An interview with the former Birmingham Bulls star RB Trevor Carthy. Trevor won 4 British titles with the Bulls, and was runner-up a further five times. He also played for the Bulls in the first ever EuroBowl tournament. In 1989 he starred for the GB Lions team that won the European Championship, and scored 2 TD's in the final against Germany. In 1990 he was selected to play for the London Monarchs in the WLAF as part of the Operation Discovery programme for outstanding home grown players. He went onto coach the Birmingham Bulls in 1998 and 1999. Trevor has his autobiography shortly being published called "The Ghost Story".

Interview conducted December 2004

Carthy playing for the London Monarchs
Trevor Carthy

What is your current occupation and age?
I will be approaching my 40th birthday in March 04 and I am a fully JNC qualified Youth Worker

Where do you currently live?
I currently live in Walsall.

What are your favourite BSL and NFL teams?
The Birmingham Bulls and the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers.

How and when did you very first 'get into' American football? Did you play youth american football?
In the summer of 1984 I saw an advert in the local community centre where I worked at the time, inviting would be players to an American Football training session with the aim to start up a team. I did not play Youth Ball

What was your first senior club?
The Walsall Titans

How and when did you come to play for the Birmingham Bulls?
Colin Nash was our first coach at the Walsall Titans and we all knew he really played for the Birmingham Bulls. I played with the WT for two years and moved to the Bulls in 86. I just decided that the Bulls were for me, almost like it was my destiny and went to their training camp at the start of the 86 season.

Who is the best coach you’ve played for and why?
There are only two Head coaches that stand out for me during my career that I feel fortunate to have played under. Warren Tate and Russ Jenson. They were heavy weight coaches that challenged you as an individual football player. They instil fear and creativity in their coaching and made you into a wreaking ball of a team. The Bulls could not function with lassie fair coaches; we needed and performed better with hard nosed in your face, winners.

You played for the Bulls in the first Eurobowl tournament in 1986 – what was that tournament like to play in? How did the Bulls get on?
The Tournament was great and very exciting, we were the underdogs in our first game against Stuttgart, who had over 10yrs experience on us, but after a shaky start we destroyed them 29-19 to get to the semi finals. I scored 3 TD’s in that game and built up a reputation as one of the running backs to watch out for.

Trevor Carthy in action for the Bulls at Eurobowl I against the Amsterdam Rams

Against Bologna Doves, however, we got mauled and lost 43-7. We were never in the game and our lack of European experience finally took its toll on us. However, the tournament was a huge success for me and the Birmingham Bulls as we beat Amsterdam Rams to win third place.

What do you consider to be your best season?
This is a tough question. As a running back I would have to say 1986, I had over 1,000 yrds rushing and I believe 22 touchdowns and we won the Championship and came third in our first Eurobowl. As a Corner back it would have to be 1992 when I captured 8 enemy passes 7 of them going back for touchdowns. The most emotional season had to be 1988 when the team almost went under. We prevailed, captured for 4 of the best coaches, Russ Jensen being one of them and won the championship again beating the Ravens 51-14 on the way in the semis.

How frustrating was it in the early years to not be able to lock horns with the Budweiser teams? How do you think the Bulls would have got on against the Ravens in 86 when you both won National titles?
With the exception of the Ravens and the O’s our league especially our division was the toughest. I believe the teams in the Bud league missed out on playing good hard nosed competitive football then we did. You knew who was going to be in the Bud final it was guaranteed, as they were the 2 best teams in their league by a mile. But no one could guarantee who was going to be in the final of our league, it was that tough. Our division alone had the Leicester Panthers, Nottingham hoods who had Clifton Stroughter, Milton Keynes Bucks, Northampton Stormbringers and ourselves. That was a tough division. The Bud league never had such competition. Take the O’s and the ravens out of their league and they did not have a league.

If we would had played the Ravens in 86 I believe we would have beaten them. Our team not only had talent but it was hardened for battle as week in week out we had tough games. I don’t believe the ravens had hard games every week, which arguably would not make them as battle hard as us. They only had to play hard twice both against the O’s.

You played with QB’s Dave Stanton, Russ Jensen, Dave Krahme – how do you rate them – all exceptional QBs?
Dave Stanton was a great leader and character and as a British quarterback he was right up there with the best of British. Dave had the benefit of having great running backs behind him, which meant in some games he did not have to do much. However, I will never forget the Euro Bowl game against Stuttgart where he never let lose even when we were 12 points down in the 1st and looking like it was going to get ugly. This game is when I realised this man can play quarterback and I am not easily impressed.

Dave Kramme was an American who had to follow the great Russ Jensen, the fact he commanded the respect of the team speaks volumes for what he did as a quarterback for the Bulls. Unfortunately I had only one season with Kramme were we got eliminated in the semi’s against Northants. Kramme went on to win the Championship against the O’s in spectacular fashion the following year. Kramme will always be remembered as a great quarterback with the B’ham Bulls.

Russ Jenson the ex Raider, an out and out winner. Changed the mentally of a team that considered itself to have a winners mentally already. This man was never satisfied even when we won; he craved perfection and did care about upsetting anyone to achieve his goal. He was a great quarterback who scared the pants off the opposition with is arm, aggression, poise and will to win. He was a leader from the front and even though he was confrontational, he got the best out of every player.

Who was your favourite colleague/fullback in the backfield?
I was fortunate to play with 4 great fullbacks/football players during my time. For the Bulls from 86 to 88 there was no better running back partners sharing the same backfield then Colin Nash and Mark Williams. The three of us wrecked havoc, we all had different skills that complemented each other. Nash was the hard nosed Full back, possibly the best at that time who knew how to block and run and then there was the glider, Mark Williams, this man was very deceptive in his speed and strength. Arguably pound for pound the best of the lot. I had the best fun playing with these guys; they were leaders, motivators and was not scared of no man. No man was stronger or better then these two in their eyes and it was my privilege to play in the same side as them.

Lloyd O’Neil joined us I believe in 88 and turned out to be one of the premier fullbacks in the League. Had great size and strength with athletic ability that I would compare with the great Nash. That alone for me is the greatest compliment I can give to Lloyd O’Neil.

Victor Ebubdieke; the Raven, arguably the best, arguably. I had the pleasure of playing alongside him in the same backfield for great Britain in 89. We destroyed the teams in that tournament and we were seen as the best tandem in the tournament. It was a pleasure to play alongside him and we had a good relationship which helped. We both had speed, strength, size and were seen as the best two running backs in Britain which made us a frightening proposition. I had fun playing alongside him.

In the late 80’s there was some exceptional British talent in the backfield (players such as St.Louis, Wynnick, McKenzie, Victor Ebubedike, Dunkley, Bailey and of course yourself). How difficult were the GB Lions trials to force yourself into the squad and a starting position on the team?
You also forget Nash and Williams. The end of the day talent and production will always come through and it was the back that could produce when the chips are down that would prevail. I had confidence in my ability and talent and was not intimidated by no one. It never came across to me that it would be difficult to force my way into the GB Lions team and it wasn’t. But all the above names were in and started at some point for the GB Lions.

You were selected to play for the GB Lions in 1986 and continued to play through to the 1989 European finals. What was that like? Any special memories of those tournaments?
It was great, an honour to be considered one of the best in my position. In 1986 I was to play in France against the French in a European qualifying game with Tate as Head Coach. We beat up the French and I scored a TD on my debut. It was memorable because that was when all the teams namely the Ravens and the Bulls came together and played together as a team and started the relation building process.

1989 was huge, I went to the trials to try out as a cornerback and made the team on merit which was massive for me. At that time Coach Smith had never seen me run so he could only gage me on my abilities as a cornerback. However he did know of me. In a warm up game at Alexander stadium against the French, Coach Smith decided to see what all the fuss was about the Ghost. He put me in when we were only 7pts up and struggling. I was handed the ball throughout the drive and we drove the ball 60yrds for a touchdown. Coach Smith now knew of the Ghost. This was to play a major part in the Championships as Coach decided not to play me at cornerback, but at tailback with Victor at Fullback. We destroyed the home team, Germany’s defence in the Semis and then destroyed the Finns in the Final. I scored 3 TD’s during the tournament and was only piped by Victor who also had a great tournament for the player of the tournament.

Two TD’s in the 1989 European Championship semi-final against Germany in front of 6,000 Germans, and a TD in the final against Finland – your greatest games?
Best games for Great Britain. I’d stopped playing running back full time for my club to concentrate on playing cornerback. I now only made cameo appearances for my club. So other running backs such as the Baileys the Dunkley’s the McKenzie’s alongside Victor were grabbing all the yards, publicity and Headlines in that position. To be chosen ahead of them to partner Victor and then to do so well made me and I believe the other GB running back realise I am still the man to dethrone from the tail back position. The beautiful thing about it and I could be wrong, was I felt the other RB’s took it in good graces and showed me nothing but support, respect and acknowledgement. (just for the record Nash was now a full time linebacker and Williams a free Safety)

In 1990 you were selected as part of Operation Discovery to play for the London Monarchs in the WLAF. How did that come about and what was that experience like? How was the training camp compared to Bulls training camps at that time!? When did you stop playing for the Bulls? Did you move onto any other clubs or into coaching?
No other club could compare to playing for the Bulls. I became head coach of the Bulls in 1998 and Coached them for 2 yrs.

Do you think you will get back into Britball in any capacity?
Never say Never.

What was the best game you have ever played in, and also the best game personally?
There are so many for so many different reasons. The 1988 away game against Leicester where we won in the last second 21-19 I think was the most emotional game I have ever played in, because we had to come back from losing a game we dominated to win.

The Ravens 1988 Semi Final 51-14 win was very special as we not only got to the final but we got our revenge from the mauling they gave us in 1987 in B’ham and I scored 2 TD in that game one being a 50yrd game breaker.

The 2-0 defeat by Amsterdam in a Euro bowl qualifier stands out as it was the best defensive display I witnessed and part off.

The 89 European championships will always be special. But I think the game that stands out was the opening game of the 1986 Euro bowl against Stuttgart. We were the heavy underdogs with our ragamuffin uniforms, as our new ones failed to turn up in time for the finals, against the experienced Stuttgart team who you could see laughing at us and showing us no respect what so ever. Before we knew it we were 12 points down and staring defeat and that long journey home the next day in our face’s. We would not be denied however, and ended up winners 29-19 and I scored 3 TD’s.

What was the worst game you have ever had and why?
The 1987 opening game against Italy in the European championships for GB. Could not keep my footing and I was not allowed to be myself. WE lost the game and the coach blamed me.

Do you have any funny/embarrassing stories?
The game against Amsterdam in 1992 stands out. It was the start of the game and we are all pumped up they had just intercepted our QB and then decided to taunt us. I lost it and pushed over the player. There was an almighty commotion and the Refs wanted to eject someone. Luckily the refs did not see who pushed who. Amsterdam where telling the refs it was me I was saying I had nothing to do with it my team were saying I had nothing to do with it. The refs were adamant they wanted to know who pushed who, so we all looked for our most expendable team mate and blamed him. The poor chap did not know what had hit him as he was told he was ejected from the game. We consoled him later by telling he did the best play of the game, however, I don’t think he bought into it.

Who is the best RB, QB, WR, O-linemen, TE who’ve played with on offence?

Best RB: Nash, Williams, Victor.

QB: Russ Jenson.

WR: Mike Price and Greg Harris

OL: Gary Mills

Who is the best coach you have played under and why?
Coach Tate and Jenson: Hard Nosed, intelligent, knowledgeable and winners. Bulls can’t function without a hard coach.