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Old 14.01.2005, 12:27 PM
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Default The modern history of the game in the UK and a proposal that the UK Hall of Fame

The modern history of the game in the UK and a proposal that the UK Hall of Fame should be in Northfleet,Kent.

I found a fantastic array of old NFL books in a charity to shop yesterday,and discovered a gem of an article that bought back some very happy memories for me.
For those old enough to remember this as reminisces and for those who weren’t even born in 1982 I bring you a brief of the history of the game of American footballs resurrection in the UK during the 80s.(I use the term resurrection because the earliest record of the game played in the UK I can find is 24 Dec 1910 in Northfleet Kent,between the crews of the USS Georgia and the USS Rhode Island.Georgia won 12-0.)

So in 1982 as we all know the NFL came to the UKs newest channel number 4.
In Hyde Park the London Ravens practised on a makeshift pitch,and by the following year had actually acquired some kit.In July of that year the first Anglo American game was played at Stamford Bridge where London lost to USAF Chicksands 8-0.
A moral victory however was won and encouraged teams in Birmingham,Manchester and Glasgow to form.
By the winter of 83 more than a dozen teams existed and in February of 84 the first meeting to form an official league in the UK was held.35 teams attended at the Post House Hotel, Bedford.
A reconvening took place two weeks later at the World Headquarters of the Boy Scouts movement in London,and not one,but two leagues were formed after a stormy debate split the attendees into two camps.Seven teams went to form the British American Football Federation (BAFF) and 19 became the American Football League United Kingdom (AFLUK).
The first season ran with no proper league structure ,schedule ,formal season, or Championship final.Games were played on an ad hoc arrangement between the clubs.Many teams enthusiasm meant they actually continued to play throughout the Winter.
In June of ’84 7,000 fans paid to see Milton Keynes Bucks local rivals Northampton Stormbringers.
The game proved to be a classic going down to a missed field goal with only two seconds left giving the Bucks a victory.
The huge popularity did cause some peculiar problems.
Firstly there were not enough officials to attend all games,many teams could not provide or find enough equipment to all their members,and despite the obvious fervour and growth of both people willing to play and pay to see the game the national press expressed no interest.
All parties in the two separate leagues realised unity needed to be shown for the game to continue to grow,but sadly neither party could agree how to agree.So bad had it become that by the end of ’84a third league had formed UKAFA.
In 1985 the emergence of the AFL as the stronger league started to appear with 40 fully kitted and ready to play teams against 20 teams in the BAFF, many who had no kit at all.Famously the Heathrow Jets became the ‘Motor Bike Kids’ after their decision to manufacture their own helmets.
In 1985 the London Ravens were the cream of teams in the UK,by week 10 of the 16 week season they were already assured of a playoff position.
They entered the playoffs 16-0,beating Leicester in the semis,many fans of the game who had been at the earlier semi final between Streatham and Birmingham,won by Streatham 13-12 raced across the country to Saffron Lane to see the London victory.
And so the stage was set the first official Championship final in the UK.
The ground was Villa Park in Birmingham,but the title of the UK Superbowl was withdrawn after a ‘polite’ call from the NFL office in New York.Six officials worked eight weeks to organise the final,including the tough job of finding a sponsor to ensure the game could go ahead.
The game became known as Summerbowl,and the Ravens stamped their authority as the unbeaten team of the year with a 45-7 victory,in front of some 10,000 fans.
MVP was a Joe St Louis,a London DJ,for his spectacular 70 yard touchdown run.
The BAFF final was held one month later,Rockingham Rebels beating Croydon Coyotes 13-0.BAFF would announce after the game that it was to merge with the AFL to become known as the British American Football League (BAFL).
At the same time the hysteria and following for the game attracted a new major player to the UK.
Brewing giant Anheuser Busch announced it was to sponsor the league.Despite many meetings differences between the two camps meant that once again unity to ensure growth and stability once again a missed opportunity.
In October ’85 Anheuser Busch announce that the Budweiser league would be ready to play the following year.Its inaugural meeting was attended by the majority of top clubs including BAFL previous years finalists London and Streatham.
1986 was a turning point in the organisation of the game in the UK.
Firstly European Football League (EFL) the governing body of the game in Europe ruled it would only recognise the results of BAFL teams.
Streatham Olympians who had been eyeing up a lucrative match up against top German team Dusseldorf Panthers,were snubbed.
Teams were springing up all over the UK and the sheer number of people attracted,as each new team was created meant another team was formed to take up the surplus.
In the BAFL the final favourites looked like Birmingham who had beaten Leicester in a February Euro Cup tie.True to form they beat Glasgow in Septembers final.
In the Budweiser league it looked to be a repeat of the previous years Summerbowl London had once again gone unbeaten and stacked up to play Streatham in the Budweiser bowl.
The Ravens went in at half time 20-0,but failed to score again.Relief was evident as Streatham could only muster 12 second half points,giving the Ravens their second national title.
At the end of the season after over two years of infighting and insecurity an announcement was made that a new Budweiser league was to be formed,with clubs having greater involvement.
This was an astonishing unifying feat bringing together 106 clubs in the UK.
Sadly the BAFL folded with debts of £40,000.
The ’87 season saw the 106 teams unified with 40 clubs forming the new National governing body British American Football Association (BAFA).
1988 saw the announcement of Budweisers intention to withdraw its sponsorship of the league and focus on developing the top 20 clubs in the UK in the 1989 season.
The years Budweiser League championship was not between the London Ravens and Streatham Olympians,but the newly formed London Olympians and the Birmingham Bulls led by former NFL QB
Russ Jensen.The Bulls would run out 30-6 victors.
The end of the eighties started a period of reorganisation and rationalisation within the sports organisation.
Clubs such as London and Birmingham with their large demographic populations continued to be able to attract players both within the UK and from abroad.
But the game slowly faded from the national memory and the days of the 10,000 attendance Summerbowl final have passed.
The American Bowls at Wembley came and went,and we had not one but two National professional teams.
The World League of American Football (WLAF) inaugural champion London Monarchs who suffered the ignominy of relegation from Wembley Stadium to being the nomads of North London football grounds.
An instability that led to falling attendances and a final dissolution and the Scottish Claymores,but that’s recent history and outside the scope of our tale.

So I propose that lessons be learned and the parishioners of the NFL.UK forum reflect on this tale.
For while we the knowledgeable and keen know where to seek out the games and are prepared to pay the hand of Murdoch for the privilege there is a new audience that has been born in the last 25 years,who if given the exposure could become as keen to play and watch as the last generation.
Maybe one day we’ll get 10,000 at a National Championship,maybe we’ll get teams separated by less than 3 miles outside our major cities,maybe we’ll discover great players who can make a mark in the NFL.
Then we can put them in the UK American Football Hall of Fame in Northfleet Kent with the likes of the London Ravens team,Joe St Louis and Mick Luckhurst.

TB
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Old 14.01.2005, 01:24 PM
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Default Re:The modern history of the game in the UK and a proposal that the UK Hall of F

There's a really good history of Britball at http://www.britballnow.co.uk/ - all the teams, all the records. It's a very good site.

The 1910 game you mentioned was not the first:

Quote:
The 1st ever game of Am Football in the UK was actually on November 23rd 1910 & not the well documented Dec 10th one. Played at Crystal palace between the USS Idaho & was scheduled to play USS Michigan. They dropped out & were replaced by USS Vermont. The Idaho won 19-0 in front of 10 000, collecting the Daily Mirror Silver Cup from the Duke of Manchester. The Mirror was pleased enough to sponsor a 2nd game between the Idaho & the USS Connecticut on Dec 3rd, also at Crystal Palace. The Idaho won 5-0. The last game of the tour was the 10th Dec game. between USS Georgia & USS Rhode Island in Northfleet Kent. The next games were actually two in 1942 US servicemen vs. Canadian servicemen at Wembley. The Canadians won the first game the 'Tea Bowl' comfortably. This meant the return game was given 'priority' by the US army and players were rumoured to be airlifted in to win the return 'Coffee Bowl' for the Americans in a game they dominated.
(from BritBall Now)

Love to see a BritBall Hall of Fame though.
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Old 20.01.2005, 11:14 AM
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Default Re:The modern history of the game in the UK and a proposal that the UK Hall of F

[quote author=thunderbear1 link=board=4;threadid=7550;start=0#msg152141 date=1105705639]
So in 1982 as we all know the NFL came to the UKs newest channel number 4.

The American Bowls at Wembley came and went,and we had not one but two National professional teams.[/quote]

Some other things to factor into your history ...

- I believe ITV first brought the NFL to our TV screens! In 1980 they had a 15-minute highlights of Super Bowl XIV (Steelers-Rams).
- in 1983 the NFL sent Minnesota and St Louis (Cardinals) to play at Wembley. This predated the American Bowl series.
- And obviously there are the things I wrote about in my "Potted History".

Some questions:
- what format would the HoF take? Perhaps a virtual one might be most accessible in the initial stages.
- what would constitute election to it? How would this be done?

BBS

PS Be good to see Dr Smeby in there.
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Old 04.09.2015, 01:26 PM
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ITV did bring NFL to the small screen. It featured the Superbowl during World of Sports and the first game I saw featured the undefeated Dolphins and focused on Larry Csonka, so that would date it into the early 70's.

As for the British game I used to visit the Greenwich Rams who originally played at Blackheath Rugby club and were supported by the LA Rams who helped with kit etc. I remember the USFL game at Wembley which was very poorly attended as I recall, certainly when compared to the Bears/Cowboys game.

In later years I attended all of the Monarchs games at Wembley and still have all the programmes together with a few sets of the player cards given out at the World bowl as well as the strange bandana that was handed out, The atmosphere at WB1 was still one of the best I have experienced at any event.

Last edited by paydirtdj; 04.09.2015 at 01:36 PM. Reason: want to add something to it.
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Old 05.09.2015, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paydirtdj View Post
ITV did bring NFL to the small screen. It featured the Superbowl during World of Sports and the first game I saw featured the undefeated Dolphins and focused on Larry Csonka, so that would date it into the early 70's.

As for the British game I used to visit the Greenwich Rams who originally played at Blackheath Rugby club and were supported by the LA Rams who helped with kit etc. I remember the USFL game at Wembley which was very poorly attended as I recall, certainly when compared to the Bears/Cowboys game.

In later years I attended all of the Monarchs games at Wembley and still have all the programmes together with a few sets of the player cards given out at the World bowl as well as the strange bandana that was handed out, The atmosphere at WB1 was still one of the best I have experienced at any event.
The original editor of Touchdown magazine, Ken Thomas, use to do the commentating in the 70's for that slot on ITV's World of Sport. I don't know if Ken's still around his magazine in the 80's was great.
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Old 05.09.2015, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulletmagnet View Post
The original editor of Touchdown magazine, Ken Thomas, use to do the commentating in the 70's for that slot on ITV's World of Sport. I don't know if Ken's still around his magazine in the 80's was great.
Touchdown was great...I used to have a couple of books that Ken Thomas wrote as well. I think a poster said a while back that he teaches science at a school now.
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Old 21.04.2016, 10:33 PM
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Might be of interest -comedy drama film about one of 1st Teams in UK
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/g...a-true-story#/
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Old 02.12.2016, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulletmagnet View Post
The original editor of Touchdown magazine, Ken Thomas, use to do the commentating in the 70's for that slot on ITV's World of Sport. I don't know if Ken's still around his magazine in the 80's was great.
Touchdown was put together from an office in Wimbledon (looked more like an doctors surgery from what I remember). When I first got into football, drove down there one lunchtime and bought all the back issues so had the full set apart from a few copies that had sold out.
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Old 20.01.2005, 11:27 AM
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Default Re:The modern history of the game in the UK and a proposal that the UK Hall of F

Yes a virtual HOF is a more likely proposal at this time.
I think for initial setup the first years intake would be greater than in following years,but that the format should not be disimmilar to the NFL nomination process.

A poll of NFL writers,coaches and administrators in the UK would be a fair start,
taking into account individual achievements,not just game records but in services to the game in the UK.
A fan poll from forums such as this would be a great way to garner public support for the nominees.
Because of the storied history of the game in the UK,we should recognise players split O,D & Special teams,managers and coaches,teams & unsung individuals responsible for the growth and stability of the sport.
Considering that many people give up free time,we should look at this as a factor.
And perhaps we need 3 areas to recognise achievement Senior/National & International success, The College game & Junior league which to all intents is the foundation and furture of the game in the UK and presents the greatest opportunity of having a regular representation in the NFL,which I guess is what all of us really want.
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Old 20.01.2005, 12:30 PM
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Default Re:The modern history of the game in the UK and a proposal that the UK Hall of F

It would be worth speaking to Britball Now about it - they'd undoubtably host it.

BAFA might already have something in the pipeline.
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