Back on 16th December, Northumberland Lightning announced they had achieved their goals – in 2015 they would be competing in the National League setup!
After sustained growth and development in 2013 and 2014, the club were accepted into the leagues and provisionally placed into NFC II North for the forthcoming year.
Below, we look back at a timeline of 2014 and the teams progression this past year.
After returning to training in February, the team spent the initial 6 months of the season working on recruitment and focusing on their weekly training sessions.
As June approached, the club took the opportunity to speak to visitors at the Morpeth Fair, which resulted in a few new boys to the club!
Then, after months of practice, the club decided to begin competitive scrimmages for the year and on 3rd August, fellow development team Tynedale Fury travelled to Ashington for what was a first competitive scrimmage for many players on both teams and the first time the club had hosted any opposition at Ashington.
In the following training sessions, we saw the first appearance of Peter from Eye of the Tyne Photography at Ashington. The club invited Peter to come down and assist in some action shots of the players, which turned out to be pretty impressive and the first of many!
By this point, the clubs momentum was in full swing and, still in August, the club launched their first Team App for iPhone and Android! You can still download this (for FREE) to keep up to date with the club in 2015, by selecting the click-able link.
Rounding off a busy month and building on the back of the Morpeth Fair, the club decided to perform a public training session on 30th August, at the West Moor Show.
The next few weeks saw the club prepare for a scrimmage against Durham Saints, a successful University team who had helped the team in 2013 with a similar fixture and offered to repeat the favour as part of their pre-season setup at the end of September 2014, in what was a great leaning curve for the players down at Maiden Castle.
No rest for the team saw them finally complete an Associate fixture on Sunday 19th October, against another University team – the more local Northumbria Mustangs. The game ended 46-0 to the Mustangs, utilizing their huge squad effectively at the end of a training camp week, but also showed glimpses of real potential from the Lightning who managed to drive the ball forward well at times, particularly in their short passing game.
Whilst preparing for their next Associate fixture, at the weekly training sessions, the club were visited by two talented photographers linked to the West Moor Show – David Fletcher and the West Moor Camera Club, who aimed to test their skills during the action.
The club forged a good relationship and were lucky enough to have their presence at subsequent games also.
That next game came on the 16th November when Carlisle Sentinels visited Gateshead Stadium on a Sunday evening for a floodlit match-up. The Stadium was used to assist officials cover two games in one day, however issues eventually prevented this – but both teams played anyway and ended up having a great contest. A highlight coming from Lightning HB #31 Andy Newton who managed to end a driving 80 yard run with a Touchdown.
To end a busy 4 months for the team, on Sunday 7th December, Ashington once again played host to a game as the West Coast Trojans travelled south to help the Lightning complete another Associate fixture, with full BAFRA attendance. A spirited performance from the Lightning was put to bed by an experienced and powerful WCT, however the game was played in good spirits.
Finally, in the days following this game and a lot of hard work behind the scenes was the news everyone had been waiting for….
A very successful year for the club, who are now looking forward to 2015!
A huge thank you to everyone who supported us in 2014 and in the coming days stay tuned for our preview and information on who we may be facing in the new year and what we have planned.