The playoffs are upon us! After months of gruelling league action, we’re entering the business end of the season. Winners will advance, while the losers will go home. Before all that occurs, it’s time to name some Heroes and Villains!
The Stampede finally get back into the Heroes category after a bizarre midseason where they no-showed Big Bowl, lost a bunch of winnable games and looked to be running on fumes after being so excellent at the start of the year. They’ve gotten their act together, and made the playoffs by virtue of a stunning 1 point win over the Thunderducks. They resigned the excellent Exeter Falcons, Plymouth Buccaneers and Thunderducks to an early offseason, but all three teams can be proud of their successes. The Stampede have an intriguing tie against the Sharks now in the playoffs, which we preview here.
These two HNC West play-off bound outfits are Heroes for two different reasons. The Hornets get a mention here simply for taking care of business. They might have left it late, but they sealed their spot as top seed in the North, and ensured the playoffs would be coming to Glasgow. The Comets on the other hand had success both on and off their field. They provided their opponents with fantastic facilities, but also managed to do what was required of them to clinch a playoff berth in their first season. Like the Stampede, they added a dramatic flair as they defeated their division rival Carnegie Renegades by a single point.
More Football = Good
While a number of teams have had a long hiatus, that doesn’t mean to say they haven’t kept themselves busy!
Meanwhile, the Summer Series came to its finale before the Women’s teams turn their attention to the Opal Series. The hot favourite Coventry Cougars won the invitational tournament, putting up huge scores on the way to the silverware.
We’re also looking forward to the start of the Outlaw Flag League as those teams who just couldn’t fill their boots enough will take part in the invitational league. There’s too many teams to list, but we’ll have a lot of OFL news and previews in the coming weeks!
If you didn’t make the playoffs, fear not! The Warrington Revolution are hosting their inaugural V-Day Tournament to crown the “Best of the Rest”! You can find out more about the tournament by visiting their Facebook page, but we’re thrilled to see the initiative on show by the rookie outfit.
The same enterprise was exhibited by the Cynon Valley Celts and Swansea Hammerheads, who warmed up for their league duties with a series of friendlies. The Celts won the series 3-2, but with the scorelines ranging from offensive shootouts, to defensive stalemates, it looks as if both teams gave great accounts of themselves.
NuOla also announced they’re bringing back their post-season tournament in September! With a number of successfully run tournaments under their belt, we can’t wait to see what the plans are!
Birmingham Lions, Sheffield Vipers and Friends
The GB Lions organised a few friendlies to get themselves some much needed continuity ahead of the European Championships. The Lions, Vipers and a well-organised Scratch team answered the call, and gave the Lions some stern tests. Again, it’s great to see that, despite the point we’re at in the season, teams are still on the hunt for more football!
Don’t think we forgot about you Bedford! The Blackhawks had to pull out of their final league dates of the year, citing lack of players. The most ridiculous part of this story is that the Blackhawks pulled out at c. 7.30am, as the Chichester Sharks were seemingly already en route to the venue. Granted, this is the first time the Blackhawks have forfeited games, but it’s an alarming trend in the SEC in particular. The Sharks were then unfortunately left without a game on the day, but the Exeter Falcons emerged as heroes, as they turned up to give the Sharks a few friendlies.
This may well be the last we see of the Blackhawks, as they’ve also announced that they’ve withdrawn from the OFL, and they’re no longer in the pool for Flagging New Year 2018. We’ll have an announcement on their replacements for FNY soon…trust us, this news will be gold.
West Essex Showboats, apparently
In a surprising move, the West Essex Showboats will be calling it quits at the end of this season after forfeiting their last league games and making the playoffs. While their showdown with the Cardiff Hurricanes should be on their minds, they took to twitter to announce that they’d be removing themselves from league duties next season. Their reasons were lack of numbers, disenchantment with the league and lack of interest in football. Well that was bluntly put. Pointing out that most of their players have conflicting priorities now is fair enough, but there’s some irony around them being disillusioned with the league in general.
They also referred to themselves as “probably being the most disliked team in the UK”, which seems like a bit of a stretch. Since they enjoy this moniker, we’ve given them the distinction of being Villains one last time!
We’ve got the “European Championships” in Copenhagen soon… or Spain depending who your allegiance is with. Both are truncated versions of what should be a stellar tournament, however the continued complications between the factions are meaning some key nations are not around – including previous #2 of Europe, Austria.
It’s beyond frustrating that we can’t get a full-blown European Championship competition as there’s some blockbuster match-ups that we are missing out on. That’s never a good thing. It applies an asterisk next to any winners and devalues the tournaments as a whole. Let’s get this sorted sooner rather than later.