I’d like to start this Fan Perspective interview by saying I’ve enjoyed every single interview just as much as the others. It has been great giving Boltheads everywhere a voice and actually getting to know quite a bit about each and every one of you.
Speaking of giving fans everywhere a voice, in today’s Fan Perspective Interview we all have a chance to see it from the eyes of a Bolthead from across the pond. In this edition, I interviewed Joe Clarke, @boltupUK on Twitter, from theUnited Kingdom. And what follows is a story as interesting as the Bolt Fanatic himself.
Joe Clarke: Hi guys, okay so I’m Joe and I’m 23 from Manchester,UK, and my main interests are all things American! I have a bit of a fascination with theUSA and I follow most of the major sports (NFL, MLB and NBA) but American Football is by far and away my favorite. Oh and I have a big interest in American Beer, give me a bottle of Brooklyn or Anchor Steam any day!
BoogaP: When and where did your love for the Chargers come from?
Joe Clarke: Now this is an interesting one. It all started back in 2007 when I first went to university (college for you guys) and basically became nocturnal due to some fairly heavy drinking habits! I would spend most nights watching American sport on TV (by night I mean 1-5am), and just fell in love with the NFL and everything about it because it is just so different from what we have over here (namely football (soccer)). As to why I love the Chargers, well there are a couple of reasons 1) the first time I saw them we were wearing the light blue Jersey and me being a lifelong Manchester City Fan (who play in sky blue) I couldn’t help but be instantly drawn to them. 2) I have visited the USA twice (’99 and ’05) and the last place I visited, and also very much my favourite place, was San Diego (no competition really because the only other places I went were LA and San Francisco)! And finally 3) Phillip Rivers playing number 17. Not only is it my favourite number, but it was also the number that I remember being most associated with when I played football (soccer) as a youngster.
BoogaP: How well, if at all, is the BoltNation represented in the UK? Do you have any friends that are Chargers fans?
Joe Clarke: To my knowledge we are particularly badly followed in theUK! I am sure there are tons of closet Chargers fans out there, but I only know of one other person who is a Chargers fan and that is one of my friends from uni called James. He like me got into NFL in the first year of Uni, and then after I pushed him (and after he went to the Wembley game vs the Saints (which I couldn’t afford to go to)) he decided that the Chargers were the way to go!
BoogaP: How difficult is it for you to follow the Chargers from the UK? You mentioned to me that the draft was late that night. When are the games televised in the U.K.?
Joe Clarke: I’m not going to lie, it is difficult, and even more so now I’ve had to go and get a proper 9-5 Mon-Fri Job! I used to be able to stay up and watch all the games when I was at Uni, but nowadays it’s a lot of recorded games (we have sky+ which I guess is equivalent to Tivo?) and online highlights! If it’s the Chargers on TV though I book days off work so I can stay up and watch them. Not to mention I will always be following them online and via updates on my iPhone (got all the ESPN and other score apps)! We have 4 games televised per week – 3 on Sunday starting 5-9pm; 9pm-1am and then on a different channel 1am-5am and then we get MNF again 1am-5am on Tuesday, and likewise the Round 1 of the Draft which was on 1-4am over here. Thankfully I booked time off work because Wednesday (25th) was my birthday, so I took the rest of the week off so that I could watch the first round!
BoogaP: Who is your favorite player (past or present) and why?
Joe Clarke: Now this one’s a bit tricky because of me only being a truly dedicated Chargers fan since around 2007. I don’t feel like I can go back and say Fouts or Seau! I am a big fan of the lesser (to some extent) heralded players. I like Jacob Hester and Eric Weddle and am a big fan of Donald Butler, but to be honest, I will root for anyone wearing the jersey so long as they are giving it they’re all! I do have 3 jerseys, Gates, Rivers and Hester (although I wear the Hester one the most), and I have tried in the past to pick up a Weddle one, but with nowhere stocking them in theUK it’s all online! If anyone knows of anywhere I can get a good value, legit sky blue Weddle Jersey I’d be most appreciative!
Note: Joe and I have that “jersey deal” handled through my go-to-jersey guy @Boltfan53!
BoogaP: Are there any games in particular that stand out to you on the Chargers schedule this year?
Joe Clarke: I always look out for any game versus the Raiders. So, opening day on MNF is the big one I saw when I first looked at the schedule. After that I’m looking forward to playing the Saints (should be an easy ‘W’ right?) and also the Bucs (to see if Vjax was worth all that money!)
BoogaP: Knowing that you have never been to a game, who would you like to see the Chargers play live at the Q?
Joe Clarke: I would absolutely love to go to just about any game at the Q! Unfortunately I missed out on the Wembley Game versus the Saints back in 08 (which would have been my best chance to see the bolts) and when I came over in 05 not only did we come in the Offseason, but also I was not that aware of the NFL back then! If I had to choose any team to play against it would be the Vikings because my best friend spent a year living in Minnesota and is a big Vikes fan (and an idiot – I won a £5 bet because I said that Tebow would not be the starting QB for the Broncos on opening day of the season and he was adamant he would!).
BoogaP: Knowing who we have taken in the draft, talk a little bit about what your perspective is on each pick.
Ingram – stoked with, at first was gutted we hadn’t moved up for Barron but I do realize that him going 7th meant that his price was just far too high.
Reyes – mildly happy, I do think that he is going to be a great player, I just would have preferred us to go O-line with that pick with Mike Adams still being on the board. If we needed further D-line depth I would have preferred to see Tommie Harris brought back and Oline drafted.
Taylor– really like this pick I really think he’s going to be a good player, was just a bit gutted we couldn’t get Harrison Smith in 2nd. I did like what I saw of Iloka, so would have maybe liked to have seen him considered, but more than happy to getTaylor in 3.
Green – like him as a player didn’t like the pick because didn’t think that TE was a need with all the moves in FA, but I think he can learn from Gates and eventually be a big part of the offence. I would have rather seen Bobbie Massie or even Brandon Boykin with this pick.
Troutman – with O-line not being addressed was good with this pick up, but possibly would have gone Kelemete. In an ideal world had we already taken O-line (as above) and then I would have liked to see Rainey or Iloka for depth here.
Molk – good with this pick, he can push Baxter in Camp.
Baker – I can’t honestly say that I know an awful lot about him, but I am glad we have picked up an RB. I am still a big exponent of picking up a vet to compete, and Justin Forsett is the guy I want to be brought in for depth and speed.
BoogaP: What is your favorite moment in Chargers history?
Joe Clarke: My favourite moment in Chargers history (well chargers post 2007 history) would probably have to be beating the Colts in the playoffs back in 2008, but I am always happy when we beat the Raiders and the Vikings (because I can mock my friends who follow those teams mercilessly). But, anyway, back to the Colts game, I was in my room at Uni, on my own after failing to convince anyone else to watch with me! The main thing I remember is being stoked that it appeared I had picked a really decent team, because at that stage I was still only finding my feet with the NFL and the Chargers (although since it’s clear that maybe the Chargers are perennial underachievers)!
BoogaP: In my interview with Shareece Wright, I told him that I was predicting the Chargers to win the Superbowl this year. I feel even better about that prediction knowing what a strong draft that we had in addition to a great free agency period this year. What are your thoughts on my prediction?
Joe Clarke: Being a Manchester City fan (if you look up the history of the club we have for so long been such underachievers that up until 5 years ago I was so used to continual disappointment) that I am unfortunately a huge pessimist when it comes to any form of sports team I follow doing anything! I would love to see the Chargers winning the Superbowl this season, and I feel that we have had a really good FA and Draft and that we will be better this year, but I think that whilst the playoffs are well within our grasp the SB might be a year or two off. I do think it will help that the pressure is kind of off in terms of being favourites for the AFC West now that Peyton’s in the Division.
BoogaP: What do you feel was the biggest issue with the Chargers team last year?
Joe Clarke: The biggest issue in my eyes was our defensive back play (outside of Weddle). It’s obvious from looking at the stats that the Corners didn’t have great seasons, and I would have liked to have seen us draft at least one corner during the latter rounds! I reckon Gilchrist with a full preseason is going to be wicked and will push Cason and Jammer to play at a very high level, and Wright should be much improved. I realise that it’s hard for the defensive backs to play at a consistently high level with no pass rush, but hopefully this time around with Ingram and a fully fit LB corps we should be able to get some heat on opposing QBs! Glad Manusky’s out and Pagano’s in, hopefully that’ll give us a bit of a shake-up throughout the whole D that I think was required.
BoogaP: What is the general opinion of the NFL across the pond?
Joe Clarke: I think it’s a weird one. There are seemingly more and more fans getting into it, but it’s still all a bit low key and ‘underground’! There are the diehards like me who will watch most games and will be on the social media and web, extensively, and then, there usually a small handful of people who are interested but don’t follow a specific team but just drift in and out. I imagine it’s similar to how the Americans see English Premier League Soccer over there it’s on at “Silly O’clock” in the morning and as a result it’s generally only the diehards who are into it!
BoogaP: Do you see people “walking the streets” wearing NFL jerseys? Whenever I see someone wearing a Bolts Jersey I always stop them and yak Chargers!
Joe Clarke: Generally, I see quite a lot of people wearing various NFL gear because I know what I’m looking out for, but I have never seen anyone else sporting Chargers gear! For the most part when you ask people about whichever NFL team they’re sporting they just say that it was bought on holiday or it was a gift from someone else, and they don’t really know anything about NFL!
BoogaP: How do you feel about the NFL possibly getting rid of the Pro Bowl?
Joe Clarke: I would say I am completely indifferent on this one. I have watched some of the Pro Bowl once and thought that it was just a waste of time, so to hear that it might be scrapped is completely understandable in my eyes. Is it a big thing in theUSAthat people want to keep going?
BoogaP: If you could interview any Chargers player who would it be?
Joe Clarke: I’m going to say probably Phillip Rivers (yeah boring and obvious choice right, but he is the leader of the team and I reckon would be a good interviewee!) Failing that I’d love to interview newly signed LeRon McClain, that guy seems hilarious from his twitter posts!
BoogaP: I’ve obviously seen your avatar, how stoked were you when Jacob Hester re-signed with the Chargers?
Joe Clarke: Massively so, I genuinely am a big fan of his. I know that he is not necessarily the most talented at any one position, but being Special Teams Captain and all around useful guy to have around I was really glad we didn’t lose him.
BoogaP: Lastly, and I ask everybody this, how often do you visit BoltBeat.com?
Joe Clarke: Already visited fairly regularly, but I do even more so now since I have gotten right into Twitter and am now following pretty much everyone that writes for the site! It’s so much easier when you all put those links up and I can just click and go straight to it!
Joe, thank you so much for providing all the Chargers fans, myself included, the opportunity to see your Bolts Fandom from your perspective!
If you think that you would like to be featured in a Fan Perspective article about you, then please tweet me @BoogaP or email me at [email protected].
Thanks for reading!