Getting to know… The Manchester Titans

In support of our BRITBALL WEEK podcasts, we have gotten in touch with a few people from different teams in order for us to know a bit more about the Britball community. We will have a series of written interviews over the coming week or so to ease up on the podcast overload!

First up we have Luke Carlton, the offensive co-ordinator for the Manchester Titans Adult contact team (Twitter/Instagram – @ljacarlton).


How long have you been with the team:
This would be my fourth season as Offensive Coordinator for the Adult Contact team, but I spent four years playing for the junior and youth teams.


How did you first get into American Football and what made you go in to coaching:

First got into American Football after being bored of playing Soccer and Rugby. Was off school ill for a few days when I was 14 and started playing my brother’s copy of ESPN NFL 2K5. Soon after, some friends at school started bringing in a football to throw around and we got playing games in the playground. Two friends and I decided to go down to the Titans in early 2008 and I’ve been infatuated with the game ever since.

On the coaching side, I was never injury prone until I got to American Football. I fractured, dislocated and chipped off part of my throwing shoulder in my first pre-season game at 11-a-side in 2010. Then came back the next year and tore my ACL and MCL in the third game of the next season in 2011. So, played four games, completed two, season ending injuries in the others. I took that as a sign that maybe I shouldn’t be playing anymore, so I got into coaching when I went off to the University of Central Lancashire a few months later in 2011, who were just in the process of setting up a team.


How would you describe the teams play style, do you have a particular way of playing and what does your team try and achieve:

We’re not a huge team in size, so our offensive hallmark is Space and Pace. We want to exploit space as fast as possible and manipulate you into covering the entire width of the pitch. We’re a calculated team, we’re never without a plan and we’re always working to take what’s available. I personally feel as though we do a great job of understanding what players can bring what to the table and work with their strengths.

Our defense does a great job of being opportunistic – they set up a plan to take away what you want to do most and force you into your plan B. As a team, we really don’t try to be something we’re not.

As for what we try to achieve – we try to play entertaining football. It sounds cliché, but for us, it’s important to put on a show and be fun to watch from the side-line. We want to bring ideas and styles to Britball that aren’t straight from the cookie cutter and allows our players to be creative. A Manchester Titans game shouldn’t look like any other game in the UK.

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Give us a quick reminder of how the team got on last season and what your or the team learned:

We went 7-3 in the Premiership North for our second season in a row, with our three losses coming away to Merseyside and Edinburgh, and at home to Tamworth. Despite what we were able to accomplish, we all came away from the season feeling as though we could and probably should have come away with more, with only ourselves to blame. It felt as though in 2018, we had more to prove than we did last year. We maybe struggled to adapt to being the team with a target on their backs.

However, in the grand scheme of things, it was a successful season for us. We were able to assert ourselves once again as a playoff team in the Premiership North and beat each team in the North at least once, which is something nobody outside of the Phoenix can say they’ve done in recent years. We’ve seen our youth and Flag teams in the organisation consistently be near the top of the pile and now it finally is starting to feel as though our Adult Contact team is up there with them.


Obviously the offseason has been disrupted, but did you manage to conduct any offseason training/rookie days (and how important are the rookie days in your view?):

We’d been training since the first weekend of January all the way up until the order from BAFA came in. So we’d been training twice a week working towards a training camp that was due to take place from April 3rd-5th and our opening game taking place on April 19th.

Rookie days are massively important for us. It gives us an opportunity to fill out our roster and evaluate incoming players who are eager to impress and develop. It also allows us to continue to add to our Bee Team, which gives players who might not be able to immediately contribute at a Premiership Playoff level a chance to develop and not slip through the net. We began to realise that for where we are as a team, we need to do a better job of retaining those players within the organisation and it’s been great to see the Bee Team begin to set up and really flourish.


What other teams (Flag/Youth) do you have as part of the setup?

Oh boy, where to start! We’ve got:

– Adult Contact A Team
– Adult Contact Bee Team
– Adult Flag A Team
– Adult Flag B Team
– Women’s Contact team
– Women’s Flag Team
– U19s Contact team
– U17s North Contact team
– U17s South Contact team
– U17s Flag team
– U12s Flag team.

It’s probably the part of the organisation I’m most proud of – being able to consistently offer American Football to so many people in North West.


What has been advised to the players to help them try and stay as well conditioned as possible considering the current pandemic?

We’re just telling them to not be idiots and follow instructions laid out by the government. While Football is important, there are more important things happening in the world that take precedent over it right now. We’ve got a few Personal Trainers in the team so one of our players (shout out Cade Makin) has put together a training programme for our guys who are interested. Other people like Sam Fossey is uploading videos of different home workouts to try. Outside of that, our hands are really tied. We can’t set the timeline for this, only the virus can. Once we understand when we’ll be back, we’ll start discussing what we need from our players.

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Do you think we will see any Britball football this season and would you settle for a shortened/more compact season (i.e play each team once, less gaps between games):

I’d be surprised. Given the game plan from the government seems to be to time the peak for the Summer, it’ll be a struggle to give teams the appropriate amount of preparation time to safely be ready for the start of a season. Throw in the logistical issues of ensuring grounds and venues can be booked on certain weekends and then you’ve got to take into account the limited amount of refereeing crews, I think it’ll be a logistical nightmare to be able to get anything official off the ground. If I had to guess something, I think it’d be on teams to arrange friendlies and joint scrimmage days against other teams for Football to go ahead this season.


Quickfire:

Who would win in a tug of war between your O-Line and all the defence?
I’m never going to bet against my O-Line. Sorry, D!

Favourite/least favourite training ground drill?
Favourite – Run Skelly. It’s nasty, physical, realistic and it’s so much fun throwing in a play action and we get to call out linebackers for assuming it’s a run.

Least Favourite – Any drill where the defense knows what the play is/where it’s going before the ball is even snapped. It’s not realistic and there are creative ways around it to ensure the defense can practice reaction and swarm.

Which player (or player position group) is most likely to forget their gumshield?

Wide Receivers. I won’t name names, but they know who they are.

Which player (or player position group) is most like to sleep on an away game?

Defensive Backs.

Which player (or player position group) think they are in the NFL?

Defensive Line.

BAFA National Leagues Week 10 Roundup

Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th June – by Thomas Rowberry

Week 10 of the BAFA National Leagues saw some of the more surprising results of the season, as well as eight shutouts. Saturday’s action saw the Manchester Titans go into Tamworth and walk away with a shock 21-0 against the Phoenix. You can check out our Britball podcast from Monday where we chat to the Titans QB about it all! A big game in the Prem North next weekend when the Manchester Titans host the Merseyside Nighthawks.

Saturdays action saw seven shutouts with Merseyside, Leicester, Clyde Valley, Leeds, Norwich, Bristol and the London Blitz B team all holding their opponents to a goose egg. In what was considered a big game in an extremely tight NFC 1 South the Lancashire Wolverines came from a 14-6 halftime deficit to beat the Shropshire Revolution on a made 2pt conversion.

East Kilbride keep rolling and look certain to quickly jump back up to the Prem North after a convincing victory over the Glasgow Tigers. Similar comments apply to the Clyde Valley Blackhawks in the NFC 2 North.  Full results below.

RESULTS

Saturday 15th June

Prem North
Tamworth Phoenix 0 – Manchester Titans 21

SFC 2 South
Jurassic Coast Raptors 6 – Bournemouth Bobcats 44

 

Sunday 16th June

Prem North
Merseyside Nighthawks 20 – Sheffield Giants 0
Leicester Falcons 10 – Edinburgh Wolves 0

Prem South
Farnham Knights 28 – Kent Exiles 13
London Olympians 7 – London Warriors 54

NFC 1 North
East Kilbride Pirates 39 – Glasgow Tigers 7
Gateshead Senators 7 – Yorkshire Rams 53

NFC 1 South
Lancashire Wolverines 22 – Shropshire Revolution 21

SFC 1 Central
Berkshire Renegades 6 – Sussex Thunder 17
Oxford Saints 17 – Portsmouth Dreadnoughts 36

SFC 1 East
Wembley Stallions 32 – Colchester Gladiators 6

NFC 2 North
Darlington Steam 0 – Clyde Valley Blackhawks 30

NFC 2 Central
Leeds Bobcats 44 – Knottingley Raiders 0

SFC 2 East
Norwich Devils 3 – East Essex Sabres 0
East Kent Mavericks 30 – Maidstone Pumas 19

SFC 2 South
Hastings Conquerors 0 – London Blitz B 39

SFC 2 West
Bristol Apache 28 – Cornish Sharks 0

Podcast 27 – Britball Week Part 4 – Manchester Titans

Ben Nuttall (@bnuttall11) joins us to talk about what it’s like being a player for a Britball team.


Everything from Flag to coaching, Ben tells us all about the main differences in this country between Flag football and full contact.

In the news, Jalen Ramsey had some kind words to say about the QBs in the league and we let you know about what’s coming up on the Full10Yards over the next couple of weeks.

Tomorrow sees our final stops on the Britball tour of the UK, hope you can join us!

Podcast 25 – Britball Week Part 2 – East Kilbride Pirates

The next stop on our tour of Britball sees Coach Davies of the U19 East Kilbride Pirates Team joining us to talk about Britball north of the border.

Very passionate about the youth game and about increasing participation at a youth level, Coach Davies discusses what’s like being in the middle of the chain.

How does the U19 team integrate with the adult setup and how do they get people involved? He also talks us through the weekly preparations ahead of their huge game a few days ago vs Manchester Titans U19s in the playoffs.

Next stop, we go behind the scenes with Roger Goodgroves!

Podcast 11 – Bloomin’ Britball

Manchester Titans QB Sam Bloomfield (@bloomers21) joins us to talk about his journey in American Football. How he went from defence to the centre of attention.

Why the East Kilbride Pirates will be a force to be reckoned with in years to come and how the grassroots level has changed over the past decade or so.

We also ask him to explain his mathematical ability…

My First UK American Football Experience

Thought I would write this as it’s still fresh in the memory.

Travelled down the m8 for 45 minutes, went past Hampden Park, the home of Scottish Football (busy for the Ed Sheeran Concert which is on apparently tonight, ironic) and just south of Glasgow to a place called Merrylee, the home of the East Kilbride Pirates.

Going in, I didn’t really know what to expect about the whole experience.

Crowd size, slickness of the operation, officiating and quality of play were all things I pondered as I made my way down the motorway.

I got there as the teams finished warming up and sat down in the only stand. There were a good 50-60 people in attendance, separate from the teams and officials.

I started tweeting (can be found on my account @full10yards) and found myself covering the first few drives of each team, with some live streaming of some of the big plays in the 1st quarter. I managed to capture an endzone interception along with a touchdown. Great timing, you could say. I found a new friend in the Manchester Titans Twitter account, who retweeted pretty much everything I did (appreciate the exposure!).

The 1st quarter was very competitive and I was very impressed by the competitiveness of the two teams. The stands were also starting to fill up too, with easily over 100 people now in attendance.

A couple of things that stuck out to me whilst watching the game;

-The officiating was very sound and did not take over the game. The players were respectful of the officiating and there was nothing in the way of confrontation, challenging of calls or ball placements and it was just played in a great spirit.

-Sidelines of both teams hold up boards (or bits of paper with emojis) to signify the play call, which made me smile. A lot of hand signals and motions to add context to their play calls and the teams were well drilled and seemed to have their playbooks drilled in to their heads.

-The gameflow/operations of the offences and defences are just exactly what you would expect from the game in the USA, with motions, shovel passes and hard counts to fool the defence in to drawing offside flags.

-I did not see anything which pertained to the time of the game or play clock type system  or how long was left in the quarter. I couldn’t tell at what point in the game we were and how long was left. The referee’s whistles were easily identifiable for the end of the quarter and the 2 minute warning. Maybe I missed this and hopefully if anyone reading this knows, please get in touch!. The announcer over the PA system who was calling the game also did a great job of keeping everyone in attendance informed.

-Both teams played in a great spirit; hard but fair. The tackling was actually pretty well executed and you certainly earned the yards on offence. The players were not built like machines and I even thought to myself that I could probably slot in somewhere in a team if I was willing to put in the requisite time and effort.

-No field goals were attempted in the game and it was quite common to go for it on 4th down. Not sure if this is commonplace in the BAFA game or whether there was a reason why this particular game had no attempts. The PATs where fine (4 from 5) so whether it’s just the way our game is, then that’s fine.

As the game drew to a close and the scoreline got a bit out of hand (bit flattering if you asked me, but there was a clear winner on the day), I was engrossed in the game and kind of fell in love with American Football all over again. It was also nice to be spotted by a fan who said “you’re that full10yards guy!”, something that I could get used to.

Like soccer, all players shook hands at the end of the game, showing the great spirit that this game was played in, despite the blowout result at the end.

 

The Manchester Titans deserved their win, perhaps not by 41 points though as a few plays here or there going the Pirates way would have seen a classic. The Titans were much more effective in their execution, more imaginative on offence and had a few more tricks up their sleeve whilst the Pirates were a bit more predictable and static in their play calling.

I will definitely be going to more games now that I have a taste for it and loved every second of it. I felt like I was in a time warp and that time had stopped and that I was firmly in the American Football bubble and I loved it (may have been a play clock thing too but I literally had no concept of time).

I am now off to go and get some merchandise but thanks for reading and if you, like me had never been to a local game of American Football and are unsure whether to go…GO!!! You’ll be supporting grassroots and helping to make the game better.

Hopefully if anyone from the game is reading this and want to come on the podcast to talk about the game and British American Football in general, please get in touch!!!