Ahead of the new season kicking off this weekend, get up to speed on the last decade of the game here on these shores.
If you want to go back a bit further, be sure to check out Part I and Part II of this series going all the way back to the 1980s, courtesy of Jason Bowdler of the UK American Football Scene Facebook Group!
Britbowl XXIV 2010
The London Blitz continued their run of UK titles in 2010 (once again going up against the Coventry Jets in’10) and blanking the up and rising other London side, Warriors 18-0 in the 2011 final at the National Sports Centre in Crystal Palace.
2012 saw the top tier league divided into a straight North and South conference, with the Northern sides that were promoted into the Premier faring very well to life at the top, with the Tamworth Phoenix going 8-2 on the regular season and East Kilbride making the playoffs also. The Warriors took the honours in the South, finishing a perfect 10-0, including a double over the Blitz, putting them as firm favourites for the UK crown. The Warriors romped to their second straight title game with an impressive 40-0 semi-final win over the Olympians, whilst the Blitz were made to go all the way v EKP, coming out 21-17 winners. The Blitz won a 4th straight title and 2nd successive against their London counterparts with a convincing win. Leading 27-7 at half time, they extended their lead to 37-7 before the Warriors scored 2 TDs to make the score a little flattering. It was Finsbury Park-based Blitz who made an explosive start with two early touchdowns through wide receivers Andrew Cropper and Tom Shennan. The Warriors came storming back, scoring through ex-NFL running back Jermaine Allen. Undeterred, however, the Blitz took control the game with touchdowns from wide receiver Rod Bradley, running backs Gareth Dauley and Deji Alli, who returned the second-half kick-off straight back to the Warriors’ endzone, to open up an unassailable 37-7 third-quarter lead. In the fourth quarter the Warriors went on to score two quick touchdowns, giving the scoreline a more-respectable look, but never really threatening to turn the game around.
Whilst the London Warriors came up short at the final hurdle in 2012, the shift in power was made in 2013, with the Warriors beating the Blitz in Britball XXVII at the John Charles Stadium in Leeds 26-23.
There followed more titles for the powerhouse Warriors in 2014, ’15 and ’16, all against crosstown rivals Blitz. In 2017, Tamworth had made great strides ever since coming into the Prem but had suffered two semi-final defeats in 2015 (v Warriors 9-14) and 2016 (a disappointing 12-41 result v Blitz).
They tore through the Northern Conference once again, going 10-0, including a 62-3 demolition job on nearest North rivals the Merseyside Nighthawks on the final week of the regular season. Over in the South, the Blitz took the title over the Warriors with a final week 40-21 win over them.
The Blitz rode into their 12th consecutive Britbowl with a dismantling of the Nighthawks 54-14. But, For the first time since 2010, the final wouldn’t be an all-London affair after a tense victory for Tamworth.
The speedier Phoenix side jumped out to a 28-7 lead but two scores on the last two possessions bought the more physical Londoners back into the contest and it was a nervy 28-21 score at the half. It was a nervy 3rd quarter as neither side could get a grip on the game but the deadlock was broken as the period came to an end when the Warriors scored yet again but missed the XP for a Phoenix 1-point lead.
Drives were promising for the Phoenix but the Warriors would stiffen when it mattered. Following the Warriors score, Tamworth hit back with a FG and a 31-27 advantage. London drove in the final quarter, going in from a yard out and taking the lead for the first time 34-31. Tamworth hit back though, QB Daley finding receiver over the top for the score and regaining the lead to make it 38-34. Defense dominated once again as time wound down. London threatened as they got to the Phoenix 40 on the final drive but the Tamworth D tightened and it was the home-team making history as they marched onto the final
BRITBALL XXXI, Sixways Stadium, WorcesterFull Game: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=qXTIUzEMEYc&t=4160s Highlights:
Game Report – Britbowl XXXI 2017
Tamworth received the ball and took no time in taking the lead, MVP Daley scrambling in from the red zone for 7-0. An exchange of punts followed before the Blitz took to the air to set up Toonga to go in from 6 yards out to square the game 7-7.
Tamworth started the 2nd quarter on the front foot, culminating in a dazzling score when QB Daley scrambled yet again for a score, breaking around 7 tackles in doing so! 14-7 Tamworth. Just before the two minute warning, Tamworth stretched their lead to 17-7 but the Blitz took back some momentum when Blitz passer Thompson found Jervier for the score to make it 17-14 at the half.
The London side took the lead for the first time on the first drive of the second half, going in for seven and the 21-17 advantage. The Blitz were in the ascendancy as they forced a punt and then found themselves at the Phoenix 3 yard line on their next offensive possession. Tamworth stood firm though and caught a break as the FG attempt sailed wide.
Tamworth made the Blitz pay, Daley hitting a great pass to Hussey for the score and a return to the lead at 24-21. The game turned once again as Daley was intercepted by Eddie Cheadle who returned the ball to the Phoenix 20. Blitz took their second lead as the 3rd period was coming to an end as Thompson found Laird for 28-24. First Phoenix possession of the final 15 mins saw them drive to the London 6 but the Blitz held on and Tamworth decided to secure three points to cut the lead to one point 28-27.
The Blitz started the next drive at their own 10 with around 9 mins left. Ben Davies stepped in front of the Blitz QB’s pass and raced in for the pick six and the final word in the contest and Tamworth had taken the UK crown out of London for the first time since the Coventry Jets.
Order has been restored for the London Warriors in 2018 and 2019, learning from their semi-final loss in ’17 to totally dominate the top tier, going undefeated in the past two years, moving away from the Blitz in the South and taking both UK titles overcoming the Northern powerhouse Tamworth in both finals to cement their iron grip on the domestic game.
Britbowl XXXII 2018 – London Warriors v Tamworth Phoenix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDAAZ1aDPkc
Britbowl XXXIII 2019 – London Warriors v Tamworth Phoenix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tyU49hjI9o
As the global Covid pandemic affected everything and everyone, BAFA had no choice but to cancel the 2020 season. No football at all was to be played. For 2021, with lockdown still in place at the time, BAFA took the decision to forego the league structure to minimise travel for player safety and realign divisions for a series of friendly fixtures. There was also the opportunity for Associate and brand new teams to be included with a view for league status in 2022.