Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Jungle Diaries

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and not, when I came to die, discover I had not lived." Henry David Thoreau

I've been lucky enough to spend the last week in the Belizian Jungle with the Welsh Guards, reporting on their jungle training. Here's my jungle diary

Tuesday 20 - Houston or bust
Twelve hours in the air followed by a fun night out in a Houston bar, which had a larger-than-life model of a shire horse in the middle of it?!. Amazed at how knowledgeable the Texans are about their politics (and about ours) and so passionate about it too... some are a little too passionate about it for me after 12 hours on a plane.

Wednesday 21 - A last bit of luxury
Four hours to Belize. Texas had been freezing in the morning so I'm still wearing a woolly jumper when the open the doors of the plane at Belize. Wham! The heat and humidity hits you like a wall and by the time I'm at the bottom of the steps my clothes are soaking. Short drive to Price Army barracks where we enjoy a meal, a dip in their pool and a bed in one of the officers huts. A last bit of luxury.
Belize is a strange place outside the camp, struggling to overcome problems with drugs and crime, with a woman murdered a short distance from the camp in the few hours we were there. That said, the Belizians are a very friendly, welcoming people, whose love of the British stems from the British army's support in the country's defence.

Thursday 22 - Into the jungle
It's the end of the monsoon season, but nobody has told the weather that. It's dry when I start walking towards the vehicle, I'm soaked by a rain storm by the time I get there, then it's gone again! It's so warm though, the rain is very comfortable and you're dry within a few minutes.
The journey is a long one. Along the way you can see the make up of the country, from the Afro-Caribbean community around Belize, to the fascinating Mennonites two thirds of the way along the route - living isolated lives that reject technology, then on into the jungle, where you find the Mayan people, descendants of the people who built huge stone temples in the jungle, before being forced out by the Spanish, returning back with a new mix of Mayan and Mexican.
Arrive at Augustine Camp on the edge of the jungle and are issued with our jungle equipment, including hammocks, ration packs, mosquito nets, ponchos, machetes, compasses, candles, water purifiers etc. Met up with Three Company in the admin area (just inside the jungle where they come to take on supplies and regroup, without leaving the jungle) Meet some great characters, among them an officer from the TA, who has a Phd from Oxford in Military History, specifically the 100 Years War and is able to give a fascinating take on the army and modern warfare. The guys give me a demonstration in how to set up my hammock (I think I'll be getting them to help me set it up on the first night).

Friday 23 - Jam Boys and Iron Men
Met up with Prince of Wales Company, the Jam Boys (given an extra serving of jam with their rations during the war as they were so tall). Returned to Three Company to set up hammock etc for the night (got a couple of lads to help to avoid spending the night on the floor) actually very comfortable.
Before it goes dark (about 4.30pm) we start a fire and get a crash course with our hexi-block stoves and 24hr ration packs... on tonight's menu is Ration Pack 'B', soup, beef stew and dumplings, chocolate pudding in chocolate sauce, oatmeal block, fruit biscuits, biscuit brownes, meat pate, chocolate, boiled sweets, chocolate drink, tea, coffee, stock drink, orange drink, chewing gum, waterproof matches, paper tissues and water puri tabs... I looked for the wine list, but it must have fallen out of mine!
It's pretty tasty stuff, though I can imagine after a month in the jungle it becomes a bit heavy, not surprising at around 6,000 calories a pack, but that's what you need out here, together with at least eight litres of water a day.
When it goes dark, you swing your torch away from the fire and back into the trees and for a split second you see tiny little green dots everywhere, as the torchlight picks up the eyes of the spiders watching you in the darkness... Think I'll check the the ropes on my hammock one last time!
Even in this more open edge of the jungle, the night time noises are wonderful. It's still hot, but I'm not muddy so it's just a case of undo the shirt, roll up the trousers, keep the boots on and lie back listening to the animal orchestra the other side of my mosquito net.

Saturday 24 - Soap and scorpions
Up early to meet Prince of Wales Company again in the jungle, then meet with Lt Col Richard Stanton to see the new Bowman communication system. Return to Augustine to talk to the support company. The chefs are amazing, really skilled guys with incredible imagination, who turn ration pack food into really tasty dishes. The one I spoke to here from Wrexham has cooked for royalty and at Jamie Oliver's 15 restaurant, while another I had met, was making chocolate balls by hand!
Came back to the lighter edge of the jungle to wait for another company, a family of enterprising Mayans, still living in the jungle, were making money selling drinks out of the back of their home. A guy ran up with a huge pack on his back and collapsed onto the stone bench next to us. Lying there with his eyes closed he began sniffing the air and his eyes suddenly shot open: "God, you smell fantastic!" he cried (I should point out that having not washed, or shaved in four days, we thought we were smelling anything but fantastic), "Wow. I haven't smelt soap in weeks," he said, almost sniffing the person sat next to him. It turned out he was one of the officers from the Advanced Jungle area and had just run 20km with pack in the mid day sun as training.
Over a drink he told us that on his first night he had made his way to the advanced jungle area and had been too exhausted to bother setting up his hammock, so decided to sleep under one of the Mayan's jungle thatch covers: "I was just falling asleep when a huge scorpion fell out of the leaves onto my chest," he said, "I wish I could say I didn't scream like a girl."
Travelled to the highest point on the surrounding hills where a fire watchtower has been built above the trees, giving the best and perhaps only view of the jungle... it's vast. All around is a shifting blanket of green, as though thrown over the landscape, with the small tree covered steep hills, sticking up from underneath it. Some parts are still charred and stripped bare, where areas were burned to kill off a beetle that threatened to destroy much of the jungle. It gives the place a split personality. One of the soldiers told me that these torched areas with their exposed red clay felt more like Kenya, while the outer reaches felt like dense British woodland and the innermost core, more like Vietnam.

Sunday 25 - Waterfalls and Kevlar
Up before dawn 4.30am. Three company are now 'tactical' so there's noise and light discipline and we follow them out of camp in silence.
Great morning watching them move into a position, set up a concealed 'harbour' area and send out reconnaissance groups, bringing back the information and building a stunning scale three-dimensional map model in the ground for them to plan their attack.
Went to the Thousand Foot Falls with Two Company for a much needed wash and a swim. It's an amazing place where the water flows in waterfalls from pool to pool right down the side of a mountain. Jumped straight in wearing my clothes... then jumped straight out again when I realised my notes were still in my pocket!
Get back out and my clothes are bone dry in under ten minutes. Back to Camp Augustine to be issued with body armour and helmets ready for Tuesday's live fire exercise, it's heavy stuff and the thought of carrying that, plus all the rest of the equipment the soldiers have, in the jungle heat, is daunting.

Monday 26 - Monkeys in the night time
Advanced Jungle, the deepest in we have been so far. It shows how dense the jungle is that you don't even know the lake is there until you're right on top of it. Arrived at dawn and watched as the huge dense banks of mist rolled down the valleys. Followed the soldiers down to the water where they did capsise drills, tipping over their craft then bobbing under it to reach the breathing space underneath.
Talked to one amazing young guy who, having almost drowned as a young boy, was terrified of the water and could not swim, but with the support of the others overcame this to complete the exercise.
Travelled out on the water to see some more of the area, the guy piloting our dingy had been out the day before looking for crocodiles and was disappointed to only find a few small ones... I was not so disappointed. Travelled further down the water to a huge dam built a few years ago. It was like something out of Lost, coming round a bend in the dense jungle, to be confronted with a wall of concrete.
Stayed deeper in the jungle near the Offensive Operations Area. Set up our hammocks early. Lost my bearings twice going to the toilet, emerging from the undergrowth somewhere unexpected... and that was in the day time!
Torrential rain. It's like the jungle floor, suddenly turns to liquid and flows away, taking with it any equipment not raised up on logs. Sat round the fire with the range guys, then off to the hammock. The noises here are even better, with hundreds more birds, insects and monkeys. Boots muddy so they're upside down on sticks to try and keep out the spiders.

Tuesday 27 - Indiana Lawson and Temples of Doom
A lie this morning until 5.30am. We followed Prince of Wales company as they entered the live fire range, simulating an attack on a jungle encampment. After the stealthy silence of the long jungle approach through deep mud, the contrast of the simulated mortar explosions and bursts of machine gun fire is fierce.
Camouflaged, covered in mud and sliding down the sloping jungle floor, the men were almost invisible, even from right on top of them and the accuracy of the machine guns, as they fell trees in a single burst is breathtaking. Live fire was fantastic, but for me the best part came afterwards. Already deep in the jungle, we were just 10 miles from the ancient Mayan city of Caracol and were given a couple of hours to explore its stone temples.
(The view of one of the smaller mounds from the top of the stone temple)
Approaching the site you round the final bend to be presented with vast stone temples rising high above the tree tops, but from down below the canopy is so dense you do not see them. It was phenomenal, with steep stone steps, tiny inner chambers where they found remains of the human sacrifices and other rooms only accessible by a small hole a few inches square.
The trees are so thick here that the city, which was home to around 110,000 people, having been discovered in the 1930s, was promptly lost again, reclaimed by the jungle and only rediscovered a few decades ago. They were a fascinating people, typically around 5ft 3ins tall and creators of incredible stone artwork and masks. More incredibly, the last of their cities was only abandoned in the 1700s... that's just 100years before my house was built!
Travelled back five hours out of the jungle all the way back to Price Barracks, had another much needed bath in a river on the way back (not having shaved to avoid infected cuts or washed to keep off mosquitoes). Headed out to a bars to celebrate our return. Towards the end of the evening, misread the signs at the end of a neon-lit corridor pointing to 'toilets' and 'tattoos' Went through the wrong one and nearly came back with an unexpected souvenir of my trip.

Wednesday 28 - Flight back
Belize Houston, Houston Gatwick, train Gatwick Reading, Reading Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Gobowen, Gobwbowen Home... Back home within 24hours with a new found appreciation of toilets!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Monday, 12 November 2007

Meeting your heroes

"Without heroes, we are all plain people and don't know how far we can go." Bernard Malamud

Meeting heroes is a risky business, but who can resist when given the opportunity? I recently had the chance to meet and interview Peter Snow who I first remember from Tomorrow's World. Growing up without a dad, grandads or uncles around, television helped fill in the gaps, and for me like many others, Peter was everyone's favourite uncle, who over the years taught me about inventions, politics, lost civilizations and bygone battles.

He's a wonderful chap, every bit as warm and funny as you'd imagine, though much more calm and relaxed than people make him out to be. It really was great fun, but as I've promised to stop boring my friends with the story, here it is one last time. Thanks Peter!

- Mid Wales & Border Living / Border Counties Advertizer -

Peter Snow and David Lawson at the Ludlow FestivalFrom Newsnight to Twentieth Century Battlefields, for more than 50 years, Peter Snow has been one of the most respected and recognisable faces on British television, taking time out from a hectic schedule to talk to Chief Reporter David Lawson.

“David, how wonderful! Delighted to meet you.” Peter Snow, bursting with enthusiasm is clearly enjoying himself as he comes off stage after his Battlefields lecture, the final event of this year’s Ludlow Festival.

Most will recognise Snow from BBC2’s Twentieth Century Battlefields, or remember his Newsnight and election broadcasts. As for me, having grown up watching Peter on shows like Tomorrow’s World, when I became a reporter I was determined to try and emulate that same style and energy in my own reports. It’s not often you get to meet your heroes, so I had jumped at the chance to meet him in person.

There aren’t many people who make me look small, but at a little under 6ft 6ins, Snow towers over the crowd gathered at the exit to Ludlow’s Assembly Rooms, telling him how much they enjoyed the evening. As they head home, Peter and I make for one of the nearby pubs and sit outside.

“So what did you think?” he beams keenly, eager for a second opinion, not that he need worry. After more than 50 years broadcasting from around the world, he’s a polished presenter and his latest Battlefields series has given him plenty to talk about: “They’re such pivotal events,” says Peter on people’s fascination with wars, “They’re moments when whole nations could have taken massively different paths, but of course the reason we find them so powerful is the human sacrifice involved.”

Focusing on this human element has been the job of his historian son Dan, and Peter tells me working alongside him has been one of the unexpected pleasures of a career, that taken the father-of-six from Diplomatic and Defence Correspondent for ITN, to BBC Newsnight presenter, alongside election broadcasts, Tomorrow’s World, a host of other programmes, a CBE... did I mention he survived a plane crash?

He was once even asked to audition for the role of James Bond, until he arrived at the studio and they realised how tall he was (“I always thought I’d have made a better Q”) and more recently learned he had a grown son living in France he had known nothing about, responding to the stunning news in typical Snow fashion: “It was a wonderful experience,” he said at the time, “I’ve got to know him very well. It was all very exciting!”

As well as his work on Radio Four, one of his most recent projects included being given the city of Pompeii to himself for a night to host the real-time history show 'Pompeii Live': "That was wonderful," he remembers, "Terribly frustraiting, because of course what we really wanted to show was the excavations, where as the authorities wanted us to promote their conservation work, but nevertheless a great experience."

His trademark over the years has been the use of cutting-edge computer graphics and the Battlefields series has been no exception. So what’s his latest invention? “...we created a map case which opens up to show moving troops, tanks and aircraft and shows an overview of the battle. There’s a huge amount of work involved,” enthuses Peter, “You’re constantly working with the graphics team to see what’s possible and what we can do next, it’s tremendously exciting.”

Swept along by his bouncing enthusiasm as Peter asks about my own reporting and talks eagerly about the sailing trip he’s planning to Canada, it’s impossible to believe he will be 70 next year, and even after a four hour drive from London, an energetic two hour lecture and a trawl around Ludlow with a young reporter, as we finish our drinks it’s me who is caught flagging first, trying to hide a yawn.

People warn that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, in case they disappoint you... but I think some people just need better heroes.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

The Lion's Roar!

“Things may come to those who wait ...but only the things left by those who hustle.” Abraham Lincoln

If we're honest, this was a team we should probably beat, but I'm not going to pretend there isn't something satisfying about going behind, summoning the effort to come roaring back, then winning the game at the buzzer... it's very Days of Thunder!

We beat Mold Wizards 76-78 away, but even I had a sneaky look at the scoreboard after the final buzzer - just to make sure - before I started cheering. With our slam dunk champ Titch out with surgery and another young shooter sidelined through injury it was just nice to have a core of players turn out, who had practised the plays together.

After two losses on the trot, coach Dan was anxious for us to get on track, and while we played far better in the opening stages, the missed shots and rusty mistakes meant we were a fair way back coming into the final quarter.

When you get into the last few minutes of a game and you're determined to keep fighting, you push and push until you’re sure your body can’t go any further, then something clicks. Your brain, realising you’re not going to listen to it, finally gives up and says to you: “Fine! I’ll turn the pain off, but I hope you know how much it’s gonna hurt after!”
From there it’s like a little dream world, where you’re aware your arms and legs are moving where they should, you’re just not sure who’s making them do it.
If you win, that’s great! Your brain is so busy cheering and dancing around with pom-poms that it forgets to turn the pain back on, at least until the next morning. Just don’t lose.... that's a whole adventure in pain!

This was a good blow out of the cobwebs. We went behind, got angry with ourselves for making stupid mistakes, then came back with so much momentum that it caught our opponents on the back foot and they couldn’t fight back. Some good defensive stops and a few three point daggers from point guard Sean and we were right back in it, winning by just two points.

It's just what we needed. Working hard through that huge and punishing loss last game was like folding steel, hammering it to make it strong. Coming through to win this week was like plunging that steel into cold water.... now what we need is that sharp cutting edge!

As for me, I'm still desperately frustrated with my shooting. I don't know if it's a timing thing or just bad positioning on my part, but whenever I get the ball I can almost always see a better pass than a shot open to me.

Perhaps I need to go to the other extreme and start putting too many shots up, in order to find that middle ground... Training tonight, so I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes!

Friday, 26 October 2007

A very long night

“That's what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we've changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games.” Richard Bach

There’s no escaping it, this was the biggest beating I’ve ever been on the end of, but I’ve felt far worse about much better scorelines before now.

We lost to Wirral Hornets by a whopping 128-48! But let’s be clear, these guys are 'National League' good and we knew before we started that it was going to be a long night.

When you’re playing against a much better side, the first few minutes hit you like a rush of cold water in the face as they race away and rack up the points. It's not pleasant. But then things settle down, you get into a rhythm and then you have a chance to take stock of what’s going on around you.

As we came into the last quarter I looked around and nobody’s head had dropped, nobody was sitting back and letting them walk over us. Of course no-one likes losing, but coming in for our last time-out there were still smiles among the players (no matter how wry), which is so important... it’s a game!, it’s supposed to be fun, especially at our level, and if you can’t find any fun in playing a game then there’s really no point to it.

I was massively impressed by our the guys who came off the bench and lifted our game, with the younger lads working hard right the way to the end. That’s such a key role. If you can do that, it inspires the people who have just sat down, who end up itching to get back on the court to try and match that determination.

Immediately after a loss like that, all you can think in terms of your own game is what you did or didn’t do that might have let the team down or could have helped (in my case shooting... again). Fortunately though, you are able to be objective about the other players and even with a few of our big guns missing, there was plenty to be pleased about.

Mike led from the front, our long range sniper Max was looks set to ignite from three point range at any second, and our former Warrior Rob Clarke put in some nice moves on the inside and judging by the amount of running he did is getting fitter and fitter... Though that may have been his shiny white new shoes, imported from America on the back of a unicorn and made of gold (...apparently).

At the end of the game, we had earned some respect from our opponents for fighting hard to the buzzer and walked off the court with our heads high, in fact my biggest concern was not the scoreline, but that one or two characters on the squad threaten to kill the team spirit we have been working so hard to build. There’s nothing gained by shouting criticisms at your own players in a game, especially at the younger guys who were doing such a good job.

The American writer Richard Bach once said, ‘it’s how we lose that’s important and how we’ve changed because of it...’ and I really did feel a change in us, as we each started to realise that the people around us were prepared to work hard for each other and wouldn’t give up.

Richard Bach went on to write that “in a strange way, losing is winning”... but sadly that’s just crap.


Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Hope for the best

“Commitment to the team - there is no such thing as in-between, you are either in or out!” (Pat Riley)

A new season, a new team, a new (slightly snug) kit, and hopefully a new improved Davey to go with it!

Well, sadly the Wrexham Raiders folded, with Hope Lions picking up the registrations of our battle-worn survivors. By the end of the year we had just five players struggling against teams with huge squads and endless benches of players, but fought our way through to third in the league, thanks largely to our captain Mike... it was like something out of The 300, I was exhausted by the end!

Having only started playing properly last year at the age of 27, there’s a nagging sense of urgency in the back of my mind, so the day after the season finished, I could be found in the gym and on the court, trying to push on and get ahead for this year. Hopefully it’s worked, the hours of shooting has made me more accurate (at least in practice) and I’m a stone heavier, so hopefully not as easy to push around as I was last year. I’ve also had great support from the nice people at the Sports Council who helped me out with equipment, as well as support from Joyce Barrow and the Wynnstay Coach House Gym who helped me out with free use of their equipment, which has been awesome and something I could have never afforded on my own.

We’ve had our first game with the Lions, who as well as picking up our registrations, also acquired a some really good players from the Apex and Shropshire Warriors sides, like Rob Clarke, Max Gore, Chris Jones and Aziz Ibraham. Mind you, after last year it feels so strange to back to training with a huge squad of players again!

I was chuffed to bits to be on the starting lineup for our opening game against Wirral Metros. Some of the new guns weren’t available, but even so we had a huge squad. Our starting five played well and got to a bit of a lead. The matches up to Christmas only count towards the cup seedings, so we can afford to try new things and get to know each other. We tried some different lineups and tactics... which as you can tell by the losing scoreline, didn’t work straight out of the box, but I thought was good for a first game shakedown.

Annoyingly I’m carrying an injury as my ankle is still not right. I went over on it the first day of preseason training with the Lions and though it’s got quite a bit better, it’s still painful and alarmingly... well... ‘crunchy!?’ I’ll give it a while longer, but it might yet need a trip to the quacks!

I do miss our old Raiders kit and if I’m honest I still miss being a Raider, but I really think we're going to come together as a unit at Hope. At the team shout at the beginning of the match, I’m sure I heard our old captain Mike whisper RAIDERS! instead of Lions... old habits!

I hope you like the new home for the blog. It’s got all the posts from last year here too and you can even leave me a message or comment by clicking below!

Friday, 28 September 2007

The Last Blog - The End of the Raiders (03.05.2007)

"The Last Blog - The End of the Raiders"

Wrexham Raiders v Hope Lions
Welsh Basketball League

With Wrexham Raiders set to fold after after tonight following its financial problems, this was to be our last ever game together as a team... I don't remember ever wanting to win so badly.
We had the bare minimum five players compared to their full bench and while we got off to a good lead, we eventually tired and they pulled us back, going ahead at the half way point. We rallied in the third quarter then one of our guys injured his ankle, but stayed on to help out in defence.

Our tiny lead gradually began to evaporate as we moved into the last few minutes... each time one of their side fouled there was a huge relief as we got a quick breather. Looking at the others with a few minutes to go, I could see how much I wanted to win reflected straight back at me in their faces... we were only two points behind!... that was the last time I dared look at the scoreboard.

With the last few seconds counting down I got free on the right side of the court. A long and perfect pass from James our pointguard came straight to my hands at the half way line. (...Five... Four...) I steadied and took aim (..three... two...) up went the shot.... (

It's funny how time slows down when you're waiting for something to happen. Like everyone else I was watching the ball sailing slowly through the air. For ages I was still thinking about the shot... you always wonder what taking those last second shots would feel like when you see them on TV, but you're never quite sure... As the ball eventually arced and started downwards though, all I cared about was where it was going to land...

'it's on target... the length looks good... flippin' eck it's going to go in!!'.... bang!.. the ball clips the back edge of the rim and bounces out.

It was absolutely silent. I didn't know how many points we had been behind, but I couldn't bear to look at the scoreboard... From half court it would have been a huge three pointer and the thought that we might have missed out on the win by one or two points was unbearable.

It wouldn't have mattered. In the end we were four points behind... but that didn't make me feel much better. We'd lost games before, but this was different. We'd lasted out a season, no-one thought we would complete and in our last game we'd finally produced a performance we were proud of... Everything, from the look on the others' faces to the blood soaking into my socks told me we'd done all we could... everyone had performed and even I had put up my best numbers of the season with 12 points, but it just hadn't been enough...

It's not all bad though. We finished third in the league and having been 45th in the rankings for scoring early on, I ended up 27th which was much higher than I expected.
Of the five of us left standing at the end of the season, our two juniors have been picked up by a national league side's academy which is great, and ironically this last game had been against the team who picked up the option of our registrations for next season. After the game they confirmed they wanted the rest of us to join them next season, which was a big relief and a nice way to finish.

Thanks for letting me bore you guys all season, and thanks too for the support... (one last time) Go Raiders!

Many thanks to sponsors Wynnstay Hotel and Oswestry & District Sports Council

Sponsored by Lemsip Max (27.04.2007)

The Adventures of Slam Dunk Davey

"Sponsored by Lemsip Max"

Pioneers 90, Wrexham Raiders 84
Welsh Basketball League

Being about two stone lighter for this one I was hoping I might be a little bit closer to dunking, unfortunately my new found lightness came from a fortnight of vomiting, diarrhea and kidney stones, so by the end of the game just standing up was good enough for me.

I was just making up the numbers for this one, I was so tired and dehydrated I wasn't good for much but walking about waving a hand feebly in the air... the fact I scored eight points says more about how badly I've been underperofmring on the other nights than anything else.

Monday's game is the last of the season and my last ever for Wrexham Raiders as the team's financial problems mean they are being forced to fold. Hope Lions have picked up our registrations, which I think gives them the choice of keeping us or trading us on to another team during the offseason if we ask them to... we'll have to see what happens.

When Michael Jordan left the Chicago Bulls they retired his 23 shirt and hung it up above the basketball court... I'm thinking of retiring my shirt and hanging it on the telephone line in the carpark :)

This is easier than boring my mates individually, but if you don't want it just email 'BLOG-OFF' to david.lawson @

(C)2007 BASKETBALLBLOGS.ORG 27.04.2007

2 wins, 6 points, 322 bruises (27.03.2007)

The Adventures of Slam Dunk Davey

"Two wins, six points, 322 bruises"

Chester Filipinos 70, Wrexham Raiders 92
Welsh Basketball League

Wow those Filipino guys are wide!
Because of a querk in the fixtures, this game counted as two against a side we really should beat, but we hadn't pulled away after the first quarter and at the half way point they were three points in front, mainly beause of their huge number three who seemed to just bulldoze his way behind our zone defence.

After trying to make the zone defence work for three quarters and with the game still finely balanced, we changed and kept four men doing a zone defence, me staying one-on-one with the big fella and our point-guard James hanging back beyond the halfway line to stop them catching us on the break... They're not the tallest of people, but damn they're wide. I've still got the bruises from where the no.3 ran into me, backed into me and landed on me (I think he may have jumped up and down on me a few times as well for good measure), but it worked. James cut out their fast breaks, I managed to stop the big guy getting the ball so he only scored a couple and the other Raiders caught fire, scoring over 40 points in the last quarter.

Annoyingly the big guy camped out in our half looking for fast breaks, so I didn't get too near the basket in the second half and had to be content with another woeful six points!

If anyone wants a good laugh, I've borrowed a giant wooden Oscar from work which we had made for our Christmas parade float. I'm hoping this will give me a bit of practice at shooting over someone or cutting around them, but it don't half look silly playing against a giant gold Oscar behind an old cowshed...

...I found an old T shirt of Guy's in the shed so I've put that on it... it's very surreal. I thought of printing out a picture of Michael Jordan's face to put on it, but I'm worried being beaten at basketball by a piece of wood might be more than my already battered ego can stand.

Any idea's whose face I should use?

This is easier than boring my mates individually, but if you don't want it just email 'BLOG-OFF' to david.lawson @

(C)2007 BASKETBALLBLOGS.ORG 27.03.2007

A Zen Guide to Basketball (20.03.2007)

The Adventures of Slam Dunk Davey

"A zen guide to basketball"

Wrexham Raiders 76, Hope 70
Welsh Basketball League

I didn't realise I could get worse.... blimey! Forget 'stepping-up'... last night I'm not sure I even 'turned-up!'

We got the win and the others played really well... if you ignore our shooting (...which come to think of it is pretty important)

Big thanks for the advice people gave me, there was some really good stuff which I'll defintiely be using, though my favourite was my zen guide to basketball from Surfing Buddah Chris, which was actually really useful. I don't know what you've been smoking over there in Iraq matey, but If I can just master that levitation business, it'll be slam dunks all the way. Keep the advice coming, it's much appreciated.

Oh yes... the game...Tried putting up more shots, but they seemed so rushed that I don't think I actually scored a single point. To make matters worse, I was hitting shots from all over the court in the warm up, so they were epecting more than a big fat ZERO. In the last quarter when the game was close, I just put my energy into defending and rebounding to set the others up.

With such a small squad at the moment, our runthroughs are done against imaginary oponents and all the rest of my shooting is done without anyone infront of me... I need a plan to get more practice at being defended. The only positive was a new role in the centre of defence, where I was a little bit small, but quick enough to turn them over a few times.

This is easier than boring my mates individually, but if you don't want it just email 'BLOG-OFF' to david.lawson @

(C)2007 BASKETBALLBLOGS.ORG 20.03.2007

At Last a Win (08.03.2007)

The Adventures of Slam Dunk Davey

"Riding high on a one-game winning streak!"

Wrexham Raiders 79, Rhyl Pioneers 62
Welsh Basketball League

Phew... you could feel the relief at breaking the run of losses (we'd actually lost again since I last wrote), even against a team who were... well... a bit rubbish, but that made it even more important... if we'd lost to them that would have been bad! Still, it was only our defence that pulled us through, we're not exactly lighting up the scoreboard.
I could do with some advice from my sporty mates. I've hit a bit of a frustraiting period. With so many of our first teamers away, I've had a rare opportunity to see something of the court other than the bench, but the coach and captain have both had words with me, frustraited I'm not "stepping up" and scoring more points.

No-one can tell me how exactly you 'step-up' though. Despite working hard, I'm being swept along with the game rather than grabbing it by the scruff of the neck and have a real influence. It feels like there's a set of gears I'm not using and I've no idea how I get at them. Some of you guys must have come across something similar... send help!

This is easier than boring my mates individually, but if you don't want it just email 'BLOG-OFF' to david.lawson @

(C)2007 BASKETBALLBLOGS.ORG 08.03.2007

I Spy Another Beating (23.02.2007)

The Adventures of Slam Dunk Davey

"WANTED: 70's platform shoes (8inch high or over) suitable for basketball, ring Dave on 01691..."

Hope Lions 90 v Wrexham Raiders 82 Welsh Basketball League

I spy with my little eye, something that looks like another flippin' beating...!

With a couple of our Wrexham team's big name players back for this game I thought Big George and I were destined for the bench again and packed myself a cushion and a magazine, but surprisingly they let us start the game. Settled in with a couple of easy baskets and got into a nice rhythm, but old George was getting shoved around... I didn't even know you could move the guy without a forklift!

They brought us off after the first quarter off and replaced us with the big-guns, but for some reason things didn't click and the missed shots turned into turnovers. While we waited on the bench, George and I decided once we got back on, none of their team was going to touch the ball again - we were going to get to every rebound!

Okay so maybe we didn't get every rebound, but between us we dominated the boards at both ends, and ended up leading the game for rebounds. That meant the others could claw back the difference, but we ran out of time before we could catch them... I've decided losing sucks, so for Monday's game we're going to try winning instead.'

In other good news, had some sponsorship from the Sports Council who have paid for some new basketball shoes and moved up three places from 45th to 42nd in the league for scoring... at this rate should be in the top 25 by my 60th birthday!

This is easier than boring my mates individually, but if you don't want it just email 'BLOG-OFF' to david.lawson @

(C)2007 BASKETBALLBLOGS.ORG 23.02.2007