ABOUT THE BIRDGANG
History of the Solent Thrashers
The Solent Thrashers (formerly the Andover Thrashers and Hampshire Thrashers) are an American football team currently based in Southampton, England. They compete in the Premiership South of the BAFA National Leagues (BAFANL). The club was founded in Andover in 2003, moved to Winchester in 2007 and then to Southampton at the end of 2011.
The club was founded in December 2003 following a meeting in an Andover pub between two local enthusiasts, Dave Scott & Andy Mountain. The following month, an informal training session was held with a few local players. For the remainder of that year, the Thrashers took part in several flag football tournaments and friendlies, the highlight of which was a home match against Team England which the Thrashers won 16-12. The Thrashers also reached the semi-finals of a tournament held in Fareham which was ultimately won by Team USA.
In December 2004, the club applied to join the BAFL and were accepted to compete in Division Two South West to replace the Nene Valley Hybrids.
EARLY YEARS (2005-2008)
The 2005 season was not a good one for the Thrashers. They had a small roster and players with little experience playing both sides of the ball for the whole game. Inevitably this took its toll, they lost every game and recorded a 0-10 season, scoring just 30 points throughout the entire campaign.  The main consolation from that year was that Phill Price, the Thrasher's line backer, won the BAFL Rookie of The Year Award.
After appointing a new offensive coach, Len Scott, and training hard over the winter the 2006 season proved to be more successful for the Thrashers. They boasted a 5-game winning streak, held second place on the table for a couple of weeks and almost maintained a shut-out against the experienced Plymouth Admirals. The Thrashers also had outside hopes of making the playoffs if they beat league leaders South Wales Warriors in the last game of the season. However, those hopes were crushed when they had a touchdown called back in the last minute of the game for a Lineman down field. Andover eventually finished third in the Division 2 South Conference with a 5-5 record.
The 2007 season started with the promotion of Len Scott from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach, and the appointment of Bob Turner as Defensive Coordinator. The season proved to be their most successful to date, starting off with a four-game winning streak which included two consecutive shutouts. They ended up with a 7-3 record, finishing third in the division and narrowly missing out on the playoffs for a second successive season due to their inferior positive points difference in their head-to-head record against the division's runners-up Cornish Sharks.
At the end of the 2007 season, the club announced that head coach Len Scott had left the club to join Sussex Thunder. The following month at their AGM they revealed that Bob Turner would be Head Coach and that the Thrashers were to leave Andover and take up residence in Winchester to share with the local rugby club, and that they would therefore be renamed the Hampshire Thrashers.
The 2008 season the Thrashers narrowly missed the playoffs, as they finished with the same record as the 2nd place team, but due to tiebreakers the Thrashers finished 3rd. The highlight of the season was a fumble recovery by Mike Whitson who took the ball 99 yards for a touchdown. This will go down as a Britball record.
PLAYOFFS AND PROMOTION (2008-2011)
After narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 2008, the Thrashers went on the offensive in the offseason signing a number of experienced players following the unfortunate demise of local premiership team the Southern Sundevils. The Thrashers finished the regular season with a total of 8 wins and 1 tie (in the first game of the season against the newly formed Gloucester Banshees, however due to an inability to complete a previously postponed away game with the Cornish Sharks the league awarded a tie resulting in season tally of 8 wins 2 ties 0 losses. This gave the Thrashers their first ever divisional title and playoff berth, where they were seeded second, and hosted a first round playoff game. The first-round game saw the Thrashers continue their strong season with a convincing win of 24-6 against the East Kent Mavericks, setting up a Southern Conference Championship game versus the Colchester Gladiators. The Thrashers started out strong but couldn't contain the vaunted Gladiators rushing attack and eventually lost the game 20-49 therefore ending their 2009 season just one game short of the Division 2 championship game.
The season saw the Thrashers put up some impressive numbers, especially on offense. QB Nick Watson finished the year with 142 completions, 2126 yards and 31 touchdowns. Running back Tim Iles rushed for 620 yards and 9 touchdowns, and 5 different receivers put up over 300 yards and multiple touchdowns (Paul Brady - 590 yards, 6 touchdowns, Brennan Peterson - 491 yards, 8 touchdowns, Kyle Latore - 357 yards, 4 touchdowns, Dan McMillan - 350 yards, 6 touchdowns and Rikki Lear - 339 yards, 6 touchdowns).
NEW BEGINNINGS (2012-2016)
The 2012 season saw the Thrashers at a new home ground after making the move from Winchester to the new multi-million-pound development Test Park Sports Ground in Southampton after finishing the 2011 season. 2012 also saw the appointment of a number of new coaches. Last year’s Defensive Coordinator Mat Clark took over the position of Head Coach following the departure of Tyrone Lindsey. Jim Roberson joined the club as Defensive Coordinator having previously coached several teams including the now defunct Southern Sundevils to a national championship. In his seven season tenure with the Southampton based team Coach Roberson failed to make the playoffs in only one season and won both a division 2 championship and division 1A championship while posting a 49-27-2 record. Three other appointments were made in the offseason with Simon Pirie, formally of the Southern Sundevils, coaching Offensive Line; former player Pete Bennett returned to coach Defensive Line and Thrashers all-time leading Quarterback Nick Watson became Quarterbacks/Assistant Offensive Coordinator following his retirement from playing. The Thrashers remain in Division 1 South but due to a league wide restructure would face several new teams with only two of their opponents from the previous year remaining in the same conference (Sussex Thunder and East Kent Mavericks). New opponents for the season included Cambridgeshire Cats, Essex Spartans and Kent Exiles. The Thrashers would also see the renewal of two old rivalries following the promotions of South Wales Warriors and Berkshire Renegades.
2012 was a tough year both on and off the field for the Thrashers as they finished with a 3-7 record with all wins coming at home against Kent Exiles, Essex Spartans and Cambridgeshire Cats. Statistically it was a forgettable season on both sides of the ball, however there were a few bright spots. Brad Sawyers firmly entrenched himself as Starting QB, switching from WR following the retirement of Nick Watson. WR Kyle Latore broke the 2,000-career receiving yard and 20 TD barriers. DE Ed Butcher broke the record for number of sacks in a season with 7 and DB Josh Amis notched up his 20th Career Interception in just his third season. Off the field the club had to deal with mid-season coaching departures as new additions Jim Roberson and Simon Pirie left after the teams second game of the season.
MVP's for the season went to QB Brad Sawyers (Team MVP), RB Sam Froggett (Offensive MVP) and DL Ed Butcher (Defensive MVP).
The big news for 2013 was that the Thrashers would change their name to Solent Thrashers which would mark the start of forging closer links with Southampton Solent University. 2013 also saw another league wide restructure with all the teams who finished above the Thrashers in 2012 (Berkshire Renegades, Sussex Thunder, East Kent Mavericks, South Wales Warriors and Cambridgeshire Cats) along with 2012 Division 2 finalist Peterborough Saxons being promoted to the new Premiership South; while the remaining Division 1 and 2 teams would form a new second tier - the National Division.
The Thrashers would join the National South Conference wear they would face a number of new teams as well as two old rivals from previous seasons in Division 2. The new look conference included Cornish Sharks, Oxford Saints, Bristol Apache, Gloucester Centurions, Bournemouth Bobcats, league newcomers Swindon Storm and Farnham Knights (following relegation from the Premiership).
2013 saw a few new faces on the team with the signing of a number of players from the local university sides and from other national leagues teams. This season also marks the return of 2011's Leading Tackler Vassili Fedotov after a year off and former WR Dan McMillan who will be switching to LB after his stint with the GB Olympic Handball team. However, 2013 also saw the departure of WR Kyle Latore as the Thrashers Career leading WR looked to take his game to the continent, signing with German side Lubeck Cougars.
ONWARDS AND UPDARDS (2016-2018)
In the off-season between 2016-2017 saw the Thrasher welcome new Head Coach, Steve Rains. Coach Rains’ has been coaching for over 30 years, most recently with the Farnham Knights before joining Solent. Coach Rains has recently achieved a promotion to the Southern Premiership of British American Football and has 3 National Championships and 7 Conference Championships to name a few.
The Thrashers would join the BAFA National South Conference Division 1. The new look conference included Oxford Saints, Ouse Valley Eagles, Sussex Thunder. And league newcomers South Wales Warriors (following relegation from the Premiership).
2017 saw new faces on the team with the signing of several players from the local university sides and the highly successful Rookie days. After a slow start to the season saw the Thrashers go 0-2 including a shut-out to Sussex Thunder, the team, formed of a considerable number of rookies got their first win and shut-out at home against South Wales Warriors (0-20). This win was a turning point for the Thrashers which saw them turning the season around going on to beat Ouse Valley Eagle 2 out of 3 meetings, Oxford Saints 1 out of 2 and South Wales Warriors 3 out of 3. The final league game of the season against South Wales Warriors saw the Thrashers finish on a winning record of 6-4 and earning their place in the BAFA National League Southern Championship Playoffs and earning a trip to the London Olympians. Sadly, the Thrashers suffered a defeat against the London Olympians which saw the successful 2017 season coming to an end.
In the off-season, the Thrashers travelled to Somerset Wyverns who are a BAFA Associate team to assist them in their progression into the National Leagues and for a game against an experience, established team.
The awards night saw several awards being handed out from the coaching staff. Congratulations to the Thrashers for a successful winning-record season and the following on their achievements:
MVP - Brad Sawyers. Most Improved Player - Tom Scott. Players Player - Adam Bowley. Offensive Player of the Year - Dayle Greenfield. Defensive Player of the Year - Josh 'Peaches' Mehra. Offensive Linemen of the Year - Adam McClure & Ed Butcher. Offensive Rookie of the Year - Michael Wing. Offensive Backfield Player of the Year - Paul 'Toast' Brady. Defensive Backfield Player of the Year - Keith Johnson. 100 Kicking Points - Dom Williams. Clubman of the Year - Sam Scott
RECENT YEARS (2017-2018)
Following the successful foundations set in 2017, the team continued to grow under the helm of HC Steve Rains. After the 2017 season, the members of the club voted for a Management Committee change with the Chairman. Outgoing Chairman Dom Williams was giving a club-wide hank you for his service, as newly-elected Paddy Tickner take over.
In the off-season,the new management team came together to continuously grow the stature and the future of the club as well as the awareness of the sport in the local community.
2018, similar to 2017, saw new faces on the team with the signing of several players from the local university sides and the highly successful Rookie days. The Thrashers got off to a grate start to the season, and carried this forward. Game 7, away to Sussex Thunder saw the Thrashers secure the Divisional Championship after going undefeated until this point. After a knockback against Berkshire Renegades in Game 8, the Thrashers bounced back to finish the season in Bristol on a 9-1 record. Finishing with this record, the Thrashers secured home-field advantage to face the London Hornets in the BAFA National League Southern Championship Semi-Final (National Div.1 Quarter Final). The Thrasher surpasses the Hornets with relative ease, however there run come to an end against Kent Exiles in the Southern Final (Nation Div.1 Semi-Final) on what has been dubbed "The Rain Bowl".
The AGM and awards night started with Paddy Tickner, after a successful spell in 2018 to be re-elected in the role of Chairman. The night also saw several awards being handed out from the coaching staff. Congratulations to the Thrashers for a successful winning-record season and the following on their achievements:
Players Player and Offensive MVP: Adam Bowley. Defensive MVP: Lewis Minns. Most Improved Player: Paddy Tickner. Offensive Lineman: Ed Butcher. Offensive Backfield: Tom Davies. Wide Received: Dayle Greenfield. Defensive Lineman: Jason Oluwa. Thrashers Rookie: Oli Coetzee. True Rookie: Ali Butcher. Special Teams: Matt Hewlett. Clubman of the Year: Rich Le-Vallee.
WE DID IT!! (2019)
2019, what a year to be a Thrasher!
As in recent years, the team continue to grow and develop in the off and pre-season which was evident to see when the season kicked off. The Thrashers put their foot on the gas from the very first kickoff which led the Thrashers to completing the PERFECT season by going 10-0. Now onto the playoff, the playoff which have haunted the Thrashers in previous years but going into them this year - it felt good. The Thrashers faced off with the London Hornets at Home in the Quarter Final which ended 31-0. Next, we faced off with Cambridgeshire Cats - which was a much closer affair, but nevertheless, the Thrashers dispatched the Cats 20-13.
Now the big on - The Thrashers traveled to the New River Stadium, London for the National Division 1 Final against a formidable opponent, the Sandwell Steelers. The game came down to the final 2 minutes with the score at 14-14 with everyone predicting overtime. Then with less than 60 seconds left in the end of the 4th, the Thrashers broke the Steelers defence and scored the winning touchdown! That was it, the Thrashers - Division 1 National Champions and Premiership Football for 2020.