Great Britain Lions

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2023 - 7:17:20 PM

Fifth Place for GB Flag in European Championships
Sep 27, 2023 - 9:06:37 AM

The GB Lions beat former European Champions France 26-25 to finish fifth overall in the European Senior Flag Football Championships in Belfast on Sunday 13 September.

Despite their 26-19 half-time lead, Team GB suffered a first game defeat at the hands of Germany, runners-up in the 2007 European Championships, losing by 33-26 .

Rallying behind the strong leadership of Head Coach Stuart McKay and Defensive Coordinator Mark Fletcher, Team GB eased past Sweden in their second game. Quarterback and Joint Offensive Most Valuable Player (MVP) Neil Arnold connected  on a number of occasions with receiving threats Gurkinder Mann and Tommy McGeorge to lead Great Britain to a 42-13 win.


Hosts and newcomers to the international scene Ireland, were emphatically beaten in Game Three, as Paul Arnold’s steadily- improving defence inflicted one of only three shut-outs in the entire tournament. Youngsters Stuart Harrison and Kenneth Reid tormented the Irish team with their dynamic play.

The 48-0 win set up a crucial final group phase game against the imposing Danes, runners-up in last year’s World Championships in Canada and tipped by many to take this year’s title. Victory would propel Team GB into the semi-finals, keeping them firmly on course to emulate their bronze-winning performance in Helsinki in 2005. Sadly, Team GB's fairytale ending was not to be, as Denmark’s clinical precision saw them take a 15-0 lead within the first few possessions of the game. Team GB tried to fight back, Timothy Smith making a spectacular diving catch, as the team's momentum  saw a series of threats to the Danish endzone.

Two corner-of-the-endzone strikes from Neil Arnold to Kirkcaldy Bulls team-mate Stephen Bramwell offered the faintest chance but the Danes were not about to relinquish their comfortable lead. The final score of 14-49 spelt the end of British medal aspirations whilst their conquerors  Denmark went on to be crowned European Champions.

Despite this Team GB’s third place finish in the group offered a thrilling prospect on Day Two of the competition; a chance to play against the 2007 European Champions in the Fifth-Sixth playoff game.


With a toes-in-the-endzone fourth down grab from the French receiver, first blood was drawn by the former champions. Undeterred, Neil Arnold, who was by now playing with an injured arm, set about dismantling his opponents’ defence, connecting with GB veteran Andrew Leane at the back of the endzone for an important early touchdown of his own. A vital goal line stand by the British defence, bolstered by the tenacious blitzing of David Lee and sideline-to-sideline tackling of giant Jamie Doak, kept the French from pulling away and at half time the sides were deadlocked at 19-19.

Joint Offensive MVP Timothy Smith, playing in his third European competition, was in electrifying form throughout the second half, locating soft spots in the coverage and weaving around the French defence. It was, however, the outstanding play of Tommy McGeorge, Defensive and Overall MVP for the British Team, that eventually secured victory in the final minute of the game as he snared his second interception of the match to wipeout all chance of a victory by France. As time expired, the ecstatic British squad embraced; they had won an impressive victory and exceeded the team’s performance in 2007.



After the competition, Stu McKay announced commented, “I would like to thank all the players and staff in producing this fantastic result. Fifth best in Europe is an excellent position for BAFA in our European standing under the Flag Umbrella of EFAF. Realistically, on a good day, we may have been fourth. But equally, France could have been first and to defeat them has proven that our programme works. I would also like to thank the BAFA Board for their ongoing support of the National Programme. We look forward to competing in Canada in the World Cup in August 2010 and taking flag football to a new level in the UK.”


Dayle Kirby has now joined the Lions coaching staff on a full time basis, assuming the role of Offensive Coordinator. Kirby’s former position as Team Manager has been filled by National Programme Adviser and Assistant Trainer Katie Taylor.

The provisional date for trials for the Lions squad for next year’s World Championships is Saturday, 31 October.

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