In a bid to shift the excesses of Christmas and New Year I’ve been attending Boot Camp sessions run by Compass Gym for the past couple of months.
You’ll know the sort of thing that entails if you’ve been keeping up with the trials and tribulations of sports editor, Andy Bloomfield’s ‘Bloomers’ Boot Camp’ on the SN website (thescarboroughnews.co.uk/sport).
If you haven’t been (you should have been) then all you need to know is that it involves a lot of hard physical work at ridiculous times of the morning (who knew there were two 5:30s in a day?) four times a week.
As an aside I should point out that despite the early get-ups and suffering some bitterly cold conditions, every second has been, if not entirely enjoyable (no pain, no gain, right?), then certainly worth it.
If you’ve ever considered signing up for boot camp I can certainly recommend it and have seen some fellow ‘boot campers’ make incredible progress in just four weeks.
Anyway, after a well-earned night out last Saturday, to celebrate the most recent boot camp’s completion I bumped into Scarborough Pirates favourite Mike Picken, on leave from the army after a recent tour of Afghanistan.
Before I became part of the Pirates team last season, Picken was always one of the players I enjoyed watching the most when I went to watch the team at Eastway on a Saturday afternoon, during the previous few seasons.
Playing at full-back, he was always completely assured under the high ball and would always return the ball strongly, often breaking the line, turning defence into attack and setting up try-scoring opportunities in the process. He was a player I genuinely thought could go places in the game.
Even making his debut for the Pirates as a 17-year-old, he showed the typical ‘never-take-a-backward-step’ mental toughness that so many of his peers, such as Adam Lee, Dave Douthwaite and Tom Jenkinson, to name but a few, seem to have had instilled in them from such an early age.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, Picken’s playing opportunities have been limited in recent seasons due to several tours of duty with the army, and he was unable to make a single appearance at all last season.
Sadly that would appear to be the case again for the forthcoming summer season as work commitments mean he is unlikely once again to feature.
Despite only just turning 23, Picken is a regular in the army first team and has recently been selected for the Combined Armed Forces under-23 side, an honour of which he is extremely proud.
I’ve no doubt he’ll do exceptionally well and hopefully it won’t be too long before he’s back playing for the Pirates.
While I’m on the subject of the Pirates their summer season kicks off on Star Wars Day this year – that’s May 4th (geddit?) – and the likes of Adam Lee and Keith and Nicola Paddock are currently working tirelessly to attract sponsors and players to the club, with the aim of once again running two teams throughout the summer. There is an open training session on March 31 at 12:30pm at Eastway Sports and Social Club for anyone wishing to get involved.
The club had a remarkably successful season last time out, with the first team scoring a ‘perfect’ season by winning every game in Yorkshire Four, while also walking away with the Team of the Year award at the annual Scarborough and District Sports Council Awards, and they will be looking to build on their success again this year.
Finally this week, a quick tip of the hat to a player in the professional ranks who’s clearly destined for great things within the game, he also has a great name to boot; I’m talking of course, about Liam Farrell – no relation.
Farrell has been outstanding this season for Wigan Warriors, stepping up to fill the number 12 shirt vacated by the outstanding but volatile Gareth Hock.
Against Leeds Rhinos last Friday Farrell made 44 tackles, a super achievement in itself, however, he didn’t miss a single one during the full 80 minutes.
And according to Opta, the official statistics gatherers of Super League, Farrell currently has a running total of 226 tackles without a miss, or 568 minutes without a miss if you’d prefer – having said that I have known wingers hide for that long in order to avoid making a tackle.
Farrell looks to be the genuine article in both attack and defence and despite an embarrassment of riches in the back-row for England he will surely be pushing for a starting spot come the World Cup at the end of the season if his form continues.
It’s clearly all in the name.