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Based: Gloucester Park, Gloucester Park North, Basildon, Essex (also played at Eaton Manor Rugby Club and at Nutter Lane, Wanstead)
Career Record: 20-33-3
Colours: White pants, purple shirts with white numbers, black helmets
Honours: None

Senior Kitted

2004 BSL Division Two South Eastern Conference 3-6-1
2003 BSL Division Two South Eastern Conference 5-4-1
2002 BSL Division Two Southern Conference 3-6-0
2001 BSL Division One Southern Conference 0-7-1
2000 BSL Division One Southern Conference 2-6-0
1999 BSL Eastern Conference 6-3-0*

Youth Kitted

2002 BYAFA English Southern Conference 0-6-0
2001 BYAFA Southern East Conference 2-4-0

Team Notes (from During the 1998/1999 off season two old rivals the Essex Chiefs and Redbridge Fire sat down to discuss the future of both teams. Meetings led to the creation of an organisation intended to become one of the leading lights of British American football, the Essex Spartans.

On a cold January afternoon in 1999 the first pre-season training session took place in Wanstead, London and the Spartans became a reality. The team's numbers were boosted by the demise of the (subsequently resurrected) Cambridge Cats, and with a couple of other players joining the squad from other teams the final roster was in excess of fifty. Everything was in place for an assault on the Division one title.

With a win in the first game all looked good. The final 7-3 record was sufficient to make the playoffs, where the Southern Sundevils were vanquished by 19-7. This set up an away game semi-final with the Gateshead Senators, where the run finally came to an end with a 33-19 loss. But the Spartans had made their mark.

The costs in arranging a team of over fifty players and various game day preparations is a costly business. The squad relied heavily on St. Lawrence Bay Holiday Home Park of Essex who have been sponsoring Football since 1991, plus additional help from Steve Pikett, who purchased a set of shirts via his team in Minnesota, the Maulers.

During the off-season NFL Europe got in touch with a view to starting a youth setup. Gary Duce relinquished the helm of the senior squad to concentrate on the emerging Juniors.

The Spartans' second season (2000) got off to an enthusiastic start with virtually all the previous year's players returning. But after defeating the Sabres 32-0 in a friendly, the season opened with two bad defeats to the London Blitz. A win over the Sundevils was followed by two crushing defeats by the London O's, burying any playoff aspirations. With 13 players being put out through season ending injuries and all three Americans either injured or out of the country the team limped to a 2-6 record, but sustained its pride. Particular credit went to Steve Berlingo, the league leader in interceptions, and Shulba Hunt, the sixth highest rusher in the league. Manager Tony Palmer, the then Division One Director, attended the Britbowl 2000 to present the Division One Trophy.

The 2001 campaign began in January with the second annual coaching visit of the Maulers Coaches. But with a number of injuries sustained, a few players transferring to other teams and some US armed forces players from a nearby base unable to play, the seniors were forced to cancel their senior season several games in, and were realigned into division two for the next season.

The 2002 preseason saw the departure of Pikett, succeeded as head coach by Dean Gibson, who announced his aim to build the Spartans back into a division one side.

Yet initially this was a time of upheaval and change. The team moved back to the Chiefs old home ground in Basildon, and at first training attendances were small. Long-time star offensive player Shulba Hunt was kept out of the side with injuries for much of the season, and it turned out that the league had seen the last of his bullish running.

The 3-6-1 2002 record was a disappointment, but the club had laid the basis for a more solid future. The squad was once again growing. Americans Drew Bader (LB) and the diminutive Ken Wanlass (WR) led the way, and with newly-signed former Redbridge QB Aaron Griffiths settling into the starting role, the basis of an exciting passing offense was laid for future seasons.

In the 2003 preseason Gibson used his US connections to help new Offensive Coordinator Dave Thomas develop an exciting new offensive playbook featuring many different looks and an emphasis on short passing. This suited the squad's increasingly formidable receiving corps, which welcomed back WR John Stott to replace the departed Wanless, along with ever-present speedsters Paul and Chris Simpson and giant TE Brad Stevenson). Even more importantly, the previously creaking offensive line was almost entirely rebuilt around Center Greg Simpson.

Results improved but fell short of expectations as the Spartans finished 5-4-1 and just missed out on the playoffs again once. However, the Spartans were moving in the right direction. WR John Stott was voted team MVP for his 7 TD receptions and 2 TD returns, while Bader and Ben Calvert-Painter led an aggressive blitz-happy defense.

Finished the 2004 season with a 3-6-1 record.

Photos of the Spartans

The photo shows Exiles RB Lee Nash being caught in the backfield by an Essex Spartans defender
Photo courtesy of Martin Jefkins

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