The Manchester Titans 2017 season was one of dreams and we loved being with them every step of the way. The team are now in the Premier Division and have played a few games, obviously it’s a completely different game. After a worrying start they have still managed to adapt to their new league.
We caught up with their Head of Adult Contact American Football, James Dean, and asked him a few questions. We wanted to know how the team is getting on and what’s new with the Titans.
First of all, how are the Titans feeling about this new season?
As a team we’re very excited to be playing in the Premiership this season. Bringing top flight football back to Manchester has been the ambition of the club for a long time, and that is something we are proud to say we have achieved! Now our goal is to ensure that we remain in the Premiership North Division for the foreseeable future.
We know this will be no easy task. As a club we will try and put everything in place to support our players and coaches to ensure this is the case. With a healthy amount of hard work we believe that this will be possible.
Performance and result wise, how is the team getting on this season?
Today is somewhat of a blue Monday, having lost our second game of the season 44-41 to our local rivals the Merseyside Nighthawks. The game ended in a thrilling/heart-breaking manor with the Titans taking the lead 44-38 with 11 seconds left in the game only for the Nighthawks to score on a completed Hail Mary attempt as time expired!
That being said we’re currently at 4-2 playing in the top division of premiership football in the North. This is a record we are proud of, and one that not many people outside our organisation even believed possible. We still have 4 difficult games left in our schedule including a visit to the reigning national champions the Tamworth Phoenix.
As the newly promoted side in this division we are pleased with just how well we are competing with the more experienced sides, and we have every confidence that we will only get better as time goes on.
Has anything changed within the club now that you’re in the Premiership?
The team came into the season as underdogs, a title we are quite happy to take and run with! With a heavy loss to Tamworth in our opening fixture people already began pencilling us in as the whipping boys of the Premiership for 2018.
This however, ignited a fire and determination within our players and coaching staff alike. We knew there would be an adjustment period, and we knew just continuing to do the same as we had always done would not be enough.
With back to back games in Scotland ahead and games against some excellent football teams our players have become more driven and focused than ever before in order to meet these new challenges.
Are there any new players standing out for Titans this season?
As a rookie playing for a premiership team it is always going to be hard to stand out and make a huge impact in your first season. However, we’ve added some national and international transfers, who have added strength and depth to our team.
We have added running backs Axel Falempin and Gustavo Andre to our roster, who are French and Brazilian national’s respectively. Plus we have some UK talent in Offensive Lineman Karl Davies, and Defensive Lineman Conor Hewitt and Michael Todd. Good lineman are always a much needed commodity in football, so we’re over the moon with our new additions.
How are last season’s Titans taking to the Premiership?
We were in a very fortunate position at the start of this season, that we had retained the majority of our championship winning side from 2017. This meant we already had a great core of experienced players to build around.
The team is still being led by its experienced quarterback and offensive captain Sam Bloomfield, and he still has standout receivers Newnes, Bamber and Kinder to throw too. Our players have risen to the challenge of playing at the top level. They understand how important it is to execute and how critical it is to limit our mistakes in order to be successful.
Have you had many new additions to the team after last year’s great season?
As previously mentioned we have had a number of transferring senior and university players this year. These guys add a wealth of talent, experience and depth to our side. It’s very difficult to compete at this level without any prior football experience.
We hear news of new teams being added to the Titans family, can you tell us more?
This is correct and something we are super excited about! Last week we formally announced the creation of the Manchester Titans Bee’s a second adult contact team. They will go through the leagues association process next year and will compete in Division 2 in 2020.
The creation of this team is to further develop new and inexperienced players before potentially making the transition to playing in the premiership. The best way to gain experience is to play. There is nothing better than real competitive game experience which our second team can provide. It will allow even more players to play competitive football for the Manchester Titans and for our graduating juniors to gain some much needed experience in adult football. We have created our own stepping stone to becoming the future of our premiership side.
We have also created a 3rd Under 17’s Contact team, which will be playing in East Manchester. This 5 man variant of the game allows even more 14-17 year olds to experience the game. Before feeding into our under 19’s side.
With the Titans constant growth how are you managing all the new additions?
With a lot of hard work and dedication! We have an excellent group of volunteers who run our club and without them none of this would be possible. Last year we racked up almost 80,000 volunteer hours across our 10 teams between staff and coaches alike.
That number is mind blowing to me and shows the true dedication that our players, coaches, and staff have. Anyone wishing to help support the club either as a coach or as a volunteer we urge you to please get in touch. We always need more reliable and committed individuals to help with our continued growth and development. With the creation of our 11th team I believe it makes us the largest club in the UK!
Any big games or events coming up that people should be aware of?
Our next home game is on 24th June at Belle Vue Leisure Centre. Kick Off is at 14:30, and we will be playing the East Kilbride Pirates. They are one of the UK’s best american football programs. They will be traveling from Glasgow to play us that morning.
Finally, what are your thoughts and predictions for this season ahead?
I will go with thoughts as I am not a fan of making predictions. Our primary goal for 2018 was to remain in the Premier Division, a win against East Kilbride will almost guarantee that. We would love to finish our inaugural season with a winning record. However there are 4 excellent football teams that stand in our way including the undefeated and reigning national champions.
We’ve managed to pick up wins already from the other three teams whilst playing away. We hope we can repeat these impressive results with our home field advantage too.
The plan is, take it one game at a time and never underestimate any of our opponents ahead of these fixtures though.
It was great to chat to James and hear news about the Titan’s performance in the Premier Division. We were especially excited to hear about their expansion plans. It’s always good to see a sports team concentrating on bringing new players into a sport. And, giving younger children an opportunity to play a sport they may never have tried.
If you would like to get involved with the Titans in any way, whether that’s playing for one of their many teams or even helping out on match days you can visit manchestertitans.co.uk for more information.