The football world turned its attention to Utrecht this weekend for King Bowl! With a number of nations represented, we decide to name some Heroes and Villains!
Hail to the King(s)
We want to extend our congratulations to the London Smoke for winning the men’s bracket of the tournament! They overcame some difficult opposition, including upsetting the much favoured Kaiserslauten Eagles en route to a comfortable final victory over the Mainz Legionaires. The Smoke are one of the more experienced tournament teams in Europe, and finally picked up a massive win in Utrecht!
We were pretty disappointed to see how few teams actually entered King Bowl. There was every intention to have a full field of teams, but eventually only 4 ended up making the trip, one of which consisted of Youth players from the Dominators program, as well as a number of ringers. The girls in attendance made the most of it however.
The Red Foxes were victorious after a fairly comfortable final game against the Dominators. However it was their semi-final game against the East Kilbride Pirates that had the crowds buzzing. This was an epic defensive showdown, which was a 2-0 game going into the final stages of the game after the Pirates got a safety early in the second half. The Red Foxes replied with a score to take the lead, a score which seemed to dislocate the finger of the receiver. The Pirates looked to have booked their place in the final with a score with less than a minute remaining, however in a cruel twist of fate, a wayward pass ricocheted off of a Pirate safety and into the waiting hands of a Red Foxes receiver who raced to the end zone.
The Pirates had previously defeated the Red Foxes twice in the tournament, but lost the one that mattered after an extraordinary battle. Both teams put their name on the European map after their exploits during the weekend.
The Dundelange Steelers had themselves a very positive first tournament. They’ve only been training together two months, and it was heart-warming to watch how the other teams in attendance supported the new kids on the block, including offering advice mid-game and sharing equipment.
At a tournament without a number of Europe’s big hitters, there was more time for some…extra-cirricular activities. The dances ranged from the Macarena to the Floss (so. much. flossing). Our favourite however goes to the celebratory dance of the Mainz Legionaires and Elecorns. We still have that catchy dance music in our head – and the Oilcats picked up the moves pretty quickly!
Ribs + Football = Good
The Dominators utilised their excellent local business links to provide the other teams in attendance with an excellent atmosphere and facilities. We could describe the layout in excruciating detail, but we’ll never forget those ribs. There’s nothing quite like getting off the field for the last time on defence just knowing that the BBQ was already churning out racks and racks of ribs to be feasted on!
It’s really cool to see some traditions shared at these tournaments, including teams sharing or gifting items to other squads. We saw the Wiesbaden Phantom All-Stars gift their newest set of signed flags, and the Niederschelden Miners gave their opponents a keg of beer as a token of respect! These are classy touches which will make you friends very quickly!
The Final that Never Was
Two teams are in the Villain category for disappointing us this weekend. The Glasgow Hornets have enjoyed a largely positive offseason, and we tipped them to go far in this tournament. They fell at the quarter-final stage after a heated battle with the Charleroi Coal Miners as the rain started to fall. The aforementioned Kaiserslauten Eagles found the going tough, and lost to the much-fresher London Smoke in the quarter finals. The Eagles are an immensely talented ensemble of players, but without much of a bench to turn to, the fatigue started to show. Both teams proceeded to drop their next placement games to the Stormers and Oilcats respectively.
The Hornets and Eagles finally squared off, with albeit much smaller stakes that they’d intended to be playing for. The Hornets won, but both teams will be ruing their missed opportunity to pick up a European tournament win.
Leave the Suncream at Home
If nothing else, you can usually bank on some good weather at football festivals of this nature. The prior weekend in Utrecht had been gloriously sunny, but the rain and wind decided to hit King Bowl. This didn’t mix well at all with the pitches, causing for Pitch 1 and 2 in particular to resemble more of a sandpit near midfield rather than a playable football field. We wouldn’t say it affected the quality of play, but we didn’t get a tan, and that’s never good.
Andenne Bears and United Athletes
Naming and shaming is fun. Both teams were late call-offs for the tournament, which is always a villainous act. The Bears were thankfully replaced at the last minute by the Bunnik Bandits, however the United Athletes’ cancellation was even later, leaving the teams in Group C with one less game to play. Booo.