INTERVIEW WITH DAN BARTRUM
The pigskin ball first flew across the Atlantic well over a hundred years ago, but it’s only recently that the sport has truly captured the hearts of us Britains, including our very own Dan Bartram.
Dan is one of our Project Managers. He’s been with the company for five years and is currently located at the Pumping Station project at Bishop Stortford and will soon be managing the Newark site.
We interviewed Dan to get his inside take on the sport he’s passionate about and to learn a little more about himself.
How did you get to be an American Football fan?
I got involved in the sport at a young age. First, I played for a short stint at Norwich and a season with Ipswich. Then, in my first year at Hertfordshire Uni, I set up a team with a few friends. I played Quarter Back, I guess, because I could throw the ball pretty well, and I was the only one prepared to stand there and get hit all the time. We weren’t all that good, as I recall. However, well after I left, their game improved, and they’ve won a number national championships.
Unfortunatly, my participating years were cut short. I had a job doing night shifts in a chicken factory. Whilst at work, I was cleaning out a machine that should have been turned off but happened to start while my arm was inside it. In a flash, I saw my arm being cut apart. It all happened pretty quickly and through no fault of my own. My arm completely split open, and my tendons were severed. I was rushed to the hospital, where they operated on me while I was awake to ensure they connected the right tendons together.
Wow, that sounds horrific and life-changing. How did you cope?
I’m not saying it wasn’t bad. But a guy beside me in the ward had just been involved in an oil tank explosion. He had lost his best mate in the accident and had 85 percent burns all over his body. He looked like the invisible man, making my injury look like nothing. It was pretty grounding. But that was sadly the end of my playing American football.
Even so, I never lost my passion for the sport.
What makes the game great is that every game is different and unpredictable. It’s like a physical chess game, play-by-play. The stop and start of play, using various forms of play on the field, from the high-flying pass plays to the big plays, to claim territory and turn the tides of a game.
That’s why NFL is one of the most popular sports worldwide.
Are the U.K. games as good as those in the States?
I imagine the atmosphere would be off the charts when watching a game in the States.
Yeah, the atmosphere in the States is just unreal. I went over there and watched a game about 15 years ago, and it was incredible.
I have been to all the NFL UK games since they started in 2007. I have a season ticket for the NFL UK games, and I make sure to watch all the London games. The last two were in Tottenham, which has a fantastic atmosphere too. It’s like going to a concert.
The NFL is the most popular sports league in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population watch the Super Bowl. That’s approximately 208 million + viewers.
How would you compare American football and football?
I’m not saying that football fans are all hooligans, but the atmosphere is entirely different at an American football game. Fans mix together well, and everybody is out to have a good time and just enjoy the game without the level of aggressiveness and abuse seen at most football games. Yank fans also have some really good banter. I remember Buffalow playing Jacksonville, and this old geezer from Buffalow was shouting out funny obscenities, but it’s all taken in good spirit.
And because the atmosphere is so friendly, you can actually enjoy a pint inside the stadium.
Since circa 1990, English law to consume alcohol on the grounds during a football match was banned to crack down on hooligan culture; it is against English law to consume alcohol while you can see pitch play – even in a suite.
Outside of Work and Football, what’s life like?>
My wife Kim works three evenings a week, so I spend much of my time caring for my two kids, as they are both pretty young. My six-year-old daughter, Harper, is into her gymnastics, dancing and swimming. My son, Reuben, is two in July. He’s currently into cars and climbing on everything, I’m sure he is destined to be a rugby player by his size, though he is starting to thin out now.
It’s all about the family outside work, that’s where my free time goes, but I always make a good day of it when I go to London to watch an NFL game.
Thanks, Dan, for the interview. It’s been great chatting with you and getting an insight into your world and American Football.