Dramatic Heartbreak in the last 2 minutes
|27-02-2005||14:30||East Midlands Saxons||AWAY|
|31-07-2005||14:30||East Kent Mavericks||AWAY|
The 2005 season saw the Exiles focus on winning football games, and not expecting to win them as they had done in 2004.
Nigel Hadley joined the club as Defensive Co-ordinator, and using his experience gained coaching Bowl winning teams at both Norwich and Ipswich, set about improving a defensive unit which had conceded 165 points the previous year.
The playing squad also grew, including the signings of experienced veterans (Garry Dillon, Glen Boyle, Paul Samartin, Bradley Stevenson and Scott Lawrence) and some rookies with great potential (Anthony Richards, Adam Pearson, Dave Maisey and youth team graduate Sean Starwind)
The result was a fantastic run of wins, and a 10-0 undefeated record for the season, scoring a record number of points (348), and only allowing 23 points to be scored against us, the 7th lowest points conceded in a season in Britball history.
This continued into the play-offs, a jittery start against the South Wales Warriors was soon overcome in the Quarter Finals, and the experienced Oxford Saints were blown away in the Semi Final.
And so the Exiles travelled to Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield to take on the Coventry Jets in Division 2 Britball final. The Jets had secured massive sponsorship, and had attracted many experienced players from higher divisions to play for them during the year, and had also enjoyed an undefeated year, albeit in the weaker Northern Division.
A great game ensued in front of a vocal crowd of around 3000 fans, the Exiles took an early lead, only for the Jets to peg us back in the second half and take the lead themselves. A late touchdown looked to have won the game for the Exiles, with only 2 minutes remaining on the clock, but then heartbreak struck as the Jets returned the kick-off for a touchdown, and a winning lead, consigning the Exiles best ever season to a losing finish.
The game was widely considered the most exciting, and best display of Britball in recent years, and has been voted the 13th best game of all time by website www.britballnow.co.uk.
|The 2005 Squad following the Essex Spartans Game|
Despite the dissapointing finish, upon reflection it was clearly the Exiles best ever season, and showed the clubs hard work and dedication over the past few years had really paid off. They had gone from whipping boys to promotion in just 4 short years, and had laid a foundation for the club to build upon for years to come.
But the season did not end there! In the Autumn the club travelled to Austria to take on the St Polten Invaders in the 'Autumn Bowl' tournament. We lost, but had played our first ever game on European soil, becoming one of only a handfull of clubs to do so during the 00's.
END OF SEASON AWARDS
Players player of the year: Paul Samartin
Coaches Award: Carl Alexis
Offensive player of the year: Offensive Line
runner up: Matt Duncan
Defensive player of the year: Paul Samartin
runner up: Aaron Alexis
Special Teams player of the year: Lee Nash
runner up: Mat Tompsett
Lineman of the year: Gary Ead
runner up: Scott Lawrence
Rookie of the year: Dave Maisey
runner up: Sean Starwind