For the 2nd year in a row the Manchester Titans Adult Mixed Flag Team made it’s way up to Glasgow for a weekend of football at the Toryglen Indoor Sports Facility for Flagging New Year. Only this year, instead of a few European Teams and mixed bunch of British Flag Teams, there was some of the top teams across Europe competing from countries such as Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Russia, Northern Ireland, and Denmark.
The Titans were drawn in what was probably the toughest group of all – facing the German Champions and Big Bowl winners, Waldorf Wanderers, the Uppsala 86ers who are made up of most of the Swedish National Team, the Glasgow Hornets who finished 4th in the UK last year, the Utrecht Dominators, hosts of the King Bowl tournament in the Netherlands and the Chichester Sharks, winners of the SEC South Division last season. The Titans as MEC Central Champions would definitely have their hands full over a busy 2 days.
After a treacherous drive up on the Friday Night, the Titans arrived early on Saturday morning to take on the Waldorf Wanderers. With German National Team QB Benjamin Klever leading the Wanderers offense and able to call on the services of GB International WR Kenny Bello, Manchester struggled to contain Waldorf. However Titans U17 HC and occasional Flag Team Player, Ryan Farrell broke away for a long TD for the Titans, but a couple of dropped passes prevented the Titans from adding to their score as Waldorf romped to a 41-7 victory.
Next up was the Glasgow Hornets, whom Manchester had beaten in the Jags 7s tournament, although the Hornets were understrength that day. With GB Flag HC Alan Young at QB the Hornets scored first but the Titans roared back with a TD from Jay Pitchford. Then after a great diving interception by the Titans Dev Samba, Farrell added his 2nd TD of the tournament for the Titans to take a half-time lead. A sack for Ian Allonby was the Titans only other highlight as the Hornets stingy defense limited scoring opportunities whilst GB international Julian Holborn-White scored the game-winning TD with little time remaining as Glasgow took the win 19-12.
Manchester felt disappointed in losing to the Hornets and went out against the Utrecht Dominators looking to put things right. The two teams had met last year, and had played out a very competitive game with Utrecht finishing the winners. Again this game was very close and an interception by Marko Mirčeta set up touchdowns by Jay Pitchford, Dante Harris (in his Flag Debut) and GB International David McInally had Manchester trailing 26-19 with around 2 minutes to play and the Titans driving downfield. QB Alan Mead’s intended pass to Adam Smith was intercepted when Smith was taken down by a Utrecht player and with all the Titans stopping play due the blatant interference, Utrecht ran the ball back for a touchdown. However the Referees controversially allowed the play to stand giving the Dominators a 32-19 victory.
Manchester then had to face the 3 time Swedish Champions Uppsala 86ers in the final game of the first day. The Titans struggled to get anything going offensively with the lone touchdown scored by David McInally and the final score being 27-7 to round off a disappointing day.
After a good night at the Bavaria Brewhaus in Glasgow, the team returned to Toryglen early on the Sunday morning to face the Chichester Sharks, SEC South champs whose numbers were boosted by the addition of GB International Tim Thomas. Thomas’ 2 TD receptions made the difference as the Titans lost 21-14. David McInally recorded an interception for the Titans, while TDs by Rick McEwen and Adam Smith were converted by Jay Pitchford and Ben Nuttall.
Onto the playoffs and Manchester took down the Aberdeen Oilcats 21-20 with a last second defensive stop. Touchdowns from Dante Harris, Rick McEwen and David Mcinally. The crucial extra points were from McEwen, Harris and Jay Pitchford. Defensively sacks from Julie Gilmour, Marko Mirčeta, Tom Brook and an interception from Nick Weston Jr. helped the Titans to victory.
In the final game of the day, Manchester won their final game of the Flagging New Year Tournament 18-7 over Carnegie Flag. Alan Mead threw 3 TD passes to Ryan Farrell, Dante Harris and Jay Pitchford.
The Titans finished in 21st place overall, which seems worse than the previous year’s 15th, but the quality of the teams was much stronger. Room for improvement but in a team that included 5 rookie players and was trying out a new offense, it was a decent showing and sets them up for the coming season in the Premier League. The Titans decided their Tournament MVP was Rick McEwen who was awarded a Flagging New Year T-Shirt.