The West Lothian Chargers have been on the go for a few years, but this season find themselves taking part in the affiliate process. Today we catch up with GM Neil Warren about the team’s history, their progress, and their hopes for the 2019 season!
Thanks for your time today Neil! The Chargers find themselves in the affiliate process this season – can you let us know how this is going?
The affiliation process started of slow for us, but in the last few months its started to pick up recruitment wise, as we have added in a few new players. We have played a few non-affiliation games this year, be it a gameday or joint sessions with other teams in the league, which me and the guys have found very beneficial, as majority of the team are rookies to Flag Football. It has helped us get prepared for when we play our affiliation games and helped our rookies see what is expected of them, not just playing but what goes on whilst not playing games.
You were slated to start this season in Division One, but unfortunately had to withdraw late – can we get some background on this decision?
This was a hard decision for us to make, but in the long run has paid off well. At the turn of the year a few of our players had to step back from flag for a while, due to personal reason, which is understandable, which left us with only 5 players and even if we did manage to recruit a few players, I felt it would of been unfair to shove the rookies into the deep-end and didn’t want their morale to suffer, with heavy defeats. Plus 1 other factor with the referee’s course, which I or 1 other player couldn’t make for personal reasons, so it pretty much sealed it for us!
How did the Chargers originally start?
The Chargers started back in June 2014, when Myself, f ormer player and friend Dave Charleston decided to start the team, with 1 of his friends from his current job at the time, who’s company sponsored us in the 1st year of existence. His company fitted astroturf into peoples gardens, hence why we were called the “Astros” to start with! We were surprised at how many people came to our sessions to start with and the rest you can say is history!
What’s the story behind the team name?
The West Lothian Chargers were originally a semi-kitted team back in the 90s, as the sport started to take off in Scotland, with the Scottish Claymores starting in 1995. We changed the name to the Chargers at the end of the 2015 season, which we thought would help bring some of the original Chargers out of the woodwork, to relive some of their glory days, we had 2 former Chargers players and 1 coach in the 2015 season. Coach Billy Drummond, who had been on the Scottish American Football scene for a long-time, helped coach a lot of the new players to the game and we still thank him to this day for all the work he put in and 1 day we might convince to come back….hopefully!
How do you feel about the need for new teams to complete an affiliate process?
I think the flag game has needed this, as for a long time especially down in England. As new teams were being formed as quick as they were being folded without any word from the people who started them! This will hopefully give the game of Flag Football some credibility in the Britball community, as it gets mocked for various reasons which are rubbish! It will hopefully help with the quality of teams coming in to the league and will hopefully eliminate some of those 100-0 scorelines which we have seen in the past!
The Chargers found themselves in the playoffs a few years back after an impressive season in the league. Has it been difficult to essentially start over?
Was very difficult to start with, as the community knows, I spent the last half of 2016 and start of 2017 fighting cancer! The guys tried their utmost best to keep the team going for 2017 but it wasn’t to be. Guys such as Brandon Lynch and Robbie Menzies spent a lot of their free time, trying to re-build the team for me whilst I was recovering and they are the main reason the team is still going today and I thank them so much from the bottom of my heart….sorry I have something in my eye lol!
Have you had many fixtures? If so, how have you found the standard of team you’ve been facing?
We have played a few fixtures this year against various teams. We started the year with games against the Grangemouth Colts, who were a real good test to see where our rookies were, development wise and beat us 27-20 (I think) and then played the Broncos, as you can kinda guess this was a 1 way road and were beat comfortably 56-6, but we had some stand out plays from our rookies and a lot of positives to take from both games. We have played Carnegie as well and they are very impressive this year and as I predicted at the start of the year, they steam-rolled us, like they have done to few teams in Scotland and Europe! That same day we played the Silvercats and we held our own against them as they beat us 49-14, but again we took the positives from those games and worked on the things we hadn’t done so well! We also had a joint session with the Glasgow Hornets and Killerbees. The team really enjoyed the session and quoted saying, the learned a lot from the coaches and can see why they have 1 of the best flag programmes in Britain! We played the Killerbees and felt we matched them for the whole game, we lost 20-7 but shut them out the 2nd half the game. So I feel we have played against the best teams in DIV 1 and we have learned lots and feel if we get in next year, we will be very competitive and run teams close and hopefully get some Ws on the board!
What do you feel are your team’s strengths?
We have a very young team, not including myself of course lol and a lot of the rookies have came from other sports so they are an athletic group of guys, who have a lot of enthusiasm to learn and get better. Our defense is probably the main strength of our team, with a fast blitz and guys who are pretty sound in the basics of coverage. Not slating our offense 1 bit as its starting to pick up steam and have few standout receivers, who are eager to show of their stuff in the league next year!
Do you have any players we should look out for?
You of course know Brandon Lynch, still young, fast and agile and can play almost everywhere on the field. He will be the face of the franchise as has stepped up to QB this year! Rookie Corrie Russell, very fast and has been causing QBs a lot of hassle with his blitzing ability and has got better with every game he has played and is very athletic too and has shown himself to be a good receiver when needed, with some tough catches! Another rookie, Gregor Rule. Transferred his skills from rugby to flag football and has made a fast transition to the game. He has been a very good Wide Receiver for us and has made so many good and tough catches, against some good opposition, his 1st touchdowns came against both Grangemouth teams, including a few very good catches against the Broncos! He might not be as fast as the others, but makes up for that with good route running and some nifty footwork, 1 for the future!
Do you plan on entering any tournaments for additional game-time?
We are planning to be part of Carnegie’s winter league this year and after that who knows! But if anyone want us to be part of any tournaments they are hosting, give us a shout and we will try our best to make them, planning a few more joint sessions this year to help as well! A lot of the guys have said, they seen photos and videos from Big Bowl, so we might be planning a wee jaunt to Germany next year!
What are your goals for the remainder of the year?
Get accepted for league play next year obviously, recruit a few more players and try to get that 1st win since 2016!
Do you have anywhere that people can find you?