In the first of a series of interviews, 3rd XV captain Ben Steers discusses his plans for the season ahead with our PR officer James Hennigan, here’s what they had to say...
Hi James, great to see you. You look nice.
When and why did you join the club?
You all have my best mate Kingo (ed: former 2nd XV captain, James Kington) to thank for me joining the club! In 2014 I moved to Manchester to live with Kingo and his wife! James pushed me into getting involved with the club, and the rest is history.
In all seriousness, rugby became my drug, and Bedes helped me adjust to a new lifestyle . Aussie Mike as coach was a huge part of that, and I’m thrilled he’s our head coach for the forthcoming season.
Can you remember your first game?
Oh helllllll yes! In 2013, before I joined the club, I came up to play the final 10 minutes of Kingo’s 30th birthday match. When I came on, we were about 60-0 up, but I was still scared of a) getting hurt, and b) making myself look like an idiot. I can remember being in awe of Kingo and Phil Parker as they riled the troops in the changing rooms and I really wanted to be a part of it. Luckily, I turned out to be alright and scored a try, which I celebrated like a football player scoring the winning goal in a cup final!! ...
What’s been your proudest moment in a Bedians shirt?
Two moments stick out for me:
The first would be against Toc H in November ‘17. The 3s were on a six game losing streak, but morale was at an all time high.
We started well, but Toc H capitalised on our mistakes and put us 20-7 down half an hour in. Never one to shy away from speaking up, I said “Guys, until we start playing as a team, we’re not going to win.”
The next play, I took a blow to the ribs but played on with what turned out to be broken ribs. There was NO chance I was leaving that pitch and my commitment to Bedes was echoed across the ranks. In that game we really sewed the seeds for what was to follow for the rest of the season. We went on to beat them something like 45-20 and Toc H left without making an appearance in the bar!
Another injury made me unavailable to play in the 3s finest performance of the season; beating eventual league winners Ashton-Under-Lyme away. If they’d have won, they’d have secured 1st place, but the lads were an absolute force and we won 7-5. Watching Ashton putting their celebratory beers back behind the bar was hilarious. And to top it off, it was a fun bus!!
Have you changed now that you are captain?
I’ve got a nice tan, but other than that I’m still the same handsome, charismatic, hilarious and modest guy that I’ve always been. I’ve been a reasonably vocal squad member so there’ll be no drastic changes my end.
It really has felt quite an honour to be appointed as captain. The real test for me will be how I handle things on the pitch. It’s no secret that I love getting into the heads of the opposition but as captain, I’ll be approaching every game with a much more responsible head and an awareness that I need to be leading by example to calm things down rather than being a provocateur.
Does it alter your relationship with your teammates?
I hope not. We’ve got something magic going on with the 3s and I know that I’ve been appointed as captain to continue to drive positive change and grow the squad, rather than to mix things up dramatically. We’re the development team for Old Bedians, so my focus is going to be on continuing to instil Bedians loyalty to new players and I like to think I’ve got a decent strategy for making that happen.
Who is your inspiration and why?
My club inspiration is the award winning Babybel (ed: club stalwart & Sports Club secretary Ryan Donald). If I did half as much as he does for the club, you’d all bloody know about it! He humbly cracks on without needing a constant pat on the back and I find that so inspiring.
Which sports star did you admire when you were younger?
Other than myself as South Bucks Middle School Table Tennis Association 2nd seeded player, I’d have to say Eric Cantona. He had a great air of justified confidence about him, as well as showing a certain element of vulnerability with his inability to control his aggression. He’d have made a great 3s player!!
What motivates you?
I find that stagnation is toxic so I like to keep driving things forward. If I’m brutally honest, a lot of my motivation comes from fear of failure. Plus, as far as Bedes are concerned, I never tire of the praise that I’ve got this season for helping grow the 3s. It’s really motivated me to do even more, and receiving the ‘Spirit Of Bedes’ award was genuinely one of the proudest moments of my life. [wipes away a lager tear]
What are your ambitions for the 3rd XV?
For me, I’ve set myself the goal of not conceding a single game, and to build a squad of regular, committed Bedes who get really involved on the social side of things., so it’s going to be exciting to see what happens on the pitch. I think we had a real shift in mindset towards the end of the season and we really have an undeniable hunger for success - the atmosphere behind the scenes is pretty electric and nothing’s impossible.
Finally, what makes Bedians so special?
Support, mindfulness and wellbeing aren’t words you’d use to describe many male sporting organisations, but Old Bedians genuinely care about you as an individual. No matter how big or alpha you are, joining a new rugby club is intimidating and we recognise that. At Old Bedians we don’t just see if you sink or swim, we make sure that all new players are made to feel really welcome and the recruitment results towards the end of the season speak for themselves.
We also have a fantastic ‘one club’ mentality that players from other clubs find so appealing. The word of a 3s sub carries as much weight as the 1s captain when it comes to the after match beers and I love that! We have a lot of big characters at the club, but no ego and it really does feel like a brotherhood.
To Bedes success!