Another week is in the books, and we saw some great action, with the SEC Central joining in the fun of the 2017 season. We look back at the thrills and spills, and name some Heroes and Villains
High Profile Games Deliver
Too often in professional sports, we see games hyped up to the eyeballs, with promises of explosive contests and high drama. Unfortunately, this isn’t a guarantee, and sometimes we’re left wondering what all the fuss was about after a big Monday Night NFL game. This does not seem to be the case in the BAFA leagues however. These teams deliver, and we saw plenty of examples this past week. Let’s have a look at a few;
Broncos vs Oilcats – The two longstanding HNC rivals have had some classic match-ups in the past. A flurry of early scores for the Broncos made us worry that this game would be a laugher at 28-7. However, all credit to the Oilcats, who roared back in the second half. This set up a pulsating finish which entertained those in attendance.
Buttonhookers vs Rebels – The new kids on the block vs the reigning, defending, undisputed Britbowl Champions was always going to draw a lot of intrigue from around the league. The ‘Hookers had a roster as talented as the Rebels and the savvy to boot. Annoyingly, this game was delayed for a week so that we could all stuff our faces with chocolate eggs, but when Sunday rolled around, it was time for the popcorn to be brought out. A back and forth battle ensued, with two of the top QBs in the nation trading blows. In the end, a late score for the ‘Hookers gave them the 2 point win. We’d also like to note the football IQ of ‘Hookers QB Vince Machi, who on the proceeding XP attempt after taking the lead, decided just to throw the ball away so as not to risk the chance of a disastrous 2 point XP return. While many were confused at first (including the Buttonhookers receivers), once the reason became clear it had to be applauded.
Elsewhere, we saw excellent contests between the Dunbeth Dragons and Edinburgh Outlaws and the Carnegie Derby which both delivered. Let’s hope we see even more great games throughout the season!
Coventry Cougars Women
The Coventry Cougars are the only womens team to enter the mixed gender league this year, after being the team to beat in the Opal Series for years. Their opening game day showed signs of promise, as they put up 42 points in three contests, including a two score loss to the veteran Leicester Eagles squad. Their efforts in week two were commendable also, as they appear to have no issue scoring. A further 36 points against the Stampede and Northants Titans White was yet another impressive output. They’ve certainly turned up to compete in a strong SWC conference, and we’re looking forward to them chasing that elusive first victory.
Hereford took another huge step towards a high seeding in the Southern Playoffs, as they compounded their excellent win over the Hurricanes with a win over the Northants Titans Blue. They previously had our curiosity, but now they have our attention. We’ve got July 8th circled in our calendars. If the Stampede keep up their current form, a blockbuster contest against the Birmingham Lions could end up being for supremacy in the SWC.
They did this trick last year though, winning a bunch early and then tapering off. We hope they remain competitive to make the SWC exciting down to the final day. And because fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice etc. etc.
Victoria Park Panthers
Victoria Park have really been stuck with a bad division this year, as they have two of the top teams in the nation to contend with. Their magical 2016 season ended with a 4th overall finish, while at the competitive Flagging New Year tournament they finished third overall, beating a star studded Carluke Cobras side in the 3rd place playoff. Despite facing this uphill struggle, the Panthers put in two excellent performances against the ‘Hookers and Rebels. They would probably walk a lot of other divisions in the UK with ease. Instead, they’re unlikely to make the playoffs, and in turn unlikely to see the Premier Division next year.
All that being said, we’ve really not heard any grumblings from Camp Victoria Park. They’ve gotten on with their season preparations in a business-like manner, and that should be appreciated. Some teams might have kicked up a fuss given the situation, but the Panthers are intent on putting up a fight against the SEC.
The Mayhem/Ex-Pads Super-team
Well this just seems unfair. With Big Bowl a month away, the Mayhem have unfortunately had to withdraw, citing lack of players. This is not unusual for teams to pull out of a major tournament late in the day, and it’s just part of the game unfortunately. While we’re disappointed that the Mayhem are out, we’ve heard that they plan on combining their talent with the Ex-Pads ranks. The Ex-Pads already boasted a supremely talented roster and have reached the semi-finals of the tournament three times in four years. Now, with the addition of the athletic Mayhem receivers, Tariq Dag Khan will have an embarrassment of riches to pass to, but where does Bobby Black fit in?
Handbags in the HNC
In a bizarre play in Grangemouth, we saw Carnegie Steeler Peter Allison get into a bit of afterwards with Paisley Spartan Calum Dillon. From our correspondents, Peter found himself in the endzone for a TD. Calum didn’t seem pleased by this, and supposedly hauled down Peter’s shorts, and we’re making assumptions here, but we’re guessing he wasn’t trying to congratulate him on a fine play. After a bit of pushing, Peter aggressively threw the ball at Calum. After discussion, the Oilcats, who were refereeing, made the correct decision to eject both players from the game, and in theory, their following contests.
What we’re scratching our heads at, is the fact that Peter remained on the bench for the following game, but Calum somehow was allowed to take part in the Spartan’s next fixture. We’ve heard that the ejection was “under appeal”, but there’s some conditions that need to be met for that. You need to have video evidence that it was not a necessary ejection. Anyone who was there who can fill us in would be a godsend, because we’re still confused.
Poor Playing Surfaces
We’re not gonna name any names here, because a lot of teams are in different financial and geographical situations. It should be said though, that flag football is a sport that is becoming more and more popular, and with that popularity should come a responsibility to make the sport appear more professional and legitimate. Don’t get me wrong, its gotten a lot better in the past few years. I’ll use the Edinburgh Outlaws as an example. A few years ago you’d find your visit to the Scottish Capital spent in a public park trying to fit a field in where there isn’t potholes or dog dirt. Last Sunday however, the Outlaws pushed out the boat and booked a high quality facility, genuinely fit enough to host the Britbowl final. This effort does not go unnoticed, and the Outlaws should receive plaudits for their hosting effort this season.
However when you find yourself having to use cones to cover up holes in the middle of your playing field, you should maybe think about showing your visiting teams a little more respect and give them at the very least an adequate playing field. Injuries can happen because of this. Uneven surfaces are just the start, and if at the coin toss before a game you’re asking, “Should we take the downhill advantage in the first or second half?” then something is very, very wrong.
Again, we don’t know the ins and outs of why teams struggle to provide this. It might be a totally self sufficient team who pay for their tops, league registration and have no extra pennies in their pockets to shell out for a private facility. Every team is asked to host at least once, so it should really be no surprise. Let’s get this sorted folks, and give our sport the legitimacy it deserves.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know!