Pulling The Flag

GB vs the World

It’s the opening day of the IFAF Flag Football World Championships tomorrow, pitting Great Britain against some of the best flag teams on the planet. But that’s not all. While the first team are battling for glory in the USA, a development squad is heading to Ireland to take on some of their European neighbours.

Here’s what you need to know, starting with the A-team in Miami.

Pictures by Jimmy Thomson



So, here we are. A year on from Britain’s seventh placed finish at the Euros in Spain, the side are under new management. Chieftains head coach and Glasgow Hornets quarterback Alan Young has stepped into the vacant space left by Stuart McKay’s departure, and he’s hoping to guide the team past the group stages at the very least.

“I’m looking at our group and thinking we should qualify with the talent we have”, he said.

Alan’s new approach to squad-building combined the tried-and-trusted trial events with a few scouting trips to BAFA league gamedays, a practice he hopes to continue during his spell as coach. As a result, he’s named a squad with some familiar names, and a couple of new ones.

Kehinde Bello – London Rebels
Jeff Bond – Aylesbury Vale Spartans
Michael Bradley-Banszki – Farnham Knights
Richard Cooling – London Rebels
Jamie Doak – Glasgow Hornets
Gary Elliott – Aberdeen Oilcats
Julian Holburn-White – Glasgow Hornets
Brian McFerren – East Kilbride Pirates
Drew Newiss – Birmingham Lions
Calvin Tarlton – London Rebels
Dean Whittingslow – Sheffield Predators
Matt Wilkinson – Manchester Crows
Chris Winrow – Leeds Bobcats
Kevin Woods – Grangemouth Broncos
Calum Young – Aberdeen Oilcats

One interesting wrinkle from previous GB squads is that the side is going into a tournament without nominated offensive and defensive co-ordinators. Alan has instead opted to run both sides himself, with the guidance of experienced coach Jimmy Thomson (of GB, Chieftains and Grangemouth Broncos fame). East Kilbride’s Lindsey Robson will learn on the job as a development coach.

“The reality is that your captain on the field should be a co-ordinator of sorts. Your quarterback should be reading the game like an OC on the field, as they should have that level of understanding. And you should have a leader on D.”

Steph Walker is team physio, while Mike Scott has remained with the GB setup as a team manager. He’s also been announced as the new man in charge of the Chieftains squad, which draws from talent in Scotland and North East England.

So what are they up against?

Last year, the USA took down Mexico 40-14 in the final (which you can see below), while Canada defeated the USA 32-21 in the women’s final.


Those with good memories will remember that the tournament was switched from Israel to Italy late on due to troubles in the original host country. And that’s happened again, for slightly different reasons.

With the tournament just weeks away, the event was switched from the Bahamas to Miami following what American Football International described as “a squabble between opposing local football organisations in the Bahamas”. The Bahamas team are also no longer part of the tournament. So the British side quickly added an extra leg to their flights and arrived in Florida a day or so ago.


Group A: Canada, Korea, Denmark, Italy, Great Britain, Guatemala, Mexico

Group B: Austria, USA, Israel, Panama, Japan, New Zealand

While GB have avoided the defending champions, they’ll have some challenging games to contend with. The good news is that four teams get to go through the knockouts from each group. Denmark, Mexico and Canada will definitely be teams to watch in Group A.

We’ve included the full schedule below, but here are GB’s fixtures:

Thurs Sept 8

v Guatemala (9.30am ET/2.30pm UK)

v Korea (6.30pm ET/11.30pm UK)

Friday Sept 9

v Italy (9.30am ET/2.30pm UK)

v Canada (3.30pm/8.30pm UK)

Saturday Sept 10

v Mexico (1.30pm/6.30pm UK)

v Denmark (4.30pm/9.30pm UK)

As for livestreaming? There’s no word of whether it’s happening yet (possibly due to the relative late-notice of the venue change) but we’re hearing positive reports, and we’ll keep you updated when we know. Here’s your full lineup of fixtures from IFAF.


Check back with Pulling the Flag for more details as we get ’em, and coverage of GB’s progress at the IFAF Worlds.

Which brings us to…

Pic by P&M Photography

Pic by P&M Photography


Some of the GB squad on this trip will be familiar with the Irish flag football team. Last year, the Chieftains sent a couple of squads over to Dublin for a friendly tournament against some of the local club sides. It ended up being an all-Scotland final, as the first team Chieftains defeated the second team Barbarians in a match that was closer than some expected.

Team Ireland have been continuing their development in the last year, and they’ve invited a few more international sides to the party this time around.

The GB Silver Lions (that’s the GB development squad) will be playing Team Ireland, Team Sweden A and B, the Dutch Lions and an American squad called the Mayhem.

The players in this squad could see this as an opportunity to break into the first team, and some already have A-team experience:

Josh Allen (Sheffield Giants)
Nathan Coles (Northants Titans Blue)
Joe Cotterill (Cardiff Hurricanes)
Jensen Fairhurst (Carlisle Sentinels)
Liam Fleming (Grangemouth Broncos)
Ben Green (Leeds Bobcats)
Robin Oakley (Leeds Bobcats)
Callum Stopani (Aberdeen Oilcats)
Tim Thomas (Seinajoki Crocodiles)
Fraser Thomson (Grangemouth Broncos)
Matt Turner (Victoria Park Panthers)
James Woodward (West Essex Showboats)

This squad is a mixture of teams with flag and kitted backgrounds. Fraser Thomson and Tim Thomas both have first-team matches under their belt, while a few will be making their first appearances in a Lions shirt.

They’ll be coached by Neil Arnold and David Mooney, with Robyn Cairney will be physio and John Hill will be team manager.

The games will run over a single day from 10am to around 4pm. It’ll be a round robin tournament over four rounds.

With a few PTF reporters in the camp, we’ll be able to update you on what’s happening throughout the day, and find out if the Silver Lions can return victorious from Dublin.

Check our Facebook page for the latest information from both camps over the next few days.

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