Competitors to the end is the most fitting way to describe the Stirling Clansmen 2022/23 team. Wracked with injuries, the players struggled through a season which saw them face a veritable valley of death in the BUCS Northern division.
Ending the season with a combined score of 379-8 secured the team’s demotion from the Premiership level of BUCS American Football down to Division one for 2023/24.
The season started with an away game against Leeds Beckett Carnegie. The contest ended when the teams decided to let the clock run out, resulting in a final score of 52-0.
The Clansmen then welcomed the newly promoted Newcastle Raiders to Stirling in what would be the most competitive game of the year. The Clansmen scored their only points of the season on a run by Finlay Ramsay. The game ended in a final score of 26-8, Newcastle benefiting from many special teams’ mistakes. These mistakes would become a common theme for the season.
Next, the Clansmen hosted long-time rivals the Durham Saints in a game that ended in controversy. The final score was 52-0 for Durham. This was the only time the teams would play each other during the season.
Then it was the turn of Leeds Beckett to make the trip to Stirling, putting up a score of 69-0. Matt Mariota, brother of NFL QB Marcus Mariota, showed his pedigree as a runner, despite the best efforts of the Clansmen.
The Clansmen travelled down to Newcastle in eager anticipation of another close game and a possible win to avoid relegation. The driving rain and more special teams’ mistakes were the downfalls in this contest. The game ended in a final score of 52-0, ensuring relegation.
Over Christmas, the team lost its Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, resulting in positional coaches Matthew Watt and Morgan Stuart-Bailey being appointed to the vacant roles. The Clansmen relished the new faces calling plays, and morale was high leaving the winter break. Unfortunately, the loss of several exchange students affected the already low numbers of the team.
The last two games the Clansmen played were against Nottingham Gold, last years runners-up in BUCS. The bravery shown by the small squad against a team that had easily quadruple the number of available players isn’t reflected in the scores of 68-0 and 61-0. The team ended the last game of their season with only 15 ‘healthy’ players.
Many players showed incredible amounts of courage during the season, with guys playing both ways and never taking a snap off until they were forced to. This fighting spirit is what the Clansmen will aim to bring into Division One next season, hopefully with a few more wins to go along with it.
The team is determined to bounce back and build upon the foundation of their small yet skilled group of players. With recruitment at the forefront of their strategy, the Clansmen are leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit of the best possible talent. Supported by crucial players on both offence and defence morale is high, and the Clansmen can’t wait to get back out on the field.
Featured Image Credit: John Ryan