Caesars Fighting For Playoff Spot

The East Midlands derby, against the undefeated Leicester Falcons, 9-0, stands in the way of the Nottingham Caesars, 7-2, and a spot in this seasons British American Football Association (BAFA) play-offs.

The NFC1 South side, second in their division, and sandwiched between leaders Leicester, and third place Chester Romans know that, in all honesty, nothing other than victory will suffice under the Saturday Night Lights.

Leicester, and Chester, are the only two sides to have beaten Vanden Warner’s side this campaign, crashing to a heavy defeat in the opener, away to Chester (62-28), before a four-match winning streak was halted, at home to the leaders (21-7) on matchday six.

The opening day defeat to Chester was avenged in the aftermath of the Leicester reversal, so they’re now hoping that that they can pull out the stops one more time, so, here at the Nottingham Sport, we caught up with long-serving Caesar, and Safety, Robert Hardwick, for the lowdown on him, the season, and what’s next.

We say what’s next as he claims that, the last home game, a 30-6 won over Halton Spartans, was his last, he preparing to ride off into the sunset, Coach Warner et all, they think otherwise.

“I intended on getting ten seasons, if I could, as I was late bloomer, and not really good when I started,” began Robert, looking back on how it all began.

“I had to be very patient back then, and work towards it, knuckle down, do the hard graft.

“That took me a good three, four years to do, and it is people like Beef (Stephen Brittle), who we honoured at our last home game, who I’ve to thank for it all really.

“He was my OC in the first season and, at the end of that, put his arm around my shoulders and gave me the talk, the self-belief, to come back again, and again.”

That ten season dream, was actually extended somewhat due to the presence of a global pandemic, and the fact that last season wasn’t an ‘official’ one, even if the Caesars pulled off an undefeated, divisional campaign.

A self-confessed fan of the San Francisco 49ers, Robert claims not to be a glory hunter, as he only started following them back in 2009, when his love, interest, and ultimately playing the sport, came into effect.

“My first run-out was in late 2009, when I came back from visiting family in San Francisco,” added Robert.

“That was in the October, and, when I got home, I googled the sport in the area and it pointed me to the Caesars, at the Harvey Hadden and I was like, I know that place, I drive past it going to and from work.

“I didn’t know or follow the sport prior to going to America, but it spurred me to watch, and I quickly got the bug for it.”

That as we say, was quite some time ago, and, after having done a lot in the sport, there’s certainly been more highs than lows, it’s believed everyone connected to the Caesars will know what the ‘Robert Hardwick Highlight Reel’ will feature the most, including every rookie.

“There’s been so many highlights, but, when we get a new batch of rookies, we all know that I’ll sit them down, and talk about the Birmingham game,” laughed Robert.

“We were away, in what was a back-and-forth slugfest, they took the lead late in the fourth and the quarterback throws a continuing drive, a play they didn’t really need to make.

“I intercepted and threw my second, pick six TD of the game, making three scores that game, it was surreal, unbelievable.

“What was also bizarre was, right before that, we huddled and, although never expecting them going for the play, I said that if they did, it was a day for heroes, and that was my day.

“As well as Birmingham though, I’ve done a lot of cool things with this team, playing in Iceland, and Hungary, charity games, we’ve done it all, but this is where my roots are and I’m forever grateful, not only to Beef, but to people like Vanden, and Mike Holden, someone whom I’ve modelled myself on – we’ve been very lucky.”

Although he’s had opportunities to go elsewhere, Robert is one of those who has never seen himself going elsewhere and now he’s looking to bow out in style, with victory over Leicester going a long way.

“We’ve never really been better poised for promotion than we are now,” added Robert.

“The last we went up, it was accidental really, going 9-1 with the help of an American RB, Danny Miller; without him in the side though, we struggled, and it showed.

“This time around though, the coaches have put together an attractive, stable environment, and everyone is really excited to be a part of it all.”

As for this season, and the upcoming fixture, under the Saturday Night Lights, the Caesars know what to do, and will be expected to give 110% to achieve that goal.

“They (Leicester) are looking at an undefeated season, so it’s between us and Chester (for second place), continued Robert.

“The opening game (heavy defeat away to Chester) was very disappointing, for all of us, but especially myself, and the defense.

We’d forgotten how to defend, somehow went in really rusty, and put on a bad showing.

“Now, we’re faced with the task of taking on a talented, stacked roster, but who knows what’ll happen come game-time.

“If you want the play-offs, and promotion, you have to beat the best to do that, so that’s what we need to go out there and do.

“There’s hope though, there’s always hope, and the rhetoric we have is that we have to go there and play the game, our game, not the occasion, even if it is also an East Midlands derby.

“We just need to trust in what we know we can do ourselves, and not worry about it all.”

Keep up-to-date with all things Nottingham Caesars, as they look for a play-off finale to the 2022 season, via their socials on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @CaesarsFootball Adam Wilson, Robert Hardwick & Micky Fisher celebrate.

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