Ashley Bailey: Growing as a player from Sandwell to the German Football League

In signing with the Allgäu Comets of the German Football League recently, young British quarterback Ashley Bailey was joining his seventh European team since playing for the London Blitz’s U19 team in 2016.

To say he is well traveled would be an understatement.

During this past pandemic-shortened season in Poland, playing quarterback for the Silesia Rebels, the 23-year-old Bailey generated 1,246 total yards and 10 touchdowns in only five games and more importantly displayed his  amazing athleticism and ability to extend plays while finding his receivers. Although the team struggled to an 0-5 record, for Bailey it was another step in his development.

“We played a competitive season and turned the heads of a number of people that had initially written us off. Personally, I felt it was a great opportunity for me to just go out there, have some fun on the field and give it my all. I was able to take responsibility to lead my guys and learned a lot about myself and the guys around me.”

Bailey might be young but he has gained a ton of experience playing in Europe in a very short time. The Birmingham native first started playing football for the Sandwell Steelers at the age of 14, after years of playing Madden with his friends. It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the gridiron.

“ I went to their first ever practice try-out/session, and since that day I didn’t miss a single practice. I had been exposed to American football much earlier than this, having played Madden on DS as early as 2006/7 – the one with Shaun Alexander on the cover.”

Bailey went on to study and play at the University of Hertfordshire, a successful D1 university program in the UK. That season Bailey split time at wide receiver and quarterback while also serving as the team’s holder. Later that summer he suited up as the starting quarterback for the London Blitz’s U19 team. Soon after that Bailey wanted to expand his horizons and play outside of the UK, eager to learn more about the game and collect more diverse life experiences.

“The personal goals I have set for myself, and the current state of American football in England really are not compatible with each other. Also, the chance to travel and see new cities, immerse myself into different cultures is an opportunity that I wouldn’t be able to do in a later stage of my life in the way i can now, so I saw it as a no brainer to follow football as far and as wide as it will take me.”

The first stop on his European tour was with the Czech Republic’s Pribram Bobcats (CAAF1), there the versatile Birmingham native split time at wide receiver and quarterback. After the season, Bailey headed west to sunny Portugal where he led the Algarve Sharks squad in Portugal to a 5-5 record.  In 2018 Bailey returned the Czech republic this time with the Hradec Kralove Dragons in the country’s second division. Bailey played quarterback and safety for the Dragon’s squad.

The following year, 2019, Bailey returned for third stint in the Czech Republic this time with the Prague Lions, a powerhouse program in the countries capital. Bailey once again showed his willingness to help the team in multiple ways, playing quarterback, wide receiver, kick returner, and holder. Bailey totaled 673 yards and two touchdowns helping the Lions capture another Czech Bowl championship:

“Big love to the Prague Lions for bringing me in and really putting it all together in the 2019 season. At the start of the year is when my son was born, so naturally I decided to stay in the Czech republic for one more season. I had played in Semi-Finals and Finals throughout my career, but had never been able to capture the big game, so going into the year, we felt like this was the only outcome possible for that season.”

Before heading to Silesia, Poland in the summer of 2020, Bailey was playing for the Barbera Rookies in Spain’s second division, leading them to a 3-0 record before the COVID 19 pandemic shut down the season.

Now as a member of the Allgäu Comets, Bailey is looking to use his time in Germany to develop as a player and learn from former NCAA division one quarterback Mclane Carter (Texas Tech & Rutgers NCAA D1 FBS) and a host of experienced German coaches. He will get a chance to learn and play in one of Europe’s top league. Don’t be surprised to see Bailey step in as a wide receiver or wildcat quarterback this season for the Comets.

“Coming into this situation as the clear back-up, it’s more about me improving my game, and being ready to make the most of my time on the field. also continuing my true love of field goal holding duties haha! But on a serious note, I am extremely blessed to be in a situation, working with one of the best offensive minded coaches in Europe, Elias Gniffke, and to be in a QB room with McLane Carter – at this stage in my career I feel this is the best situation for me moving forward. I am very excited to be a part of their organization and to play at the highest level her in Europe – GFL1”

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football