the track at Garons Park and in the pool at Belfairs, me signing up and training with Southend Amateur Boxing Club and my first ever Hockey training session with Southend Hockey Club.

Somewhere in the middle of this excellent and varied week, I managed to honour an invite to be interviewed for the Jamie & Louise Show for the third time on BBC Radio Wales; you can listen again to my interview until the end of Thursday 2nd August 2012:

Click the link here:

My interview starts on 11:24, I hope you enjoy it.

Beach and The Everyman Olympian after a great week in the story of The Everyman Olympics

Cheers to Beach, 8-19 Photography and of course to ALL the Sports Teams and facilites involved!

Here's hoping Beach's photos make it into the national newspapers, stay tuned as I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hockey Training Day One

As I sit typing this I've sunburn on my neck and thawing hail stones on my garden, but lets not dwell on the effects of the Great British Summer, this post is all about my first training session for The Hockey Challenge.

Southend Hockey Club have no fewer than 13 teams which are all managed under the clubs proverbial umbrella, a pretty impressive set-up then but I gather the club has been going for some 75 years...WOW!

Hockey has been an Olympic Sport for men since the first London Games in 1908, though it took until Moscow 1980 that women gained their chance to join the stick party. When I turned up to training in yesterday morning's sunshine at Sweyne Park School I was surprised to be joining a mixed youth and ladies team session, though Coaches Anne-Marie & Adele were incredibly welcoming and educational.

One of the girls was kind enough to lend me her spare stick (phew, otherwise I'd have been a out of the session) and Coach Adele took me off for some basic stick training to get me started. We passed the ball while I learnt the correct stance to receive, and cushion the ball and how to pass, always using the one flat side of the hockey stick.

Next up we practised shooting, luckily into an empty goal, and while I managed to try to and dig the pitch up, Will - one of the youth players - showed us just how effective a sweetly shot ball could be in the air.

Then Kay (a ladies team hopeful) and I then learnt how to block tackle and practised moving with the ball.

The last section of the training session featured a short game; I thoroughly enjoyed getting to put my newly taught learning's into practise against the bibs. The teams were reasonably well-balanced and separated only by a goal from our ladies first team member. I was pleased with my efforts, while they may have resulted in a grazed knee which I gained through lost footing, I did managed to hold the ball up well with 2 opponents in the chase, before completing a pass to a team mate.

Southend Hockey Club members: Coach Anne-Marie far Left, Coach Adele Far Right, The Everyman Olympian stands tall in the centre.

My thanks to Coach Adele & Coach Anne-Marie, and Southend Hockey Club. I'm looking forward to my next training session, though may have to invest in a stick before I go..and some sun lotion!

Note: The photo is this blog is courtesy of 8-19 Photography, taken by Beach and subject to copyright. Please ask for permission by emailing me here if you wish to use it.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Everyman Olympics: Original Deadline Day Arrives

Over two and a half years ago I made a bet with my mate Carl to race against each other to lose a stone. He'd opt to go down the regular route: eating less rubbish food and joining a gym which he'd plan to visit religiously, while I did a brief self-assessment and chose to pursue an altogether different path...

Carl 2009 BG (Before Gym)

Recognising my nature was to bore of attending the same place every 48 hours to do battle with my belly, and my inability to commit to such an approach; my job sends me motoring some 30,000+ miles per year around the UK, sometimes abroad also, while my wonderful missus lives 100 miles away from where I personally reside. I searched for a different approach, and one night while supping a beer, I realised that the Olympic Games offers a sporting menu which provides more exercise options than I could shake a chubby finger at.

The Everyman Olympian: At the start of 2010, weight: 14 stone 4 pounds

I elected to start with Rowing, bought a home machine, it didn't work. The next day I would start my adventure in a hotel gym, in fact I joined 2 gyms in that first week and by the time 8 days had passed I'd rowed 70,000 metres to complete The Rowing Challenge.

I developed my one-sport-per-month approach to replicate each event as it took place in the actual Games, so for my next sport I would need to play out the same amount of games as a male singles player would from day one up until and including the final. I called on family and friends to offer themselves as my opponents, even bought an extra racquet so there were no excuses and then spent 6 days playing 6 matches to achieve The Badminton Challenge.

Athletics seemed too large a topic to deal with in one chunk so I singled out the Marathon as the main endurance event but I didn't even run a mile at this point, so I consulted my brother and broke the task down into a challenge of 21 days over which to run the famous 26.2 miles. I smashed this target and on day fifteen I ran 5.1 miles alongside my brother to complete The Running Challenge.

I was going strong with my plan, which I'd decided to call The Everyman Olympics, but then my world changed. Pete Puma, a Bodybuilder from the US put me in touch with a British Weightlifter via Twitter and over the next month I Clean & Jerked on more weight than I'd lost. Carl won the bet and a slap up meal.

Nothing but the finest for our Carl, Tayyabs on Fieldgate Street in London has the best pork chops you'll ever eat!

I needed a change of tactics, I'd lost the bet but I had other plans in mind. The Everyman Olympics was effectively re-galvanised and I decided to try and tackle EVERY Olympic Sport before London 2012.

Well I'm sorry to say folks that this quest continues, though I'll need you to bare with me for a while longer, I'm not abandoning this adventure - I won't let you down.

Here are the sports I've achieved challenges in, with the help of many:

Archery, Aquatics (Swimming), Athletics (Running & Decathlon), Badminton, Beach Volleyball, Canoeing (Sprint & Slalom), Cycling (BMX & Road), Fencing, Handball, Judo, Rowing, Shooting (Pistol & Shotgun), Table Tennis, Tennis, Triathlon and Weightlifting.

In all I've complete 16 different sports, across 20 disciplines (somehow managed to bag bonus sports along the way), with these 5 sports currently on the go:

Basketball, Football, Sailing, Wrestling and Boxing.

But friends, I need your help! I'm looking for contacts in these 6 sports so I can complete my challenge:
  • Gymnastics
  • Trampolining
  • Water Polo
  • Taekwondo
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Diving
If you can help please email me at:

Thanks, you're a legend

The Everyman Olympian

PS I've kept the stone off, jumped on the scales today:

The Everyman Olympian: Weighing in at 13 stone 3 pounds.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Boxing Training: Fighting Fat

Yesterday afternoon I finally found an amateur gym close to home and within just a few hours after chatting with Mick Buck, the Club Secretary, I arrived at Southend Amateur Boxing Club to find my hunch was true - this would be an excellent place to train and complete The Boxing Challenge.

Coach Buck, Coach Canon, Steve Harris and President Eddie welcomed me in warmly, though all seemed suitable bemused by my plans to train with them over the coming weeks before a full sparring session with my big-haired pal Gorgeous George.

Gorgeous George (formerly just George) and I had met whilst team mates for Brentwood Handball Club. While I knew him to be a passionate sportsman and lover of both Handball and Cricket, I also knew him to be short tempered, tall heighted and fuzzy haired. He'd have advantages of height and reach on me while I'd guess we were similar weight when I last saw him.

Back in the gym...once I'd become a fully paid up member I was introduced to Junior Coach Steve Condon by the wonderfully voiced (think Lenny MacLean) President Eddie. Coach Condon instantly introduced me to a form of exercise I'd never tried in my life: skipping.

While the gym began to bustle with boxers of various sizes, Coach Condon began the group training session with a thorough skipping session which was broken only by sets of ten press-ups per 'round'. For the most part I tried to get to grips with the delicate intricacies of coordinating looping rope with jumping man; I've got to say that being able to skip as well as the lads is now one of my top priorities...I was rubbish at it.

Next I learnt the classic boxers stance, followed quickly by how to jab and hook, then I tried to mimic Coach Condon's excellent footwork as he demonstrated how to move correctly; the aim being to maintain balance and a strong stance whilst manoeuvring around an opponent who's eager to put you on your backside.

Clearly I was doing OK for a first timer, as my hands were then strapped and Coach Condon boiled up the kettle to fit my gum shield - these good folk waste no time in finding out if you have the metal, after donning gloves, groin and head protectors I was in the ring and learning how to spar, or rather 'being moved around' by Club Captain and classy heavyweight Gary Daley.

My first piece of Boxing kit: a gum shield from Geezers Palace
I took my first few jabs to the face and head in this session, albeit very light ones from a boxer who'll be prominent on the UK Boxing scene next year - President Eddie told me this, and you don't mess with him.

One of The Everyman Olympian's fists of fury
Coach Daley was excellent at showing me the ropes, and even took me through the 'warm down' exercise routine afterwards even though the gym was now nearly empty.

My first training session for The Boxing Challenge was ace. If you live in South East Essex and want to join a top boxing gym I can't recommend Southend Amateur Boxing Club enough.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Will The Real Olympics Please Stand Up

Yesterday was a day like none other yet encountered in my two year journey on The Everyman Olympics, not once but twice the real Olympics clashed with my 'lesser' project...

Just after a hearty and free lunch (cheers Ma), I popped along to Basildon Sporting Village, a veritable mecca of sport; they've an Olympic sized pool, state of the art gym and Gymnastics facilities that could rival any Russian oligarch with a penchant for watching Lycra-clad young lovelies in action.

While I waited for my chance to speak with the Gymnastics receptionist (that's just how professional this place is), I had to take a step back to allow...the Japanese Olympic Men's Gymnastics Team through! Each one of these double-agile chaps was sporting their national training kit and looking as focused as Kevin Costner when he shot that arrow in a movie one time.

I guess if the Japanese Gymnastics Team's diet consists of pure gold, they deserve priority bless em.

Sadly when I spoke with the very helpful receptionist she was unable to promise a positive response from the gymnastics coach as they were so busy with Olympic teams using the venue at present. The Basildon I grew up has changed dramatically it would seem.

The second collision between my Olympics and the other one happened just a few hours later...when I was heading into Garons Park, Southend, to do some Swimming training for The Modern Pentathlon Challenge. I had a photographer I've met, called Beach, with me - he was looking to get some shots of me training in the pool, but we were denied! The reason: The GB Diving Team were training in the Diving pool right next door.

Team GB Divers: You could have trained outside lads!
I'm not one to mind sharing the limelight but sheeesh!

Thankfully Basketball training went according to plan yestereve. Phew.

The Everyman Olympics continues...