2005 GB Lions

GB Lions 6-21 Centre College, 28th May 2005

After the elation of promotion in 2004, the National Programme put together a number of spring camps to put the Lions through their paces in preparation for a tough Pool A schedule in the summer of 2005 in Malmo, Sweden. As number 4 seeds, the GB Lions were drawn to face the number 1 seeds, Germany, in the semi-final. Riq Ayub, voted European All-star Coach, still had his feet planted firmly on the ground,

"Going from 7th or 8th in Europe to number four was a colossal achievement and we showed that we had an inner fire, a character of steel to excel. Nor will I forget what it took to instil this by the coaches and the special feeling of high energy and motivation we had but the journey has only just begun and the road ahead will be long and challenging one. We have to implement the lessons learnt from the last tournament and if every player does as the forty in France did then why not". In April, the Lions announced an 81 man roster for the first full camp to be held on 23rd and 24th April at Crystal Palace NSC. The roster includes 6 NFLE players and a good mix of players from over 20 other clubs.

GB Lions 2005 Spring Camp roster

QB. David Drane (Cologne Falcons), Graham Lightfoot (Doncaster Mustangs), Peter Rogers (Gateshead Senators), Stuart Franklin (London Olympians), Ashley Heath (Farnham Knights)
RB. Chris Taylor (Bristol Aztecs), Kingsley Ejiogu, Marc Saunders (both Farnham Knights), Lee Taylor (Nottingham Outlaws), Phil McGrath (Lancashire Wolverines), Stewart Muir (Kent Exiles), Anthony Perkins, Steve Coles (both Coventry Jets)
TE. Phillip Scales (Cologne Falcons), Adam Newman (Oxford Saints), Thomas Jenkins (Southern Sundevils)
WR. David Winters (Birmingham Bulls), Mark Cohen (Coventry Jets), Mark Squire (East Kilbride Pirates), Joe Black (Lancashire Wolverines), Duncan Aldous (London Blitz), Rodney Edgerton (Farnham Knights), Andrew Boyle, Tam Byrne, Clive Palumbo, Junior Price, Jeremy Sims (all London Olympians), Marvin Allen (NFLE/London Olympians)
OL. Steve Hopkins, Pete Jones, Charlie Wilson (all Bristol Aztecs), David Carpenter, Gavin Collins, Peter 
Fields, Kevin Keohane, Mark Lockwood (all Farnham Knights), Robert Beveridge (Clyde Valley Hawks), Nick Crowe (London Olympians), Adrian Samuel, Matthew Meyer (both London Olympians/ UH Hurricanes), Kester Longhurst, Thomas Palmer (both Sussex Thunder)
DL. Matt Barrett, Paul Summers (both Birmingham Bulls), Sean Hopkins (Bristol Aztecs), Paul Evans, Marco Fasulo, Lawrence Reid, Gary Thomas (all London Olympians), Daniel Watts (NFLE/London Olympians), Saul Freer (Coventry Jets), Brian Long (Doncaster Mustangs), Shaun Smith (NFLE/Southern Sundevils), Steve Harrison, Richard Rochester, Liam Smith (all Farnham Knights), Ben Tucker (South Wales Warriors)
LB. Brendon Cunnane (Birmingham Bulls), Jason Brisbane (London Blitz), Gary Clark, Lee Collins (both Clyde Valley Hawks), Aden Durde (NFLE/London Olympians), Aaron Alexis, Damian Anderson, Tim Newton, Jay Taylor (all London Olympians), Paul Newey (Coventry Jets), Dale Powell (Southern Sundevils), Craig McDonnell Craig, Craig Pennington (both Lancashire Wolverines)
DB. James Brazier (Berlin Adler), Jeff Brown Jeff (NFLE/Chiltern Cheetahs), Wes Roach, Scott Rowe (both London Olympians), Onoh Ozongwu (NFLE/London Olympians), Mike Dunson, Neil Edwards, Simon Kockelbergh (all Farnham Knights), James Kilby, Adam Biggs (both Coventry Jets), Lennox Johnson (London Blitz)

The National Programme organized a game with the NCAA Division Three college team, Centre College, from Kentucky in May that they played at Crystal Palace NSC.

"It is obvious that this team is heaped with pedigree and tradition and we are extremely pleased that we will have the opportunity to play them on home soil," said Riq Ayub. 

28th May 2005 – GB Lions 6-21 Centre College, Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, London

Centre concluded its spring season with a 21-6 win in an exhibition game against the Great Britain Lions, at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London. Centre's defense limited the Lions to only 134 total yards and did not allow an offensive score. Great Britain's lone score came off a 32-yard interception return from Jason Brisbane midway through the fourth quarter. 

"We played well for three quarters, but lost our intensity in the fourth quarter," Centre coach Andy Frye said. Defensively, I was impressed with our intensity. There were numerous opportunities for the national team, but we were able to keep them out of the end zone." 

Photo by Adam Blandford

The Colonels used two touchdowns in the first quarter to take an early 14-0 lead. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Phelps scored on a 1-yard run and then connected on a 15-yard pass to sophomore receiver Zach Brooks for the second score of the period. 

Freshman Paul Boccieri caught a 9-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Jordan Tinnell in the second quarter to give the Colonels a 21-0 lead at the half. 

"I was impressed with their size up front," Frye said. "They were definitely the largest, most developed team we have played.They had good skill and good speed." 

Centre gained 127 yards on the ground and 145 through the air for 272 total yards of offense. Junior running back Adam Blandford carried the ball 12 times for 86 yards and also caught two passes for 11 yards. Phelps led four quarterbacks completing 10 of his 14 pass attempts for 87 yards. Tinnell finished the game four of five for 43 yards. 

Freshman running back B.J. Wright led the Colonels with three receptions for 16 yards. Junior receivers Lou Brenner and Michael Swartzentruber had two catches each. Brenner gained 26 yards while Swartzentruber had 24 yards. Brooks also caught two passes for 19 yards, including the 15-yard touchdown. 

Three Centre defenders recorded three tackles each, including junior defensive back Taylor Holland sophomore linebacker Aaron Evans and freshman defensive back John Perin. Freshman defensive back Tyler Boron had an interception for Centre. 

Frye was also pleased with the Colonels' special teams play. 

"Our special teams performed well. Our kickoff team did a great job on coverage and our punt team performed well under pressure," Frye said. 

Approximately 60 players, including freshmen, sophomores and juniors travelled overseas for the contest after taking part in 10 spring practices. 

On the eve of the European Championships, Head Coach Riq Ayub was critical of the tournament format. Following the game against Germany on July, 28th, the Lions will have only one day rest before they have to play again, 'I am a firm believer that players should have a minimum of two days rest between games for health and safety reasons. I am surprised that that the organisers did not note the amount of injuries picked up with only one days rest in the last tournament’.

GB Lions - 2005 European Championships

28th July 2005 – Germany 34-0 Great Britain, Malmo, European Championship Pool A Semi-Final

A hat-trick of running TD’s in the second half of this matchup between the great European rivals was the difference in this one sided semi-final. On the opening drive of the match, after holding the Germans and forcing them to punt a holding penalty led the Germany continuing their drive and scoring on a 12 yard pass from Joachim Ullrich to Markus Schöpf. Biedenkapp’s PAT was good and Germany led 7-0. Starting on their own 27 yard line, Lions came out with 4 WR’s, but after just 3 yards were forced to punt. Accurate passing from Ullrich enabled Germany to move the ball to the Lions 17. A good stand by the Lions team forced Germany into a 34 yard field goal which was missed wide and left.

On the Lions next drive, Drane completed 2 passes for 4 yards each to Palumbo, and the Lions faced 4th and 2 from their own 28. Coach Ayub went for it, but Cohen made no gain giving the Germans the ball in excellent field position. 6 plays later and Ulrich hit Schöpf for their second TD, and with the PAT Germany led 14-0.

QB Drane led an excellent drive next up. From their own 35, a 15 yard pass to Bryne for a first down, and then 28 yards to Cohen took the ball to the Germans 22. Two more passes to Cohen for 14 and 13 yards moved the ball to Germany’s 5 yard line, but 3 incomplete passes led to 4th and goal from the 10 after a penalty. Coach Ayub went for it again, but Drane threw another incomplete pass and the Germans were off the hook. As the clock wound down to the end of the first half, Germany tried to add some more points to the board, but Biedenhapp’s 47 yard field was short. 14-0 to Germany at half time.

The Lions started the 2nd half in confident fashion with Campbell moving the ball to Germany’s 37, but two penalties later and the Lions were forced to punt. Germany then moved the ball 86 yards on just 6 plays ending with Poschmann’s 14 yard run to put the Germans 21-0 up. The Lions couldn’t get things going, and after a sack on Drane, the Lions went for it on 4thdown again from Germany’s 43, but Drane’s pass to Cohen was incomplete. Germany took over but were forced to punt after some good pass defense from Brazier, Pennington and Roach.

The Lions had a 9 play drive next, but were forced to punt. Cohen’s 37 punt was returned 38 yards by Duft and just 3 plays later Poschmann ran in from 26 yards to put Germany 28-0 up. After 3 more incompletions, Cohen punted again, and with Germany running out the clock, Poschmann ran in for his third TD from 21 yards.

Germany gained 447 yards of offense against GB’s 143. Kofi Campbell led the way for the Lions with 62 yards from 10 carries. Drane completed 9 of 27 for 107 yards. Cohen 5 catches for 71 yards. Long led the D with 5 tackles. For Germany, Joachim Ullrich was 18 of 21 for 160 yards and 2 TDs, and Poschmann gained 122 yards on just 14 carries and carried off the MVP award. The loss moved GB into a bronze medal playoff with Finland (who lost to Sweden in the other semi-final).

For statistics of the game click here

30th July 2005 – Finland 34-12 Great Britain, Malmo, European Championship Pool A Bronze Medal match

After a wet morning in Malmo, the rain stopped an hour before kickoff in this crucial match. The last time the Brits took on the Finns, Finland had run out 34-9 winners in Helsinki in 2000.

After forcing Finland to punt, Marc Cohen made Britball history by walking out onto the field for a record 12th cap for the Lions beating the record of 11 held by Colin Nash. An unsuccessful drive followed, and Cohen punted with Finland taking over on their own 37 yard line. Good tackling by Rowe, Roach and Hackshaw led to Finland having a 4th and 1 from the Lions 36 yard line, and on 4th down Paukkula ran for 19 yards and the first down. Five plays later and Paukkula ran over left guard from 3 yards out to put Finland 7-0 up. On their next drive, the Lions started at their 20. Drane completed passes of 12 yards (Simms) and 16 yards (Palumbo), and was backed up by some good running from Campbell. At 4th and 1 from Finland’s 38 yard line, Brian Long went for it, but was stopped for no gain. On Finland’s next play Paukkula ran for 46 yards to the Lions 23, and after a roughing the passer penalty by Powell Finland completed an 8 yard pass for a TD to put them 14-0 up.

The Lions struck straight back though, with a scrambling Drane hitting Palumbo for 67 yards on their next offensive possession. Aldous’s PAT was missed and the Lions trailed 14-6. Finland extended their lead to 20-6 on their next drive, when Penkki completed a 48 yard fly pass to Palikainen. The Lions got things going on their next drive with Drane’s 27 yard screen to Campbell, and then his own 19 yard, but two penalties cost them and they were forced to punt. With three minutes left in the half, Finland put the game out of the Lions reach with a 4th TD of the half, on Penkki’s 5 yard pass to Myohanen. This put Finland 27-6 up at half-time.

RB Kofi Campbell. Photo by Andreas Gebek

With the Brits struggling to move the ball on the ground, Drane came out passing in the second half, but on their next possession he was picked off at Finland’s 30. The teams traded punts with Glasgow’s Ryan Hunter performing well on defense in particular. Finland stretched their lead to 34-6 though on a 9 play 77 yard drive culminating in Paukkula’s 5 yard run up the middle. Drane continued the passing theme on the Lions next drive with 3 passes to Palumbo, 2 to Campbell and one each to Simms and Cohen as the Lions drove down to Finland’s 9, but on 4thdown, Drane was sacked and the ball was turned over on downs.

After a Finland punt, GB got the ball in excellent field position at Finland’s 31 yard line after a 14 yard return by Simms and aided by a personal foul penalty. Drane was intercepted by Winqvist who subsequently fumbled and was recovered by Drane. After a 9 yard pass to Palumbo, Campbell made no mistake from 13 yards out as he ran over right tackle to make the score 34-12 with 4 minutes left in the half.

That was the end of the scoring. On the statistics front QB David Drane threw for 270 yards, with MVP Clive Palumbo catching 8 passes for 141 yards. Finland outgained GB 428 yards to 311. Paukkula ran for 138 yards and 2 TDs on just 18 carries.

For statistics of this game click here

GB Squad for 2005 European Championships

QB David Drane (London Olympians), Neil Canning (Birmingham Bulls)
RB Kofi Campbell (Birmingham Bulls), Stewart Muir (Kent Exiles), Steve Coles (Coventry Jets), Marc Saunders (PA Knights), Chris Taylor (Bristol Aztecs)
WR Mark Squire (West Coast Trojans), Mark Cohen (Coventry Jets), Jeremy Simms, Clive Palumbo, Tam Bryne (all London Olympians), Joe Black (Birmingham Bulls), Duncan Aldous (London Blitz), Rodney Egerton (Farnham Knights)
TE Adam Newman (Oxford Saints), Philip Scales (Cologne Falcons)
OL David Carpenter, Mark Lockwood, Kevin Keohane (all Farnham Knights), Peter Jones, Rob Hardy, Steve Hopkins, Charlie Wilson (both Bristol Aztecs), Matthew.Meyer (London Olympians/Hertfordshire Hurricanes), Rab Beveridge (Clyde Valley Hawks)
DL Bernie Hackshaw, Saul Freer (Coventry Jets), Brian Long (Doncaster Mustangs), Peter Fields, Gavin Collins (Farnham Knights), Sean Hopkins (Bristol Aztecs), ,
LB Paul Newey (Coventry Jets), Brendan Cunnane (Birmingham Bulls), Craig Pennington, Craig McDowell (both ASAP Yorkshire Rams), Dale Powell (Southern Sundevils), Ryan Hunter (Glasgow Tigers), Tom Proctor (Bristol Aztecs)
DB James Brazier (Berlin Adler), Wes Roach, Scott Rowe (both London Olympians), Ahmed Hashim (Birmingham Bulls), Simon Kockelbergh (Farnham Knights), Dale Smart (Sussex Thunder)
K Duncan Aldous (London Blitz)
P Mark Cohen (Coventry Jets)

The European Championship final was won by Sweden, who overcame an early 7-0 deficit, to beat Germany 16 - 7. Despite early fears that GB would be relegated back to Pool B, EFAF announced on their website that the Lions would be playing in Pool A again when it is played again in 2009. 

Photos of the 2005 European Championships click on the links below

Photo gallery from Andreas Gebek


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