A return to the field is imminent and come the end of June I hope everyone reading this will either be playing, participating or watching from the sideline as the BAFA 2021 regionalised season gets underway. Our season preview podcast is below whilst you scroll through the article!
We’ll do our best each week to give you the fixtures, results and interviews with teams up and down the UK.
It remains to be seen how the season plays out and it wont all be plain sailing. Hopefully we can: A) get a full season and B) have as few casualties as possible from a team perspective.
Below are all the one off divisions for 2021 with a small paragraph on some of the intrigue in those divisions. We also have predictions from Jason Bowdler, from the UK American Football Scene Facebook group
First we start north of the border. Whilst on paper the arrangement of teams makes a bit of sense, logistically it does not.
Aberdeen will be making long trips away to the South West of Scotland and surely would have made a bit more sense going in with the teams in the Saltire division, swapping with Clyde Valley and/or Dumfries Hunters, relative stones throw away from East Kilbride/Glasgow.
With Edinburgh a 30 minute journey from Dunfermline, a composition of themselves, Dunfermline coupled with Highland Stags and Aberdeen Roughnecks probably made a bit more sense from a travel perspective. Clearly tier/talent levels took precedent in Scotland.
Nevertheless, The Caledonia division looks like an absolute belter north of the border with all teams probably fancying their chances with strong pre season practice sessions and a bit of momentum. The pick of the fixtures being that old Scottish derby of Edinburgh Wolves vs East Kilbride, two juggernauts in the game.
If you are a follower of a team in the Caledonia or Saltire divisions, you’ll have to wait until the 1st August for the first fixtures (Aberdeen vs Glasgow, Dunfermline vs Highland Stags).
Caledonia: Edinburgh 8-0, East Kilbride 4-2, Aberdeen 3-3, Inverclyde 1-5, Glasgow 1-5
Saltire: Clyde Valley 5-1, Dumfries 5-1, Dunfermline 2-4, Highland 0-6
Moving a tiny bit further south into the north(ish) of England. The Northumberland Vikings will be strong favourites to clean sweep this division filled with seemingly lower tiered opposition (dont forget you can find our podcast with HC Bryce Stevenson and the Team Caption over on YouTube here).
Note that the Carlisle Kestrels have since pulled out from the league and will have to go through the associate process in 2022. Morecambe Bay also look unlikely to be on the field in 2022 at the time of writing.
In the Rose divisions, Manchester Titans likely favourites for the red variety, but Merseyside, Halton and perhaps one or 2 others could upset the applecart. Eitherway, there should be some intriguing clashes. Worth noting that the Manchester Bees do not have any scheduled fixtuers.
For the White Rose, Yorkshire and Sheffield should be duelling for that particular crown with possibly Leeds in the lead for “best of the rest”. Yorkshire and Sheffield is the 1st fixture on the docket in the 1st Sunday of July sowell worth the visit if you are nearby. Doncaster, Knotttingly and Humber will have a nice little round robin to decided 3rd place as it looks on paper.
North Hadrians: Northumberland 8-0, Darlington 3-5, Gateshead 3-5, DC Presidents 2-6
Red Rose: Manchester 8-0, Merseyside 6-2, Lancashire 4-4, Chester 4-4, Halton 0-8, Leigh 0-4
White Rose: Sheffield 8-0, Yorkshire 6-2, Leeds 4-4, Doncaster 4-4, Humber 2-6, Knottingley 0-8
Moving further down in towards the Midlands, it will be interesting to watch the round robins of Sandwell/Tamworth/Leicester fixtures. Crewe will have a baptism of fire somewhat with all teams they have been grouped with and was certainly one of the eyebrow raisers.
Both Crewe and Sandwell are teams that we have committed to helping this year and you can watch our interview with Jason Smith and rookie WR Hus Roberts here on YouTube where we committed to sponsoring Hus for the year and you can catch our announcement regarding a partnership with the Steelers here. Those twoteams face off in matchday 1 on 4th July and then meet again 2 weeks later.We’ll catch up with those teams in due course.
The Central East division sees a lot of newly formed teams such as the Alphas, Knights and the Lightning do battle but the division title likely going to be a battle between the Bombers and the Caesers. They also face off in the 1st match in the division (4th July), which is the 1st of 3 meetings between the sides this season.
Mercia: Tamworth 8-0, Leicester 6-2, Sandwell 5-3, Shropshire 3-5, Staffordshire 2-6, Crewe 0-8
Central East: Nottingham 8-0, Lincolnshire 5-3, Northants 3-5, Scunthorpe 3-5, South Lincs 0-6
Of similar ilk to Scotland, these two sets of teams have probably been grouped in terms of levels of ability rather than location. It’ll be business as usual for the Warrios, Olympians, Blitz and Exiles as they will all know each other pretty well from yesterday whilst the Thames Valley division could be a decently competitive one with the Hornets and Cheetahs maybe having the edge if reverting to 2019 form. If there are any divisions to throw up any surprises, i’ll have my money on the Thames Valley division doing so.
London: Warriors 6-0, Blitz 3-3, Olympians 3-3, Kent 0-6
Thames Valley: Hertfordshire 7-1, Oxford 5-3, Wembley 4-4, London Hornets 4-4, Blitz B 0-8
South and East
Whilst the teams in the South division make sense and should throw up some good battles, with a couple of teams i am sure will be thinking of a perfect season. Solent and Sussex should probably be contesting the top end come September/October
I’m not overly sure Hastings or Sussex will enjoy their away days travelling under the Dartford tunnel in the South East division but Hastings were always going to be travelling a decent amount which is dictated by their location. The other eyebrow raiser in the South East is that South East Squadron and Sussex Thunderbolts only have 4 games, which doesn’t make sense in a league where everyone else has double that. UPDATE: Hastings have withdrawn from the division.
That being said, in the East Anglia Division, there isn’t really much more room at the inn and the Cambridgeshire Cats should squeak this division, which could also throw up some surprises and interesting results. Bury Saints will not be participating this year and have withdrawn.
South: Solent 8-0, Sussex 6-2, Portsmouth 3-5, Rushmoor 3-5, Bournemouth 0-8
South East: Essex Spartans 7-1, East Essex 6-2, East Kent 3-5, Hastings 1-7, Sussex 2-1, S.E Squadron 0-3
East Anglia: Cambridgeshire 7-1, Ipswich 5-3, Norwich 4-4, Colchester 4-4, Ouse Valley 0-8
We finish off in the West. Bristol Aztecs must be delighted that they don’t need to travel to London every week and their matchup with South Wales could be interesting to watch on 12th September as the pick of the bunch.. The Warriors and Bulls are 2 D2 champions from 2019 but should be Bristol’s division.
In the South West, it’s all to play for with the division essentially a streamlined 2019 D2 SFC 2 West. We’ll be pulling for the Wyverns here as Full10Yards Brit Ball of Famer Dale Russell could be involved in some capacity.
Severn: Bristol Aztecs 8-0, South Wales 6-2, Birmingham 5-3, Swindon 3-5, Hereford 2-6 Worcestershire 0-8
South West: Bristol Apache 6-2, Somerset 6-2, Torbay 6-2, Cornwall 2-6, Jurassic Coast 0-8