Farnham Knights

About Us

The Knights were formed by a group of American football enthusiasts in 1984. The team played it’s first game in 1985 and, known as the Farnham Knights, joined the Budweiser league in 1986 achieving a 5-5 record under head coach Marc Salazar. 1987 saw the team take the Southern title winning all ten regular season fixtures under Marc Salazar and assistant Frank Snyder. The run ended with a play off defeat by the Ashton Oilers before the season ended with a win over the Ealing Eagles in the first of the clubs charity games.

The following year saw a change of league and the Knights played premier division football in the NGL. A tough season ended 5-5 and third place in the conference. 1989 saw yet another change in the league structure of the UK game and the CGL was formed. Marc Salazar had returned to the USA and Frank Snyder took over as head coach with another serviceman, Mike Hassett, taking on the assistants role and John Archer coaching defense. The season began with four wins before a loss to Solent and London Lasers blunted the title challenge. In the last game of the regular season the Knights made the play-offs with a narrow victory over the Lasers and finishing second to Solent. The play off game was at Rockingham Rebels and on a very hot summer’s day the home team ran out a comfortable winner after a close first half.

Another league switch in 1990 to the BNGL placed the Knights among previous Bowl winners Norwich Devils and the powerful teams from Ipswich and Medway. Mike Hassett took over as Head Coach assisted by John Archer and Tony Forder. In the toughest year so far the record was 3-6-1 (a tie against the London Barons). The record hides the fact that two of the games were lost by one score including a 7-0 result to eventual Bowl winners Ipswich Cardinals.

In 1991 the club appointed John Archer as the head coach and depended on an entirely UK grown coaching squad. The Knights made the play offs for the third time in six years during a season which saw them win 10 of their 14 matches, 3 of the defeats came at the hands of eventual Bowl winners the London Capitals with the other at the hands of local rivals Hampshire Cavaliers. In the away fixture against the same opposition the Knights came from behind with 3 TDs in the final quarter to clinch their play off place and a visit to Cornwall to play the GW Oilers. The Knights made it to the second round of the play offs with the tight 17-12 victory.

In 1992 the Knights had their most successful year to date with an appearance in the BNGL National Bowl game in a close and exiting contest with the Colts who came out 30-26 winners. (Their third final). The result was in doubt until the final whistle. Earlier in the season six straight wins took the Knights towards the South Western title but narrow losses to Plymouth and, in the final game at Hampshire, handed the title to the Admirals but gave the Knights a play off berth. Oxford Saints were the first opponents and the Knights earned a semi-final home clash against the Kent Cougars, not the expected trip to Plymouth. The Knights clinched the Southern title with the victory that earned the trip to Leicester, a just reward for the players and particularly the coaching team, led by Richard Foster, who had worked so hard all year.

The 1993 season saw the Knights reach the semi-finals only to lose a close game to the Bournemouth Buccaneers after a brave fourth quarter fight back. Following the regular season a Passball team was run under the Knights banner which proved highly successful. The team won every game including the final at Cannock against the strongly fancied home team.

In 1994 the Knights merged with the Hampshire Cavaliers and were renamed the Southern AFC Southern Seminoles). Phil Maltby was appointed Head Coach and led the team to the South West conference. Unfortunately they were knocked out in the first round of the play offs by a Brighton team which had been beaten earlier in the season.

The Seminoles struggled at the beginning of 1995 before turning the season around down the stretch. This included a victory over Bowl Runners-up Plymouth at Basingstoke. the team were a referee’s whistle away from tying up a play-off place in the final game at Bristol but it was not to be.

In 1996 the Seminoles found a new permanent home at North Camp but also found the season to be an uphill battle. A disappointing 3-6-1 record disguised the fact that three of the defeats were by less than a touchdown. On a much happier note the Farnham Knights Youth team won the National Championship by not only remaining undefeated but by also by not conceding a single point! It is believed to be the first time this has been achieved in British American football history. A hard act for the new Knights to follow in 1997!

1997 saw some positive changes to the fortunes of the club with Personal Assurance offering a great sponsorship deal, the name change back to the Knights and the traditional colours. On the field this was reflected by some superb performances as the Knights went undefeated during the regular season to make the playoffs for the seventh time in twelve years. Michael Mills rushed for more than a thousand yards and QB Adam Heirons threw twenty touchdown passes and only two interceptions. The post season turned in to a bit of a soap opera with first the referees failing to turn up for the quarter-final against Tiger Bay and the following week Tiger Bay not turning up. The semi-final against the Bristol Aztecs was put back and, in a tense and exiting game, the Knights lost in heartbreaking fashion 13-12. Bristol then went on to become Bowl winners by hammering the Chiltern Cheetahs the following week.

The 1998 season got off to a bad start with the Knights being forced into a last minute change of venue to Farnham Rugby club and a 53-0 loss at the hands of eventual Bowl runners-up Sussex Thunder. This was then followed up by another heartbreaking one point loss to Bristol. The Knights went on to record 2 wins against Plymouth and the London Blitz before, yes you’ve guessed it, another one point loss to Bristol. Two more defeats at the hands of the Blitz and Oxford put the team at 2-5, but with nothing to lose the Knights played the remainder of the season for pride. A good win at home to Plymouth preceded one of the best games played by the Knights that year. Away to the Sussex Thunder, the team produced a great team effort in a 32-10 loss to gain a lot of respect from the opponents. The season finished with a 25-6 victory over the Oxford Saints, after being 6-0 down at half time. 1998 was a bit of an up and down season for the Knights who finished 4-6 which unfortunately doesn’t reflect the fact that three games were lost by a combined total of 6 points.

The Knights played in Division 1again in 1999 and finished with a 1-8-1 record. Although the team struggled and the results were often close relegation to Division 2 was inevitable. The lone win of the season came against the Oxford Saints as did the 0-0 tie. However two bright spots from the 1999 season was the recruitment of Canadian, Xavier Desilets and Australian, Shawn Garner, both whom were recruited through the web site. The Knights hard fought season was reflected by the award of season’s MVP to offensive lineman Dave Carpenter.

The 2000 season saw the team back in Division 2 but with stronger than ever backing from sponsors Personal Assurance. This support saw the team move to Guildford to play in the prestigious surroundings of the University of Surrey Varsity Sports Centre. Good news off the field was matched with equally good news on the roster. Long time Knights heroes Adam Heirons and Jon Williams made their return and brought with them Simon Todd, Paul “Bubba” Biscombe, Pete Fulford and Ken Devanney. The Knights also signed David “Hands” Williams, Glen Boyle and Dudley Graham amongst others to add to the hard core of returning players from the two campaigns in Division 1.

The season could not have started better as the Knights swept aside long time rivals the Plymouth Admirals 52-6 with QB Heirons throwing for 148yds and 4TD’s to add to Adedayo Ashaye’s 119 rushing yards and 3TD’s. The next game sent a shiver through the league as the Knights crushed the confident Maidstone Pumas 54-14. Heirons again threw for 4TD’s, Jon Williams being the leading receiver with 2 and the running game contributed 3 again but it was Keith Theobald with 122yds and 2TD’s who lead the attack. The Defense did not concede a score ( a sign of things to come) as they held the Pumas to just 67 total yards. The Herts Stags were next to visit and the home team surprisingly struggled as penalties took their toll. The 13-6 winning scoreline was the closest the Knights were held to in the Regular season but Ashaye still clocked up 107 yds rushing and a score and Heirons again threw a TD (this one to Jonny Allen) and was again over 100yds.The Chiltern Cheetahs then visited for the Knights final regular season home game and were dispatched 27-12 . With both Theobald and Ashaye out of the game Rob Scruby made a timely return from injury and ran for 114yds and a TD – Heirons threw 3 more scores and notched up another 100yd + game – Jon Williams again caught 2 of the TD’s with Dan Brice adding the other.

The first away game of the year saw a visit to the Oxford Saints (Who had also been relegated) and general opinion was that a slightly out of sync Knights team would suffer its first defeat. The team responded to those opinions with an immaculate display in defeating the Saints by 26-6, the Defense was outstanding holding the Saints passing attack to just 18yds. Heirons went 100yds+ again as 2 way hero Dan Brice snared one score with Jon Williams inevitably adding another. Boosted by this result the Knights then visited the struggling Kent Exiles and won 66-0. Amidst glittering performances from Heirons (114 yds 4TD’s to Brice, Theobald, Allen and Ollie Tomlinson), Rob Scruby rushing for 204yds and 3TD’s from just 12 carries, Keith Theobald adding 126yds rushing and another score – the highlight was still a 1yd play that opened the scoring. Veteran Offensive lineman Mark “Tango” Lockwood crashed in for his first ever score in a 14 year career which was to end in glory at the Final in Sheffield. the Knights were now 6-0 and on their way to the Southern Conference title. Traffic problems saw back up QB Ashley Heath start the away trip to Plymouth, he completed 50% of his passes for 75yds and 2TD’s as the Knights led 20-0 at the half. The final result was a 39-0 win as the defense again shut down the opponent. In the final regular season game Heirons was on the sideline injured and Heath led the team to a convincing 33-6 win and a perfect 8-0 record with a 70% completion rate 93yds and 2 TD’s. Williams and Brice made the scoring catches and it was Scruby who again led the rushing attack with 114yds and a TD.

The Knights secured homefield advantage for the play offs and started with the visit of the Merseyside Nighthawks. The Knights defense was dominant – the visitors recording minus yardage through the air and just 61yds on the ground. Heirons returned to pass for 132 yds and 2 TD’s before Heath took over and added another score. The Semi – Final was a nail biting affair as the 8-0 Knights met the 7-1 Saints for a place in the Final. When the Knights scored with 5 minutes to go (Heirons to TE Simon Todd) the pendulum swung towards the home team who led 12-6 but the saints hit back and with just 4 minutes remaining led themselves 13-12 – the significance of the scoreline was not lost on any of the Knights connections (we lost the ’97 Semi -Final 13-12 to Bristol) . This team however was not to be denied and it was the trusty Heirons/Williams connection that sealed the win with just 1min 30 remaining. Heirons threw for 149yds and all 3 TD’s (Todd, Williams and Allen) in what was an epic battle.

The Knights went to their second ever National Final as underdogs despite their impressive season. The Ipswich Cardinals (with 5 American players) were also 8-0 and were strongly favoured to win. The Knights were backed by a raucous crowd who filled the stadium with chants and songs from the teams past. With such superb backing and the prospect of the final appearance of a number of players (including Heirons, Williams, Theobald, Devanney and Lockwood) the Knights realised their destiny and crushed the Cardinals 41-7.Rob Scruby was voted the MVP for his 137yds and 2TD’s from just 11 carries- Williams had 2 receiving TD’s and ran for a third as the Knights dominated the game.

The season was a landmark in the clubs 16 year history but hopefully is the start of something rather than a culmination. Head Coach Steve Rains said, “The team – both on and off the field were superb throughout the year. It is an honour for all of us to be associated with this season. We are losing some great players but the club is strong and with the continuing support from Personal Assurance we will be better equipped for Division 1 this time.”

The 2001 season saw the club make the step up into Division 1 to be greeted with a baptism of fire. The first game against the 4 time National Champion London O’s was the toughest possible start. The re-modeled team with, among others, significant arrivals on Offense, Steve Donlevy (QB), Gavin Hart (WR), Dayle Kirby (WR), John Clark (WR) , Kenny Lettman (TE) Defense Jay Cashman (DB), Andy Mitchell (DB), Gez Neilan (DB), Rodney Edgerton (DB/P), Steve Harrison (LB), Scott Stonelake (LB) , Scott Scriven (LB) and the return of former Knights Mike McMillan and Nick Preece made up for the fact that many of the Championship team were lost to retirement or removal of home (but none to other clubs).

The O’s took full advantage of the teams growing pains but the second half – with Ashley Heath showing cool control in leading the offense – gave a glimpse of things to come. A second loss followed to the Southern Sundevils for whom Tony Stitt (RB) was outstanding, was backed up with a winning streak only interrupted by a second loss to the ‘Devils.

A very credible 5 – 3 record (including a tough 7-3 win over the Mets) saw the Knights into the playoffs at the first attempt. The Sundevils and that man Stitt stood in the way and the knights succumbed in the quarter final.

The 2002 season saw the Knights continuing to build. Defensive Coach Pete Vaughan switched to concentrate on the Knights Special Teams and Ian Ellis joined the staff as Defensive Co-ordinator. On the field that man Stitt made a switch to Columbia Blue and duly delivered a 1,000yd + season and former London Monarch Tony Mackenzie made his presence felt on D. The squad generally improved and the results both with and without the 2 Tony’s, saw the Knights go 8-2 with the exceptions being two narrow losses to the perennial Champion O’s.

A second successive top tier play off spot ensued and a closer than comfortable Quarter Final win against the Mets was followed by a tremendous away win to the heavily fancied East Kilbride Pirates. So to the Knights first ever National Championship game (the other two appearances having been at 2nd Division level). The London O’s were the favourites and with 6 consecutive Championships and no defeats domestically for 4 years this was not surprising. The Knights fell behind to two early scores and could have been overwhelmed, but they fought back to lead by one point at half time. The O’s however finished the job in the second half but credited the Knights with giving them their toughest challenge in years.

2003 saw further strengthening by the Knights on the sideline and on the field, importantly it also saw tremendous support from Sponsors allowing the Knights to take up their place in European competition. Premier Prospects came in to lead the backing of the European Campaign with the Knights main sponsor Personal Assurance also boosting their involvement to assist the cause internationally as well as domestically. Further sponsorhip from Travel Inn, Royal Mail and Rose Electronics added icing to the cake.

The Knights acquitted themselves well in the EFAF Cup beating Swiss Champions Zurich at home and putting up a creditable display in losing on a memorable trip to Innsbruck against the Tyrolean Raiders. Although disappointed at their early exit from the domestic play offs it was another season of progress for the club.

2004 – the year simply described as KNIGHTIME! The Knights had reloaded and came back with a bang. Their first game saw the end of the O’s 7 year unbeaten run. The team then battled through to the EFAF Cup Final beating Zurich in a nail biting finish to qualify. The Final in Inssbruck was a fantastic occasion but the Tyrolean Raiders proved too strong, they went on later to beat Eurobowl Champions Vienna in the Austrian Bowl. The Knights finished as the #12 ranked team in Europe, an amazing achievement in just 5 years back in the UK top Division. Chris McIver set the BSL alight with his punt returns, Kingsley Ejiogu announced his arrival in the league with 1,000 + yards and 18 TD’s, the Oline continued to dominate and the Defense made sure the Knights had plenty of the ball. Apart from a blip against the London Blitz with a tied home game the Knights won all of their games, including a second defeat of the London O’s in a display of dominant defense which led to 6 turnovers for the London team. A first ever meeting with the Birmingham Bulls saw the new Conference Champions ease their way to their second ever National Final. The O’s were waiting in Sheffield but after 7 years of dominance the National title changed hands as Ashley Heath passed, Tony Stiitt ran and the Knights Defense intercepted their way to a 28-14 triumph. The team had put a landmark in Knights history and in Britball history. 2005 sees Coach Rains return for his 10th year with a team determined to repeat at home and go one better in Europe.

2005 was another very successful year for the club even though the achievements fell just short of 2004 for the team. In the EFAF Cup the Knights recorded an historic first ever win for a British team over a French opponent in a well contested game in front of 500+ spectators at the Aldershot FC ground. The return leg however saw the French overcome the deficit to take their place in the Quarter Finals. In the domestic regular season the Knights repeated as Southern Conference Champions with a 9-1 record, their only loss, to the London Olympians, being avenged in a thrilling 22-21 win over their closest rivals. The play offs saw mega drama as the Knights struggled to overcome a strong challenge from the Southern Sundevils. The sundevils led with 4 minutes remaining on a fumble recovery return. The Knights however asserted themselves through star runner Kingsley Ejiogu, he scored the 2 point tying conversion set up by the Ashley Heath to Derek Freeman TD with just 2 minutes to go. It was Ejiogu again in the first period of overtime that put the Knights ahead. Steve Belcher added the 1 point conversion, the Sundevils hit straight back but #79 Richard Rochester stopped the 2 point try with assistance from Tony Mackenzie to seal the Knights return to the Britbowl Final. The Knights dominated the first half of the Final and led 17-0 at the break, in a game literally of 2 halves however the Olympians fought back to regain their crown by 22-21. On the International scene the Knights provided 12 players to the GB Lions team in the European Nations finals.

In the Off Season the Knights received 2 major honours. RB Kingsley Ejiogu, having achieved a second consecutive 1,000 + yd season was voted both the Knights and the BAFL Most Valuable player award. In addition to that Head coach Steve Rains was inducted into the Minor League Hall of Fame in Mesquite Nevada.

2006 jumped off to a history making start as the Knights travelled to Las Vegas in the USA for a pre-season game with Team USA. This being the first visit of this kind for 20 years. The 3-15 defeat was a significantly better result than many expected and the club can claim due credit for raising awareness of the game in the UK. With a new home ground in Aldershot and the loss of several key players the new season promised a lot of challenges. The Knights again participated in the EFAF Cup beating the Valerenga Trolls (Norway) comprehensively at Aldershot Park before travelling to Oslo and a narrow defeat to the Eidsvoll 1814’s – as runners up in the Group the Knights visited the Zurich Renegades in the quarter final and it proved 3rd time lucky for the vastly improved home team who defeated the visting Knights. The Knights had started the domestic season at 5-0 but injuries suffered in the European games and some narrow losses saw them fall to 5-5 and a surprising relegation out of the top tier due to the league reorganisation.

2007 saw the Knights sponsored by MH Sportswear and a move in to the prestigious Army Rugby Stadium in Aldershot – complete with a cheerleading squad and an excellent game day experience. On the field things could not have gone better in a season that saw many club records set and broken. Kingsley Ejiogu lead the team with a record breaking season as the Knights swept all before them with a 10-0 record before dispatching the Redditch Arrows at home in the play off Semi-Final to book a fifth trip to Finals day at Don Valley. In the Final they met old rivals the Ipswich Cardinals and in front of the Sky TV cameras with their entry song “The Knights are Coming” still ringing in their ears they defeated the Suffolk team by a score eerily similar to the 2000 final to complete a perfect 12-0 season.

In the Off Season long time Head Coach Steve Rains was forced to resign due to overseas work commitments and QB Ashley Heath also decided to retire. Ian Ellis took over as Head Coach and lead the Knights through 2008 to 2011. Sadly at that point the club suffered a series of difficulties which saw the Senior Team withdraw from competition in 2012.

2013 saw the team return at the National (2nd Tier) level of British Football with Shawn Gray as the Head Coach – the team went 4-6 in a year that concentrated on re-establishing the Knights who for the first time in their history were actually playing in Farnham

2014 has seen the return of Steve Rains to the Head Coaching position – we look forward to writing the next chapter.

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