Pulling The Flag

To the end…

As the website has seen no new posts in just over a year, I think the time is definitely right.

How did this start? I was 16 years old, and just found out about the sport. I was super keen and wanted to play against all the teams possible. Only, there seemingly were no teams out there… so I hopped on my MacBook and started to search Google, surely someone knew something about this very niche sport.
Well no one really did. Everything was funneled through a group compromising of less than 75 members. Today that group has over 1,000 members. In this group held standings and fixtures, and that was about it. But I didn’t really care at this point, I had just played games against Coventry Jets and Basingstoke Zombie Horde for the first time and I was hooked. The playoffs came and went (not hard with around 15 teams in the UK!), and then in Feb 2013 I created a Blogspot website. Something that could host these posts and prevent everyone editing them at their will, which was guaranteed to mess up the format.
With the help of a graphic designer (aged 15), the creation came to life it was firstly called flagfootballuk, which was the name before Pulling the Flag  came as an idea. Meant as a flag football related name and for also pulling the flag with content and media coverage if you like. Again, I was 16 and didn’t really know what what happen. Roll forward a year, and I wrote something every single day whilst studying in college. I was terrible at writing but I loved to share my thoughts and ideas to help grow the amount of people playing. I mean just look at this post for a start.
Fast forward some terrible journalism, word had quickly spread in this tiny community. People were willing to contribute and chip into the promotion of the game. It’s 2014, and I didn’t know how important this year would be. I would be 18 years old, in my final year of six form and traffic to the website was increasing week-on-week. It seemed like it could be unmanageable but between writing and binge-watching Breaking Bad it was all in control, until I asked for help from the public. In order to make the content, presentation and service better, I knew 18 year old could never make this as good as I wanted, especially as I was off to university where I would never be able to carry on this amount of work as I played a large amount of contact football. So roll in John Hill.
As much as I know he won’t love the mention in this, the man truly took a Blogspot website into the website it was. He was full creative ideas, expanded the website from just scores, standings and match reports to so much more. But more on that later. It was around 2015 when we really had a full staff, Neil Wymer joined on board and really kept the ship running for periods of time whilst filling out gap for younger aged flag knowledge. Flag icon, Nathan Coles, Scott Martin, Sophie Parsons, Dave Underwood, Lewis Phillips, Dan McGill, Dan MacDermott, April Heath, and many more one-off pieces from people all contributed from 2014 onward. We were super fortunate to have the backing of current flag commissioner, Nick Bertenshaw. He really allowed us to use all the game sheets to create stats for the league, official scoring and so forth. I honestly can’t say thank you enough to them all.
After the website redesign John took on (which you are reading this on), the content really started to pop. We had a short term podcast, live streams most weekends and of course the more professional ones we hosted (mostly off our own back) for finals. Flag in the dark technology (which can be found on the Facebook page as a video), league wide stats (probably the most time consuming articles!), writers pick’em league and so much more. Even though everything was out of our own pockets and we never made any money (or even got close!), it was a great time to be promoting the sport.
I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities the website gave me. It allowed me to network with others internationally, play in fantastic teams, and make great friends with people that I talk to everyday now. At 16 years old, I never thought it would ever get to having over 500,000 website hits, almost 3,000 Facebook likes, live streams, podcasts. It wasn’t even in the realm of possibility to me. I’ve had the chance to work with the NFL, Jacksonville Jaguars, various US media outlets and see the journey of The UK Dukes. For that I am extremely thankful to John, Neil, Kenny & co. The amount of hours they have churned into everything PTF, were never fully appreciated by anyone!
Whilst the website will remain open to allow former players, players, coaches, fans to see their favourite bits. The website wont see any future posts (which goes without saying after a year!). All I can hope is I and we, left this community, sport in a much better place than I found it in. I commend and fully support Flag Football World as they start their own adventure into flag football media, which can be completely thankless, exasperating at times but so rewarding too.
Thank you to everyone (including my girlfriend who put with endless conversations with John, and everything else) whose had absolutely anything to do with the brand, it’s been an incredible ride. But we just don’t have the resources to make PTF content that would satisfy the standard we were formerly capable of. It’s been a fantastic journey to see teams and people progress through the years. Along with the standard of domestic play elevating itself year on year. There’s somethings I wish I could’ve done better and ideas I would have loved to see come to fruition. Everything about this brand has made me a better person in some way, I learn’t so many business lessons from a younger age and I didn’t even know they were happening! I really hope someones read, watched, listened to something they’ve enjoyed at some point as we continued to grow the sport. It’s growing at a crazy pace and now has more than 15 teams in 4 different conferences across two tiers. I hope the youth scene now explodes in popularity under new Alan Young.
We’ll still be around on Facebook to promote flag related doings, tournaments, products, videos etc. So it’s not quite a goodbye, but closes one book for sure.
Our chicken of judgement cries…

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