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The latest inductees into the BAFA Hall of Fame have been honoured in a Celebration Evening as part of the BAFCA Coaching Convention in Loughborough. The Hall of Fame was established to pay homage to the rich history of the sport of American Football in Great Britain. The event was sponsored by EP Sports.

Six of the nine inductees were present at the event. Linebacker, Colin Nash said: “Back in the early 80s, I used to listen to live NFL games on the radio at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning – and that’s what spurred me on to get in touch with the Birmingham Bulls. I was always willing to give everything to the team. I’m a one-club team member and I’ve been there since day one and we’re still going strong 40 years on.”

Running Back, Gladstone McKenzie who became a GB Lions stalwart: “The first team I played for was Milton Keynes Bucks. There was advert in the local paper looking for American Football players and I went down to Manor Fields in Bletchley and there were 200 people just wanting to play. That was when my American Football started and escalated from there.”

Frank Leadon, who was one of the founding fathers of British American Football steered the highly successful Birmingham Bulls of the 1980s to four national titles. He reflected on the memories that his induction has evoked: “This award brings back memories of the pioneers in this country,” he remarked.

Jim Briggs, who formed a pivotal role in guiding the path of British American Football and beyond reminisced about  some of his achievements on and off the field. He said: “When I started officiating 40 years ago, I never dreamed of where football would take me – officiating the World Championship finals and taking on 20 national championship games. Many were great games played between great teams and I have happy memories. But this award is primarily for the things I’ve done off the field – particularly 37 years doing rules and officiating mechanics for BAFA, BAFRA and IFAF. I’m proud of my contributions and rules making the game safer for everyone playing it.”

And Offensive Lineman, Matt Meyer who is the appearance record holder for GB Lions caps with an impressive 17 call-ups was gushing in this praise of team mates and his family for supporting him in following his passion for the game – both at home and internationally.

Mark Moss, who moved from playing with the Luton Flyers in the eighties to become the inspirational Head Coach of the London Blitz between 2006 and 2015 – steering the team to an impressive ten consecutive Britbowl finals, closed off the awards by with the words: “None of us would be anything without everybody else – the teams, the coaches the players, That is the most important thing here”.

Pics: Top row (from top left): Mark Moss – with Britball archivist Dave Tidswell, Matt Meyer; Middle row: Jim Briggs, Frank Leadon, Bottom; Colin Nash, Gladstone McKenzie.

All images: Jody Davies Photography

Former player and Britball archivist Dave Tidswell, who chaired the nominations committee said: “We had an open nomination process – and faced the very difficult task of whittling down the names to nine inductees. The process itself highlights the vast array of talented and impassioned individuals who are connected to the sport we all love. Everyone whose name was put forward deserves commendation.”

The class of 2023 join 38 esteemed names who were inducted in 2021 & 22 and 2024 and nominations will open on July 15.

The full list of inductees who formed the Class of 2023 are:

Mark Moss – Coach

He started as a player with the Luton Flyers in the eighties where he was part of a dominant defensive line unit and graduated to coaching once his playing days had finished. As the inspirational head coach of the London Blitz between 2006 and 2015 he steered the team to an impressive ten consecutive Britbowl finals, winning five of them. He also led the team to the title in the EFAF cup in 2011. His commitment to delivering sustained excellence and getting the best out of his players, earned him the respect of everyone in Britball. A keen powerlifter he introduced strength and conditioning as a cornerstone of the teams preparation to great effect.

Jim Briggs – Administrator

Active in Britball since the 1980s he has worked tirelessly to support the game. In his role as Chair of the BAFA Rules Committee, there have not been many years when he was not responsible for the production of the BAFA Rule Book. In addition to this, he has chaired the BAFRA Mechanics Committee which produces a manual that is complimentary to the rules and governs how officials operate before, during and after games to ensure proper discharge of their duties. The manual has become so successful that it has been adopted internationally by IFAF as the Mechanics Manual for all of their games. Jim continues in these two roles to this day. In addition, he served as BAFRA Director of Operations and President in the 2000s. He also was instrumental in the formation of BAFRA as a limited company and served as a director of BAFA. His substantial administrative contributions have ensured that British American Football as a whole, and its officiating arm in particular, has continued to develop in a positive way and to gain respect for its officiating arm internationally. He remains active as a much-respected zebra.

Colin Nash – Player

A one club legend for the Birmingham Bulls where he was a founder member. He started off as a running back but switched to become one of the most impactful Linebackers the British game has ever seen. A regular GB Lion who featured in both European Championship winning sides of 1989 and 1991. He earned four British Champion titles with the Bulls and was a team captain whose vocal leadership motivated his team-mates. Throughout his lengthy career he earned the respect of all who played against him whilst his flamboyant style earned him the nickname of “The Swagga Man.”

Darryn Trainor – Player

In the British leagues in the eighties and nineties teams were allowed to have import players on their rosters. One of the best of these was quarterback Darryn Trainor of the Glasgow Lions. Originally from Oroville in the state of Washington he put up spectacular numbers for the Lions over a five-season period. In the 1991 season he threw for 3,165 yards and 43 touchdowns, with an incredible ten coming in a single game against Gateshead. His favourite targets were fellow import, receiver Jerome Erdman and British Hall of Fame member Scott Couper. He fell in love with a local girl and has been living in Scotland ever since.

Matt Meyer – Player

A standout Offensive Lineman who came to Football via the British Universities League in 2001 where he was a National Champion with the Hertfordshire Hurricanes. He also started playing in the Adult league with the London Blitz, but a year later he made the switch to cross town rivals The Olympians, where he played for five years, he then had a spell with the Carinthian Lions in Austria, before returning to the Blitz in 2008. His versatility allowed him to play anywhere along the line. In his eighteen-year career he was a seven-time Britbowl Champion, one ELAF cup and he is also the record holder for GB Lions caps with an impressive seventeen call-ups.

Gladstone McKenzie – Player

An elite level running back who started his Football journey in the eighties with the Milton Keynes Bucks and was still playing at a high level well into the nineties, he could always be relied on to get the hard yards. He was an integral part of the early GB Lions teams and was part of the 1989 European Champions squad. After the Bucks folded, he joined the Nottingham Hoods where he was the feature back for three seasons before he became part of the British and European club Championship winning Manchester Spartans. When Milton Keynes produced another successful team, the Pioneers, he was key to them reaching the 1996 Britbowl where they narrowly lost to the Leicester Panthers. He once competed on the popular Gladiators TV show where he had his would-be tacklers trailing in his wake.

Phil Alexander – Player

Phil was an England Schoolboy soccer player who played in Division One for Norwich City then played semi-pro. He came to Football with no previous experience but had a cannon of a leg. He joined the Farnham Knights and kicked a then British record 54 yard field goal. His reputation around the British League got him a try-out with the Philadelphia Eagles when they were in the UK for an American Bowl. That led to him being signed by the London Monarchs of the World League as one of their Operation Discovery National players. In 1991 he won the World Bowl with them and also made the All-World team. He beat out NFL kicker Max Zendejas to secure the Monarchs job.

Frank Leadon – Administrator

Frank is one of the founding fathers of British American Football. Inextricably linked to the Birmingham Bulls where he became the team manager, he also supplied equipment to clubs and players in the early years from his “Great American Sports” shop. Steering the Bulls to four National titles, he also became general manager for the GB Lions as they won European Championships. He was at the forefront of developing the European Federation of American Football and oversaw the start of European Governance. Always providing sage council, Frank was the driver and voice of reason behind a lot of the positive initiatives in Britball. He was also instrumental in the integration of University Football with the original National Governing Body. He had the long-term vision for Uni ball before most had realised its importance.

Leonard Valentine – Player

Heavily recruited by Division One Louisiana State University after a stellar career as quarterback at John Ehrat high school in Marrero, he was a massive signing for the London Olympians of the British League in 1992. Widely acknowledged as one of the best to have ever played in the UK, in his four years with the O’s he led them to three consecutive British and two European club championships. In his first season in Britain, he threw thirty-eight touchdown passes, three of which came in the Britbowl win over the Leicester Panthers. The habits he had developed from playing Football at a high level rubbed off on his British teammates and they became a well disciplined and dynamic side under his leadership.