We’re a bit late to the party this year, but we are pleased to announce, that back by popular demand, our Player Focus has made a return!
For those new to the club, our Player Focus is a short interview with a randomly selected player from the squad - we spend a bit of time discussing them, their ambitions, quirky nicknames and what brought them to East Dorset.
It is my genuine pleasure to have the opportunity for a few words with the man, the myth – the legend… Mr Brian Baker.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t conduct the interview in person. Brian was, again, partying hard in Ibiza. A teacher by day, a raving party animal by night – Brian has made best use of his half autumn half-term holiday. The interview was intermittent and spread over a few days, messages back from Brian were typically early hours and normally hard to decipher. I’ve tried my best however, I hope you enjoy.
Thanks for sparing the time to chat with me Bri, really appreciate it.
May I start by tackling the biggest question that will be on everyone’s mind, what motivates you to still get out and play at the grand age of 67? I mean you are a huge inspiration to all us other guys in the squad.
Haha I hope I am still doing this at 67. To be honest Don I’ve always said that as long as I still enjoy playing and feel I am contributing positively and I can find a club happy to pick me, then I’ll continue to play. In addition, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people when you move to a new place. Turn up at the rugby club and you have a great chance of making new friends.
Oh, a few years off then…
You’re a great addition to have Bri, and a true character on and off the pitch. What brought you to East originally anyway?
My first encounter with East Dorset was back in the 2012/2013 season. I was playing for Frome III and we had won the Dorset & Wilts South 2 league. Our last game of the season was away to Bournemouth IIIs. We travelled down with a bear 15 and played at Iford. Bournemouth had about 10 subs and we still managed a 15 all draw. After the game, the Bournemouth lads all left and East’s team arrived back from their away game. We had a great night of drinking and a real good sing song.
So when I moved in up the road and realised how close I was, it was the only choice. And I have to say, East Dorset is the friendliest club I’ve ever played for.
What a great story for the club, and a big hand for the guys setting such a great impression at the time. We’re glad you came back! Not just content with running out for training and games for East on a weekly basis, but you also disappear abroad frequently to play games. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Oh yes “The Marauders”. While I was playing in Ibiza I had my first contact with the Malta Marauders. This is an invitation vets side run by a guy called Phil Gibbs who lives in Malta (he actually attended Bournemouth uni before it was a real uni). It’s a bit tenuous to be honest - a guy I was playing beside in Ibiza had been invited to play for the Marauders in Prague by a friend of his. He asked if I wanted to go so I agreed
He then dropped out and I travelled to Prague to play in a tournament with a group of guys - none whom I had ever met. Needless to say rugby boys are the same the world over and after a weekend of free and cheap beer, and some hard-fought rugby, we were runners up losing to a team boasting a couple of French international players. In addition, I made some life long friends and have played for them 4 times now (3 in Prague and 1 in Dubai) and I am hoping to return to Prague again this year
That must be a great long weekend away. Perhaps you can fix me up with an invite in a few years time?
Happy to spread the Marauders joy. You look old enough already Don
Yes, quite. Moving on. You were a stand out regular at beach pre-season this year where we introduced mixed training involving our women’s squad. Your reputation quickly spread as someone to avoid, unfortunately I don’t think for your playing prowess… How important is pre-season conditioning and what can we do during the season to aid conditioning?
Conditioning is key to enable you to play to the best of your ability. I don’t claim to be an expert here so best ask Evo that question.
As you know I cycle a lot and this gives me a good base aerobic fitness. On top of that my advice is to attend training as much as you can and listen to your coaches. I think as a club we are extremely lucky to have 3 outstanding coaches who know and understand the game of rugby and it’s demands. If you’re training on your own you need to aim for high intensity game related workouts.
Useful advice Bri, you’re also a regular of the Tuesday fitness sessions. How much do you think they have helped not only you, but the other guys who frequently turn out?
You really see the benefit in your recovery time during a game. You go all out and think you nothing left. You take a breath and there is more in the tank.
I can really see a benefit in the other players too. Jack in particular has had a great start to this season and that’s a reflection of the work he does in training.
What would you say is one of our key strengths at East?
I think I’ve mentioned this already, the quality of our coaches is a key strength of the club. They understand the game and they prepare training sessions that focus on the areas that we need to work on. The sessions are well planned to develop our skills as individuals and as a club.
On top of this, we have a core group of players that attend training and take on board what the coaches are doing and support each other. This was particularly evident in our away win at Salisbury a few weeks ago.
You have a lot of knowledge and experience Bri, have you considered coaching yourself?
I have thought about it but I do find watching games frustrating. I’ve never been great as a spectator while I’ve been injured either. I’d just rather just advise from within.
As you know I’ve also considered taking up reffing once I stop playing but I think while I can still play, and particularly now as numbers are a wee bit low, I’ll continue as I am, selection permitting.
I think we all know you’ve a few more seasons in you yet!
Just to wrap things up, where do you see us finishing this season?
I think we will be finishing the season strongly. Although we have had a poor start we have had more than our fair share of injuries and absence. As players return to full fitness and become fully available things will get better.
We have shown what we are capable of against Salisbury with only 15 players available so with our full squad, which is looking very strong with some new additions again this season, we should be finishing close to the top of the table.
I am particularly looking forward to the fixtures against Wheatsheaf and can’t wait to take on Lytchett again. But first, we take on New Milton this Saturday and that’s what we need to focus on.
We’re looking good for this weekend at home against New Milton, a very strong squad indeed.
Bri, it’s been a pleasure, thanks for your time for Player Focus!
You can catch Brian in action this weekend as we host New Milton II at home. He's available for pictures between 13:00 and 14:00.
See you all this weekend!