Building a dynasty: The rise and rise of the London Warriors – Part 2

In AFI’s continuing collaboration with Great Britain’s top American football website – Double Coverage – we present the second of a three-part series on the top club in Great Britain, the London Warriors. In the first installment, Nick Wilson-Town examined the early years of the Warriors from the youth squad up to the first appearance in the championship game.  In part two, Gareth Thomas takes a look at the Warriors as they grow and go on to win their first BritBowl.

For part 1 of the series click here.

Following the groundbreaking victory by the #BritballNation’s number one team, the London Warriors over Denmark’s Copenhagen Towers, we thought we’d take this opportunity to get to know the premier premiership programme a little better.

Following a rampant victory over the Bury Saints to kick off their BAFA National leagues campaign, Double Coverage was exclusive insights into a programme well-known for their tight-knit, tight-lipped ethos that focuses on building the strong internal bonds that have seen the Warriors win four straight National Championships

Throughout the series, we’ll get to know a bit more about Britain’s top team – who they are, what they aspire to, and today? Where they’ve come from.

In part two of the three-part series, we’ll look at how the Warriors regrouped and began their hold on the Britbowl that continues to this day…

As you read in part one, the Warriors had seen an amazing rise from associate team to appearing in the biggest game of them all in just four seasons, losing the first of many notable battles against long-time rivals, the London Blitz. After a so-so first season in the top flight, the Warriors showed they could hold their own amongst the very best until it came to the Britbowl, where they were shut out by the Fred Boyle-led Blitz 18-0.

Things felt different in the Warriors camp in 2012. The experience of the final wasn’t just vital experience to what was still a young team full of former, current and future Britball stars, it would be a driving force for the next season. The London Blitz had lost just once since 2008, beaten by the Coventry Jets in the 2008 national championship. They were Britball’s premier programme with good reason.

In 2012, the Warriors stamped their authority on the league. On their way to a perfect 10-0 season, the Warriors first showed that the tides had changed, edging out the Blitz for the first time in a turnover plagued, nervy affair that finished 7-3 in the Warriors favour after Jerome Allen connected with receiver James Cherry for a 67-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Later in the year, they’d double down on the Blitz in a win that would confirm their first divisional championship in the top flight. Despite going down by two scores early in the second quarter, the Warriors would once more rally and win the game 18-14, with James Cherry once more scoring on a long pass from Allen.

Entering the post-season as number one seeds, they would off the old-guard London Olympians in the semi-finals. Surprise, surprise, their rivals would defeat the East Kilbride Pirates in their own semi-final, setting up a showdown with the overwhelmingly favoured Warriors at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield.

The Blitz took a very early lead, and doubled it minutes later, both scores coming from the arm of Fred Boyle. The Warriors would cut into the lead with a Jermaine Allen rushing touchdown, but a series of unfortunate events, including a 102 yard kick return from Deji Alli, would see the Warriors fall into a thirty point hole, that a couple of garbage time touchdowns by Emmanuel Mukoro couldn’t dig them out of.

In 2013, the Warriors would repeat their regular season achievements of 2012, once again running the table from day one, finishing undefeated, and putting up an unprecedented 510 points and giving up less than a score a game on average. In the final game of the season the 9-0 Warriors would face the 9-0 Blitz, with the winner taking the divisional title, and avoiding the unpopular Scottish away game, giving rise to the hashtag #NotMeToEKP.

The Warriors would strike first for once, Jerome Allen hitting Jeremy Simms in the front of the end zone, before the Blitz took the lead again shortly after. Once the Warriors retook the lead, they wouldn’t let go. They raced out to a 33-9 advantage, and despite a late comeback attempt, Kingsley Ejiogu sealed the game for the Warriors with a final score of 40-27.

After the Blitz won their dreaded away trip to East Kilbride, Britball was once again set up for a showdown between the two London sides, this time at the John Charles Centre in Leeds. Once more, the Warriors and Blitz traded scores to open the game, and the game was close way into the fourth quarter, the Blitz retaking a 16-13 lead off a Fred Boyle passing touchdown. A fortuitous tipped pass saw receiver, and eventual Britbowl MVP, Romain Jackson haul in his fourth touchdown of the game. In a mirror of the final regular season showdown, the Blitz managed to give the Warriors a late scare but were unable to pull off the onside kick with the score at 26-23 in favour of the Warriors.

The Warriors had finally shaken the Britbowl monkey off their back and cemented their place as the envy of British football. Would they be able to keep their foot down or would they be a one-season wonder? More on that in part three…

Original article 0n Double Coverage.

Double Coverage is about everything #Britball. Through news and community support we seek to grow British American Football through enhanced media coverage.