31 Day Stretching Challenge – Day 26 (Andrew)

What fresh hell is this? Why is he smiling? I take back everything I said about medicine balls – this is now the most challenging exercise I’ve tried in my 31 day challenge and all it involves is standing and raising a leg. Who knew that a single leg raise would be so hard? If you don’t believe me, if you’re thinking “I’ve hopped before how hard can it be?” then, let me assure you, this is not hopscotch, this is torture. And then he says “turn your head to the left” and the next thing you know, you’re toppling sideways faster than a skyscraper attacked by Godzilla. Try it and see if you can stay upright for 12 minutes, I couldn’t!

31 Day Stretching Challenge – Day 19 (Andrew)

There are many ways that you can injure yourself. Some are obvious: ice on a road when riding your bike; a hole in the paverment to twist your ankle while running. Others are less so. Footballer Kirk Broadfoot certainly didn’t expect to injure himself cooking an egg in a microwave, but, when it exploded, he missed Rangers next match. Food should come with a health warning – especially when you’re stretching.

For the last two nights I’ve only had time to stretch shortly after large meals. I didn’t think anything of it. I know not to swim on a full stomach or to run while stuffed full of biscuits but I didn’t expect it to have any effect on my stretching. I was wrong.

While stretching out was fine – reaching up, extending arms and legs, anything that involved length – as soon as I start to curl, whether doubling over or crunching up – I felt like I was jumping on a bag pipe in my stomach. “OOOHHHHHAAAAHHHHAWGGHHHHH!” I went, just like the lovely sound of a bag pipe. There are certain moves that you can’t do with a full stomach.

I guess this should be obvious. You can’t eat two hot dogs, chips, and a chip butty and a yoghurt (because I’m being healthy!) and expect it to go from plate to stomach and to vanish on the way. My stomach is full of the food I’ve just eaten. It doesn’t disppear in 30 minutes. Digestion takes time.

So, I share this update with a warning that the only thing you should stretch after a large meal is your waistband.

31 Day Stretching Challenge – Day 17 (Andrew)

Last night I tried some stretching exercises with a medicine ball. I say “medicine ball” but I actually mean “death ball”. Blimey, Charlie, jings, crivens – whatever you do, don’t use a medicine ball at the top of your stairs.

A confession – I’ve been working out on the landing at the top of my stairs. There’s a large mirror on the wall and I find it helpful to use it to check my form. There’s just enough room to stretch out my arms, though sometimes I do have to bend into the spare bedroom, but it’s a decent space for watching videos on an iPad and myself in the mirror. Until last night.

Last night, I thought I would try using a medicine ball. My wife had one from when she was pregnant because pregnant woman look like like big balloons. They sit on it and say things like “Oooh, that’s nice” and “wouldn’t this be nice if I had a KitKat?” and “where’s my KitKat?” and “you can’t expect a pregnant woman to get her own KitKat, can you?”. Or was that just my experience?

Anyways, as I had a medicine ball, I thought I’d give it go and tried:

Before I realised this was advanced level balancing and I needed something easier to start with like:

Until I realised that even on a beginners level of bouncing on a big bouncy ball, I had no balance and was rolling back and forth on the landing with each roll taking me closed to the edge of the stairs.

I didn’t even know a medicine ball could roll. I thought another name for it was a “stability ball”. Stable. Not moving. A good thing when you’re on the first floor and trying to avoid plummeting faster down the stair than a rocket powered slinky.

It was getting dangerous and as the moves progressed to lying on my back and rolling the ball beneath me I could see (upside down, as I was on my back) that I was getting closer and closer to lying not just upside down but also one level down in a crumpled heap.

So, the moral of the story is this: medicine balls are tough, start with an easy video, but most of all, don’t use one at the top of your stairs as it won’t be a medicine ball you need but a medicine phone to call a medicine ambulance to take you to the medicine hospital for lots of medicine.

The Sound of Football: Chesterfield (Andrew)

Every fortnight we cover the best and worst football songs from every club in the UK from our book ‘The Sound Of Football: Every Club, Every Song’. You can buy it here


Nickname: The Spireites

Ground: The Proact Stadium

Stadium Capacity: 10,300

Song: Chesterfield Song

Everyone knows the devil has the best tunes, but for Chesterfield fan, Carl Newton, both the church and the devil inspired him to write ‘The Chesterfield Song’.

The town of Chesterfield is renowned for the famous crooked spire of the Parish Church, which twists 45 degrees and leans nearly three metres from its true centre.

A local legend explains that the spire was knocked out of shape after the devil jumped over the spire in pain after a local blacksmith miss shod his cloven feet.

Another story blames bad workmanship for those who don’t believe in legends. The Church was built during the Middle Ages. The black death had killed many skilled workers leaving only unskilled labourers to finish the spire.

Whether legend or historical fact, the spire defines the town and the club. Chesterfield even takes its nickname from the spire and is known as The Spireites.

Although the exact date the club was formed is uncertain, a team has played in the town since at least the 1880s. The club wore shirts featuring the union flag across their chest during this early period. This unusual design was thought to have come about when a local landlord discovered the shirts in one of his properties. He didn’t want to throw them out, so he donated them to the club. Unfortunately, there is no record of why these strips were made in the first place.

In 2010 the club moved to a new stadium. At its first home game, the club unfurled a championship flag which it had received after winning League 2 the previous season. Chesterfield also played the club’s new anthem: ‘The Chesterfield Song’.

Carl Newton wrote the song in honour of the club and uploaded it to YouTube. Within a couple of weeks, it had been viewed over 10k times. He was invited to the stadium to play the song, and it has since been released on iTunes, with the proceeds going to charity. The lyrics celebrate the town and its devilish spire.

From the blue and white on the football ground,

to the crooked spire of this old town.

From the blue and white on the football ground,

to the crooked spire of this our home town.


Singing, Chesterfield na na na x 6

(Source: Carl Newton)

Buy the Sound of Football from Amazon.

31 Day Stretching Challenge (Day 12) – Andrew

People say there are only 24 hours in the day, which is true, but only if you have never worked a night shift when the clocks go back an hour.

I used to work as a hospital porter and for six years I would always end up with the night shift when the clocks go back an hour. The night shift was long to begin with. It started at 11pm and finished at 8am. Most nights, the clock striking 2am was dispiriting because you’d already been working for three hours and still had another six to go. On the night the clocks went back an hour, it was even worse. When the clock struck two, the clock had to be moved back to 1am and you’d been working three hours and then had another seven to go. Even worse, you didn’t get an extra hours pay. The logic being that you also got paid the same when then clocks went forward an hour. (Not that I ever worked that day!).

So, unless you’re working on the last Saturday in October, trying to find extra time in the day can be hard. This week I’ve struggled to find 30 minutes to stretch as I’ve returned to work after the holiday and I’ve had my mum visiting. Yesterday, the only spare time I had was lunchtime. Luckily I also had the office to myself so I closed the door and tried some stretches over lunchtime.

Unlike day one, I didn’t strip down to my pants. That would be have been too embarrassing to explain if someone walked in the room. Me, my pants, groin circles, and YouTube videos of men in shorts flexing. Instead I would have to lie and make up an excuse as to what I was doing half naked near my computer.

“What are you doing?”

“Err…” I’d say, “I was watching pornography”

“No you weren’t, you were doing a sun salutation, weren’t you?”

“No! Not me! What kind of man do you think I am? It was porn, I tell ya, purn porn!”

Along with the door, if you’re streching in the office you also need to think about windows. My office is overlooked by a taller building. It’s largely empty as it awaits redevelopment but there are a few active floors where I can see people moving around. I thought it best then to stretch away from the window so that prying eyes could not see down into my room and my hip circles.

At this point, my large room has reduced to a small circle where I am neither visible from a window and within arms reach of the door to reach an arm out and keep it closed if someone else walked in.

This was no longer stretching, it was an exercise in voyeur management.

I decided that maybe a full stretching routing was not practical so I switched instead to stretching at my desk, where no one would think it strange to see an arm outstretched as I could just making a vigorous point on a Zoom call.

And because I was at my desk, no one could see my legs, so I could sit in my pants. Ideal.

Either way, working out in the office is tricky and you may find, if someone walks in, that you only wish you could turn back time by an hour…

31 Day Stretching Challenge – Day 8 (Andrew)

I don’t know what I’ve just watched.

In my search for the videos to follow along to on YouTube I’ve encountered all sorts of videos. Some are presented by lithe models, others by buff men, some use a garden, others a house which is lit as well as any studio. These videos can be professional, amateur or, well, whatever the heck ‘Bob & Brad’ are doing. I have no words to describe their video. I think I will leave it one YouTube commentator who said:

“I don’t know how two guys can be so helpful, so funny, and so boring, all at once… but I like it.”

And if that comment doesn’t help you then at least watch the first 20 seconds as Bob & Brad have their own theme song. It’s quite something.

For something more traditional, and nice and local (at least for me as a fellow Glaswegian) then I can recommend ‘Yoga With Mark’:

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