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
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
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*
2002 BYAFA English Southern Conference 0-6-0
2001 BYAFA Southern East Conference 2-4-0
Team Notes (from www.essexspartans.co.uk):
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
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,
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