It’s 4am and I’m sat in Victoria Coach Station two hours into my six hour stopover between coaches. It’s fair to say I’ve got some time to fill and for someone who spends seven days-a-week writing about, talking about, filming, editing, sharing, etc, all things British American Football?
It’s surprisingly rare I actually get a chance to sit down and write about my own reflections on the game we all love.
Having read Rob Amor‘s recent piece detailing how these past couple of weeks of truly awesome action across the Britball Nation have reignited his passion for the sport, I realised that with the final final of the 2017 Summer Seasons wrapped up, so too was my first full year at the helm of Double Coverage.
Yeah… From the conversations I’ve had throughout this past year I don’t think it’s something we communicated very well, but one year ago, pretty much just after the 2016 summer seasons came to a close, I took a gamble.
I kicked in the day job, and threw a Hail Mary in the hope that I might be able to make a life, and ideally one day a living, waffling about British American Football.
Ultimately I wasn’t happy with the job I had, and the career path that came with it, such as it was. I’d learnt skills, but putting them to use for causes and concerns that meant nothing to me simply wasn’t floating my boat. Thankfully, with the support of my partner and family, combined with the fact that living in the arse-end of nowhere means I have a very affordable mortgage and only two furry feline mouths to feed (so far…), meant I could take a shot at seeing if the adage is true:
That if you do something you’re passionate about, for long enough, eventually someone will pay you to do it.
DC was struggling, its founders who’d started the site as students had moved on to bigger and brighter things and a skeleton crew of guys spread out across the country were just about keeping the site afloat with a few articles a week. With the little pot of payout from my job and the support of il familia, I purchased up the majority of the site and Ltd company behind it and set out to see if I could turn British American Football news, commentary, community and analysis into a sustainable enterprise.
So, a year in?
Urr… no. I’m 12 months from my last pay cheque and spending the night in Victoria coach station so I don’t have to pay for a room somewhere – eeking out an iced tea as long as possible so I can sit on a comfier chair than the torture racks that pass for furniture in typical British passenger waiting areas.
I’ve certainly learnt how to be economical. Reading comments across various Facebook groups it had saddened me to think people thought we at DC didn’t care enough about Division Two football and that’s why we weren’t covering the Northern and Southern finals in the same way as we’d been able to cover the Division One and Premiership ones. Sure, the reality of covering a sport is that the focus will often be on the top level, but as someone who’s balling was focused within a worryingly-elongated Uniball career, I’m very much a fan of all levels of the British game!
Thus 1am Saturday morning, sat in my brother’s spare room in London with the Jags Se7ens Cup – London Heat looming, I figured out a way to do London, to Leeds, and back to DC Towers, three cities, two nights, for ~£80. We wouldn’t be able to set up a stream, but darn it we could still film the finals, swank the hell out of them with graphics in the edit, and get live updates out on social media. Hence my current chilly situation – many layers of clothing, a laptop, and… regrets about choosing an ice tea now. Sure, it can’t go cold… but I can!
Division Two, if I get piles/flu/pneumonia (again), it’s on you.
But if it sounds like I’m complaining? That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, it’s not nice to know that we’re often rarely more than a few weeks away from potentially having to call this project quits, DC either disappearing or returning to circa three articles a week rather than around three articles a day, but so far we’ve muddled through, slowly picking up support and momentum along the way and finding many, many silver linings to each and every cloud:
I’ve had great experiences – had exclusive access to events and activities that any fan of the game would drool over, met current and former NFL stars, and shaken hands, many hands (Pierre Garcon has the softest hands I’ve ever felt – is that the key to making great grabs? And Tony Boselli’s gigantic paws made me feel rather insecure…), including ones that are wearing Super Bowl rings! And fan-boyed over Football Heroes… (No, seriously, I’ve not gotten flustered by any of the guys we’ve been lucky enough to meet… until I saw Clinton Portis in the crowd outside Wembley, stalked him half way around the stadium, and suddenly found my voice go up two octaves when I asked him to sign my cap and stopped just short of professing my undying love). I’ve had a front row seat to some of the greatest moments in recent Britball history, met the greats of the British game and gotten to see a little bit of the spark that got them there. Learnt, begged and borrowed skills to create more, and more diverse, content than we’ve ever previously had for the domestic game in this country. Lifelong fans of the game might never be lucky enough to have some of the experiences I’ve had in the past year, so even if this all goes tits up in the end? No regrets from me.
Met awesome people – people that’ll drive hundreds of miles for nothing more than a burger-van burger and the promise of a DC t-shirt, to cover sports events they have no stake in, simply because they love the hell outta this game. People that, apparently near as foolhardy as me, are taking a gamble on Britball and throwing their heart and home into making a difference, and maybe also a living, in this game. I’ve met people I’ve disliked, people I’ve feared, people I’ve pitied – and I’ve gotten to know them and come to respect each of them in turn for their own merits and because, when it comes down to it? For all our differences we’re all in this working towards the same goal.
And learnt so many things about our beloved game that aren’t apparent to the naked eye.
I was going to write just the one indulgent ‘reflective’ piece while sat here… But six hours is a long time, my ass appears to have gone completely dead so it’s not like I’m moving any time soon. This one’s already getting pretty longwinded… so congrats Nation! You’ve just snagged yourself a sequel!
Incoming! “<Insert number here> things I’ve learned in one year of: All Britball, All Day, Every Day.”