Lewis Potts – A Football Journey
Lewis Potts – A Football Journey
Images courtesy of Lewis Potts and Dave Tidswell
For the Young Lewis, it was like he was destined to play American Football, his father Tony was a Britball legend in Yorkshire in the 1980s playing for Sheffield’s Steel City Giants, and the love for and prowess at the game evidently were passed down the generations. Now aged 28, Potts is currently suiting up for the Sheffield Giants in the BAFA Premier North Division as a defensive end. At 6’3” and 275 pounds he’s difficult to miss, but if you’re having trouble spotting him, just find where the ball is, he won’t be far away!
Born in Rotherham he showed an interest in the sport from an early age, developing some transferable skills on the Rugby field before transitioning to the Gridiron at the age of 16, when he joined the Sheffield Tomahawks junior team, getting his first taste of kitted football. The Tomahawks were a strong programme and nurtured the skills of other notable Britball talents, Adam Hope and David Saul. With his athleticism and enthusiasm Potts played a number of positions, including offensive line and fullback.
His first foray into senior football was with the Doncaster Mustangs where he benefitted greatly from the coaching of Brian Long and Lee Durman as he settled into his role as a defensive lineman. He also played some British University football at Manchester Metropolitan before moving on to play for the then, Sheffield Predators at the age of 19. The Predators were a strong outfit in the second tier of the British National Leagues and having seen constant progress over the seasons they won their National Championship in 2012 and were promoted to the Premier division, Potts of course was one of the cornerstones of a punishing defence. Enjoying playing at the highest British level, he stayed with the Sheffield programme for six seasons.
Lewis had harboured the ambition to visit and explore Australia for a number of years, he had worked and saved hard, so in 2016 he chose to hang up his pads for good (or so he thought) and flew out to the land down under on a great adventure. Working temporary jobs to help fund his travels around the country, he arrived in Melbourne. Chris Peel, another well-known Britballer had been tracking his travels and had Football contacts in Melbourne at a team called the Western Crusaders. Peel acted as the conduit and orchestrated an introduction for Lewis. Potts went along to observe a practice and was hooked! The team provided the equipment and Lewis was back on the football field. The Crusaders are one of the strongest teams in Australia and Potts and his team mates, under the stewardship of coaches Craig Wilson and Glen Parke, put up a record of 25-0 over a two season stretch, making them Victoria State Champions. The Australian competition structure provides for “State All-star Teams” to face off against each other for a National Championship, and impressively, due to his level of play Lewis was chosen for the state of Victoria representative side.
I asked him what the level of play was like in Australia compared to Britain. “The standard in Aus is pretty high to be fair for amateur football. There are a lot of ex rugby league guys playing, with a sprinkling of American talent. Also, they guys from the islands are all excellent athletes, so I’d have to say the standard is generally higher”
With his visa running out he had to return to the UK, but with the passion for the gridiron still coursing threw his veins he hooked straight back up with the Sheffield programme (now the Giants) and their Australian Coach, Toby Chesters who clearly relishes having Potts on board. “I’m happy to have Lewis back after his two very successful years with the Western Crusaders in Australia. He’s a dominating force on the D Line and a great leader in the huddle and at practices”
Football has been a constant for Lewis, and right now he’s enjoying playing, but after thirteen years of hard competitive play his body is showing signs of wear and tear! “I’m not sure how long I can carry on playing, but our physio Emma Wallace is keeping me going for now! It’s a great bunch hear at the Giants, and I’m happy to be able to contribute” As Football Journeys go Lewis Potts’ has certainly racked up the miles, both numerically and physically, but I think he has plenty of tread left on the tyres yet!