NEWS | 2017 Open Sessions confirmed

25 Sep

The club are very pleased to be able to confirm the details of this autumn’s Open Sessions ahead of the 2018 season.

Open to those interested in playing for the Ouse Valley Eagles senior (18+) or Bedford Blackhawks Youth (13+) full contact teams as well as the Blackhawks senior flag (16+) team, we will be running four sessions during November:

– Sunday 5th November | University of Bedfordshire, Bedford (10am-12pm)
– Sunday 12th November | Stantonbury Campus, Milton Keynes (12pm-2pm)
– Sunday 19th November | Northampton High School, Northampton (10am-12pm)
– Sunday 26th November | Lealands High School, Luton (10am-12pm)

American Football is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and with the success of the NFL International Series interest in the game has never been higher.

If you have always fancied having a go why not try it out and see how you get on? No previous experience is necessary, as our team of qualified coaches will put you through your paces running a series of passing, catching, running and blocking drills designed to give you a real taste of American Football.

The Eagles were formed in 2013 with the aim of becoming one of the leading lights for American Football in the UK. We are the only senior full contact team playing in the BAFA National League in Beds, Bucks and Northants, recently announced a partnership with the Bedfordshire Bulls, and with plans to grow the club further in the coming months there really has never been a better time to join!

Register your Interest

To register your interest in our Open Sessions please complete the form below, get in touch via Twitter or keep your eye out for the events on our Facebook page.

I am happy to receive correspondence related to the Open Sessions and training.

FLAG | Blackhawks Preseason Schedule confirmed

Blackhawks
27 Jan

The Blackhawk’s 2017 preseason schedule has been confirmed, and includes come and try sessions, training camps and warm-up games.

‘Come and Try’ sessions for new players will take place at Sunderland Road, Sandy this Sunday (29th January) and Sunday 12th February, either side of friendly games against Aylesbury Vale Spartans and Northampton Phantoms in Aylesbury.

Three training camps (location to be confirmed) will take place on 19th February, 12th March and 2nd April.

Second rookie session this Sunday

11 Jan

Open to those wanting to play for the Senior Team (18+), the second of two dedicated rookie sessions takes place this Sunday (15th January) from 11am to 1.10pm at Bedford International Athletics Stadium, Barkers Lane, Bedford.

American Football has never been more popular in the UK and is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. If you’ve always fancied having a go why not come down and see how you get on?

If you are coming this weekend there are a few things you’ll need to bring with you:

  • Water (recommended 2L but the more the better). We know it’s quite stop start, but practices are tough going!
  • Rugby or football boots as we train on grass
  • Shorts/Joggers or similar
  • Top of some kind: sweatshirt, t-shirt or similar
  • Gumshield
  • You may want to bring a towel and shower things

A full training session will take place next Sunday (22nd January) followed by the first of four mini-camps a week later. Click here for further details on the preseason schedule.

Directions

First rookie session this Sunday

04 Jan

Open to those wanting to play for the Senior Team (18+), our first of two dedicated rookie sessions takes place this Sunday (8th January) from 11am to 1.10pm at Bedford International Athletics Stadium, Barkers Lane, Bedford.

American Football has never been more popular in the UK and is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. If you’ve always fancied having a go why not come down and see how you get on?

If you are coming this weekend there are a few things you’ll need to bring with you:

  • Water (recommended 2L but the more the better). We know it’s quite stop start, but practices are tough going!
  • Rugby or football boots as we train on grass
  • Shorts/Joggers or similar
  • Top of some kind: sweatshirt, t-shirt or similar
  • Gumshield
  • You may want to bring a towel and shower things

A second rookie session will be taking place at the same next Sunday (15th January), and that will be followed up by a full training session a week later. Click here for further details on the preseason schedule.

Directions

2017 Senior team coaches named

08 Dec

Eagles Head Coach Neale McMaster has unveiled his 2017 coaching team ahead of next month’s rookie sessions.

The Eagles are very fortunate to have an extremely dedicated group of coaches, who work hard at all levels of the game to ensure that our players are not just the best American Football players they can be, but are also striving to be the best people they can be.

As announced last month, McMaster will take on Defensive Coordinator duties alongside Offensive Coordinator Nick Tilbury, and the duo will be assisted by Gary Villiers (Special Teams), Andy Cox (Offensive Line), Martin Day and Lawrence LaMontagne (Wide Receivers), Burger Swanepole (Defensive Line) and Kevin Kong (Defensive Backs).

Our aim as a club is to put five players a year through their Level 1 coaching badge, and to secure funding to allow all coaches to attend conventions and clinics to promote their learning.

There is currently a vacancy for a Running Backs coach. If you would be interested in taking on the position please get in touch.

Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator – Neale McMaster

Following a successful playing career in Scotland with the University of Glasgow Tigers and East Kilbride Pirates, McMaster moved south of the border in 2012 and joined the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders initially as a player, before becoming Offensive Line coach ahead of the 2013 season.

He became Chairman of the newly-formed Eagles following the merger between the Blue Raiders and Milton Keynes Pathfinders, and was named Offensive Coordinator by former Head Coach Will White.

In Neale’s three seasons as OC the Eagles posted a combined 19-11 record which included a record 75-6 win against the Ipswich Cardinals in 2014 and play-off appearances in 2014 and 2015, and he is also a part of the coaching setup with the Great Britain Lions.

Offensive Coordinator – Nick Tilbury

After a senior playing career that also took in spells with the MK Pioneers, Chiltern Cheetahs, London Mets, Herts Stags, Cambridgeshire Cats, Bedfordshire Blue Raiders and the Saxons, Tilbury transitioned into a coaching role with Peterborough and was part of the staff that took them to the Division 2 Final in 2015.

Following promotion to the BAFANL Midlands Football Conference 1 the Saxons were unable to complete the 2016 season, but Tilbury wanted to remain involved in football, and jumped at the chance to join then-OC McMaster’s coaching staff in the latter half of the season.

Special Teams Coordinator – Gary Villiers

Gary grew up in South London and was forced to play rugby at school. He discovered American Football in the early 80s when Channel 4 started showing regular highlights. Around 84/85, aged 17, Gary found a team forming in a park in Bexley, went along and played unkitted for about a season before The Bexley Barons were finally formed as a kitted team.

Gary played as Fullback and Slot Receiver for a couple of years before switching to defensive-end. Gary then moved on to East Kent (then Kent) Cougars, also briefly with Barracuda and Olympians II. He retired from playing in 1995 after breaking shoulder and had nothing to do with Britball again for 18 years! However, he became increasingly interested in US College Football during that time, eventually studying coaching techniques and philosophies more seriously.

After a move to St Neots, he decided one wet Sunday in early 2013 to see if his local team the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders needed any help and was quickly adopted as Defensive Line Coach assisting Coach Ramsay. Gary found the experience really rewarding and fun so signed up to qualify with BAFCA as a Level 1 coach.

Following that season, Gary was offered the opportunity to coach at Cambridge University with the Pythons where he coached all lineman on both sides of the ball and worked alongside Coach Fuller as Defensive Coordinator, before being named Head Coach ahead of the 2015/16 season.

Offensive Line Coach – Andy Cox

Andy grew up in Daventry and was always actively involved in sport, representing his school at football, rugby and hockey as well as captaining the cricket team. Outside of school it was American Football that grabbed his attention, playing for The Weedon Warriors.

Now working as a Business Analyst, he graduated from the University of East Anglia in 1991 with a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Physics, and three years of playing for the UEA Pirates American Football team culminated in an appearance in College Bowl V.

In his last two years at UEA, Andy also represented the Norwich Devils, and joined the Eagles ahead of the 2016 season as Offensive Line Assistant Coach.

Wide Receivers Coach – Lawrence LaMontagne

A vastly experienced player and coach who has been involved in the sport since joining the Luton Flyers in the mid-80s.

“LT” spent his playing days with the Bedford Bombardiers, Leicester Panthers, Sheffield, PA Knights and Coventry Jets as at Defensive End, and after retiring from playing has coached with the Jets, Southend, Blue Raiders and Essex Spartans.

Wide Receivers Coach – Martin Day

A one-time Bedfordshire Blue Raider and Lincolnshire Bomber QB, Day has been associated with the Eagles since the merger, spending the majority of his time at Tight End.

He is moving into coaching during the 2017 season whilst recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery.

Defensive Line Coach – Burger Swanepole

Burger is a diehard Patriots fan and all round NFL fanatic. He graduated with a BSc Sports Coaching Science from Worcester University in 2011 where he was also a member the then Worcester Cardinals, and after a rebranding to the Worcester Royals.

Burger took on a Coaching role as Defensive Back Coach whilst studying, where he also gained his British American Football Coaching Level 1, and joins the Eagles for the 2017 season.

Defensive Backs Coach – Kevin Kong

Growing up in Bedford, Kevin was always interested in sports but it wasn’t until Super Bowl XXXIX that he found his true passion, where his now-beloved Philadelphia Eagles lost to a bunch of cheating b… the New England Patriots.

Choosing Loughborough University for their prestigious American Football programme, he started his journey as a Corner Back and eventually earned a place as a starting Safety.

He was one of the original members of the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders and eventually joined the Ouse Valley Eagles when moving back to the area.

Having played for 10 years Kong believes it is time to share what he has learned, and hopefully have a laugh on the way.

2017 Preseason Schedule announced

05 Dec

The Senior team’s 2017 preseason schedule has been announced, and includes rookie sessions, training camps and warm-up games against Premier Division opposition.

Rookie sessions designed specifically for new players will take place at Bedford International Athletics Stadium (BIAS) on Sunday 8th and Sunday 15th January. These will be followed by a full practice session on Sunday 22nd January and the first of four “mini-camps” on Sunday 29th.

Full training sessions will take place on Sunday 5th and 12th February before the second mini-camp on 19th and a scrimmage at Kent Exiles on Sunday 26th.

Further training sessions and mini-camps will be held throughout March and April, and on 19th March Premier Division Bristol Aztecs come to Bedford for a scrimmage.

All practice sessions and camps take place between 11am and 1.10pm.

To register your interest in one of our rookie sessions click here to visit our Join Us page.

2017preseasonv2

2017 Rookie Sessions announced

04 Oct

The Club are very pleased to be able to confirm the dates of our Rookie/Come and Try Sessions ahead of the 2017 season.

American Football has never been more popular in the UK and is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. If you’ve always fancied having a go why not try it out at one of our sessions?

Open to those wanting to play for the Senior Team (18+), dedicated Rookie Sessions will take place in Bedford on Sunday 8th and Sunday 15th January 2017.

They will be followed by a full, kitted practice on Sunday 22nd January and a two-practice “mini-camp” on Sunday 29th as preparations for the 2017 season ramp up.

Times and locations for each sessions will be announced in due course. For further information please get in touch by completing the form below, or via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Register

I am happy to receive correspondence related to rookie sessions and training.

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CAPTAIN’S LOG | Gareth Pullen

30 May

Recently we caught up with Defensive Captain and current Defensive MVP Gareth Pullen to get his thoughts on the 2016 season so far…

How has the season been for you so far and how have your preparations for it varied compared to last year?

Very good, I have been working closely with Jon Rudgard (the team’s resident strong man) and also had some outside help from a speed coach in order to develop my movement.

Developing my core lifts along with adding Olympic ones has really improved my range of movement.

Last year I didn’t really know what I was in for and made a lot of changes to how I trained throughout the season.

This year I knew what my strong points were and I knew what my weak points were, so I was able to tailor my training to suit that.

We also had weekly gym sessions, ran by John Rudgard who’s also on the O Line, they were great to teach us what we should be doing in the gym and how to train on our own.

How do you think this defense compares to last season’s?

We have a lot of new guys who ooze potential, all we need is to get them more experience and they will be the bedrock of the future.

What do you think makes you a good captain?

I believe my leadership comes from the commitment and effort I put in on and off the field.

My teammates see this and buy into the team ethos of putting the effort in off the field as well as on it.

Loving the process is what makes people successful, and I try to demonstrate that.

What do you enjoy most about playing for the Eagles?

We have a great team first structure that guys believe in.

It isn’t about one man, it is everyone in it together. We are friends on and off the field, and that makes a big difference.

Do you have any targets for the 2016 season?

Just keep building on the foundations we have set out as a team.

I really just want to keep everyone focused on this season and driving everyone to get better.

What’s your favourite football memory?

My favourite memory has to have come from this year.

After losing to an opponent, one of their guys who I’d played with in a memorial match a few years before got in touch.

He told me that my attitude had affected him positively and really helped his love of the game.

That same guy was his team’s MVP, and to know his success is linked to my passion is something I will never forget.

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ROOKIE REPORT | Matthew Greet

27 May

Recently we caught up with rookie defensive lineman Matthew Greet to get his thoughts on life with the Eagles so far…

Name: Matthew Greet
Position: Defensive End / Linebacker
Height: 6ft
Weight: 207lbs
Hometown: St Neots, Cambridgeshire
Age: 32
Favourite NFL team: Carolina Panthers
Favourite NFL player: Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly

How did you get involved with American football?

Believe it or not it is all down to my wife, it was her that got me started watching it (she loves it and it is the only sport I can watch on TV without getting moaned at).

The more I watched and understood the more I thought about how I would like to give it a go.

I ended up coming to the games last year and watching and decided that I would come and play the next year.

Has anything taken you by surprise so far?

The whole organisation and ethos is what has surprised me the most, everyone is so committed to the team and each other.

How much time and effort goes into the practices, the drive from the coaches and senior members to make you want to live up to their standards and be the best that you can possibly be; everyone is always there to help and offer advice about how to improve and that ultimately gives you the drive and ambition that can be used on and off the field.

Joining the Eagles has made a huge positive impact on my life.

What is your favourite thing about playing for the Eagles so far?

Being a part of a team, and being a part of something that is bigger than yourself, it is the feeling and anticipation before a game and the feeling after whether it is win or lose, the camaraderie, the knocks bruises and aches and knowing that everyone else will be feeling the same on a Monday – but it is totally worth it to put on that shirt with your numbers on it.

What are your aims for the season?

I aim to get bigger, faster and stronger and cement a place in the team for myself.

So that means more effort on and off the field and trying to improve each week even if it is just by a small amount to get there.

If you had one piece of advice for anyone considering playing American Football for the first time, what would it be?

What are you waiting for? It’s good fun, stop considering it and come and have a go.

Follow the Eagles on Facebook or Twitter to find out when practice is or when the rookie days are and give it a try.

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ROOKIE REPORT | Miguel Alvarez-Frias

10 May

Recently we caught up with rookie linebacker Miguel Alvarez-Frias to get his thoughts on life with the Eagles so far…

Name: Miguel Alvarez-Frias
Position: Linebacker
Height: 5ft 8ins
Weight: 190lbs
Hometown: Soria, Spain
Age: 24
Favourite NFL team: San Francisco 49ers
Favourite NFL player: Lawrence Taylor (historical), Luke Kuechly (current)

How did you get involved with American football?

I have been following the NFL for some years and loved the sport. Last year when I was living in Shanghai, China a friend talked me into joining the University team (Tongji Strikers). I did so and loved the sport.

After moving to the UK I got in touch with the Eagles and I have been involved since November.

Has anything taken you by surprise so far?

The commitment and performance of the team. I was expecting more a participation team, however I was gratefully surprised to see the intensity and focus of training.

Although we all play to have fun and because we love the sport we train to be the best and play always 100%.

What is your favourite thing about playing for the Eagles so far?

That moment just before kick-off when you walk into the field, knowing you are ready to give everything you have, the feeling when the ball is kicked and you start running.

What is great about the Eagles is that everybody shares the same philosophy of commitment and effort, so when you are on the field you can trust the rest of the team and they can trust you.

What are your aims for the season?

As a team our goal is to win the league! For myself my objective is to continue developing my skills, getting more involved in the team, basically to become a better player and help the team.

If you had one piece of advice for anyone considering playing American Football for the first time, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to try it!

American football is a sport for everybody. Even in the NFL you have from huge 300lbs OL fellas to 5’8 receivers so definitely there is a position for you.

Coaches will guide you and teach you. In my case I cannot even tell how much I have learnt in only six months here.

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