Dave Scotford’s living room is immaculate and well organised. The spring light pours in from the bay window illuminating the two large art prints that hang neatly from the beige walls. Everything is disappointingly normal. There is not a plastic cup replica of the pyramids in sight.
In fact, there are no cups at all. Nothing about the 26-year-old, who is shuffling over to make room on his sofa, alludes to his involvement in what many would describe as a slightly out of the ordinary hobby.
Dave, who currently works full-time as a recruitment manager, smiles as he pulls a shiny bronze medal from the coffee table draw. He begins to discuss his second world championship sport stacking event since he stacked his first cup in 2014.
The Nottingham Trent University Business Management graduate, who competed as part of Team GB in Germany at the start of this month (April), says: “Before the competition I decided if I could get a solid bronze medal then I would be happy, so I’m pretty chuffed in all honesty.”
Sport stacking originated in the early 1980s in California and in recent years it has soared in popularity around the globe. But as there is still no Sunday league for sport stacking most people, including Dave, find themselves getting involved completely by accident.
“I was at a friend’s house and he takes forever to get ready so I was sat with his little brother who was stacking these plastic cups at lightning speed in all different patterns and I thought – that’s got to be easy!”
Dave exaggerates how sport stacking is far from an effortlessly mastered party trick. He rolls his eyes as he reminisces on his first venture into the sport.
“It wasn’t easy – it was horrendous and I wanted to throw them out the window. My friend’s brother was going to the UK championships and he asked me along to support him and I told him I was going to go one better and beat him.”
Not only did a relatively inexperienced Dave compete at the UK championships but he set a national record which consequently attracted the attention of the Team GB Manager, Roger Acraman.
Roger requires each stacker to qualify for their place in the Team UK squad by demonstrating they are capable of winning a world championship medal for Great Britain.
He said: “I have known Dave for about a year and he has come on so marvellously, I can hardly believe it is the same person.
“Dave only had to demonstrate he could win one medal at Worlds but he amazed me by qualifying on each count so I am delighted to have him as a full member of Team UK.
“In particular, the hardest sequence is the Cycle. Once you know what to do, this usually takes about 50 seconds and then you chip off seconds at a time. Dave has broken the 10 second barrier which puts him into a top echelon of stackers.”
Sport stacking takes hours of practice and is both mentally and physically draining however Dave is no stranger to questions regarding the legitimacy of his chosen sport.
He nods and shrugs his shoulders: “I understand the concept is completely ridiculous. It’s twelve pieces of plastic you cannot even use as cups because of the holes in the bottom.”
“You are under pressure. You have a judge sat within a foot of you and people stood all around watching you watching your every move.
“It is a sport. It’s not even a question. You get three attempts to do something that you have trained all year for. You are active and after half an hour of training you can see the sweat pouring off most people.”
Ever keen to prove his point, Dave leads the way into his kitchen which is in no way as disappointingly cup-free as the living room. Mugs, glasses and tumblers adorn the draining board and twelve bottomless plastic cups take centre stage upon the kitchen table.
Dave’s smile softens from his face as he assumes a state of total concentration. He is used to people watching him. He often practices while sitting in front of a blaring television screen in an attempt to recreate the intense surroundings and distractions of a championship event.
The harsh noise of the clattering plastic is unexpected for something that seems to be so delicately executed.
Registering this, Dave jokes: “You would not believe the sound that over 100 people stacking cups can make. It hurts your ears.”
Dave’s housemate, Benjamin Mooney, pokes his head around the door of his ground floor bedroom. Unsurprisingly, for Ben and the other tenants the sound of Dave’s stacking sessions do not go unnoticed.
“We don’t see Dave all that much because of his busy schedule but we know when he is in the house because we can hear him practicing.”
He glances at Dave then speedily adds: “We don’t find it annoying though. We understand why he needs to put in the hours.”
Before he discovered sport stacking, Dave tried his hand at a number of sports. He has previously competed in the Liverpool marathon and was a self-proclaimed ‘useless’ Sunday league football player.
He laughs: “Being hammered 16-nil was a good weekend.”
Dave openly admits his sport is controversial and although stacking lacks the monetary and health benefits of many mainstream sports, he sticks to it because he enjoys it.
“If you win the world championships then you are funded for the next one but there is not millions of pounds sat around the corner like there is for footballers. It is fun and people get involved for that reason.”
Although the World Championships are over for this year Dave will only be allowing himself a few weeks rest. The UK Premiership is on the horizon and Dave Scotford’s cup is certainly half full.