By Joe Hewlett
Leeds Bobcats have made astonishing progress over the last two seasons.
The club were formed in 2011 and endured a rocky start to life in the sport of American Football. They recorded just two wins in their first fully qualified season in 2015.
Roll on 12 months and they can now boast a record of 9 wins from their most recent season. With new additions to the side, the Bobcats improved significantly and their results saw them reach the semi-finals of the national play-offs.
Newly appointed General Manager Gareth Eaton spoke to the Yorkshire Voice exclusively, he said:
“Last season was phenomenal. We had around 35-40 players turning up to play each game last year and it helped that a lot of the new players had some experience of playing American Football. We got a lot of students turning up and playing for us. They were mainly from the universities of Leeds and Bradford. They’ve been a massive help and the players who were involved the season gained a lot last year.
“We are always getting new players turning up at trials all the time. Funnily enough we haven’t had any American lads play for us but American Football is massive around Europe and we’ve had a lot of players come and go from the likes of Germany and Russia who are at semi-pro level.”
When a new team form, there are a lot of obligations to fulfil, which includes passing certain requirements from the The British American Football Association.
And of course, like most clubs, and everyone in society, they have financial struggles.
“We were granted money from national lottery when we began which we were very grateful for. We received a large sum of money which was brilliant because the equipment isn’t cheap. We had to get helmets, pads, balls, pitch markers, pain machines. Also, our subs pay over and above £200 a season. Unfortuanly we have to in aid of covering the cost of travel, the need of having medical staff and the referees.
“When you begin as a new club you have to go through an affiliation process and during that year you have to prove yourself to the BAFA – and we had to play a series of friendlies the year before we officially joined the Conference league which includes the likes of Sheffield Sabres,” he added.