With the 2018 regular season at a close, we are delighted to report that six of the seven teams we had competing this summer have made the play-offs with two winning divisional titles. This coming off the back of our Women’s team making the semi-finals of the Sapphire Series in March and the Titans starting up two new teams in a third U17 team based in east Manchester and a second Adult Team, Manchester Titans Bees who will begin training in January 2019.
A mention to the team who didn’t make the play-offs, our U17 flag team made up of players who originally joined our U12 Flag team last year but where too old to compete completed their rookie season against players 3/4 years older, with further players graduating this year from U12 flag we look forwards to a strong 2018.
Having won the Division 1 National Title in 2017, our Adult Contact team embarked on their maiden season in the Premier North looking to compete with the best teams in the country. A tough opening game saw a big loss to the reigning national champions Tamworth Phoenix, but a 5 game winning streak followed as Merseyside, Sheffield, Edinburgh and East Kilbride all fell to the rampant Titans. With one game remaining the Titans sit at 6-3 and have already secured 2nd place and a trip to the play-offs as part of the best 4 teams in the country. A huge feather in the cap for the Titans, Head Coach Pete Birds said:
“After the highlight of winning a National title, many thought this was the Titans peak in the Adult League. However, due to the desire of the team and the coaching staff this was just another step on our journey and another opportunity to challenge ourselves. We have started to develop ourselves to compete at the highest level and compete with long standing programs around us. The players have certainly stepped up to the challenge, and seen every game as the chance to show their abilities at the highest level of competition within the UK.
The players have believed in themselves and each other and trusted in the coaches and buying into their processes and ethos. The coaches have been absolutely phenomenal in respect to the amount of time and effort spent into planning and preparing. We will all be relishing the challenge as we make it to the final four and I am looking forward to see how we relish the next challenge put in front of us.”
The 2017 campaign was a pivotal one in the flag game as for the first time the league split into two tiers, by winning their division our Adult Flag team qualified for a place in the inaugural Premier tier in the MEC division. Given little chance by anyone in the flag community, the Titans were not ranked in the top 10 pre-season by any of the flag football websites, but laid down an early marker by sweeping their home tournament on gameday 1, including a win over the much fancied Sheffield Giants. They kept momentum and wrapped up the first ever MEC Premier divisional title on the final day of the season. Coach Alan Mead said:
“The Flag Captains held a meeting in preseason where we set out our goals for the year in the Premier Division – the first one being “Don’t Get Relegated”. Well, we’ve exceeded that and now we’ve won the MEC Premier Division Title. The Offence has always been able to score points, but the difference this year is how well our Defence has played. We’ve also got a really good team spirit in the Adult Flag Team, and several rookie players have been able to slot right in and compete. The whole team is looking forward to competing in the National Finals in August.”
The Titans U19 team has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with a first trip to play-offs in 2015, a first divisional title in 2016 and a narrow loss in the Britbowl Trophy final in 2017, the departure of Coach Chapman at the beginning of the season was a blow to the program. A re-shuffle of coaching staff saw U17 South Head Coach Jonathan Homer come across the lead the team. The Team set high goals in pre-season as part of their #FORTHEBRAND mantra; the first of which was to win the division and go into the play-offs ranked #1. The team has gone through the season unbeaten to claim the North division title and home field advantage in the semi-finals. Coach Homer said:
“I am delighted that we have been able to win the division and go undefeated along the way. The Northern division containing three of last years four bowl finalists in EKP, Nottingham and Birmingham was always going to be tough but we set ourselves a high target and we have achieved it as a team. Our ultimate goal is to win the Britbowl so now we have 2 more games and more hard work to put in. I want to thank the coaches who have worked with us all season, including our S&C coach Gary Clarke and our TM Verity for keeping us organised, mostly I want to thank the players for buying into our culture and approach and executing everything we gave them.”
2017 saw the Titans expand their U17 offering to include two teams, splitting the U17 squad into North and South teams to better reach young people in the city. The debut season saw the team finish third in their division and in 2018 the team has been able to go one better and secure 2nd place and a spot at the Britbowl Finals on August 5th. A 7-5 record gave the Titans North play-off football in just their second season. Head Coach Caleb Jackson said:
“Heading to playoffs is a huge momentum shift for us. This year we focused on winning game by game, although many players were involved last year, we have many playing in brand new positions. It seems the positional shuffle has paid off and we are ecstatic to be heading to the National Plate. This will be a trip of nostalgia as Derby is where I passionately picked up this sport, so to go back there with these young sportives is great. On a personal note, grateful to the rest of the Titans faithful and to Verity for support to get through. Thanks to the coaches that have put in their time and to the players who were responded to our step changes. Great to be part of another historic Titans year. #BringOnNationals”
As part of the coaching reshuffle at U19, the Homer/Farrell combination which has led the U17 South team for three seasons was split with Coach Farrell taking the HC role and bringing in new offensive and defensive co-ordinators. Following the unbeaten divisional title and run to the semi-finals in 2017, many of the squad graduated to the U19 team so it was going to be a tough ask with a very young team. All that said, the mixture of a few vets with a lot of young rookies has worked and the team has had their 4th winning season in a row and a trip to the Britbowl tournament as a wildcard to show for it. Coach Farrell said:
“I couldn’t be happier for the young Titans who have worked week in week out from January to get to this point. We’re a fresh young squad this year with only a couple of guys who can claim to have played at least a year of football before the season got underway and now have they all have the chance to showcase their talents in the spectacle that is Britbowl finals day for our 3rd consecutive year. I would like to thank my fellow Coaches and the TM for all their support to date and the extended Titans family who we’ve called upon throughout the year to get us to this point. ”
One of the biggest success stories of 2018 has been the Titans first foray into the youth flag leagues. Both U17 and U12 flag teams embarked on their first seasons in the league in 2018 and the combined spirit of both squads has carried the team to the final 6 Britbowl tournament at the first time of asking. An astounding 7-4-1 record, with some fantastic football played by our youngest Titans has been fun to watch and we can not wait to see how these players develop in the coming years as they move upwards through the club. Head Coach Andy Astridge said:
“We’ve been on one exciting journey! A journey that began at William Hulme High School with six nervous but very eager players. Back then the coaches and team manager got together and all agreed that this first year was just about fun. If we never won a game even and if we never scored, it was going to be a season of fun! Through those cold, wet winter sessions the team grew, not only in numbers but also in the love of the sport. New players came and went but the core group got bigger and bigger.
Our first ever competitive game was a friendly against Chorley……and we won! From this moment on I knew this young group of committed players where going to have a very successful year. Watching these young stars from the sideline was huge honour and seeing all those smiling face has made the journey so rewarding, not only for me but for all the coaches and our fantastic Team Manager Charlie. I have memories that will always be with me. If I was asked at the beginning of the year if we’d make the playoffs?, I’d have said the players will give it all they have that’s for sure. Am I surprised we have made the playoffs? Not at all, after watching all the effort every single player has put in this year, I’m not surprised in the slightest! TITANS TOGETHER!!!!”
Follow the progress of all of our teams as we compete for 6 National Titles during August!