The London Warriors travelled North as Bolton Wanderers Football Club hosted a preseason scrimmage event at their trainingground between the Championship runners-up, local team the Lancashire Wolverines and cross-Pennine rivals the Yorkshire Rams.
Taking place at a secluded location just a stone’s throw away from the Reebok Stadium, the scrimmage included local boy Vernon Kay, who plays for the Warriors, whilst BWFC captain Kevin Davies watched on from the sidelines.
After a quick warm-up the teams split across the Astroturf pitch, taking turns testing their offensive potency against opposing defensive strength and vice versa.
The Wolverines were far outsized by the two Premier Division teams but looking to make up for what they lacked in size with determination.
It started badly for them. The Warriors, runners up for the national Championship last year, ran clean through the Wolverines’ D on the first two opening plays, with Dwain Jackson getting the two quick scores.
But they quickly regrouped and pressure on Warriors’ quarterback Jerome Allen by the Lancashire pass rush resulted in a number of incomplete or short-gain plays.
Meanwhile the Wolverines’ offensive unit was getting a test against the solid Yorkshire Rams defence on the other half of the field.
Quarterback David Mead was solid on the day but running back Chris Hearle stole the show somewhat with one snaking run in particular going for a touchdown. With some great blocking up front the Wolverines would have been pleased with the huge gain on a tough Warriors D, which included Kay playing safety.
The Bolton-born TV presenter made up for this though with a fantastic leap, tipping a ball down denying waiting Wolverines’ wide receiver Dave Parker a sure-fire touchdown.
The Rams showed why they gained promotion to the Premier Division too, with an impressive show of tough defence and some good plays on offence. One play action play in particular burned the entire Wolverines D with the secondary completely biting on the run fake, allowing quarterback Richard Lynch to hit Peter Yianni in the back of the endzone.
Daniel Bowles, Lancashire Wolverines Head Coach - “It was a big day for us, playing against 2 premiership teams. It was a real test of where we are as a team. I thought the players stepped up and showed they were ready for the challenge, and had some great plays against both teams. The day was great for the development of the players and we’ve taken a lot away from it. I’d like to thank Coach Allen and the London Warriors for hosting the event, and wish them and the Yorkshire Rams all the best for their seasons.”
Anthony Allen, London Warriors Head Coach – “Pass on my regards to all the Wolverines and Coach Dan [Bowles] and many thanks to [the] organisation for their participation and showcasing Wolverine football on the day.” Coach Allen also wishes the best of luck to the Yorkshire Rams and Lancashire Wolverines on their respective seasons.
The Warriors kick off their season 22 April with an away trip to the Ipswich Cardinals at Northgate Sports Centre, Sidegate Lane West, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 3DJ followed by a double header with the junior team at Boston Manor on the 29 April when they will be facing the Bristol Aztecs.
photos courtesy of Nathan Sharrocks