120days – A Big Thank You!

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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!

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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 NorthumberlandLightning@gmail.com

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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Northumberland Lightning players before the fixture against Aberdeen Roughnecks on 10.7.16

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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.

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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 – 62 days to go!

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62 days remaining in our #120days challenge and we are another £500 up from a fortnight ago, putting us at the 20% mark but with the big events set to begin as we enter June!
Throughout May we have seen some very generous donations from you all, so thank you!

There has been overwhelming support and donations for Offensive Lineman Liam Stevenson and his weight loss challenge, which has seen him smash it and lose 37.9 lbs in this recent stage and a staggering 7.5 stone loss overall – unbelievable.

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Head Coach Mal Ditcham fed some hungry workers with his American Football themed bake sale, selling out within 10 minutes!

 

Then, last Sunday, headed by Offensive Lineman Gary Christie, a small team of Lightning players attending the “Shave by the shore” tug of war at the Newbiggin beach Fayre and as a result, received a generous £50 donation!

Tug of war

We have also had a Newcastle United shirt auctioned off by Mr Conley and much much more and donations fly in for the activities lined up in June and July, such as the blood drive, Northumberland Coastal Path Walk, Great North 10k and Hadrians Wall Walk.

To keep up to date with the fundraising events, keep an eye on our Facebook page for more information.

Or, if you want to sponsor us in our challenge, our JustGiving page can be found here!

#120days challenge update – 86 days to go!

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86 days remaining and we have £4750 left to raise in our #120days challenge!
….So it’s a good job the lads at the Lightning have been busy making plans! The next few months (in between games) we are aiming to pick up momentum with our fundraising efforts. As it stands, we have members planning to participate in the following events:
-June 23rd – Northumberland Coastal Path Walk
-July 2nd – Gung Ho 5k
-July 3rd – Greak North 10k (in full kit!)
-July 28th – 30th – Hadrians Wall Walk
-Lb for £ – Weight Loss Challenge
-Summer Blood Drive
-Workplace Bake Sales
… & many many more to be announced!
To help promote the charities, each day this week on our Facebook page we will be writing about one of the charities involved, so keep an eye on our page for more information.

If you want to sponsor us in our challenge, our JustGiving page can be found here!

Match Report – Glasgow Tigers @ Northumberland Lightning 24.4.16

Match report by Stuart Dick.

Northumberland Lightning suffered a setback in their NFC North Division Two campaign with a 26-0 defeat to Glasgow Tigers on Sunday at Ashington Rugby Club.

The Lightning came into the game confident after a 10-8 win over the Aberdeen Roughnecks in week one, but came down to earth with bang as they committed seven turnovers against their Glaswegian opposition.

Two first quarter punts were fumbled by Northumberland, allowing Glasgow excellent field positions, which they capitalised on with two rushing touchdowns to lead 14-0. From then on however, the Lightning defence mainly dominated as it did in week one, holding the opposition to just over 100 yards total on the day.

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The Lightnings D line up against a Glasgow attack

 

However, the Northumberland offence struggled to move the football, completing just one pass on 22 attempts, and struggling to block a pacy Tigers D.

The Lightning’s troubles were added to late in the second quarter when a Glasgow punt was downed at the two-yard line. Three plays later quarterback Callum Pattison threw pick six to make the score 20-0.

The second half saw a switch of quarterback for the home side, Pattison suffering a shoulder injury meaning veteran backup Stuart Dick took to the field.
Early in the third quarter the Lightning got a drive going, running backs Scott Radford and Dale Merritt contributing, as did penalties on the Glasgow defence.

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Jordan Nellis takes a punt up-field for Northumberland

A Michael Raven field goal was blocked, allowing Glasgow to take control once again.
As the game headed into the fourth quarter, another rushing touchdown from Glasgow put points on the board.

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Tigers offence push the ball forward

A late Michael Brown interception gave the hosts hope of at least putting some points on the board and Northumberland nearly broke a big play for touchdown soon after, Dick overthrowing wide receiver Carl Charlton by millimetres, missing a sure fire touchdown.

A poor day at the office for Northumberland (now 1-1) who will look to bounce back against the Dundee Hurricanes (also 1-1) on Sunday 1st May at Ashington.
However, there were still encouraging signs, with the Lightning defence showing its metal on a number of occasions despite poor field position.

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Game Day Three

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Defensive Back Chris Pringle won the Most Valuable Player Award, winning two tickets to a Punch Drunk Comedy gig of his choice, the clubs game day sponsors for 2016.

To find our more about upcoming events for Punch Drunk, head on over to their Facebook page here!

Lightning land knockout sponsors..

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We are pleased to announce that Punch Drunk Comedy will now be the game day sponsors for ALL of our remaining NFC North II home fixtures!

The Lightning and Punch Drunk have teamed up both on and off the field in recent weeks; with the community based comedy movement providing two tickets to the MVP from our opening game against Aberdeen Roughnecks last weekend, whilst also helping to support the club with our 120days challenge.

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#120days will see the club attempt to raise £5500 during the season for local charities

Following this, Punch Drunk have gone the extra mile and kindly offered to repeat their prize for our 4 remaining home games!

Click here to see our fixtures for 2016 or check out the advert below for upcoming game against Glasgow Tigers on Sunday 24th April 2016, free entry at Ashington Rugby Club.

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To find out more about Punch Drunk Comedy, visit their Facebook page here and check out their upcoming events this week in Northumberland, between 18th – 21st April!

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Match Report – Aberdeen Roughnecks @ Northumberland Lightning 10.4.16

Match report by Stuart Dick.

The Northumberland Lightning shocked the Aberdeen Roughnecks on the opening day of the British American Football National League season with a 10-8 victory at Ashington Rugby Club on Sunday afternoon.

The heavily fancied Roughnecks, who reached the play-offs last season with a 6-4 record, made the long journey south to Northumberland to take on a Lightning outfit that went 1-9 in its rookie season, suffering heavy 44-20 and 53-0 defeats to Aberdeen last season.

The Roughnecks first drive showed some potential, but the Lightning held firm against their Scottish opponents forcing a punt that Aberdeen were able to down inside the 10 yard line. Northumberland’s offense struggled to gain yards, but an excellent punt by Michael Raven flipped field position in the home sides favour.

From that point onwards, the defences dominated, particularly Northumberland’s who got immense pressure on Aberdeen QB Chris Breen; rookie linebacker Liam Allen a particular menace totalling two sacks with fellow rookie ‘backer Dan Bandeira also sacking the QB. Second-year DE Sean Hall picked up his first sack of the season, the defense getting four in total.  Rookie CB Luke Osbourne also made his first career interception as the Lightning shut out their opponents in the first period.

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Lightnings D take their orders

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Lightnings LB attack the Roughnecks O-Line

 

On the other side of the ball Northumberland managed to move the ball thanks to the running of RB Dale Merritt and the blocking of an offensive line including two rookies.
The hard work paid dividends in the second quarter when, after a fumble recovery by Hall after another vicious sack, Raven kicked a field goal through the uprights to give the Lightning a 3-0 lead.

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Lightnings O v Roughnecks D

A crucial play before the end of the first half almost provided more points for the Lightning. A fantastic pass rush forced Breen into an errant throw, the ball picked off by recent transfer Michael Brown who ran the ball back to the three yard mark.

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Michael Brown returns an interception towards the endzone

However, there were two flags on the play, both on Aberdeen, but the referee’s called the play should never have happened, meaning Aberdeen inexplicably kept the ball, and with that the action in the first half ended.

 

The third quarter followed a similar pattern, Northumberland and Aberdeen’s defences on top, both stuffing the run game, but Lightning had the edge in pass defense forcing a number of mistakes from the oppositions trigger-man.

By this point the Lightning had been forced into changes on defence, having only 11 players on that side of the ball. TE Ross Conley was now playing at linebacker, with TE Lee Davison and QB Stuart Dick splitting time at Free Safety from the 2nd quarter.

With 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Northumberland furthered their lead. Allen broke through the Aberdeen offensive line, making a crunching hit on Breen as he was in the process of throw.

The ball looped in the air for Conley to intercept, running the ball in from 23 yards out, Raven’s block opening a lane for Conley to reach the endzone. The Aberdeen quarterback was unfortunately forced out of the game after the hit with a shoulder injury.

To their credit, Aberdeen came back strong in the remainder of the game, running the ball up the middle for small but sustained gains. With just over two minutes remaining in the game a busted coverage allowed TE Rob Hayes to run free down the middle of the field, catching a 40 yard reception for the score, RB Ollie Schaffmann converting the two points leaving the score 10-8 in Northumberland’s favour.

With two minutes remaining it meant Aberdeen would be forced into an onside kick, Lightning rookie RB Daniel Patterson picking up the kick despite a pile on from the Roughnecks.

The Lightning still needed a first down to secure the win, but after three straight run plays Northumberland were forced to punt the ball away, Raven kicking the ball out of bounds.

This left Aberdeen with one last play with 4 seconds remaining from halfway. The Roughnecks backup QB dropped back and fired to his left where FS Dick was waiting to grab the interception and take a knee to end the game.

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A fantastic effort by the Lightning against a side who went to the play-offs in 2015, defeating Northumberland 97-20 on aggregate last season.

Head Coach Mal Ditcham said following the game;
I’m delighted with the guys today, going up against a team like Aberdeen on the opening day was never going to be easy, but the team played brilliantly and managed to grind out the win. Last year was our first in the league and at times we found it difficult, so to get a win in the first game really shows how far we have come in the last 12 months. The lads did brilliantly, I can’t praise them enough. We will not get carried away though, this is just 1 win, we have another 9 games to go, so our focus now switches to our home game against the Glasgow Tigers. I’d like to say thanks to Aberdeen for making the long trip down south, they put up a strong fight and the late TD really made it an exciting finish. The Roughnecks are a great organisation and we’ve enjoyed all of the games we’ve played against them. We wish them all the best for the rest of the season”

Game day sponsors Punch Drunk Comedy supplied two tickets for an upcoming gig to the game’s Most Valuable Player, awarded to rookie LB Liam Allen for his 2 sack performance, along with a number of other big plays. If you want to join Liam at one of these shows, Punch Drunk 2.4 is coming to Blyth, Bedlington and Ashington between 18th-21st April 2016, click on this link to access their Facebook event for more information!

Next up for the Lightning is a home game against the Glasgow Tigers on Sunday 24th April, 2.30pm Kick-Off at Ashington Rugby Club, further information to follow soon!