We’ve had a lot to mull over the past few weeks, with a lot of games between huge teams being played since our last instalment. It’s time to name some Heroes and Villains!
Newcastle Blackhawks and Sheffield Giants
Starting off with the marquee match up from the MEC, the Newcastle Blackhawks sent shockwaves around the league with their victory over the Sheffield Giants. The Giants (formerly the Sheffield Predators) have been the leading force in the conference for years, with international talent at almost every position. The Blackhawks did an incredible job of creating turnovers and giving their offence every opportunity to grind down the Giants vaunted defence.
The Giants earn our plaudits however for their efforts on the day, despite the tragic loss of Paul Oates. Paul was a respected figure around the sport in both the kitted and flag discipline. He had turned to flag only this season and had become a big part of the Giants squad both on and off the field. The Giants would have had every excuse to postpone this game-day, but admirably performed their hosting duties, and turned in a fine effort which we’re sure Paul would have been proud of. RIP #80.
The SWC provided most of the highlights from this past weekend, with the three division winners all taking part. First off, a much anticipated clash between the Hurricanes and Lions went the way of the Cardiff team, handing the Birmingham squad their first loss. Cardiff then took on the Northants Titans Blue and lost by virtue of a walk-off pick six by the Titans squad. The parity in the SWC is evident, and makes the southern playoffs exciting!
On this day, Drew Newiss went off, scoring 10 TDs in one games vs the Hereford Stampede. But he have confirmed reports that he dropped a sitter, and felt we had to bring that up. (Sorry Drew!)
The Hornets have featured almost exclusively at Villains this year, for forcing the great debate around running up the score to be brought up, and for not showing up in their blockbuster battle with the Rebels at Champions Bowl. We’ll throw some love their way this week however after they comfortably cemented their place atop the HNC (for now) with some dominant displays against the Oilcats and Broncos. In previous years, these three teams have been separated on the field by the slimmest of margins for the most part. The Hornets, coming off the back of a 9th place finish at Champions Bowl, put in their most complete performances of the season against the Oilcats and Broncos, and did so without their star signal-caller. Alan Young took over the play-calling while phenom Nicholas Farrell executed the game-plan to perfection. For their efforts with their backs against the wall, the Hornets earn some respect from us.
With the BAFA regular season winding down, we’ve seen a number of teams impressively make the playoffs. Some squads such as the Manchester Crows, Northants Phantoms, West Essex Showboats, Reading Lions, Sheffield Vipers, Dunbeth Dragons, Edinburgh Outlaws, London Rebels arguably did what was expected of them, sealing runners up positions in their respective divisions. Teams like the Leeds Samurai and the Coventry Cougars Mixed deserve further plaudits for making the playoffs in nail-biting fashion. Other squads such as the Clyde Comets and Exeter Falcons/Plymouth Buccaneers (Exeter wrapped up their season at 8-8, while the Buccs sit at 7-7 with two winnable games to play) haven’t quite sealed the deal but should do in the coming weeks.
Your division winners are mostly set, with the Newcastle Blackhawks, Sheffield Giants, Manchester Titans, Grangemouth Broncos, Glagsow Hornets, Aberdeen Oilcats, Cardiff Hurricanes, Birmingham Lions, Northants Titans Blue, Chichester Sharks, Baker Street Buttonhookers and Aylesbury Vale Spartans locking up their places.
No shows suck, and deprive teams of more football, so we’ll feature some teams who have unfortunately forfeited games the past few weeks. The Eagles pulled out of the last set of SWC fixtures. This might be it for one of the longest standings teams in the UK.
West Essex Showboats
The Showboats pulling out is puzzling, given that they have a playoff spot and a division title to chase. They’ve gifted the Spartans the SEC North title, but take nothing away from the Spartans, who’ve been fantastic all year.
Staying in the SEC, the Hackney Cougars have also pulled out of their remaining fixtures, meaning they’ll finish the season without a win.