The Culture Factory – BATTLE OF AGINCOURT AND THE ORIGIN OF ‘BAND OF BROTHERS’

Recently I traveled to Georgia to do a 1-day Culture Factory seminar and talked at length about the importance of daily (must be daily!) team meetings.  To create an elite culture you must meet with your team before practice and your topic must be well-prepared so it is a time you can sell the culture and identity of your program.  At one point I was asked, “so coach you meet every day and do not talk about football?”  YES-YES-YES!  The only way to create a championship culture is to do it intentionally and DAILY.

Each week our topic will be something that will deepen our identity.  Examples are Body Language and Eye Contact, Leaders Eat Last, Kaizen, E+R=O, and Meritocracy to name a few.   If you are serious about having an elite culture this is a non-negotiable.   The meetings do not have to be long but they must be a serious time before practice.  Our meetings are 20-25 minutes but if we didn’t have an athletic period we would find a way to get them done in 10 minutes.

This edition of ‘The Factory’ will be an example of a meeting we will do next year at North Forney.  The messge for the week will be titled- The Battle of Agincourt and the Origin of the Phrase ‘Band of Brothers’.

One goal we have is to fascinate our guys each day.  We cannot do this if we stand up and talk about the battle of Agincourt w/o any media.  I find movie clips and use them in each lesson (this will be a future Factory topic).  The players love the clips and it is a great way to reinforce your message.



My hope is you can take this blog and with your own additions create an elite 1-week curriculum for your program.

SETTING THE SCENE

I. THE ENGLISH WERE OUTNUMBERED – The battle of Agincourt took place in 1415 and was a part of the 100 years war between England and France.  The English troops were badly outnumbered.  There are some estimates they had 6,000-9,000 troops and the French numbered anywhere from 20,000-30,000.  “When the battalions of the French were thus formed, it was grand to see them; as far as one could judge by eye, they were in number fully six times as many as the English”, wrote one eyewitness at Agincourt.

II. THE ENGLISH HAD ALREADY SUFFERED HEAVY LOSSES – Upon landing in northern France, King Henry V marched his army to the mouth of the Seine and besieged the strategically important city of Harfleur. Henry V expected the town to fall in a few days, but the siege dragged on for five grueling weeks, during which up to a half of his army was killed or incapacitated by dysentery.

III. THE ENGLISH WERE TRAPPED – Young King Henry was attempting to return what was left of his troops to England, but the French army slipped ahead of the English and their massive force stood between them and the English Channel.  Henry had two choices: first, to offer himself to France as a captive for ransom, or, second, to fight a battle he was almost certain to lose.   He decided to make a stand but they were not in the best shape to “fight for their lives”.  The English army had walked 200 miles and was totally exhausted. Henry’s thousand knights had virtually no food left and his 5,000 archers were living off foraged berries.

IV. THE SPEECH – On the morning of October 25 (also St. Crispin’s day), shortly before the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V made a brief speech to the English army under his command, emphasizing his claim to the French throne and harking back to the memory of previous defeats the English kings had inflicted on the French.

The famous speech that we know today was the first to use the phrase, “BAND OF BROTHERS”.

In Shakespeare’s account, King Henry begins his speech in response to expressions of dismay at the English army’s lack of troop strength. Henry rouses his men by expressing his confidence that they would triumph, and that the “band of brothers” fighting that day would be able to boast each year on St. Crispin’s Day of their glorious battle against the French.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.
Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

 

 

IV. THE OUTCOME – When French cavalry and men-at-arms charged the English position, the bowmen let loose with a flurry of arrows so thick that it supposedly darkened the sun. French nobles and knights went down in droves, many of them hit by multiple arrows fired with enough force to penetrate armor.  Others were trampled by horses that had been spooked by the storm of projectiles. Once the French force panicked and became bunched together, the English archers traded their bows for poleaxes and lead mallets and joined their knights in a counterattack. The resulting massacre left between 6,000 and 10,000 French troops dead. The English only lost a few hundred men.

Along with the hail of arrows from English archers, the French advance was also hampered by the deplorable condition of the battlefield. Several days of torrential rains had turned the recently tilled ground at Agincourt into a soggy morass. Already weighed down by their heavy metal armor, the French knights were forced to slip and slide their way toward the English line, often sinking down to their knees in mud.

Those lucky enough to survive the slog arrived at the enemy position exhausted and disorganized, while many others were caught in a human crush and either trampled or suffocated to death after they fell into the mire.

 

V. LESSONS FOR YOUR TEAM

The English were UNCONVENTIONAL – It’s ok to be the underdog but you must find a way to fight unconventionally.  Most of the English troops were longbowmen and although the French were armored they were caught on a muddy battlefield where their horses panicked (many of them were killed) and could not move effectively.  Historians agree this battle was one of the turning points where long-range weapons became a more popular form of fighting and calvary diminished.

The French lost their DISCIPLINE – The English sent out their few knights to the battlefield while the majority of their soldiers (archers) stayed back.   The French saw the small force and couldn’t resist charging them.  So excited were the mounted French knights on each flank that they largely abandoned their discipline and broke into a ragged attack.  Once the French got in range the English archers ‘made it rain’ with arrows.

The English were PREPARED – They built sharpened pikes and drove them into the ground to protect the archers.  The French horses could not jump or go through them.  For some unknown reason, many Frenchmen rode their horses into the pikes where many horses were killed.  Many of the troops were knocked to the ground which made the horses without riders panic and causes much damage.   The French were killed where they laid in the muddy quagmire.

The English didn’t let the CONDITIONS AFFECT THEM – some historians call Agincourt, THE MIRACLE IN THE MUD.  The muddy ‘playing field’ was the downfall of the French but the English used it to their advantage.

This English victory will always be remembered because the OVERCAME GREAT ODDS – people remember the teams that ‘don’t flinch’ when they are the underdog and find a way.  Convince your team to relish the times you play a great opponent and make others believe they are accurs’d they were not here to be a part of a great victory.


This summer I am traveling around the country doing one-day Culture Factory seminars.   My schedule filled up very quickly so I am now offering ‘Zoom’ (skype) sessions.  If you are interested in some 1 on 1 culture consultation tailored to your program I would be happy to help you.

Email me at CULTURE@COACHRANDYJACKSON.COM

Just wrapped up our first session from TX to KY with @CoachJacksonTPW Awesome stuff coach!!
Scott Grizzle
Greenup Co. Football
Greenup, KY
Many people talk about culture, but few people have built and sustained a culture like Coach Jackson. He is living and implementing culture on a daily basis. If you want strategies and examples of how to build your teams culture, then I recommend you learn from Coach Jackson’s down to earth, real-life approach to culture!
Steve Millsaps
Joliet West Athletic Director
Joliet, Illinois

WHO I AM 
I am a proud 28-year veteran coach and educator and am the head football coach and campus coordinator at North Forney High School in Forney, TX.  NF is a 5A school with 1,600 students that was opened in 2009.  This past season we finished 10-3, the best record in the history of the school. We achieved a few milestones; defeating three teams they had never beaten, avg. 53 points a game (top 10 in 5A Texas history), won first 5A playoff game and advanced to the third round for the first time.  None of this would have happened w/o great players, coaches, and administration support.  But, it also would not have happened if we would not have changed the culture, a holistic approach and a commitment to the mental game.
I will share some of the things we did this season but am also excited to learn from you out there who are also on this journey.  The bottom line for me is I love coaches and believe in our great profession.  I want to contribute and writing CDS has allowed me to do in a small way.  This newsletter will also, but I hope will connect like-minded leaders.  I plan to learn as much as I give by doing this.

 

1 thought on “The Culture Factory – BATTLE OF AGINCOURT AND THE ORIGIN OF ‘BAND OF BROTHERS’”

  1. Very much Randy Jackson. Very much the Texas High School Coach. Praise the Lord for men like Coach Jackson.

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