Shark Attack off Plymouth Coast

So after the Sharks managed to get dry after the opening games in Cardiff, the next set of fixtures for the 2012 BAFA Flag Season were quickly upon us, the destination Plymouth.

The Sharks set off at an ungodly hour with 9 players, 4 of which were rookies. The fixtures ahead were going to be tough.

The opening game was to be the Chichester Sharks taking on the new Plymouth Pirates team. Chichester won the toss and started the day on offense, with Neil Henderson leading the Sharks to a very quick start against the rookie Plymouth defense with multiple touchdown throws to Mike Thompson.

The Sharks defense were to close to locking down the fledgling offense of Plymouth and Justin Handley made the Pirates QB’s life hell as he intercepted 4 passes, 2 of which he ran back for TDs. The Pirates did finally manage to get into the endzone after putting together some very good drives and improved solidly throughout the day.

Final Score : Chichester 63 – 6 Plymouth

The Sharks next game was against the undefeated Basingstoke Zombie Horde. This was set to be a tough matchup, as Horde and the Sharks are very evenly matched on both sides of the ball.

The game started off at a reasonably slow pace with possession going back and forth in the first few drives, until the Horde managed to find an opening and scored a couple of quick touchdowns back to back.

The Sharks defense was being pushing back again toward their own endzone and were looking likely to go 3 scores down, but luckily the Horde QB made an error and underthrew a pass which was intercepted by rookie Ed Acton. This looked likely to go all the way back for a TD, but there was a heavy collision between Acton and the Horde QB. The Sharks finished the half with no points on the board and were upset with the way they had played.

The Sharks started slow again in the 2nd half and went two quick scores down, this fired the team up and they put two quick scores up themselves and had the Horde defense on the back foot. Unfortunately the clock was against the Sharks and time ran down – a painful loss, but a strong finish to establish the right mindset for the next difficult game.

Final Score : Chichester 14 – 34 Basingstoke

In the last game of the day for the Sharks they would go up against the very good South Wales Warriors.

The game started evenly and there were quick scores for each team, but Sharks player Tomas ‘Beast’ Geciauskas made his presence felt on the O and the D and the Sharks soon took a good lead.

In the 2nd half Sharks defense came out swinging with Toby ‘Primetime’ Chopra getting a pick which helped put the game away. The final whistle went and a long day of games had finally come to an end.

Final Score : Chichester 48 – 18 South Wales

There was only one more obstacle to overcome, that was finding Maccy D’s on the way home – and in the spirit of the day, after a few wrong turns, we eventually were victorious.

– Ed Acton


  • Sharks now move to 4-2 on the season
  • Mike Thompson scored 10 touchdowns on the day – 5 times each in 2 games – new Sharks records.
  • Justin Handley had 4 interceptions, 2 for scores

Photo by Kymie Walker. More on our facebook page

2012 Season Opener: In A Wet And Windy Wales

Fish don’t get this wet.

The start of the 2012 BAFA Flag Football season was held on a day that few would associate with a SUMMER football league. Despite heavy rain and a waterlogged pitch, the Chichester Sharks, Basingstoke Zombie Horde and South Wales Warriors did battle in Cardiff last Sunday.

The Sharks travelled with 7 players, 3 of which were rookies, to match up with two teams who are perennially playoff contenders.

The Sharks kicked off the day with a game against Basingstoke, followed by a match up with South Wales. The Horde and Warriors rounded out the fixture list.

From the get go it quickly became apparent that there would be no ariel passing masterclasses this day. The strong wind and wet ball reduced the offensive attack of all teams down to short passes and yes, believe it or not in a flag league, the running game. Tackling played a crucial role, as the rain reduced any grip on the wet vinyl flags.

The Sharks vs Horde game was exceptionally close, with Chichester holding the lead inside the final two minutes. Basingstoke had just too much time and managed to punch the ball into the endzone to snatch away the victory. It was a painful loss for the Sharks as too many opportunities were missed, but a valuable learning experience for the rookies playing their first competitive game.

Final Score: Chichester 25 – 26 Basingstoke

Despite the loss, the Sharks thankfully came out strong against the Warriors. Chichester’s games against South Wales are always highly competitive and the scoreline close. This game was no different. The Sharks took the early lead, ahead by 2 scores at the half, but lost focus early in the 2nd half letting the Warriors get back into the game on the back of a strong running game.

The teams battled back and forth but it wasn’t until Pete Steel picked up a 1st down on a 4th down pass from Neil Henderson inside the final minute that the victory was assured (it’s debatable what was more dramatic – getting the catch in that scenario or Pete’s 20 foot slide through the mud with a trailing spray of water?).

Final Score: Chichester 32 – 30 South Wales

In the last game of the series Basingstoke beat South Wales 18 – 0.

It’s hard to get a gauge on what this means for the season, as the weather completely changed each team’s usual gameplan. The results could be completely different when we meet up again next month. But what we could see is that all 3 teams are in the hunt again this year.

Game Stats


Neil Henderson: 8 x TD, 3 x 1pt XP,  2 x INT


Gary Robinson: 3 x TD
Phil Morris: 2 x TD, 1 x 1pt XP
Pete Steel: 1 x TD, 1 x 1pt XP
Tomas Geciauskas: 1 x TD rec, 1 x 1pt XP rec
Pete Busson: 1 x TD


Neil Henderson: 2 x INT
Phil Morris: 1 x INT (for a TD)
Toby Chopra: 2 x sack

Rookies Impact Pre-season Friendlies

Flag football returned to Chichester last weekend, with the Sharks hosting the Basingstoke Zombie Horde and Peter Symonds Sabres for friendlies.

The Sharks, preparing for the 2012 season starting next month, got a chance to check out the new rookies who joined the club over the off-season. And if first impressions count, then the Sharks have strengthened their squad for the upcoming campaign.

All four rookies – Ed Acton, Pete Busson, Tomele Geciauskas and Phil Morris – got on the score board in their first game, a 61-33 victory over the Sabres. In fact, Geciauskas made his mark immediately, picking off two errant Sabre passes, returning one for the score.

All four had extensive playing time on both sides of the ball, with a number of veterans yet to return from other off-season responsibilities.

Chichester’s 2nd game was against BAFA league rival, Basingstoke, an established, well drilled team with a lot of offensive firepower. It was a closely matched game throughout, with the new-look defensive playing admirably in just its second outing. The game went down to the wire, with a late Horde score giving the Sharks less than a minute to get into the endzone. Unfortunately, the Sharks fell 4 yards short on a 4th down pass and run and the game ended 45-37 to the Horde.

Well done to all Sharks that played Sunday – it was a lot of fun and extremely useful preparation for the season

Check the photos taken on the day (thanks Kymie!)

Next up March Madness in London…


Live in West Sussex or Hampshire and want to play Flag American Football?

Now’s your chance.

The Chichester Sharks are in pre-season training and on the look out for new players for the 2012 season.

If you follow the NFL on TV and wonder what its like to play American Football then flag amercian football with the Chichester Sharks could be right for you.

We play a 5-a-side version of the game on TV. No hitting, no blocking, but plenty of catching, running, tackling, scoring and fun.

We’re looking for new players, regardless of experience, just an enthusiasm to play.

The first couple of training sessions are free, and its pretty cheap the rest of the way too. Training happens on Sunday mornings from 10 am to 1pm.

Just get in touch and we’ll let you know when the next training session is on. Alternatively, follow the updates on our Facebook and just turn up on the day.

The really, REALLY late round-up of the 2011 season

Okay, first up, yes this is a really late post – about 4 months late to be more precise. Let’s just say, it’s been busy, things got in the way.

Anyway, as we’re now getting into the preseason, we best wrap up last year.

Qualifying for the playoffs

It was a storyline for the ages.

Sat at a disappointing 2-4-1, following 3 straight losses whilst conceding 40+ points a game, the Sharks needed to pretty much win out the rest of the way to qualify for the playoffs.

5 straight wins? With 4 of the opponents also in playoff contention? Hmmm

The first step was taken with victories over Coventry Jets and Woodham Warriors in Coventry, in late July. Having been trounced by the Jets the month before, it was satisfying to see the intensity of the team in a reverse of the thumping, winning 46-12.

Buoyed by their success, the Sharks faced off against the Woodham Warriors in their 2nd game and finally pulled off a victory. After being on the wrong side of several close scorelines over the past few seasons, it was a jubilent Sharks team that finally got to celebrate a victory, following a 25-20 win.

So two down, three to go – and all at home as Chichester hosted Basingstoke, Leicester and South Wales.

The Sharks were clearly up for this one, despite facing a triple-header in the hot August sun. First up were the Basingstoke Zombie Horde, still in playoff contention. In the first encounter this season, the Horde put up 31 points on the Defense, but this time things were very different. With a full strength defense, with height in the secondary, the Sharks controlled the game from the get-go, allowing only 1 score to the potent Horde offense. Conversely, the Sharks O was clicking and the Sharks notched up their 3rd consecutive victory, comfortably winning 35-7. The loss knocked Basingstoke out of playoff contention.

The next game was always going to be difficult. The Sharks played one of their worse games of the season in Cardiff back in April, losing 48-25 to South Wales, and traditionally games against the Warriors have been close and exhilarating.

This game was just as intense, and got a little heated at times. It was the Sharks who gained an early momentum though, enabling them to build a strong lead, which the Warriors couldn’t match. The Sharks ran out comfortable winners, 33-7. The loss knocked the Warriors out of playoff contention.

Last up were the Leicester Eagles, who’d had a difficult season with a small and inexperienced squad, yet showed good spirit throughout. Still needing one last win to qualify, Chichester went for it. The pressure from the Sharks D was immense and the O sliced apart the Eagles D. The result was in no doubt by half time and the Sharks ran out 47-13 victors, booking a place in the playoffs.

They were joined their by the Woodham Warriors and London Rebels.

The Playoffs

This year’s playoff format was slightly different in that the Sharks got to play a Northern Conference qualifier in the first round. The Carluke Cobras have consistently been a strong team in Scotland over the past few seasons, so there was no chance of complacency.

It was a close 1st half as the two teams got the measure of each other. But it was the Sharks who managed to pull away in the 2nd half, running out 46-25 winners.

By way of ‘reward’, Chichester were matched up against the Kirkcaldy Bulls in the Semi-Final. The Bulls have not lost a game in about a squajillion years but our 6 straight wins and tight defense gave us optimism.

And we were in it for a while. We put up a good fight, but we weren’t quite on our A game that was need to go toe to toe with the Bulls. A few incomplete passes here, a few missed tackles there and we were soon in a hole we couldn’t escape from. The Bulls won the game 39-6 and booked their spot in the Final (which they won, beating Woodham Warriors).

In the 3rd/4th place playoff, we faced our old friends the London Rebels, last year’s Southern Finalist. In a lighthearted game, the Sharks seemed more up for finishing on a high note, as we cruised to a 33-14 victory.

3rd place in the UK is not a bad result, eh? 🙂


Stats, Records and Stuff

All in all, it was good season. Yet another top 3 finish in the Southern Conference, a good (but not quite good enough) showing in the Playoffs, and a lot of fun playing football along the way.

Flag football is clearly a team game, you win as a team and you lose as team. So this records stuff is just for fun, just pulling out some individual highlights. Every player knows that whatever their own personal stats, its all aided by the throws, routes, tackles, tips and pressures of his teammates around him.

Some of the following are records, some are just observations…

Luke Nash set a Sharks’ scoring record (Rushing/Receiving) with 119 points, just topping Simon Merton‘s previous record of 116 set in 2010. Luke scored 19 receving touchdowns and 5 extra points. The 19 TDs is also a record.

James Lambert‘s 88 points (13 TD, 8 1XP, 1 2XP) was the fourth highest scoring points total to date.

A new rushing TD record was set by Gary Robinson with 3 TDs.

Neil Henderson tied his previous record of 60 touchdown passes (set 2008), but fell short of his highest points total by just 4 points.

Justin Handley set a new interceptions record with 10 on the season, surpassing the 6 picks by Michael Thompson in 2009. 2 interceptions went back for scores, also a Sharks record.

Rob Love posted 11 sacks in just a three game span (the final 3 games in Chichester) this season, showing form that probably would’ve pushed the current record of 17. He also bagged 4 in the postseason.

The Sharks Defense‘s 24 interceptions in 2011 topped the previous best of 21 set in 2009.

The 64 passes TDs by Sharks QBs (Henderson, Handley) is a new team record, beating the 60 set in 2008).

Conversely the 16 interceptions thrown by Sharks QBs (Henderson, Handley) in 2011 is a new team record, beating 15 in 2010.

Justin Handley scored in all four categories – Passing, Rushing, Receiving and Defense – for a 2nd consecutive season.

Note: records are based on data collected since joining BAFL/BAFA. Sadly no information is available before then, though Pete Steel is acknowledged as the likely recipient of the all time TD scoring leader title, with Neil Henderson likely to have surpassed Nick Watson for passing scores.

Sharks bite back!

Faced with a make or break scenario, the Chichester Sharks did not disappoint.

Needing two wins against two table-topping foes, the Sharks went toe-to-toe with one and romped over the other. With two wins under their belt, Chichester are now back in the playoff hunt.

Having collapsed in last month’s match-ups against Coventry Jets and London Rebels, it was imperative the Sharks rebounded to keep their hopes of a third successive playoff spot alive.

Chichester Sharks vs Woodham Warriors

With a full squad for the first time this season – bolstered by the return of former player/coach Dayle Kirby and receiver Simon Merton – the Sharks were finally able to break their duck against the Woodham Warriors.

Having been on the wrong end of 5 consecutive close losses against Woodham (including a 40-38 loss earlier this season), Chichester returned the favour with a 25-20 victory over the Warriors.

The win can be attributed in no small part to the stunning defensive performance of the Sharks. With great pressure upfront, and incredible play in the secondary, the D were able to halve the points total of Woodham from the first game. Crucially, they were able to force a 4 and out on the final drive to preserve the victory.

Chichester Sharks vs Coventry Jets

Having been uncharacteristically trounced by the resurgent Jets in June (behind the awesome play of Shad McCook), the Sharks were eager to make amends. It didn’t take long, as the Sharks O scored early and often, whilst the D picked off Jets passes to set up the short field. The game was effectively over by half time – the Sharks were on form, whilst the Jets sorely missed McCook. Chichester ran out 46-12 victors.

The two wins moves the Sharks (4-4-1) into 4th place ahead of the Jets (4-4). Chichester still trail London (6-2-1), Woodham (5-3) and Basingstoke (5-3).

The Sharks remaining fixtures are against Leicester (0-5), Basingstoke and South Wales Warriors (2-3) in Chichester on August 28th.


Player stats are now available. Luke Nash (105) has passed the 100 points on the season mark. He needs just 12 points to break the Sharks BAFA/BAFL Receiving/Rushing record of 116 set by Simon Merton in 2010. Justin Handley has set a new Sharks Interception record with 10 on the season (including 2 for TDs), beating the previous best of 6 set by Mike Thompson in 2009.

Updated: 2011 Player Statistics

For those interested in the numbers, the 2011 player statistics have been updated to reflect all four games of the season to date.

Neil has started strong with a 5/1 TD/INT ratio. Adding to the points, his extra point conversion precentage is at an all time high of 71% (previous best 61% in 2010).

Justin Handley is off to a great start in his quest to be the player with the greatest collection of stats, having joined Neil in the passing TD table, sitting at no.3 in receiving TDs, joint 1st in rushing TDs and leading the defense with 7 picks, including 1 for a score.

Top of the receiving table is Luke Nash with an impressive 9 TD catches, followed by Lambo with 5.

For the first time we have multiple players with rushing TDs – both Justin and Gary Robinson have two apiece.

Defensively, we have 14 interceptions already (7 from Justin), two of which have gone back for touchdowns (Justin and Neil). We’re a little slow off the mark on the sack front, recording only 1 to date (Gary).

Altogether a great start to the season, but ultimately its a team sports and happily, we’re off to a winning start with a 2-1-1 record.

You win some…

The 350 mile round trip to Llanharan in Wales to play two top teams was never going to be easy. Nor was travelling with only 6 available players. Warming up in a gravel car park was a little unexpected too.

That said, the Sharks fought hard, beating the Basingstoke Zombie Horde 53 – 31 in the opening match, before succumbing to the South Wales Warriors 48 – 25. Given the calibre of teams, a 1-1 result on the day was a positive.

Interesting, the Horde also beat the Warriors by multiple scores to leave all three teams 1-1 on the day, which was fitting given the competitiveness but also odd as none of the score lines were close.

The results left the conference table as follows, with Chichester in a good position (pre-Easter weekend games):

Woodham 2-0
London 1-0-1
Chichester 2-1-1
Basingstoke 1-1
South Wales 1-1
Coventry 1-1
Leicester 0-2
Chiltern 0-2

It’s a brief report this week (hey, it’s the Easter weekend and its sunny outside!), but well done to all Sharks that competed this past weekend:

Neil Henderson

Gary Robinson

Justin Handley

James ‘Lambo’ Lambert

Toby Chopra

Luke Nash

Shortly I’ll be updating the league tables (to also reflect the Easter weekend upset of Coventry Jets beating Basingstoke 32-14), plus the player stats tables.

Enjoy the sunshine!

2011 BAFACL Opening Weekend: Kickoff Classic

The 2011 BAFACL flag season started with a bang this weekend, with 4 of the 6 teams in action, racking up 45+ points in their opening matches.

Saturday saw the Chichester Sharks and London Rebels travel to new team, the Chiltern Fyrd. The rival Sharks and Rebels squared off first and set the tone for hopefully a competitive season.

The teams were even for most of the first half, before the Sharks were able to capitalise on late Rebel turnovers to forge a 13 point lead going into the break. Unfortunately, the Sharks intensity slipped after halftime and they allowed the Rebels to quickly claw back the two scores. Responding to the surge, the Sharks stepped up their game and exchanged TDs with the Rebels before a heartbreaking long touchdown throw put London ahead 40-33 with less than a minute to go.

Most teams consider the game over at this point, but the Sharks have a record of thriving in this scenario. Unfazed, Chichester nabbed a score in the dying seconds and converted the extra point to tie the game at 40-40.

An unusual occurrence, but the game and both teams were worthy of the tie.

The second game for the Sharks saw them up against the Chiltern Fyrd, a youthful, inexperienced, but well coached team. Unfortunately, opening weekend was a painful welcome for the squad, as they faced two of the most experienced and competitive teams in the league.

It was a points-fest for the Sharks, as the Offense and Defense racked up 10 touchdowns between them. The game was out of reach midway through the first half, but the Fyrd showed a great attitude and competitive spirit to the final whistle. The game ended 66 – 0. The Rebels also beat Fyrd 68 – 7.

With a couple of promising players on the team and a few more games under their belts, look for the Fyrd to make an impact as the season progresses.

Other results this weekend:

Coventry Jets 46 – 19 Leicester Eagles

Coventry Jets 27 – 46 Woodham Warriors

Woodham Warriors 81 – 6 Leicester Eagles

More details on individual player performances will be added later this week.

Please feel free to add your comments on the weekend’s football below…

2011 BAFACL Schedule Released

BAFA has released the schedule for the 2011 Flag Football season and there are some tasty match ups for the Sharks.

Playing on 7 weekends between April and August, the schedule sees the Sharks making 3 trips to Coventry, once across the border into Cardiff, a day in London and a trip to new boys, Chiltern Fyrd in Luton.

As is becoming a tradition, the Sharks complete the season with the final fixture in Chichester (no doubt followed by a BBQ!).

For the full Sharks fixture list head over here