The Grangemouth Colts traveled to Sheffield last weekend to take part in the BAFA’s National Finals day. The Colts had earned their place as runners-up in the HNC Division 1 league.
For a team created just last year, that was a pretty impressive result.
The Colts division was made up of other development teams, plus teams from around Scotland who had not quite made the 2017 play-offs.
With some more established teams in their division the club were ambitious about how their new team would do, but to come second in the division was a bit of a surprise. That may be the reason that there were only six of their thirteen players available to travel to what is a very prestigious event.
With only six players available, and without a recognised quarterback on their game day roster the Colts knew they would struggle to compete with the majority of the teams at the event. However, the opportunity was too good to miss out on – the chance to play in a National Finals tourney.
With regular quarterback Andy Brown out of the team, the Colts were looking to Steven Cliffe to take on that responsibility. With only five weeks preparation, it must have taken a lot of courage to accept the challenge.
Gordon McSherry played through injury and soreness, never giving up on the team.
Louise Donnelly played all but one down on the day and was rewarded with a few sacks on defence.
Billy Corner, one of the people who seems to have benefitted from getting game time in the Colts had a great day on defence, and even a 100% catch rate when he was asked to play some offence.
Mark Wallace had an immense day. He was the most productive receiver on offence and, as he has done all season played every defensive down.
The sixth player on the team was their coach, David Mooney. At 62 years old, he can still mix it with the best of them and played virtually every offensive down and even spelled people on defence.
The results on the day went pretty much as expected.
In their first game they played the top seeds from the Southern divisions the London Smoke. They were only in Division 1 because this is their first time in the BAFA leagues. They will challenge some of the Premier teams in the 2019 season. The result was a 26 – 0 win for the Smoke, but as a team who regularly won by over 50 points, the Colts defence must have been doing something right.
In their next game, the Colts faced the Nottingham Honeybadgers. Another loss by the Colts against a team who regularly feature in the post-season, 48 – 0. The game was actually much tighter than the score-line suggests. Interceptions left them with short yardage situations on more than one occasion.
In their final game of the day they faced the Bedford Blackhawks. On another day the Colts would have made more of this game, but the warm weather meant the six Colts players were running on empty, especially when you consider that each of the teams they played had at least 10 players.
After the tournament the Colts Coach David Mooney said, “We made the playoffs in our first year. We can be really proud of that. When we get there again the guys who missed this year might begin to understand the effort and commitment the players here today put in. I know we will be back, and take revenge for the losses.”
The Club Head Coach, Fraser Thomson said, “Very proud to have been the coach of this team today, despite the results. They gave everything for each other today and I couldn’t ask more. Work for the Promotion Playoff starts now.”
The Promotion Playoff will see the Colts as runners-up in Division 1 play against the Premier’s bottom club, the Clyde Comets, for a place in next year’s Premier League. That happens on the 16th of September.
Of the other Scottish teams who traveled to the Finals, Division 1 winners Carnegie Flag (from Dunfermline) were beaten in the Division 1 Final, Aberdeen Oilcats came sixth and Glasgow Hornets were beaten in the Final by the Baker Street Buttonhookers in the Premier League Final.