Highlights of the year:
Olympians become champs at last
London Ravens fold
Tiptree make jump from Youth to Senior
Bulls dumped out of Europe by Cru again
Coca-Cola pull out
There were few changes for the 1992 season. Glasgow Lions were demoted to NDMA Division Two after they had fielded players who weren't properly registered in 1991. Registered teams dipped again, from 114 in 1991 to 99. More sides who had been the bedrock of British American football since the beginning disbanded as they struggled to keep pace with the very top sides. In 1992, the Bournemouth Bobcats, Solent (Portsmouth) Warriors and Bristol Packers all disbanded.
London Ravens fold
The UK's pioneer football team, the London Ravens folded after years of decline following a decision by the NDMA to demote them to division two for the 1992 season which provoked a walk out at the club, a spokesman said "If we can't play in the superleague we won't play at all. The Ravens played a major part in UK football and we can only assume this means nothing to the NDMA". The NDMA replied "Every week there were rumours coming out of the club that they were about to fold, we need stability, we need to look to the future, not live on past glories". For a few years the name lived on via the youth team but for the most famous name in Britball's formative years it was all over.
Still in a highly competitive season, the Bulls and Olympians fought for victory in the Southern Conference and it was the Bulls who won the Conference based on results between the two after they had both finished the regular season tied with a 9-1-0 record. In the Northern Conference, the Nottingham Hoods for the first time looked like they would challenge for major honours. They had flattered to deceive in the past, but perhaps this could be their year. The Hoods comfortably took the Northern Conference with a 9-1-0 record, with Leicester Panthers and Manchester Spartans on their coat-tails.
In the playoffs, the Hoods stormed past the Leeds Cougars 40-7, Leicester defeated Brighton 28-12, the Olympians thrashed the Spartans 49-0 and the Bulls shut-out Northants 31-0. Everything was going according to the form-book.
The Glasgow Lions would regain their Division One place, after defeating Kent Mustangs 32-14 in the NDMA Division Two bowl game, and then thrashing the Blackpool (formerly Fylde) Falcons 38-0 in the promotion/relegation playoff.
Scott Couper scores in the Div.2 bowl game
In the BNGL national division, the Clydesdale Colts went one better than in 1991, as they swept to the title defeating Farnham Knights in an evenly contested final 30-26. Merseyside Nighthawks won the Premier Division title with a narrow 23-20 win against the Crawley Raiders, and the Tiptree Titans (in their first season as a senior team) won the First Division title with 20-6 victory against the Bath Gladiators.
In other finals in 1992, the Southampton Stags won College Bowl VI by a bowl record 53 points to nil against the hapless Glasgow Tigers. Glasgow's youth kitted side, the Lions Youth, played Southend Sabres in the BYAFA Youth Kitted final and also lost 28-8. The Sabres star was RB Paul Bushell who ran for 173 yards on 17 carries. The Fen Harriers won their first title, by winning the Youth Two Touch final 12-0 against the Tamworth Trojans.
Monarchs struggle, World League suspended
Reigning World Bowl champions, the London Monarchs began their campaign at Wembley against old foes New York and struggled to an error prone 26-20 overtime win in front of 30,167 patient fans who didn't realise it at the time but they were witnessing probably the highlight of a truly awful season. By the time they played Barcelona at home the crowd had now dwindled to 18,000 and alarm bells were ringing at the NFL. In early September the league ran a story that it was looking at potential expansion sites for the 1993 season, a week later the NFL announced that the league had suspended operations until 1995 at least, citing $10 million that it had apparently lost.
Not everyone agreed, citing Five areas of concern.
- The World Bowl was never played in the US.
- They never struck a deal with an ambitious TV company (ABC were too keen to save money rather than promote the league).
- There was too much league interference with player allocation.
- The league made major game day entertainments cutbacks.
- Not enough big name players were in from the start
Eurobowl disappointment for Bulls
NDMA champions Birmingham had high hopes of restoring national pride following the Ipswich saga of the year before but the writing was on the wall when they struggled to beat an enthusiastic Dublin Celts side in Birmingham. In a tight game with few chances and the scores tied at 0-0 going into the fourth quarter the Bulls eventually got their act together to scramble a 20-0 win over the luckless Celts who had been unable to convert twice from the Bulls 2 and 5 yard lines as well as having a touchdown called back for a procedure penalty.
In the next round the Bulls were up against perennial Euro specialists the Amsterdam Crusaders and in a dour defensive battle the Cru came out victorious thanks to a 2nd quarter safety.
BAFA pulls out of Europe
Britball's governing body BAFA sensationally voted to withdraw from the EFL. At an EGM in July, BAFRA boss Joe Mendell proposed that BAFA withdrew from all European competition, save Junior football, in 1992. It was backed by the NDMA's Ron Weisz and Wayne Persinger of the BNGL. The reasons given included:
- It cost the NDMA £15,000 towards sending the national team to the European championship out of a cost of £20,000 for what was a BAFA team.
- The EFL did not give the Bulls a chance in their appeal to get the result of their Eurobowl defeat by Amsterdam overturned because of player registration problems.
- The EFL banned non-European nationals from sitting on its board, eliminating GB's representative, American Ron Weisz at a stroke.
Ironically, it didn't stop the Olympians from representing GB in the 93 Eurobowl.
Olympians win the big one at last 34-6
Delton Anderson with the Coke Bowl
The Olympians finally ended their Britball jinx with a dominating performance which never gave surprise finalists Leicester a chance. Four time losers before this, the O's hardly put a foot wrong with three touchdown passes from former LSU Quarterback Leonard Valentine, arguably the best passer of a ball ever seen in this country, and a stifling defense that never gave the Panthers a look in although the cats avoided the shutout with a 4th quarter touchdown from future Loughborough Aces head coach Andy Sweeney but it was far too little, too late, the O's had won big and it would be the start of a dynasty.
Leroy Innes scores the opening TD of Coke Bowl 92
Odds and ends
This was the year marred by a number of game ending brawls when one team was 'taking a knee' to run the clock out. This lead to the BAFA rules committee bringing in the much hated "Take a knee" rule which calls for automatic disqualification should any contact between players occur during this play. In spite of its unpopularity it worked.
BYAFA's Junior League joined forces with Two Touch rivals the BYGL and Northern Conference to unite.
Great Britain Crusaders travelled to Toulon in France to take part in the first European Junior Championships. They lost a nail-biter to the French in the sem-finals 7-6, and had to play a third place playoff match against Italy. With the Crusaders fielding many reserve players, the Italians won 42-0.
It was also the year that Terry Smith began to reassemble the EuroSpartan team in preparation for the Football League of Europe (FLE) which would begin the next year. In readiness for this they played in the Schweppes Cool Masters European Tournament in Germany which featured the Hamburg Blue Devils, the Moscow Bears and the Amsterdam Crusaders. The Spartans game lost to the powerful hosts from Hamburg 25-42, but won their other two matches and finished second in the tournament
In a Four Nations Invititation Trophy at Cardiff, representative sides from the 4 Nations sent teams to compete for the trophy. Stoke Spitfires were the English representatives, Cardiff Mets the Welsh, Glasgow Cyclones the Scots and Belfast Blitzers the Irish. In the event the Cyclones failed to appear, and it was the Spitfires who defeated the Mets 13-10 in the final.
Highlights of the year:
NDMA streamlines into one division
Olympians complete the 'double'
Spartans withdraw from superleague
NDMA streamlines into one division
The NDMA merged its two divisions into one superleague in January 1993 as it failed in its hope that more teams would join its second division. At the end of a desperate few months for the NDMA Blackpool, Cardiff, Manchester Spartans, Southern O's, Edinburgh and Stoke all pulled out of the league before the season began leaving the NDMA below the minimum 15 teams needed to keep BAFA recognition. At the end of a staccato season in which only three teams contested the northern division and the O's were unable to play all of their games owing to the Eurobowl competition it was left to the aforementioned Olympians to once again stamp their authority on the league, taking all before them and repeating their triumph of a year earlier by defeating a tough Glasgow Lions team 40-14 at Maidenhead rugby club in the bowl game.
LB Bob Dean lifts the 1993 trophy
Olympians masters of Europe
In the first round the O's travelled to Dusseldorf and squeaked past the home team panthers 32-29 following a protracted political battle as where and when the game should be played. Their reward for this was a gruelling twice postponed trip to Helsinki to play the East City Giants and in another tight game the O's triumphed 34-29. On to Brussels for the Eurobowl final where they would meet the bane of UK football, the Amsterdam Crusaders. After what had gone before this seemed almost like a home game and the rampant O's showed no mercy, running out winners by 42-21. Leonard Valentine scored three rushing TD's and Richard Dunkley scored twice, as at last the O's had stepped out of the shadow of the Ravens, they were now the very best.
Spartans withdraw from the superleague
One of Britain's oldest clubs, the Manchester Spartans, pulled out of the NDMA superleague in favour of preparing for the proposed new Football League of Europe in 1994. "Players are bored with the superleague" said Spartans boss Terry Smith, "from a financial standpoint it was the only move to make. It was an enormous expense to play when we went to Italy in 1990, the Eurobowl is an outdated tournament, a lot of the best teams can't afford it".
NDMA chairman Weisz was furious, "There is no way the NDMA will give the Spartans our blessing when they are no longer part of our league and are using our players."
His EuroSpartans teams played a series of Exhibition games to set the stage for the League kick-off in 1994. They played Hamburg twice, losing the opener on August 21st 23-21 on a field goal with a few seconds left in a televised game in Leicester. They also played away to Munich losing 35-20. Following on from these performances, they were chosen as one of the top four teams to compete in the Final Four Schweppes Cool Masters Tournament in Hamburg again (as in 1992). They finished third in this Final Four, with Hamburg first, Munich second, and Cologne fourth. The games were well promoted and always competitive and bolstered by this Terry Smith announced ambitious plans for an eight team Euroconference to be played in the Autumn.
All the games were played at Saffron Lane in October 93. Opposition from BAFA and NDMA, which at one time included a threat of expulsion for players participating in the UKC, ensured that Smith had to face several problems right up to the start of the season The season started with the kickoff classic between GB Spartans and the Sydney Kookaburras - Spartans winning 46-6. In the end four teams played a 4 game, 4 week season culminating in the championship game featuring the EuroBears (coached by Andy Capp) who beat the EuroRaiders in the big game by 14-12 on October 30th, ironically, the Bears had finished bottom of the regular season final standings.
NDMA, BNGL finally merge
After a decade of multi-league football Britain was at last united in having only one senior league (the British Senior League) after protracted talks in October 1993. The plan was formulated at the start of the 1993 season, when the NDMA was hit by a number of clubs pulling out of the schedule. BAFA has a rule which requires a member league to have a minimum of 15 teams. NDMA had seen 10 clubs fold over previous 3 years, with little prospect of replacements. They had lost Coca Cola sponsorship and planned to discontinue Division 2 in favour of a single division for 1993. When the London Olympians announced they would not field a second team, and Stoke Spitfires pulled out, before the start of the season the NDMA were left with the minimum 15 teams. Chairman Ron Weisz announced that the time was right for a merger and made all the early running. It was obvious that a single senior league was a deep wish for BAFA chairman Lance Cone, who brought the two sides together at the end of the season.
BAFA Chairman, Lance Cone
By this time Terry Smith had also withdrawn his Manchester Spartans from the league in favour of participation in the European League AFL-E (also known as Football League Europe). The representatives of the six parties that made up BAFA, the two senior leagues, BYAFA, BSAFL, BAFRA and the coaches association thrashed out the agreement that all the countries 100 senior teams would be playing under one banner in 1994 - the British Senior League (BSL). Ron Weisz had already been replaced by Leigh Ensor as NDMA chairman when the deal was agreed, but that wasn't the last word in this protracted episode. In a meeting for the Scottish Gridiron Development Forum, which was attended by all the senior scottish clubs a vote was made on whether they would join the BSL in 1994. They voted for it after it was heard that there would be a major sponsorship deal. The sponsorship never materialised and the scottish clubs did eventually set up an independent league in 1995. Although Ron Weisz has claimed the initial credit for the merger, it was clear that the merger was forced onto the NDMA by BAFA, who would withdraw their recognition of the league, and hence withdraw the possibility of competing in the EuroBowl or NDMA players in the European Nations Championships. Presiding BAFA chairman Lance Cone said "This is the most significant event in the history of British American football".
After five years in office NDMA chairman Ron Weisz resigned from the NDMA and from his BAFA director role. Weisz first got involved in Britball in 1985 with Brighton and the National team, and was the league chairman from 1989 to 1993.
He relocated to Ireland, which was his main reason for resigning. Birmingham GM Leigh Ensor was the surprise choice to replace Weisz. Ensor said, "I'm happy to do the job. I know a lot of flak is flying around now but I would like to assure all players I have got the interest of football at heart."
UKSC bows out
After 46 years of competition the United Kingdom Sports Conference played its last ever game on 20th November 1993 at RAF Upper Heyford where the home team SkyKings played the visiting Lakenheath Eagles for the UK championship. On a cold and frosty day 500 people saw Lakenheath win the game 30 seconds from time with a 30 yard field goal, so ending a football league that was born out of the American military presence during the 2nd World War. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the large military force stationed in the UK had become a liability and in a cost cutting move the vast majority of bases closed and with it the league.
EFL replaced by EFAF
The door to European competition was re-opened for Britain following the demise of the EFL. Seven countries at an EFL meeting in Brussels unanimously voted in favour of filing for bankruptcy and in its place EFAF was founded. "One of the main objectives of EFAF is to create a new environment to advance the sport in Europe into the next century" said new president, Sweden's Peter Lundgren.
Bafa had pulled out in 1992 because it could no longer afford crippling membership fees and the costs involved in sending a national squad to the biannual nations cup. In comparison to the EFL's £4000 membership fee, EFAF charged just £500. Former BAFA secretary and EFL board member Charles Macnamara said "I am delighted with what has happened, it is a step in the right direction"
Other odds and ends:
Ireland were expelled from EFL in 1993. We are not sure of the reasons behind this, but it was reported in First Down at the time.
Upper Heyford took on the Lakenheath Eagles in the last ever US Military game to be played in the UK
Action from Upper Heyford v Lakenheath Eagles
In 1993, a travelling university all-star team was formed under the direction of Damian Bayford, the head coach at the University of Leeds. This team included several non-British players and defeated three German college teams whilst on tour.
The Bournemouth Buccaneers took the last ever BNGL National title, winning the final 42-34 against the Bedford Bombardiers. Tiptree maintained their progress after promotion to the Premier League, by winning their second straight national title, this time against Croydon Kings 17-6. Lincoln Saints stormed to the First Division title destroying Redbridge Fire 51-14 in the final.
The Farnham Knights won the last ever Passball final at Cannock against the strongly fancied home team 36-19.
PA Knights - Passball champs 1993
Photo courtesy of www.paafo.freeserve.co.uk/
Southampton Stags won back-to-back college titles, winning College Bowl VII 19-0 against the Leeds Celtics. Southend Sabres also won back-to-back titles in 1993, winning the BYAFA Youth Kitted final 44-6 against the Heathrow Jets. Ealing Eagles took the Youth Two Touch title, thrashing Park Centre Bandits 44-0 in the final. London Capitals won the Junior Two Touch title with a narrow 8-6 win against Tiger Bay Warriors.
Highlights of the year:
O's win back to back titles
O's win EuroBowl again
NFL brings back the Monarchs
GB Spartans enter Football League of Europe
The alarming collapse of clubs continued in 1994, with 13 teams folding from the turn over the year. In the new BAFA Division Two, the league was rocked when West London, Croydon, Tamworth and Kent all pulled out in the space of a week.
1994 was again the year of the Olympians, as they won back-to-back British and European titles. In the new 7 team BAFA Division One, the O's finished the season 9-1, with Leicester becoming runners-up with a 7-3 record. Come the playoffs, Birmingham Bulls (who came third) defeated the Panthers 26-20, and the O's received a bye to the final as the league ruled that the Glasgow Lions were ineligible for the playoffs, after they had forfeited one game earlier in the season. The background behind this was that the Lions were expecting to play two regular season games against the London Olympians and Thames Valley Aces in neutral Manchester, but the league switched both games to Burton-on-Trent in Derbyshire, an hour from London but eight from Glasgow. Grudgingly the Lions fulfilled the trip to play Thames Valley (and won), but were not prepared to do it again for the London game and, in protest, forfeited. BAFA chairman Doug McClean said, "The BAFA League board discussed at length the Glasgow issue of Glasgow's failure to fulfill their fixture against the Olympians as agreed at the start of the season. We decided they should be dropped from the playoffs."
London celebrate the 1994 title
The Lions resigned from BAFA in protest and were to be instrumental in setting up the SGA in 1995.
In Division Two, the Milton Keynes Pioneers held off the Bedford Bombardiers 18-6.
Milton Keynes won Div.2
In Division Three the Cambridge County Cats beat the Crawley Raiders for the title. The Olympians II thrashed the Trent Valley Warriors 48-6 for the Division Four title.
In the other finals in 1994, the Glasgow Tigers won College Bowl VIII with a 26-0 shutout over the Leicester Lemmings. The Youth Kitted final was won 30-22 by the Birmingham Bulls over the Farnham Knights, and the Crawley Pirates triumphed 8-0 over the Kent Panthers for the Youth Two Touch title. Doncaster Wildcats won the Junior flag final 14-12 against St.Josephs Cardinals.
The NFL also announced that they would be re-starting the World League of American Football in 1995, with the host teams being exclusive to Europe. All teams would have 6 national players on their rosters, and the host teams announced were the returning London Monarchs, Frankfurt Galaxy and Barcelona Dragons. They were also joined by the Scottish Claymores, the Rhein Fire and the Amsterdam Admirals.
In 1994 the Football League of Europe moved to a two part season, most of the season was played from early May to early July, then a months gap till early August. The GB Spartans moved to the 25,000 capacity Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield, and the league moved to an 8 team, 2 division format and also had satellite TV coverage. Each team played its conference rivals home and away and played the other four teams 2 at home and 2 away giving a 10-week season. At the end of the regular season, the GB Spartans finished third in the Central Conference with a 5-4 record and failed to make the playoffs despite playing in front of large crowds. In the Bowl, played in Hamburg, Stockholm Vikings beat Hamburg Bluedevils 43-35.
The London Olympians had far greater success, however, in that season's EuroBowl competition. They won the competition for the second straight season, beating Bergamo Lions 26-23 in the final in Stuttgart. In the earlier rounds, they had deposed of the Den Haag Raiders of Holland 52-8 away from home, and then travelled to Helsinki to beat the East City Giants 22-20 in the semi-final.
The EFAF received BAFA back into it's fold in April. "We have received and reviewed Britain's applicationa nd we will accept it this said," said EFAF president Peter Lundgren. BAFRA's Joe Mendell and Bill Bowsher and new BAFA chairman Hugh Robinson had worked tirelessly to become members of EFAF. BAFA had originally decided to pull out of the defunct EFL because of crippling registration fees of £5,000 a year. The new organisation has cut it's fees down to £400. Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria were already members for BAFA applied, and Spain, Italy and Ukraine joined just after. Double European Champions, GB were drawn with Holland with them due to host the Dutch in September 1994. New BAFA Chairman Hugh Robinson said, "The players want it and when all said and done that's what it's all about."
BAFA announced that Tony Allen would replace Ray Willsey as the new coach of Great Britain in July. Allen said,"Obviously it's a great honour. It's very important to be involved in Europe to give the players something to aspire to."
The GB Lions were supposed to play Holland in a European Nations Championship qualifier in 1994, but the Dutch pulled out giving GB a bye through to second round in October where they were then supposed to play Ukraine. The Ukraine game failed to take place, and as a result the qualifying matches for the 1995 European Nations Championship would be held over until that year, although GB opponents were still unclear.
BYAFA announced the formation of the GB Knights flag football squad under the management of the JGL. JGL chairman Nick Russell was appointed the Knights first head coach.
The GB Crusaders travelled to the United States to play two matches in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They lost both games - scores unknown.
Following the end of the 1993-94 BCAFL season, the GB Bulldogs were formed as the first official Great Britain student team with a recognised affiliation from the British Collegiate American Football League. Organised by general manager Nick Baldwin and head coach Beau Riffenburgh, the team won all six games it played, one against a travelling American all-star team, two against BAFA Senior League Division-Three teams, and three against German teams. The scores were:
GB Bulldogs 14 Oregon All-Stars 8
GB Bulldogs 28 Derbyshire Braves 6
GB Bulldogs 26 Oxford Saints 10
GB Bulldogs 8 Berlin Bears 0
GB Bulldogs 42 German National Student Team 0
GB Bulldogs 37 North of Germany All-Stars 9
The game against the German National Student Team in Cottbus, was the championship game of the first-ever European Student Championships, an event suggested by representatives of the National Football League. Jay Spring ran for 144 yards and 2 TDs, and the D led by MVP Ian Lipscomb (10 tackles) limited Germany to just 17 yards. The Bulldogs received a trophy, donated by the NFL, recognising them as the European Student Champions.
Highlights of the year:
Monarchs return, but crowds fail to show
SGA formed, Lions take title
Bulls win BAFA championship
O's miss out on Euro hat-trick
Irish national side makes debut
Before the 1995 season started there were further withdrawals of teams. All the Scottish sides withdrew from the BAFA Senior League. The reasons for this were that in 1994, the Glasgow Lions were expecting to play two regular season games against the London Olympians and Thames Valley Aces in neutral Manchester, but the league switched both games to Burton-on-Trent in Derbyshire, an hour from London but eight from Glasgow. Grudgingly the Lions fulfilled the trip to play Thames Valley(and won), but were not prepared to do it again for the London game and, in protest, forfeited. One week later Glasgow won at home against the Leeds Cougars to compile a 6-4 record, but the league ruled the Lions ineligible for the playoffs. It was the last slap in the face they were prepared to take, and they quit the BNGL. Other Scottish teams followed suit in solidarity with the Lions and in 1995 Scotland was to go it alone as the Scottish Gridiron Association was formed.
The Scottish Claymores announced their national players for their inaugural 1995 season and the Lions provided the core of the unit. Wide receiver Scott Couper, defensive lineman John Letham, and linebacker Paul Balfour made the roster at some point of the season while offensive linemen Steve McCusker (now the Claymores' national coach), Pat Shields and also Gary McNey were victims of notorious then-Claymores head coach Lary Kuharich. A former Lions RB, Mike Kenny, was appointed National coach on the Claymores' staff. McCusker, Shields and McNey returned to the Lions in time for their first SGA campaign to kick off, with the Capital Bowl as a curtain raiser. Glasgow won the tenth - and final - Capital Bowl, their seventh triumph in the competition. The Lions sent the tournament out in style with a 34-0 semi-final victory over the Fife 49ers and 31-8 in the final against the Clydesdale Colts, as QB Darryn Trainor connected on 10 touchdown passes.
The London Monarchs returned, and Gareth Moores was named as the club's second general manager and the World League returned in 1995 as a joint venture between the NFL and America's Fox TV with six European teams. Playing their home games at White Hart Lane - home of Tottenham Hotspur FC - and coached by former NFL running back Bobby Hammond. The Monarchs announced their national players in Victor Ebubideke, Stephen Hutchison, Mark Cohen, Gerry Anderson, Lewis Capes. The Monarchs finished with a 4-6 record, averaging crowds of 10,400. The Frankfurt Galaxy won World Bowl '95 in Amsterdam, defeating the hometown Admirals 26-22.
Other teams not returning for 1995 included the Nottingham Hoods, Thames Valley Chargers, Bedford Bombardiers, Trafford Falcons, London Rockets & Thunder, Derbyshire Braves, North Sea Hurricanes, Swindon Steelers, South Coast Raiders, Harrogate Hawks, Colwyn Bay Dragons, Stratford Tempests, F14 Tomcats and the Taunton Wyvern. Hayes Generals and Enfield Bullets merged into one another to form the London Blitz.
n BAFA Division One, there were six teams competing: Olympians, Bulls, Leicester Panthers, Milton Keynes Pioneers, Northants Storm and the Leeds Cougars. Leeds Cougars suffered with player numbers and were forced to quit after a 0-5 start - their last game being when just 18 players travelled to Milton Keynes in May. There were many close games in the regular season, notably a 22-15 win for Birmingham over Leicester which saw three ejections, Panther QB Thad Trujillo taken to hospital with a dislocated elbow and over 200 yards in penalties.
Radical changes were made for the playoffs, with the Division One and Two bowl games being moved from Leicester to the Norman Green Stadium in Birmingham. In the semi-finals, the Olympians rolled over Milton Keynes 26-6 and they were joined in the final by Birmingham. The Bulls met Leicester in the other semi-final, and John Riggs's 26 completions and 236 yards with 4TDs were the difference. Marc Cohen caught a hat-trick of 4th quarter TDs to edge the Bulls through 36-19 in another bad tempered clash.
The Bulls and Olympians finished with 9-1-0 records, and following semi-final victories met to decide the 1995 national title. Birmingham Bulls pulled off their third national success with an exciting 34-30 victory. In his last game for the Bulls, John Riggs was voted MVP for completing 15 of 28 for 251 yards and 3 TD's, and also running in two himself. Marc Cohen caught eight passes for 157 yards and caught two TDs.
Marc Cohen, Bulls, 1995 vs Milton Keynes
The 15 team Division Two was split into three conferences, with Plymouth Admirals, Crawley Raiders and Lancashire Wolverines taking the South West, South East and North/Midlands titles respectively. Only Plymouth made the final, and they were beaten by the Cambridge County Cats 28-13. Britball veteran Simon Kucia retired after leading the Cats to victory with a 200 yard passing game. Oxford Saints and the Gwent Mustangs came through a tough 30-team division three, and it was the Saints who won the final 14-6.
In the first season of the SGA, the Glasgow Lions, lost one regular season game, but come the playoffs were unstoppable thrashing Dundee Whalers 88-0 in the semi-final and Granite City Oilers 76-0 in the final.
BAFRA quit BAFA in 1995 after BAFA refused to sanction the breakaway SGA and tried to prevent the referees from working their games. BAFA's decision contravened BAFRA's constitution which stated "to enable all American Football games in Britain to have neutral officials." BAFRA's general secretary, Ian Coleman, said,"BAFA's decision went against our policy of providing officials to all British games."
After the success of 1994 the Football League Europe was back for its second season with the GB Spartans as Britain's only representative. The league began under pressure by the return of the World League, and a few teams pulled out - including the London Express. A few teams tried to carry on under sponsorship and money promises by the new League owners (that never materialised and left all of the teams losing a lot of money) and the league was again aligned into 2 divisions, North and Central. The Spartans lost their opener to Stockholm at Don Valley, and then the rest of the season just seemed to fade away. News of the league in First Down ended with the Spartans forfeiting their game against Frankfurt. The entire league closed down after the 1995 season because the World League had taken their market away. The Spartans did a lot of very positive things with the Spartans in Sheffield in the European League, and carried a British team to its highest point, but in the end, just like the Monarchs, they could not escape the downward trend of the sport at that time.
Spartans v Munich
The GB Lions National team were supposed to play in the 1995 European championships, the first round tie was to be against the winners of Germany and Ukraine but after a lot of mucking about eventually the tie didn't go ahead as Germany sensationally pulled out at the last minute leaving GB having to play Ukraine and then 2 more games in Austria in 8 days. Not surprisingly GB pulled out handing a bye to the semis to Ukraine.
A scheduling cock-up forced BAFA to pull out the GB Lions from the 1995 European Championships in Austria. EFAF informed BAFA that the Lions would have to play three games in seven days and BAFA withdrew on safety grounds. The catalogue of disasters began when Germany pulled out of their qualifying game with Ukraine. GB were due to play the winners on April 2nd, but the opposition failed to stick to the timetable. EFAF then told the Lions that they would have to play Ukraine in Austria 4 days before the semi-finals. BAFA pulled out in protest and Ukraine took their place in the semi-finals against Finland (Finland won 37-0).
After four years without a game, BAFA got the national team back together and started preparations to enter the 1997 European Nations Championship. GB took on Ireland (Ireland's first ever game) at the Saffron Lane Sports Stadium in Leicester and won 22-0. Ireland also played games v Team Canada winning 27-24, v Hannau Hawks losing 6-19 and BAFA div 3 North West all stars winning 40-0.
The GB Crusaders played a European Junior Championship qualifier, at White Hart Lane before one of the Monarchs games. They lost disappointingly to Switzerland 28-23.
A British club did achieve great success in 1995 in Europe. The London Olympians and the Birmingham Bulls both entered the EuroBowl competition in 1995. In the first round, Birmingham dealt with the challenge of the Rotterdam Trojans winning 40-12, and setting up a quarter-final match-up with the London Olympians. In a titanic battle at the Norman Green Stadium, the Londoners held on for a 14-13 triumph. In the semi-finals, the O's edged the East City Giants from Helsinki by an identical 14-13 scoreline. Their run came to an end in the final of EuroBowl IX, as they gallantly lost 21-14 to the Dusseldorf Panthers despite Richard Dunkley's 117 yards on 24 carries.
In 1995 the GB Bulldogs again represented BCAFL against a variety of opponents. They played five games, again defeating the Oregon All-Star team, a BAFA Senior League Division-Two team ((the Gateshead Senators), and the defending Irish senior league national champions, the Dublin Tornadoes. The Bulldogs' first two losses ever came to the BAFA Senior League Division-One Leicester Panthers and the BAFA Senior League Division-Two national champions, the Cambridge Cats. The scores were GB Bulldogs 16-6 Oregon All-Stars, GB Bulldogs 21-6 Gateshead Senators, GB Bulldogs 10-14 Leicester Panthers, GB Bulldogs 68-8 Dublin Tornadoes and GB Bulldogs 14-26 Cambridge Cats.