2006 Highlights of the year:
Olympians return as champs
Jets promoted again after unbeaten season
Rebels win record fourth Shamrock Bowl in row
Stags win by record College Bowl score
In February, BAFL confirmed that nine British players made the rosters for NFL Europe teams including Britbowl 2005 MVP, Jermaine Allen. The lucky nine were:
Lorn Mayers – Berlin Thunder (London Blitz)
Danny Watts – Berlin Thunder (London Olympians)
Marvin Allen – Frankfurt Galaxy (London Olympians)
Jeff Brown – Frankfurt Galaxy (Birmingham Bulls)
Jermaine Allen – Hamburg Sea Devils (London Olympians)
Aden Durde – Hamburg Sea Devils (London Olympians)
Emmanuel Akah – Rhein Fire (London Olympians)
Shaun Smith – Rhein Fire (Southern Sundevils)
Peter Fields – Frankfurt Galaxy (Personal Assurance Knights)
BAFL Chairman Glen Schild said, " I am delighted to see the progress being made by BAFL players. Every year the competition for roster spots with NFL Europe increases and I wish those that have been successful in securing a place with a team every success for the 2006 season and beyond. For those that have not made it this time, I have no doubt that the experience gained will serve them well in the future."
The British American Football League expanded again with two new teams joining in 2006 - the East Kent Mavericks and the Reading Renegades. With all 35 teams from the 2005 season returning the number of teams in the BAFL now stood at 37 teams.
2006 was again the year of the Olympians as they won the title for the 9th time in 10 years. Gateshead Senators won their first Div.1 Conference title finishing with a 8-2 record, ahead of the Birmingham Bulls (7-3) and they were also joined in the playoffs from the North by the East Kilbride Pirates (6-4). The Southern Conference was a highly competitive conference with shocks aplenty as a resurgent London Blitz led by the impressive Tom Britton overturned the Olympians 28-12 early in the season. The Southern Sundevils got in on the act by defeating the 2005 champions, PA Knights (42-34), and then defeating the Blitz 6-3. PA’s crown was slipping and successive defeats to the Olympians (twice) and the London Blitz (twice) led to relegation from Britball’s top flight.
The Olympians showed their killer instinct by beating the Ipswich Cardinals 64-6 to clinch the Southern Conference. Blitz came in second with a 8-2 record with the Sundevils in third (6-4).
In the playoffs, the Olympians triumphed 43-35 over the Southern Sundevils in a real humdinger of a semi-final, and they were joined in the final by their only conquerors of the season, the London Blitz. The Blitz, who had comfortably defeated East Kilbride 16-0 in the wild-card defeated the Gateshead Senators in the semi-finals 34-6 in the North East.
In Britbowl XX, the Olympians took the newly created Boston Trophy 45-30 which was sealed by Britball veteran Victor Muhammad’s 4 yard run late in the game.
Coventry Jets repeated their feat from 2005, by completing another unbeaten season in 2006 and what’s more beating all four Division One opponents. The Jets scored a hugely impressive 417 points in their 10 games conceding just 21. They rounded off their season with a thumping 52-20 win over the Bristol Aztecs in the Div.1A Final. Joe Wright claimed MVP honours with 191 passing yards for the Jets.
In an expanded Division Two, 20 sides took to the fields in highly competitive football. The Redditch Arrows and the West Coast Trojans went 10-0 in regular season, and eventually met in the semi-finals with the Trojans winning a thriller 38-30. Colchester Gladiators (8-2) won the Eastern Conference, the Oxford Saints (9-1) took the Western Conference and the Sussex Thunder (8-1-1) won the Southern Conference. In the other semi-final, the Saints thrashed the Sussex Thunder 33-0 to set up an eagerly awaited match-up with the Trojans. In a see-saw final, West Coast took a 28-22 lead on the back of Scott McMenemy’s interception return for a score, but with 48 seconds to go the Saints RB Chris Taylor (who rushed for 231 yards from 37 carries and 2 TDs) barreled his way in to tie the scores, and Newman sealed the championship for the Saints with the P
The Personal Assurance Knights embarked on a trip to Las Vegas to take on Team USA, and put in a cracking display in a 15-3 defeat at the Sam Boyd Stadium.
Photo by Paul Campbell
The Knights were also BAFA’s representatives in the EFAF Cup courtesy of their runner-up spot in last year’s Division One final. In their group matches they faced Norwegian opposition home and away. In their opening match, they thrashed the Valerenga Trolls 60-20. They then travelled to Norway to take on their champion team, the Eidsvoll 1814’s and in a hard fought encounter they lost 19-7.
Onto the quarter-finals, and the Knights came unstuck against a superior Zurich Renegades side who dumped them out of the competition with by a 41-8 scoreline.
The Eurobowl was won for a third straight year by the Vienna Vikings who thrashed La Courneuve Flash 41-9, and the EFAF Cup was won by another Austrian side – the Graz Giants, who defeated the Eidsvoll 1814s 37-20 in front of 2,600 fans in the final.
Vienna v Hamburg in 2006 Eurobowl action
After the BAFL season ended, the Coventry Jets defeated Ireland in a friendly 35-8 in Coventry, as Ireland geared up for their EFAF European Championship Pool C campaign in 2007.
In Ireland, the league expanded again with the six established clubs being joined by the Dublin City University Saints and the North Dublin Marshals. Dublin Rebels won the league after an undefeated regular season, and went on to win a record fourth consecutive Shamrock Bowl with a convincing 44-12 win over the University of Limerick Vikings on the back of 3 TD’s passes from Andrew Dennehy.
Shamrock Bowl action
On the international front, the GB Lions senior kitted side did not play in 2006 as their next scheduled tournament will be the 2009 European Championships. France won the European Junior Championship in Stockholm with a 28-21 win over Germany to retain their title.
Great Britain hosted the prestigious Euroflag tournament for under 13’s and Under 15’s in Gateshead in September. The GB Lions Under 13’s finished second, and the Under 15’s finished a disappointing seventh place.
In senior flag football, the English Senior Flag League introduced an end of season finals day to determine their champion with the top four sides from the league season (Leicester Eagles, London Liberty, Chichester Sharks and The Barbarians) playing off for the title in December. It was the London Liberty who defeated The Barbarians in the final 40-18. The Scottish champs were the Kirkcaldy Bulls who won their league for a fourth straight year. BAFA also announced late in 2006 that they were setting in motion a series of steps that will lead to the formation of a single National Association for adult flag football. All Flag Football in Great Britain will now be coming under the BAFA umbrella subject to ratification by the respective leagues.
London Liberty - 2006 ESFL champs
In other finals in 2006, the Southampton Stags won College Bowl XX by a record 79-8 scoreline against the UT Cougars at Butts Park Arena in Coventry.
Southampton Stags - college champs in 2006
BYAFA Bowl XVIII was won by the London Warriors who defeated the Bristol Aztecs 20-14 in Overtime. Sussex Junior Thunder won the BYAFA Junior Kitted title with a 33-27 overtime win over Glasgow Tigers. The BYAFA Cadet flag champions were the Woodham Warriors ‘B’, the Junior Champions were the South Wales Rebellion who defeated the Sussex Thunder 32-24 and the Youth Flag champions were the Woodham Warriors ‘A’ who defeated the Sussex Thunder 33-13.
The Scottish Flag Football League held their finals day in September with the Glasgow Hornets lifting the Cadet Championship, while the Grangemouth Broncos and the Inverness Rockets lifting the Junior and Youth Championships respectively.
Review of 2007
Blitz win the big one
Knights promoted back to the elite
Bristol take their first College Bowl
BAFA launch “Get Into Football”
The British American Football League expanded again with five new teams joining in 2007 - the Cornish Sharks, Shropshire Revolution, Lincolnshire Bombers and the Hull Hornets. The Lancashire Wolverines also made a welcome return to a league which saw 42 competing teams – the most since the 1996 season.
BAFL was restructured into 3 divisions, with the formation of an 8 team elite National Premier Division. This division featured last years Division One finalists, the London Olympians and the London Blitz. Other Premier teams included the Southern Sundevils, the Birmingham Bulls, the East Kilbride Pirates, the Gateshead Seantors, the Bristol Aztecs and last season’s Division 1A champions the Coventry Jets.
The Jets were promoted at the end of a successful 2006 season, and were holding a 25 game unbeaten run against British opposition. As a result, the Jets organization were as confident as any for the 2007 Premier Division crown. Early season results were more than promising as they blitzed their local rivals, the Birmingham Bulls 42-0 and then defeated the 2006 champions, the London Olympians 27-20 in a thriller at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena. London Blitz showed that they would be real contenders when they shut out the Olympians 26-0, and a late season 28-24 win over the Jets gave the Blitz no.1 ranking going into the playoffs. The Blitz win over the Jets also snapped the Jets 32 game winning run. Into the playoffs, and the Jets held off a determined Bristol Aztecs challenge in the semi-finals with a 13-6 win, whilst Blitz made it 3 wins out of 3 over the Olympians with a 23-10 win to set up a final vs the Jets.
In a tight affair, the London Blitz triumphed with a 14-6 win due to 2 TD passes from Stuart Franklin to Marcin Lai and Rod Bradley.
In BAFL 1, 12 teams were separated into a North and South conference. In the South, the Farnham Knights (relegated from the Premier in 2006) swept all before them with Kingsley Ejigou's 23 rushing TDs setting a club record as they made light work of their southern opponents in going 10-0. Ipswich Cardinals finished 8-2 and also made the semi-finals. In the North West Coast Trojans and Redditch Arrows were the early pacesetters, and both teams pulled away. In the battle for home field advantage, Redditch defeated the Trojans 16-8 early in the season, but the Trojans 28-26 victory later in the season gave them no.1 ranking in the North. Farnham destroyed the Arrows 49-14 in the semi-finals, and Ipswich travelled up to Scotland and came away with a 28-13 win over the Trojans to set up an all southern final, which the Knights won 47-7.
In an expanded Division Two, 22 sides took to the fields in highly competitive football. The Norwich Devils were the only Div.2 side to go unbeaten with a perfect 10-0 record. South Wales took the South West Conference with a 9-1 record and Dundee Hurricanes also went 9-1 taking the North. The final conference, the Central, was won by the Nottingham Caesars with a 8-2 record. Manchester Titans continued to improve posting a 7-2-1 record and snatching a playoff spot. Special mention to Brian Smallworth's rookie Cornish Sharks were not only played their first season in BAFL but also took a playoff spot with a 7-3 record. In the playoffs, the Devils ousted the Sharks 26-18, and they were joined in the semi-finals by the Titans, the Hurricanes and the South Wales Warriors. In the semis, Norwich continued their winning run with a 43-28 win over the Warriors, and the Dundee Hurricanes defeated the Titans 50-12. In the final, Norwich completed the perfect season with a 26-12 win over the Hurricanes.
Other notable Britball facts and figures for 2007:
- Coventry Jets run of 32 consecutive victories was ended, and their run placed them 3rd in the alltime list for consecutive wins
- Nick Copley ran for 384 yards for the Plymouth Admirals vs Andover Thrashers putting him third on the alltime list
- Kingsley Ejiogu (PA Knigths) became the first player in 4 years to run for more than 20 TDs in a season. His 23 TD’s placed him 14th on the alltime list
- Coventry Jets Marc Cohen’s 240 receiving yards vs East Kilbride placed him 9th on the alltime list
- Shropshire's Chris Howe’s 95 yard catch placed him 2nd on the alltime list
The Coventry Jets were also BAFA’s representatives in the EFAF Cup. In the opening game of the year they defeated the Madrid Bears 39-8 at home, setting themselves up for a knockout group match against the Austrians, Hohenems Blue Devils in Austria. In a hard fought encounter, the Blue Devils prevailed 34-19.
The Blue Devils made it in the EFAF Cup Final in the end where they lost 28-26 to fellow Austrians, the Graz Giants.
In the Eurobowl, Austria continued their recent domination of European competitions with the Vienna Vikings winning a record fourth straight Eurobowl with a 70-19 clubbing of the Marburg Mercenaries from Germany.
In Ireland, the league expanded again despite the North Dublin Marshals not taking part in 2007. The Belfast Trojans joined the league enabling a Northern conference to be established together with the Belfast Bulls and the Carrickfergus Knights. The Tallaght Outlaws were the other new team and took their place in the southern conference with UL Vikings and the Cork Admirals. The Central Conference was made up the 3 Dublin sides – the Rebels, the Dragons and the Saints. After a highly competitive regular season, the Bulls edged the North with a 4-3-1 record, the Rebels went 7-1 to win the Central and the Vikings went 7-1 to win the South. Onto the playoffs, and the wild card Cork Admirals defeated the Belfast Trojans 30-0 before they pulled off a sensational 8-6 in Dublin to dethrone the champion Rebels in the semi-finals. Meanwhile in western Ireland, the Limerick Vikings made short work of the Belfast Bulls with a 44-2 victory in the other semi-final. Onto Shamrock Bowl XXI in Limerick, and the Vikings won the bowl with a 22-14 win, only sealed in the 4th quarter when Seamus Hogan scored on a 5 yard run to put them clear.
2007 was also the year that the Irish national side were to take part in the 2007 European Championship Pool C in Austria. Alas, the national side pulled out of the competition that was won by Austria with a 41-8 win over Norway in the final. Austria, therefore, have been promoted to Pool B that will take place in 2008 in Italy.
With the eyes of Europe on Pool C, the GB Lions senior kitted side did not play in 2007 as their next scheduled tournament will be the 2009 European Pool A Championship in Finland. That said preparations for that tournament are well underway with a series of announcements in 2007. Steve “Duck” Collins was announced as the GB Lions defensive co-ordinator, a new GB Lions logo was released, Steve McCusker was announced as offensive line coach and Birmingham Bulls HC Brendan Cunnane joined the Lions defensive staff.
At the end of 2007, the GB management also announced an exciting friendly against Sweden away from home in April 2008 as part of their build up to the 2009 tournament.
The World Cup was held in Japan, following a series of continental qualifying tournaments. As hosts Japan qualified and they were joined by Korea, Sweden, France, Germany and USA. USA made it through as expected to the final where they edged Japan 23-20 in overtime.
In youth football, the year started with the traditional Under 19 youth kitted international between Scotland and England. In 2007, the encounter took place in Edinburgh which saw England run out 20-8 winners.
BYAFA Bowl XIX was won by the London Warriors for a second straight year with a 33-2 win over the Farnham Knights. Sussex Junior Thunder won the BYAFA Junior Kitted title again for the second straight year with a 52-34 win over in the Inverness Wildcats. The BYAFA Cadet flag champions were the London Lions, the Junior Champions were the Woodham Warriors who defeated the Sussex Thunder 48-18 and the Youth Flag champions were the Sussex Thunder who defeated the South Wales Rebellion 25-19 in OT.
The Woodham Warriors A won the NFL English Schools Flag championship with a 33-0 win over their ‘B’ team, and the Royal Buccaneers won 18-14 against St Johns Eagles in the Scottish final. Both Royal Academy Buccaneers and St Johns High Eagles travelled down to Woodham together for the UK finals, which saw the Warriors emerge as British champions with a 42-6 over the Buccaneers.
Woodham Warriors thus qualified for the European Schools finals in Germany where they finished third with group wins over Italy, Holland and Finland. Their third place finish earnt them a first trip for a British side to the NFL Flag Football World Championships that were held in New Orleans in August. They finished a credible 7th place in a tournament won by Canada.
The IFAF launched a new tournament - the World Junior Championships in the age category of Under 15. Played in September and hosted by the Netherlands, the USA won the final 46-40 against Japan. GB did not enter a side.
At the end of the BYAFA season, a joint BYAFA-BAFA statement was released which announced that BAFL would going forward manage the youth contact and non contact football in Great Britain.
“The BYAFA are delighted to confirm at an EGM at Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield the members present voted twenty-five for, none against and with three abstentions to a proposal recommended by the incumbent committee for the BAFL to manage operations for youth contact and non-contact football in Great Britain for the 2008 season and beyond.
The resulting vote will mean we now move into a transition period where the incumbent committee and the BAFL Board of Directors will work to amalgamate both contact and non-contact versions of the sport in Great Britain under the BAFL brand for all age groups.
On the topic of this amalgamation, BYAFA Chairman, Wendy Bamford, commented, “BYAFA recognise that this is a positive step forward in taking Youth Football to the next level, calling on a wide variety of different resources and skill sets that the BAFL have at their disposal. The move can be seen as a significant benchmark towards the BAFA Whole Sports Plan and the BYAFA look forward to a smooth and well ordered transition".
BAFL Chairman, Glen Schild, Added “The BAFL Board are delighted to have such a strong vote of confidence from the BYAFA membership – we look forward with anticipation to working with all the clubs in the future”.
At the closure of the EGM, the BYAFA membership thanked the current committee, Phil Cottier, Alan Wilson, Julia Chatwood, Dave Bamford and Wendy Bamford for their hard work and years of service.”
The Scottish Flag Football League held their finals day in September with the Inverness Buccaneers lifting the Cadet Championship, while the Glagow Tigers lifted both the Junior and Youth Championships.
39 teams took part in the 2006/2007 BCAFL season with the Essex Blades being the sole side to have an undfeeated regular season. The Blades were dumped out of the playoffs by eventual winners, the Bristol Bullets by an emphatic 43-6 scoreline. The Bristol Bullets won College Bowl XXI by a 31-14 scoreline over the Loughborough Aces.
Away from the college football, a very public dispute between the British American Football Association (BAFA) and the British Students American Football Association (BSAFA) emerged as BAFA announced that it was owed approximately £19,000 by the BSAFA. A statement from BAFA commented,
“In June, BSAFA made a proposal concerning debt repayments, but BAFA found that proposal to be grossly inadequate.
On legal advice, BAFA now regards the BSAFA organisation as financially insolvent, as it does not have a robust policy to trade out of its predicament. Consequently, BAFA has instructed its legal team to commence action to recover the outstanding debt against the BSAFA directors who racked up the debt and those who are failing to repay it.
Commenting on the subject, BAFA Chairman Gary Marshall stated, "It is with regret that this action must be taken. BAFA have exhausted all timely avenues of resolution in this matter with BSAFA". He added, "The BAFA Board of Directors must now reflect and decide whether there is a place for the BSAFA organisation, in its present form and structure, within the NGB in light of the information they have provided to us".
A subsequent statement suspended BSAFA, and the British American Football Association (BAFA) announced the launch of a new organising body for all university football. The British Universities American Football League (BUAFL) commenced its inaugural season in October 2007.
The GB Bulldogs did not play in 2007 due to the dispute between BSAFA and BAFA, though a “UK College Bulldogs” side did form and played the Oslo Vikings in Norway winning 42-8.
In senior flag football, 8 sides competed in the English Senior Flag League, which resulted in Team Voodoo from Andover winning the regular season league table. On a thrilling finals day, Chichester Sharks stunned the Leicester Eagles with a 33-25 semi-final win, and then defeated Team Voodoo in the final 31-29 to win their second English title.
The Scottish champs were the Kirkcaldy Bulls who won their league title for a fifth straight year with a 33-12 final victory over the Carluke Cobras.
BAFA had previously announced late in 2006 that they were setting in motion a series of steps that will lead to the formation of a single National Association for adult flag football. No further announcements were forthcoming until late into 2007, when the BAFL confirmed that a meeting with BAFL Directors and key stakeholders (including the President of the SFFA, Mark Fletcher and the Chairman of the ESFL Dr Neil Henderson) in the non-contact version of the sport (Flag Football) took place in Bristol to scope out the future of the sport for adults in Great Britain. In an ambitious statement, BAFL flag was was confirmed to the stakeholders as the BAFA appointed representative body to deliver the non-contact version of the sport (Flag Football) for adults and would consist of twelve conferences for a season that would commence in April 2008 and conclude in August 2008 with a finals in September 2008.
“The meeting was a great success” commented BAFL Chairman, Glen Schild “The BAFL would like to thank Dr Neil Henderson and Mark Fletcher for their positive contribution at the meeting – we look forward to an exciting inaugural season and National Championships in 2008”.
The England Senior Flag side played it’s British neighbours and came away with a perfect season beating Ireland, Scotland (26-25 and 26-20), Ireland (52-0) and Wales (19-18).
Italy hosted the European Senior Flag championships, and France again defended it’s title. Great Britain defeated Germany in the group stages 20-0, but fell to both Italy and Denmark. A 39-6 win over Spain gave them a 7th place finish.
In other British American Football news, the weekly newspaper "First Down" closed its doors with Issue No.1099 being the last ever which went on sale on Thursday July 5th. Editor Keith Webster wrote,
“Obviously, it has been a traumatic week in our office. I was on the team in May 1986 when we produced issue No.1 and will be turning out the lights when I leave next week after a 21-year run that has had highs and lows but has been a delight from start to finish. Issue No.1099 will be a thank you and goodbye issue and I hope you enjoy it but in the meantime, I simply wanted to write to say thank you for all the years you have been buying and contributing to First Down. I know some of you have been with us throughout those 21 years. You have my gratitude and respect, which makes it even harder to have to write this.”
Also in July, in further BAFA announcements, the BAFA removed the Scottish Gridiron Association from BAFA as part of their Corporate Governance Modernisation Programme. BAFA Chairman, Gary Marshall, commented, “The BAFA would like to thank the SGA and it’s members for its valuable support recent years”.
The NFL announced the sudden closure of NFL Europa with World Bowl XV being the last World Bowl to be held.
The NFL announced in early 2007 that a NFL regular season game would be held later in 2007 at Wembley Stadium. A first American Football game at the stadium since 19.. The two teams that would play in this historic game would be two of the more popular teams in the UK – the NY Giants and the Miami Dolphins. A crowd of almost 90,000 packed into the stadium, which saw the Giants run out 13-10 winners in typically english rainy conditions.
After the great success of the Dolphins/Giants NFL regular season game, the BAFL formally announced it plans to investigate the potential of professional or semi-professional competition here in Great Britain.
BAFL Chairman. Glen Schild, stated “This topic has been discussed informally by many within our sport over recent years. After the success of the recent game at Wembley, the BAFL are delighted to confirm that they will be formalising a working group to investigate the viability of a semi-professional/professional competition here in Great Britain”. Glen continued, “The working group will consist of BAFL Directors as well as invitees from British spectator sports, and key personnel from the British sporting landscape”.
Review of 2008
Coventry Jets take their first national title
Olympians pull out
Rookies win Division Two promotion
GB Lions defeat France
The British American Football League expanded again with five new teams joining in 2008 – the Tamworth Phoenix, Leicester Falcons, Bedfordshire Blue Raiders, Milton Keynes City Pathfinders, London Cobras. Two of these rookie teams would cover themselves in glory in 2008.
The 46 clubs registered for the 2008 season being the most senior clubs since the 1996 season. Four teams changed their names with the East Midland Saxons becoming the Peterborough Saxons, the Chiltern Cheetahs becoming the Watford Cheetahs, the Andover Thrashers turning into the Hampshire Thrashers and the Doncaster Mustangs becoming the South Yorkshire Mustangs.
BAFL continued their leagues with 3 divisions. The 8 team elite National Premier Division which was introduced in 2007 remained with the Southern Sundevils being replaced by last season’s Division 1A champions, the Farnham Knights. The league received a blow in March as the London Olympians announced that due to internal issues they may not be in a position to compete. This was confirmed in April when they formally withdrew for the 2008 season, but kept in training with the aim of returning in 2009.
The loss of the Olympians meant that the league had to consider the Premier Division make up for 2008 at very late notice. First of all the league confirmed that moving a team up from BAFL 1 was not a viable option at this stage as it would directly effect the schedules of no less than 23 different teams across all three tiers.
After considering the potential options the clubs agreed that each of the northern teams would drop one game from the schedule so that each team will now play an eight game regular season. This was considered to be the least intrusive option. East Kilbride's trip to Coventry on 4 May and Birmingham's trip to Gateshead on 8 June were withdrawn from the schedule.
Onto the season itself and the Coventry Jets bounced back from the disappointment of losing the 2007 Britbowl by posting a perfect 8-0 regular season record and conceding just 64 points along the way. Their true intentions were shown in May with a thumping 41-15 win over last years champions, the London Blitz. Their route to the perfect season also included 2 thrashings of their Midland rivals, the Birmingham Bulls, by 67-0 and 54-0 scorelines. Last years champs, the London Blitz came second with their only other defeat being against the Farnham Knights. The Knights, promoted from Division 1A, finished third with a 5-3 record and Bristol qualified for the semi-finals in 4th place.
In the playoffs, the Blitz won 28-15 against the Farnham Knights and the Jets won a real ding-dong of a game against the Bristol Aztecs 31-28.
Onto Britball XXII which featured one of the best British American Football finals of all-time. The Blitz led 25-14 at half-time, and still led 32-27 going into the final quarter. With just 4 ticks left in the game the Jets rookie kicker Fraser Houston kicked a 40 yard field goal to win BritBowl XXII for the Jets.
In BAFL1, the changes from 2007 were Dundee Hurricanes swapping places with the Chester Romans. Norwich were promoted from Division 2 with Colchester going the other way. Southern Sundevils dropped in to replace Farnham Knights. The standard of football in 2008 was highly competitive with very few games resulting in blow-outs. In the Northern Conference a three way battle emerged between the Redditch Arrows, Yorkshire Rams and Dundee Hurricanes for the title. Yorkshire defeated Redditch earlier in the season 13-7 at home, but crucial victories by the Arrows in July over both the Hurricanes (26-14 away) and the Rams (14-3 at home) enabled them to edge the division with a 7-2-1 record.
In the Southern Conference, a four way battle emerged between Sussex Thunder, Southern Sundevils, the Oxford Saints and the Kent Exiles. The Saints (4-5-1) chances were blown with two late season defeats to the Sundevils (6-28) and the Ipswich Cardinals (20-21), and the Exiles (6-4-0) lost two of their last three matches to condemn their chances – both 12-16 defeats to Ipswich and Sussex Thunder. The division was decided on the penultimate weekend of the season when the Thunder triumphed 20-7 at home against the Sundevils. Both teams advanced to the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals home teams prevailed as the Redditch Arrows won 30-22 against the Southern Sundevils and the Thunder defeated Yorkshire 23-16. In a thrilling final, the Thunder won promotion with a 20-18 victory.
In the BAFL2, the number of competing teams increased from 22 to 27 and a new Eastern Conference was created with rookie teams Bedfordshire Blue Raiders and Milton Keynes Pathfinders being joined by Watford, Cambridge and Peterborough.
The year also saw BAFL 2 South expand to three conferences (South East, South West and East) to accommodate the growth of new teams entering the sport.
The London Cobras dominated the regular season with the perfect regular season record scoring 382 points in the process and coneding just 9. The Nottingham Caesars also went undeated in the Central Conference with just a 12-12 tie with Tamworth blotting their copybook. South Wales Warriors (9-1) won the South West, with Merseyside Nighthawks (8-2) and the Cambridgeshire Cats (9-1) sowing up the North and East Conferences respectively.
In the playoffs, the Cobras rolled over the Cornish Sharks 42-3, and Tamworth caused a major surprise winning 12-0 away to the Nighthawks. The Phoenix proved that was no fluke by winning away at Nottingham in the semi-finals 16-10 to reach the Div.2 final in their rookie season. The Cobras stood in their way and asserted their dominance with a 30-6 victory. Both teams would be promoted at year end.
In Ireland, the Dublin Dragons dropped out and were replaced with the Rhinos in the Central Division. The Belfast Trojans improved on their 2007 performance and took the Northern Division. The Dublin Rebels and the UL Vikings retained their Conference titles to make the playoffs. Cork Admirals won the wild-card match with DCU Saints 34-2, and progressed to the semi-finals where they fell 19-12 to the Dublin Rebels. In the other semi-final, the UL Vikings were convincing 42-8 winners over the Belfast Trojans.
The IAFL announced that Shamrock Bowl XXII would be hosted in the city of Cork for the first time at the newly constructed CIT Stadium In that final, the UL Vikings won the Shamrock Bowl with a 14-12 win over the Rebels.
Cork Admirals won the inaugural DV-8s title with a 30-0 win over Dublin Rebels. The Celtic Classic V was played on the 28th June, and resulted in the traveling Midwestern Allstars winning 72-8 against the Dublin Rebels.
The Coventry Jets became Great Britain’s first representatives in Europe’s premier club competiton, Eurobowl, since 2001. In the group stages of the competition, the Jets were drawn at home to the Valencia Firebats whom they defeated 36-16 and then won 21-13 away to Oslo Vikings to secure their progress to the quarter-finals of the competition. There they faced the might of the Tyrolean Raiders where they put up a solid display in Austria before succumbing 49-20.
The Raiders went on to win the Eurobowl for the first time with a 28-24 win over the Vienna Vikings in an all-Austrian final. This was the 5th year in a row that an Austrian club side won Eurobowl. The Berlin Adler broke the Austrian dominance in the EFAF Cup with a 29-0 victory in the final against the Parma Panthers.
Off the pitch, and before the start of the season, BYAFA formally resigned as a member organisation from the BAFA, and effectively handed over the 'day-to-day' management of youth football business to the BAFL.
BAFL Chairman, Gary Marshall, commented, "The BYAFA has been a valuable member association of the BAFA for many years and have done an outstanding job delivering the sport of American Football for young persons in Great Britain". Gary concluded, "We would like to thank all those involved, past and present, for all their hard work over the years".
BAFL Bowl XX was won by the London Warriors for a third straight year with a 48-28 win over the Gateshead Senators. Clyde Valley Hawks won the BAFL Junior Kitted title with a 37-33 win over Glasgow Tigers.
In BAFL flag action, the BAFL Cadet flag champions were the Coventry Bears, the Junior Champions were the Woodham Warriors A who defeated the Glasgow Hornets 13-12 and the Youth Flag champions were also the Woodham Warriors A who defeated the South Wales Sharks 46-19.
BAFA had previously announced in late 2007 that BAFL Flag were the appointed representative body to deliver the non contact version of the sport for adults with both the ESFL and SFFA. The inaugural season kicked off in 2008 with an 8 team English Conference and a 10 team Scottish Conference. Leicester Eagles won the English Conference with a 12-2 record (tied with the Coventry Jets) and Kirkcaldy Bulls roared to a 16-0 perfect regular season. Carluke Cobras upset the Eagles in the semi-finals and met Kirkcaldy in the first BAFL National Championship game with the Bulls recording a 48-13 win.
The British Universities American Football League (BUAFL) commenced its inaugural season in October 2007 with 42 teams taking part - an increase of 3 from the previous year – Huddersfield Hawks, Bristol Barracuda and Durham Saints.
The first BUAFL title was won by the Southampton Stags after an imperious performance in the Doncaster snow. Their victory against the Staffordshire Stallions meant that they had achieved a perfect record for the season.
Following a very public dispute with BSAFA (of the former BAFA member association that represented university football) in 2007, BAFA announced the recovery of debt from the former officers of BSAFA. The full payment was received (out of court) including BAFA's court costs.
In international competition, the European Championship Pool B competition was due to take place in Italy but the competition was postponed after the Italian federation was declared bankrupt and successfully sued by Italy's National Olympic Committee, EFAF had no choice but to reschedule the event and ask for new candidates to host it. Austria subsequently won the right to host Pool B in 2009.
As a result the EFAF announced that the 2009 European Championships Pool A in Finland – at which, the Great Britain Lions team was to compete – would be moved to 2010.
In light of this announcement, BAFA confirmed the GB Lions would be participating in the 2010 Championships and Riq Ayub was subsequently appointed Head Coach.
BAFA also published it’s aims and goals for the GB Lions American Football teams and appointed BAFA Director, Jim Messenger, as Lead Director for the National Programme. BAFA also appointed Jon Tait as Head Coach for their Junior and Youth flag Lions teams.
Maintain Group A status in the 2010 European championships
Win the European championships in 2013
To develop current all-star activity to NP regional activity in 2009 and subsequent years
BAFA to lobby EFAF and IFAF to develop student international competitions
Deliver an NP regional game in 2008 and subsequent years
Deliver a GB Lions game in 2009 and subsequent years
BAFA to continue to lobby EFAF to amend rules to permit GB Lions to compete in the European Junior Championships without compromising British athlete’s welfare
Deliver an NP regional game in 2009 and subsequent years
Deliver NP regional activity in 2009 and subsequent years
To win the European championships in 2010
BAFA to lobby EFAF and IFAF to amend the rules to permit mixed-gender competition at local and international level
Deliver an NP regional game in 2009 and subsequent years
Deliver an NP regional game in 2009 and subsequent years
Review and consider delivering an NP regional game in 2010 and subsequent years to support Long Term Athlete Development
The projected GB Lions games against Sweden in April and then Denmark in August both hit the rocks due to the logistical difficulties of arranging international fixtures. In their place, BAFA announced that they would play the French national team in a challenge game on 15th November in Amiens.
BAFA National Programme Lead Director, Jim Messenger, said, "We are delighted to have confirmed this fixture with the FFFA. We hope this will be the first of a regular series of annual games against our close neighbours in France."
Under the floodlights of the National American Football Academy Stadium in Amiens, the Great Britain Lions pulled off a 13-6 victory over France. Gareth Dauley scored on a 4-yard TD run to tie the scores at 6-6, and Stuart Franklin’s winning 25 yard pass to WR Ian Jacquet made the score 13-6.
Great Britain Head Coach, Riq Ayub, said, "I am very honoured to be part of the achievement of this team. The players and staff have been a privilege to work with and it's their hard-work and dedication that has made this result possible. What we must do now is build on this achievement as we work towards the next European Championships in 2010."
BAFA National Programme Lead Director, Jim Messenger, said, "Head Coach, Riq Ayub, and his team have achieved amazing results with very limited resources. The dedication and resourcefulness of everyone has been outstanding. We are very lucky to have such skilled and committed volunteers. With the European championship just twenty months away, we will all be working hard to give the team the best opportunity to win in Frankfurt."
After playing a highly-successful game in London in 2007, the NFL announced it would return to the United Kingdom for a competitive game in 2008 as part of the league’s International Series of regular-season games.
“The game in London was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the entire 2007 season,” said NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodel. “The fan interest was tremendous. The passion they demonstrated for our sport that day continued throughout the season, as television viewership in the UK has grown by 40 percent since the game. We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the event from all involved – the teams, our sponsors and business partners and of course the fans themselves. We look forward to another spectacular event in 2008.”
The game chosen was New Orleans versus San Diego Chargers, and the Saints triumphed 37-32 in front of 83,226 fans at Wembley.
Five British players took part in the 2008 NFL season as part of the NFL International Player Practice Squad program. The five British players made up part of a total of 16 International players who participated in the program – which was now in its fifth year. In 2007 12 players were involved, including three Brits. The players selected were Jermaine Allen (New Orleans Saints), Jason Brisbane (San Diego Chargers), Marvin Allen (Pittsburgh Steelers – he had spells with the Steelers in 2006 and the Miami Dolphins in 2007), Aden Durde (Kansas City Chiefs – he was a member of the Carolina Panthers in 2005) and Shaun Smith (Carolina Panthers).