Lightning join Academy setup

Following months of behind the scenes action, we are pleased to announce that we are part of the newly established North East Academy of American Football (NEAAF)!
The project is a joint venture which was offered to all senior North East teams, with a goal of working together in order to develop young talent for the future in the region.

Over the coming months, the Lightning plan to re-establish and develop the youth setup in Northumberland; joining the Grainger Park Gators and Durham Knights under the banner of the NEAAF to create a pool of young talent in the North East.

Furthermore, the NEAAF will be looking to work with local Schools and community projects in order to provide an opportunity for young people to try American Football in a safe environment.

Lightning President Carl Gibson said;
“Once the idea of a regional academy was discussed I just knew that it was something we had to be part of. The sport is desperate for the game to reach young people and this is exactly what the academy will provide to the North East. We’ve talked about it for several months now and it’s fantastic to see it starting to take shape. Not only are we aiming to get people involved from 14+ but we will look to expand to having a women’s team and a flag team in the future also.”

For up to date information on Academy events, see the newly created Facebook page for further information. If you are interested in working with us or want to know more, get in touch at


120days – A Big Thank You!


Over the last summer, our club took part in a special challenge to raise money for worthwhile local causes.

For those who aren’t familiar with the background, previous Head Coach Mal Ditcham was inspired by the phenomenal work of home game sponsors Punch Drunk Comedy in raising money during their events for movements such as #CaringforKian.
Mal issued a challenge to the Lightning members to raise as much money as possible across the season.  “120 Days” was born and the beneficiaries nominated as; Bradley’s Smile Trust, Princess Ellie’s Trust, Nathan’s NeedsJohn Joseph’s Journey and finally Melanie’s Mission.

Between May to August, our members took part in various activities including;
weight loss challenges, bake sales, tug of war, auctions, 62 mile Northumberland Coastline walks, blood drives, 84 mile Hadrians Wall walks, a fully kitted Great North 10k, Gung Ho 5k obstacle course and much, much more.

Our followers, friends, opponents and all involved gave generously and we found local companies helping out too, such as Wolfe & Crown who held a gift raffle and kindly donated their profits!

The fundraising ended back in August and after collecting the funds in, we raised a total of £2300.00 to be split between the five causes, an incredible amount which is now being paid out.

We would like to thank everyone who took part, got involved, supported us, gave generously or helped us in this campaign… it truly is appreciated by us and by those who will be receiving the money raised.

Thank you!

Post season Recruitment Day 

Following completion of the clubs second year in the National Leagues and a short post season break, our squad returns to training this coming Sunday for the first session under new Head Coach Dale Clarke. 
After a busy 6 months on and off the field, the club is aiming to begin preparations for the 2017 season immediately, beginning with our upcoming Recruitment Day on Sunday 9th October 2016.

The event has always proved popular in the past and we are hoping for a positive turn out once again, giving players of all backgrounds and experience levels the chance to train with the squad, sample the sport and meet our coaches. 

With the NFL season underway and interest in the sport once again at a premium with the UK series games around the corner, now is the perfect time to get involved in the sport. 

At the Lightning we have always welcomed interest from those who have no previous experience but wish to get. involved and so our recruitment days are the perfect opportunity to give it a go and ask any questions. 

As a club we aren’t just looking for players either and are always on the lookout for coaches or volunteers to help run the club behind the scenes or on game days. 

Our recruitment day will be held on Sunday 9th October at our usual home of Ashington Rugby Club, from 10am – 1pm. For more information, see our Facebook event or get in touch at

Head Coach vacancy filled!


We are pleased to announce that our Head Coach vacancy has now been filled and that current Northumberland Lightning Defensive Coordinator Dale Clarke will take charge of the club from September 2016 onwards.

The club were informed by current Head Coach Mal Ditcham earlier in the season that he intended to take a break from the game at the end of our current 2016 NFC North II campaign, following almost two years in the position, including our debut National Leagues season in 2015.

Since then we have been working behind the scenes to find suitable candidates to fill the role, including publicly advertising the role from the end of June. As a result, we received expressions of interest and applications from both internal and external candidates.

With only two games remaining over the next fortnight and the club eager to make plans for a productive post season, the committee met last Thursday to discuss the situation.
After careful consideration, the decision was made to offer
Clarke the position of Head Coach from the end of the season.

Clarke has been with the club from almost the beginning as both a player and a coach, before taking on our defensive coordinator position at the end of 2015, receiving positive feedback from the players.


Coach Clarke at the recent Jacksonville Jags UK Coaching Academy

He impressed the committee with his plans for developing the team and his desire to move the club forward, focussed on building a sustainable outfit capable of competing at National Level.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who expressed an interest in the role and again congratulate Dale on his new appointment. The committee and the players look forward to working with him in the post season and beyond.

Mal Ditcham will continue in his role for the remaining two games, with his final fixture being away to Carlisle Sentinels on Sunday 14th August 2016. We would again like to express our sincere thanks to Mal for his hard work at the club over the past two years and we hope to see him back involved again in the future.


120days update – “Bring on the wall”


On our last update, the club had been busy with blood drives, coastal walks, tug of wars and bake sales. Well, since then, the team has stepped it up.

Back on 2nd July, members and supporters of the club took part in the Gung Ho 5K obstacle course, to raise money for our campaign – which looked like hard work but a LOT of fun.
Then, the following day, members of the club ran the Great North 10k – IN FULL KIT!  It was a great effort which generated a lot of publicity and media interest, including a mini appearance on BBC Look North News!





Then, we were honoured to find out that men’s grooming company, Wolfe and Crown were stepping up to help us in our fight. The relationship between club and company has grown over the last 12 months, with club captain Jack Johnson an ambassador the company and their products. So, we were honoured to find out that the company were celebrating their one year birthday by holding a raffle, with the proceeds going to the #120days campaign – an amazing gesture!! (You can still enter until 1st August- click here!) or visit their Facebook Page to support them!

Finally, coming THIS WEEK is our final event. Head Coach Mal Ditcham and Club Captain Jack Johnson (JJ) are taking on the challenge of walking all 84 miles of Hadrian’s Wall, starting in Bowness-on-Solway Thursday morning and finishing at Wallsend on Sunday lunchtime.
They will be documenting their adventure through the Instagram account @Bringonthewall so follow them for live updates!

To make matters better (or worse?) – for every donation of £5 or more made before the walk, if you use the phrase “Wax Him” – Mal gets to wax a strip of hair from his legs. There will be a live Facebook video too. Worth every penny.

Whilst we are some way off our original target, the with the 120 days of fundraising nearly over we are currently sitting at £1857 worth of online donations from 71 supporters – plus some heft offline funds too. That is superb!   …. BUT we have a few days left, so let’s have one final push and see what we can achieve for these worthy causes. Please visit out donation page here and give generously!

Match Report – Northumberland Lightning @ Dundee Hurricanes 24.07.16

The Lightning crossed the Scottish border for their 3rd successive away trip last Sunday to visit the Dundee Hurricanes for an afternoon kick off at Morgan Rugby Club.

Northumberland and Dundee had met 3 times previously (1-2) with the most recent encounter being a 14-0 victory for Dundee on match day 4 at Ashington Rugby Club, which had seen the Hurricanes edge the game in the second half after a scoreless end to end first half.

Northumberland headed into the game making several changes, most notably Stu Dick stepping back into the role of QB in the absence of QB Callum Pattison and being forced to implement formation changes to counter the loss of several key defensive players through injury- including all of the seasons starting LBs.

However, numbers could be of no excuse as Dundee took to the field with a similar sized squad and put the Lightning to the sword with unexpected ease. A high tempo opening half immediately put Northumberland on the defence as Dundee found the end-zone quickly, much to the frustration of the Northumberland team.

Picture courtesy of

Picture courtesy of S.R. Wood Sport Photography

The game became even harder when Northumberland lost QB Stu Dick at the beginning of Q3 and had to rely on FB Scott Radford to step forward.

There were glimpses of a fight back, most notably from three Northumberland defence who had three interceptions but these couldn’t be capitalised on, with drives often shut down by a solid Dundee defence.

Whilst there was no lack of passion or heart from the Northumberland team, no excuses can be made for the poor performance on the field, in what became an unexpectedly one sided affair.

The Lightning have one week to re-group before a visit from likely Division Champions Newcastle Vikings (H) on 7.8.16 and a final away trip to Carlisle Sentinels on 14.8.16.


Lightning DC visits Jaguars Coaching Academy


Yesterday our own Defensive Coordinator Dale Clarke travelled to Loughborough to take part in The Jacksonville Jaguars UK Coaching Academy. The one day event was run by current Jaguars staff and gave him the chance to work with some of the very best American Football coaches in the world including coordinators, positional coaches and ex-pro players to study tactics, playbook, film breakdown and drills.

We cant wait to give the players a small taste of Jacksonville at our next session!




Match Report – Northumberland Lightning @ Aberdeen Roughnecks 10.7.16

Northumberland Lightning headed up to Aberdeen last Sunday hoping to get back to winning ways after a difficult first half to the season.

The teams last met on the opening day of the season when the Lightning defeated the Roughnecks 10-8. Since then however, Northumberland had suffered consecutive defeats and sat with a 1-4 record pre-game.
Aberdeen, by contrast, headed into the game on a 3-3 record, picking up a last gasp win against Newcastle Vikings the week prior and likely wanting to avenge that opening day defeat.


The Northumberland Lightning team in their new away jerseys pre-game

Aberdeen (white) won the toss and opted to defer and so Northumberland (wearing the new away kit) began with the ball. The opening quarter was a solid battle for field position, with both defences holding well and the ball rarely moving beyond 20 yards in either direction for the most part.


Northumberland Lightning RB Gary Cooper is dramatically stopped in on his run. Credit to Gail Davis for the photograph.

The rain was falling and whilst both teams began to focus on their respective run games, Northumberland did make 3 successful completions in the opening drives.

Both teams fought on in the second quarter but Aberdeen began to gradually push Northumberland back between exchanges and the pressure paid off just before the half when HB John Strange ran the ball home to open the scoring and Aberdeen added a PAT to end the half 7-0 up.


Aberdeen Roughnecks running the ball. Credit to Gail Davis for the photograph.

The Roughnecks then received the ball in the second half and moved down the field, with HB Dave Obatolu forcing the Lightning back with several powerful runs to put the ball just outside the Northumberland end-zone, before finishing with a short run over the line.


Lightning blocked the PAT and the score was 13-0. Northumberland continued attempting to fight back in the rain. However, Aberdeen continued to utilize their field position and soon made the most of a perfectly placed punt, downed on the Lightning 1 yard line. Northumberland attempted to rush the ball out but the hole was crashed by Aberdeen for the Safety, to leave the score at 15-0 and the match gradually slipping away from Northumberland leading into the fourth quarter.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the game was put to bed. A fumble by Northumberland gave CB Lewis Rothnie the opportunity to recover and there was time for Aberdeen to add a further rushing score from 10 yards with HB John Strong punching through as a depleted Lightning squad finally succumbed.


Aberdeen Roughnecks RB Grant Travis driving forward. Full credit to Gail Davis for the photograph.

The game ended Aberdeen Roughnecks 28 – 0 Northumberland Lightning.

Despite the defeat, there were positives to be drawn from the game for Northumberland.
Defensively there were some excellent performances – with DB’s Michael Raven and Luke Osbourne making several key stops and taking an interception each, helping to frustrate Aberdeen’s aerial threat in already difficult conditions.


Luke Osbourne holds onto the ball following his interception in the fourth quarter. Full credit to Gail Davis for the photograph.


Northumberland Lightning LB Mike Brown makes a big stop. Full credit to Gail Davis for the photograph.

Offensively, QB Callum Pattinson made some good plays and opportunities which on another day could have paid off. RBs Gary Cooper and Scott Radford battled hard to move the ball throughout against a tough Aberdeen defence.

Another loss for Northumberland but great fighting spirit shown throughout. Injuries have hit the squad hard, so it will be vital that the team continue to pull together, despite the lower numbers in the next upcoming fixture against Dundee Hurricanes (A) on 24th July.

The photographs featured above are thanks to Gail Davis – visit her Facebook page here to see the full album. To read the Aberdeen Roughnecks full match report (we borrowed some of it!!)- visit their Facebook page here!



Local funding secures new away kit

Yesterdays game against Aberdeen Roughnecks saw the team reveal their first away kit!

The team have been competing in their original home kits for each game since entering the National Leagues in 2015, so since the turn of the year the club have been working hard behind the scenes to design and source an alternative kit.

Without question, the hardest part of funding the initial purchase of new strips for an entire squad is of course – funding. Thankfully, in late February 2016 the club found out Ashington Town Council had considered our application to their Small Grants scheme and revealed that the club had been successful.

Ashington Town Council - LOGO

As a non-profit community based team, the substantial grant was fundamental in helping the club to secure the kit and so everyone at the club is grateful to Ashington Town Council for their support and assistance before, during and after the application.

Fast forward 4 months and following a few glimpses of the new strip recently on social media, the team were finally able to take to the field wearing the jerseys after a long journey north for the NFC North II game against Aberdeen yesterday.


Northumberland Lightning players before the fixture against Aberdeen Roughnecks on 10.7.16


Defensive Captain Michael Raven during the game against Aberdeen Roughnecks – full credit to Gilles Gardner for the picture

Whilst the result went against the team, the addition of away strips is yet another step forward for the club, who are continuing to build and develop as a community based club – both on and off the field.


Lightning players show off the new jerseys at a recent blood drive in support of the #120days fundraising challenge

To find out more about Ashington Town Council, click the following links to head to their ‘Town Team” Facebook  and Twitter pages for up to date news and events.

120days update – 36 days to go!


So far the club have raised £1481 – an incredible achievement but obviously a long way to go and time is running out.
So, between away games, the big fundraising events have started now – beginning last Thursday with a team trip to give blood.

Then, ex player and current committee member Kevin Randall walked the Northumberland Coastal Path in 3.5 days – that’s a staggering 62 miles!
Kev ended his walk at our Sunday training session and received a well deserved round of applause from some very appreciative players.

It won’t stop there either. We have players taking part in the Gung Ho 5k race this Sunday and then the Great North 10k (in full kit!) this coming Sunday.

We need YOUR help us raise money for our local charities – please visit out donation page  here and give generously!