Tab Trains: American Football

JONNY SINGER goes for a session with the Blues American football team, with disastrous consequences.

American Football Superbowl tab trains thomas piachaud

As I sat in Addenbrooke’s and thought about my day, I realised that a casual hospital trip at the end was probably inevitable right from the offset.

You see, I put myself forward to train with the Pythons, Cambridge’s newly reformed American football team. Jokes that it would end in tears were disappointingly close to the truth.

I arrived at Churchill and was fitted out in pads – whatever rugby lads may say, you do NOT want to get hit by someone wearing those. Then, I was put with the ‘linemen’ (the American football equivalent of ‘forwards’).

Padded up and trying life in the line

There followed, after a brief warm up, footwork and positional drills, and then some work on stances. This sounds dry, but actually was a lot of fun. Running in pads, press-ups in pads and explosive starts in pads are all pretty difficult, but the drills, with a bit of banter thrown in, made me feel like this was a sport I’d like to give a more serious go.

Turns out some of these guys really can catch!

Later in the day, I was transferred to the receivers’ training. Here we ran lines, and the quarterbacks tried to hit us, with limited success. Turns out: I can’t catch. You’d think I would have worked out how to catch in ball at some point in the last 20 years, but it was only here, alongside people who could, that my lack of skill really showed.

My concentration is evident, as I make my only succesful catch of the day

My apparent lack of ability didn’t dampen the mood. People were friendly and conversation flowed. Unsurprisingly, conversation largely focused on the Superbowl and the Cambridge cheer-leading squad, two themes which come together at the Union’s Superbowl party, which The Tab will be at later today.

Then, disaster struck. Okay, that’s melodramatic. Not disaster. Misfortune. But, it struck hard: on the little finger of my left hand. A double dislocation (quite exciting according to the doctor who treated me) meant that I was heading to hospital while the team headed into more drills.

My finger: the two dislocations clearly visible

And so, I left American football training with the least manly of all injuries, to the amusement of my family and friends. But, don’t be fooled: this is a proper contact sport. I might not have got the full experience, but I can tell you it’s not easy.

The team are still recruiting, and when I get the all clear from the doctor in two weeks, I might try out for real. Just remind me to keep away from catching the ball…

Photos by Nick Schweitzer