Pulling The Flag

Your Britbowl Questions Answered

Want the inside scoop on Britbowl? Looking for directions, times, or live coverage? Or just trying to kill time on the bus? We’ve got you covered.

(Headline pic by Takashi Hososhima, used under Creative Commons)

We’re helpful types here at Pulling The Flag, so we’ve plonked ourselves down in a big comfy chair to answer your questions like the friendly old storytellers of your youth.

Hello you. What would you like to hear about today?

Well, I’d quite like to hear about Britbowl.

Ah, Britbowl. An annual event revered by gods and kings, where mighty souls do battle on a sodden field for the prize of eternal glory.

Is it really like that?

Yes.

Where is this festival of wonder?

Well, this year it will be taking place on Saturday September 20. At the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster.

That sounds amazing. Can I play?

No. Your team sucked this year.

Oh. Well, can I watch?

Yes. It’s going to be brilliant. According to the organisers – the British American Football Association – the schedule for the day will be as follows:

Team Registration: From 8.30am
Changing Rooms: From 9am
Live Draw: 9.45am
Semi-finals: 10am

Junior Flag Final: 11.30am
Cadet Flag Final: 1pm
Adult Flag Final: 2.30pm

There are also some u17 and u19 contact finals afterwards.

Admission is £1.

Is there anywhere to drink the night before…umm…sorry, the night after?

A lot of people seem to like The Cask Corner from the looks of things, but don’t ask us. Oh, and Perfect Pint has a handy list of 31 that do decent beer.

Beyond that, you’re on your own.

Sounds great. But sadly I’m not allowed to set foot in Doncaster anymore after an incident a few years ago involving a squirrel, some squeezy cheese, an oboe and selection of U2 records. Is there any other way to keep up with the action?

In fact there is. Pulling the Flag will be down there on the day to provide score updates and reaction from the Flag Finals.

Assuming there are no major technical difficulties, we’ll also be streaming games on Ustream.


That’s very exciting. So who is playing?

This year, it’s the Cardiff Hurricanes, Aberdeen Oilcats, Sheffield Predators and Leicester Eagles.

Wow. Is there a long-winded way that I can find out more about these teams whilst listening to the faint sounds of a grown man eating curry?

Why yes. The Pulling The Flag team gathered recently to record a podcast just for you. It’s got all sorts of discussion and reaction on the Northern and Southern Playoffs, as well as a look ahead to Saturday’s big event.

Sadly, I don’t think you can make out any curry-eating. But there is a shouty dog.

I’m very sensitive to loud noises. Is there any way you could spell it out to me here?

*sigh* Okay

Firstly, I’m a horrendous glory hunter. Which team does everyone think will win?

Unfortunately, we can’t find a bookies that will take our money at the minute. But we’ve asked PTF readers to vote for their winner in a completely unscientific Facebook poll instead.

Does that help?

Possibly. Can you tell me any more?

Ugh. Fine.

Team One: Aberdeen Oilcats

Pic: Jamie Ramsay Photography

Season Record: 9-2-1 (2nd in HNC North)

Playoff Results: Beat Sheffield Vipers (39-12) and Grangemouth Broncos (32-6)

Last Year: Lost to West Coast Trojans (52-32) in Quarter Finals. Beat West Essex Showboats (38-26) in fifth place playoff

Why They’ll Win: PTF pundit Dan McGill reckons the Oilcats are a versatile and dangerous team with weapons all over the pitch. He should know: His Grangemouth Broncos played them three times this season alone.

The Oilcats sent Mike Scott and Gary Elliott to the World Championships with the GB Lions squad last week. They’ve got some height in the team – and if you can jump high enough to shut that down, you’ve also got the sneaky receiver moves of players like Ryan Gilchrist to contend with.

They’re also a lesser-known quantity south of the border, and might surprise a few teams when the games get underway.

Why They Won’t: Aberdeen dropped the most games of any team remaining in the competition. They also have to make a trip from a faraway land which is – according to the road atlas in my glove box – roughly 400,000 million miles away.

Will they be tired from the trip? Will they make it to Doncaster before our ancestors are enslaved by an evolved yet strangely bitter civilisation of humanoid apes? WILL THEY EVER SEE THEIR LOVED ONES AGAIN????

Ape referees very rarely call flag guarding, even when it’s totally obvious


Team Two: Cardiff Hurricanes

Pic: Samuel Price


Season Record: 12-0 (1st in SWC South)

Playoff Results: Beat Northants Titans (42-0) and West Essex Showboats (51-6)

Last Year: Lost to London Rebels (39-33) in Quarter Finals. Beat Edinburgh Wolverines (35-7) in seventh place playoff

Why They’ll Win: It’s amazing to think that the Hurricanes have only been around for two years. They’re still new to the game, with rookies scattered around the pitch. Quarterback Joe Cotterill was playing wide receiver until he somehow found himself behind center at the end of last year. He reckons that Cardiff don’t have “stand-out players”, and that the team focuses on knowing their roles.

However, they’re certainly no strangers to putting up cricket scores on the flag field, including a big win over SEC North champs West Essex in the Southern Playoff Semis.

Cardiff are currently on a winning streak that’s closing in on 30 games, and they’re able to rack up touchdowns on defense as smoothly as they do on offense.

Why They Won’t: Tsk, young people.

We’re always told that experience is important. It’s the thing that stops you running headlong at the running back with the big arm when he gets that suspicious-looking pitch in the backfield. Or trying to play a lit gas hob like a set of bongo drums.

And if experience isn’t important…WHY THE HELL DID I HAVE TO SPEND THAT SUMMER MAKING TEA FOR THAT SUITED JERK WITH THE COMBOVER AND DEAD CAT BREATH?

Will this highly-skilled unit of young rookies come unstuck against a team of grizzled but wily opponents?

And what if they don’t? Will they fall foul of the curse of peaking too early, like a child actor that gets big in Hollywood, only to find himself doing Police Academy On Ice or temping as a shopping centre Santa once puberty kicks in?

What’s left when Britbowl’s over?

“You’re only eight, kid. You’re too young to remember Santa’s three touchdowns against Sheffield”


Team Three: Sheffield Predators

Pic: Rudi Halfmann


Season Record: 10-0 (1st in MEC South)

Playoff Results: Beat Newcastle Blackhawks (25-14) and Woodham Warriors (40-19)

Last Year: Did not qualify for Britbowl

Why They’ll Win: The Team Formerly Known As The Steel City Knights are making their second Britbowl appearance in their three-year existence. This year, an organised team kicked on even further, linking up with the Sheffield Predators and topping up an able roster with even more committed players.

The Predators swept the MEC South this year, developing a reputation as a team that wasn’t afraid to fight for the ball on offense or defense. Their confidence gives them an edge against many teams in the UK. New addition David Saul had a stormer of a game in the later stages of the semi against Woodham, as the Preds took full advantage of injuries and an ejection to slam the door on last year’s Britbowl finalists.

They’re also an adaptable outfit. Their defense is led by ball-guzzling safety Dean Whittingslow, while their running back Josh Allen is a real threat when he gets going.

Could you see the Predators sneakily winning it all? Hell yes.

Why They Won’t: The Predators don’t just try to get you on the field. They try to clamber into your head and pull at the wires until something snaps. Like the amps in Spinal Tap, their volume goes up to 11.

It’s part of their charm.

Sideline contributions on a good day range from “average motorway backseat driver” to “AAAARRRRGGGH GET THIS NOISE OUT OF MY HEAD IT’S WORSE THAN LISTENING TO A TALKSPORT PHONE-IN PRESENTED BY ADRIAN DURHAM AND 700 CATS ON HEAT”.

If they come up against a team with speedy blitzers, a sound defense and players who aren’t about to let themselves get ruffled, it could be a real battle.


Team Four: Leicester Eagles

Season Record: 10-1 (2nd in SWC South)

Playoff Results: Beat Chichester Sharks (50-40) and London Rebels (24-19)

Last Year: Did not qualify for Britbowl

Why They’ll Win: Leicester are the longest-serving team left in the competition. After going through a bumpy patch last season, a rejuvenated side came out of the blocks this year.

By their own admission, the Eagles came into the season as “dark horses”. They came into the playoffs as outsiders. And they came out of the competition with the scalp of last year’s champions hanging from their car aerial.

Okay, that’s a bit strong. The Rebels may have been missing a couple of regulars, but nevertheless the Eagles don’t get where they are this weekend without mixing up a giant trifle of skill, teamwork and belief.

Many people thought they’d drawn a short straw in the playoffs against the Sharks, but they stood firm in the biggest shootout since the second Hot Shots movie.

The Rebels game also came down to the wire, but the underdogs went through to the final four. If you believe in fairytale endings, this is the outfit you put all your money on. They’re not just a team anymore. They’re a Disney movie.

That said, underestimate the Eagles at your peril. They’re a small but tight team of skilled and confident players, and they’ve bested some quality teams this season.

Why They Won’t: It’s been a long time since Leicester were in the Big Show, and they’ll have to get used to the high altitude quickly.

They’re also the first team in a while to make the finals wearing “throwback” kits. And by throwback, we mean “throwback to when they were eight and they got to wander around the house in their pyjamas eating Haribo while waiting for their birthday to be read out by the friendly lady on TV”.

(Neil made me say that. He wants to sell them things)

They also have an away kit

This is also the time of year that training and a good warm-up pays off. So let’s hope that the Eagles can get through that minefield of Costas, bookies, and tempting roads that go far far away, and arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for an afternoon of ACTION and ALERTNESS.

I’ve just wasted several hours of my life reading that nonsense. My unborn children are now old and withered, and I’ve lost all my teeth from grinding in bored frustration. Couldn’t you have just done a quick 300-word article like normal people?

No. Now let me tell you the story about this wizard with a funny scar who met an owl and a ginger boy. It’s very short. I promise.

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