28th Oct, 2016

Touchdown for new American football team

Aaron Wise 17th Jul, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A NEW Worcestershire based American football team are looking for new recruits in a bid to build up a squad eligible for the dizzying heights of the national league.

Observer reporter and Buffalo Bills fan Aaron Wise went along to a training session to find out more.

MOST Britons look at American football as being a game of ‘rugby on steroids’ with helmets and pads.

However, after spending time on the gridiron I found that it’s more like a complex game of chess.

As an NFL (National Football League) fan, I was enthusiastic turning up to a training session held by the newly founded Worcestershire Black Knights.

And after two hours of throwing the ‘pigskin’ around, I knew this new county club were on course for a touchdown.

The Black Knights are the brain child of three coaches from the Worcester Royals, the University of Worcester’s existing American football team.

And with more than 50 years of experience in the British game across all levels between them, they’re looking to make an instant impact on returning US football to the county.

Since the Redditch Arrows ceased to exist in 2009, the only team in Worcestershire has been based at the university, leaving fans of the sport having to travel outside the county to get their football fix.

But now a community American football programme is in place with the end goal of creating a team fit for the British American Football Association National League (BAFANL).

Black Knights chairman James Bacon said: “We were getting sick and tired of travelling to Birmingham and Gloucester, we wanted something a bit closer to home, knowing it had been attempted before we chatted about it for a couple of months and got the ball rolling.

“We started off with advertising through a Facebook page and got about 20 people down to train and since then we’ve just gone from strength to strength, getting up to 45 players all being a mixture of rookies and veterans of different teams who have come from the local area to try it out.

“We’re doing our associate season now where we train and play against three teams to prove that we can play a game safely and have somewhere to host teams, to hopefully then get accepted into the league for next season.

“We’re in talks at the moment for an official home in the Worcestershire area with a stand where we can host games and people can come down to support the growth of the club and the sport in this country.

“For those who are thinking about getting involved, I say do it. You can come down and try it out and we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you’ve got.”

Unlike the majority of sports, it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are as in American football, there will be a job that you can do within the team.

The club welcomes players of any skill level to play, train and socialise together as part of a community.

Sam Davies, who plays nose guard and center, said: “I’ve been playing for the Knights for about four months after hearing about the club so I thought I’d give it a go, and over that time I’ve seen such a progression with more lads finally being able to be apart of something they didn’t have the chance to before. This is a club on the rise.”

“I’ve got a friend who helps run the Knights who’s been badgering me to come along so I’ve finally made it down,” said Robert Cox, who plays defensive tackle.

“I’ve been a fan of American Football for about 15 years but had nowhere really to participate in the sport so this is an exciting opportunity.

“It’s been really good entertainment and everyone down here is having a blast. For anyone who is tempted to try out the sport I have to say definitely come down, it’s great fun,” he added.

Organisers hope to capitalise on the rapid rise of the sport in the UK which sees three regular season NFL games played at Wembley and substantial television coverage on Sky Sports and, for the past two seasons, on Channel 4.

The Black Knights currently train at Diglis Basin in Worcester on a Wednesday night from 7.30pm.

Call Simon Watten on 01684 293005 or visit www.facebook.com/WorcestershireAmericanFootball find out more about the Worcestershire Black Knights.