29th August 2001 - London O's 27-0 Birmingham Bulls
London Os booked their place at the 2001 British Senior League Final in Sheffield on
9 September with a shut out win over the Birmingham Bulls in unrelenting rain at Southwark
Park. After the game, Coach Riq Ayub said, "Lots of people have strong opinions about
the Os. I hope they all come to Don Valley on 9 September to watch us in the
final". Turning to the Os performance against the Bulls, Coach Ayub was
delighted with the manner of the win, in particular the score line, he said: "Our
offense scored through the air and on the ground, even the D got a score, but better than
that is the shut out."
General manager Steve McAlpine said of the game: "Its great to beat the old
rivals, its great to be going back to the final, and its great to see two
rookies who last year were playing for our youth team make such an impression". Steve
went on: "If anyone still doubts the value of having a youth development programme,
they should have been here today!"
The Os Senior team are now in their seventh final in six years, including the
EuroCup in 1999.
The weather forecasters predicted a beautiful sunny day; instead we were submitted to
continuous rain. The football forecasters predicted a close game; instead we got a one
The Bulls and Os rivalry is amongst the fiercest in Britball, yet the only
dissent on the day was between the officials and the sidelines and amongst the Bulls
The Os won the toss but went three and out on the opening drive. The Bulls could
do no better and punted the ball away on fourth down.
Again the Os went three and out. On the Bulls next possession they fumbled the
wet ball for Tim Newton to hand the Os offense the best field position of the game
so far. Warren Keen was running the ball at this stage for the Os and having made a
first down the Os passed. QB Stuart Franklin hit rookie Marvin Allen for the 34 yard
score. A bad snap left the score:
London Os 6 Birmingham Bulls 0
The Bulls again found offense difficult. The wet ball making handling errors
commonplace. For the Os defense Shola Goppy, Scott Rowe, Bola Aiyede making tackles.
Going into the second quarter the Os again had the ball. Sonnel Baptiste ran for
8 yards before QB Franklin again leant back and this time he hit another rookie, Dwain
Clarke, for a 52 yard TD. The two point conversion was made by Junior Price, who was
nursing an injured shoulder.
London Os 14 Birmingham Bulls 0
There was still plenty of time left for the Bulls, but their next drive was to prove
decisive. Following a touch back the Bulls started on their 20 yard line. After a Paul
Duncan run, QB Winter threw the ball to a grateful Francis Hatega who appeared to run the
ball back for the score, but a block in the back penalty after the change of possession
brought the Os offense on to the field instead.
Finding themselves deep in Bulls territory it was simply a matter of time before the
Os scored. This time on the ground with Keen running in from 26 yards out after some
great down field blocking by his team mates. A missed kick meant the scoreboard read
London Os 20 Birmingham Bulls 0
Now the Bulls were in need of some rapid offense. However, the Os defense was as
mean as ever. Lance Knight, Scott Rowe and Wes Roach controlled the aerial routes; Sacha
Conte, Tim Newton and Shola Goppy closed the rushing lanes; and Dave Glover, Kevin Newton,
and Danny Berry manhandled the line, whilst Marco Fasulo and Gary Thomas harried the
quarterback and anyone else who came near them. As a result of this pressure, Gary Thomas
sacked the Bulls QB for a loss of 12 yards to end any chance of the Bulls scoring in the
With very little time on the clock, the Os managed to manouevre themselves into
field goal range, but the conditions were not favourable and the 33 yard attempt went
A scoreless period of play. With the rain at its heaviest, neither team could mount an
effective drive. Roland Williams had joined the fray as running back, but he could not
find the daylight he needs to get that open field speed of his working.
The Os defense was still working hard, notably with Damian Anderson throwing
himself head long into the tackle.
As the game clock and internal strife became factors as big as the Os defense,
the Bulls offense continued to struggle. Despite some individual successes, the Bulls
could not sustain a drive. Forced to the air more and more, the inevitable happened and
Scott Rowe ran his interception back 20 yards for the score. Andy Boyles kick was
good to leave the score:
London Os 27 Birmingham Bulls 0
This effectively ended the game and whilst neither team stopped trying their hardest,
there was no further score.
A game in which the Os never looked in trouble. Offensively, the Os looked
impressive. Against a class defense like the Bulls, the Os coaches called a great
game. The run set up the pass and vice versa. In conditions like those faced, the offense
executed the basics and were patient enough to exploit the opportunities presented. After
the game Coach Cliff Morgan was his happiest all season with the ball handling skills of
his running backs, "Everyone seemed to fumble during the regular season. But today,
despite the wet conditions, we held on to the ball well. Its just getting the basics
On defense, the whole unit was outstanding. From the line, through the line backers to
the secondary the defense were excellent. The Bulls managed less than 150 yards of total
offense. The Bulls have some very large and experienced players, but athleticism, coaching
and team spirit held sway.
The Os are going to their fifth final in succession. On 9 September the Os
meet the East Kilbride Pirates in Sheffield. The Pirates secured their place in the final
with a 22 - 0 win over Southern SunDevils.
The Os last met the Pirates in the semi finals in 2000, when the Os won 45
Report courtesy of Stephen McAlpine, General Manager, London O's American Football Club