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Heroes & Villains – The South Rises Again

 

In a relatively light week of flag football in the UK, there were some performances and incidents that we would do well to remember, and others we should do our best to forget. The SWC and SEC have the majority of our attention however. Roll up, roll up, it’s time to name some Heroes and Villains.

Aylesbury Vale Spartans Defence

Against the upstart Ware Wolves, the Spartans looked to be in trouble at half time. They found themselves on the wrong end of a 26-7 scoreline at half time. However, they rallied behind star safety Sean Martin, who went all Super Saiyan and grabbed three interceptions in one half to turn the game on its head.  The Spartans won 31-26 in a stirring performance.

Extra Point Plays

Every team has one, or at least, should have one. Or two, if you prefer. Extra points are an extremely underrated part of the game. Ask Nick Bertenshaw, I’m sure he’ll credit that go-to play and for the West Essex’s gut-check victory over the talented Aylesbury Vale Spartans. Still don’t believe us? Ask Matthew Thomas, who probably wishes his team could have converted the Hurricane’s valuable point after tries against the Hereford Stampede to give his team a valuable tie to cap off an excellent comeback. Instead, the Hurricanes dropped a valuable game to the Stampede.

In the SEC South also, the Reading Knights will be ruing their missed opportunities against the Chichester Sharks. In a crazy comeback, Neil Henderson used all his experience to continue to add those valuable extra points in the second half, as his team roared back from 20-0 down to win 34-32. The Knights just couldn’t convert from the 5 to keep pace as the Sharks scored a flurry of TDs. XP converters, we salute you this week.

Reiss Muckley, West Essex Showboats

Speaking of the Showboats, this is a name the Bedford Blackhawks won’t forget. Reiss had 9, yes, 9 sacks against the ‘Hawks. He chipped in a few TFL’s as well. This was a dominant display which deserves recognition.

Reiss Muckley

James Woodward, Ware Wolves

James earns a nod from us this week for his move to the Ware Wolves in the offseason. Toiling behind the incumbent Nick Bertenshaw, James realised that he needed more playing time in order to improve his chances at pushing for a GB Lion position. So, James took his blockbuster arm to the Ware Wolves, who we’re sure welcomed him with open arms. Not only is this impressive initiative on the part of James, but also makes things extra spicy in the SEC North as the season wears on.

Hereford Stampede & Merthyr Tydfil Thunderducks

Finally, both of these teams started their 2017 campaigns, and both arrived with a bang. Hereford looked pretty set for the playoffs before a ball was snapped, especially with the Thunderducks no show on the first game day (we still feel bad for Dylan..). But the Thunderducks had a different plan and secured a slightly surprising 22-21 victory over the Stampede in their match-up. This makes the race for the playoffs in the SWC South very interesting.

The intrigue did not end there. The Hereford Stampede had just given themselves an uphill task, having dropped a game to a division rival in heartbreaking fashion. But they rallied in the best possible way. A flawless showing against the Falcons put the Stampede in the win column, but they followed that up with an explosive victory over the Cardiff Hurricanes. The Hurricanes had just come off a 53-0 mauling of the Thunderducks, so they looked primed to continue their fine form. A fine Stampede showing gave the rest of the league something to think about as they ran out 28-26 victors. This division looks very tasty, with no teams undefeated after only two game-days. We can’t wait to see how this unfolds.

Reading Lions

We’ll get this out the way first. The Lions annoyingly did not make the first game day of the season in the SEC South. We’re hearing unconfirmed rumours that these fixtures might get played after all at a later date, but that remains to be seen. Hopefully they do, as the SEC South playoff race looked like an exciting one between the Lions and Chichester Sharks.

IFAF (the bad one)

In news which is a surprise to nobody, the Czech Federation has cancelled their hosting duties for the European Championships to be held in their great nation later this year. They’ve blamed this on a myriad of factors, including the cancellation of the 2015 edition of the tournament and feeling caught in the middle of the IFAF New York and IFAF Paris debacle. We hope this mess gets sorted out, but it looks a long way off.

Pockets

It was a weird rule when first introduced, as the league decided for safety reasons, shorts worn must be pocketless. I recall pocketless shorts being hard to source in your typical high street shop, so it became a bit of pain, but in an unfortunate accident in Glasgow, we saw why this rule is enforced. HNC Chieftains centre Callum Bell suffered a fairly serious fracture and will be side-lined for up to two months. Callum is an important part of the Hornets potent offence, and he’ll be missed. This is a keen reminder for everyone in the flag football community as to why some rules are adopted.

The Easter Bunny

While the majority of the league are looking forward to their second game week this weekend, we’ve had to contain our excitement for the SEC Central to kick off. The defending champion London Rebels kick off their bid to retain their championship with an opening day tussle against the Baker Street Buttonhookers. If this was a televised matchup, it would draw a lot of eyes as the Buttonhookers are arguably the most intriguing debuting team to enter the BAFA leagues, well, ever, we think. They’re a well disciplined, talented crew who have impressive finishes at a number of international tournaments, including a first place finish over the German champion Walldorf Wanders at Flagging New Year. Rebel Kenny Bello was part of the Wanderers lineup that day, and will be looking to inflict a little revenge on the ‘Hookers. The Victoria Park Panthers will also look to continue their form shown at Flagging New Year, where they finished third over a number of international heavyweights.

Did we miss anyone? Let us know!

 

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