|John Meads 2021|
The Rockingham Rebels American Football club were a local spin-off team from the Northants Stormbringers, who introduced the sport to this area. The team played in the British American Football Federation League and won the league title in 1985. Several of their players were from Burton Latimer and the team was coached by American Bob Lee a former U.S. serviceman who had married a local girl and lived in Burton Latimer.
On October 5th 1985, prior to the title decider, the Evening Telegraph sports pages featured this article by sports editor David Thorpe:
“Less than a year ago the Rockingham Rebels didn't exist but tomorrow they attempt to bring a national title back to Kettering when they clash with Croydon Coyotes in the British American Football Federation ‘Super-bowl’ ln Paddington.
Today David Thorpe introduces the squad moulded by US Air Force men Bob Lee - a resident of Burton Latimer since his marriage to local girl Peggy Hull over twenty years ago - into one of the meanest machines in this toughest of all sports.”
AMERICAN FOOTBALL - DAVID THORPE'S WHO’S WHO AT ROCKINGHAM REBELS
WARREN LEE (Quarterback/safety) The player who calls all the Rebels plays won't be 18 until December. But, as the Wellingborough-born son of the club’s American coach, the lithe six-foot meat packer has lived the game almost since he could walk. Doubles on the defence as a strong safety but his bewitching ability when carrying the ball earmarks him as a future star running back -- providing Rebels find someone else to pass him the ball. Sent off for retaliation after being ‘the target for intimidatory tactics in season's first Croydon clash. ‘
BOB HARVISON (Centre): Among the most reliable 'snappers’ of a football - he’s the one who delivers the ball into the quarter- back's hands in the British game, ex-Stormbringer Harvison is also an ideal club treasurer as a 6ft 2in, 15½ stone karate expert! Born in Northolt (Middx), the 27-year-old production manager of ABP in Wellingborough is also an inspiring club captain.
JOHN HUNTER (running beck): Making his farewell appearance for the Rebels having moved to Kent in June to take up an appointment as manager of a flour mill, the 26-year-old Yorkshireman is the clear club leader in terms of yardage (an average of 7.5 per attempt) and touchdowns (13). A 6ft 2in, l6 stone former Corby rugby player Hunter always takes the most direct route.
MARGO NOVAGA (running back): Nearly didn't make the final team after a training bust-up with coach Bob Lee but Rebels must be greatly relieved, he patched things up. The explosively fast Kettering-born 26-year-old who works for Rushden leather manufacturers Strong and Fisher is at his spectacular best when sweeping round the outside of defences. Six touchdowns to date.
HOWARD TAIT (running back): The best all-round footballer among the three main Rebels rb's, this 28-year-old Wellingborough loader set a club record when he rushed for a total of 105 yards against Newmarket. Though born in Lewisham he is, like Warren Lee and Jason Smith, the son of an American serviceman. A doubtful starter because of an injury picked up against Brighton
ROY MARTIN (running beck): Captain of the East Northants rugby union team, the 28- year-old S and L player, who was an England colts trialist, has successfully made the switch to gridiron. But the police dog handler will be first choice in Paddington only if Tait doesn't make it simply because, explains coach lee, he hasn’t fully absorbed the myriad different play patterns.
JIM LALLY (running back): A 20-year-old roadworker who forms a part of the all-important back-up team. Kettering-born, he is 5ft 10in and 12 stone.
GRAHAM WAGSTAFFE (wide receiver): A 21-year-old electrician from Rushden who has the ideal build (6ft 2in and l2stone for the job of getting on the end of Rebels’ limited passing plays. Also plays rugby for Rushden and Higham.
MARK ELSDON (wide receiver): Makes his living on the ﬂoor as a carpet ﬁtter but on Sundays looks for the ball in the air. At 17, one for the future, but a Kettering man who already vies with Wagstaffe for the single receiver spot.
GARY SEYMOUR (tight end): So well has this 29-year-old computer operations analyst
worked at arguably the most demanding role on the offensive front line that he is now rated one of the best in the business, faulted only for being a "little too nice “-- essentially a relative judgment. A Corby-born S and L rugby star, is 6ft 3in and weighs 16½ stone
BOB OSBORNE (guard): When he’s not trying to make holes in the opposing line, the beefy ex-rugby prop, one of the men who led the defection from the Stormbringers last year, is one of the pillars of the Rebels- committee. Aged 28, he lives in Wellingborough, where he works for Atlas Express. Smallest man on the offensive line at 5ft 11in and l5st 10.
STEVEN TOWSEY (Guard): The biggest man on the offensive line at 6ft 4in and 16½ stone, he plays rugby on the second row for Corby. Born in London 28 years ago, he is now a Kettering engineer.
JIM BIRD (tackle): At 32 the elder statesman of the team. An ex-Stormbringer who works as a printing representative for a firm in Milton Keynes but was born within the sound of Bow Bells in Greenwich. When he’s not bruising his 200lbs frame he likes a game of chess.
HAYDN BAINBRIDGE (tackle): a 28-year- old Poppies fan who had to relinquish his Kettering Summer Pool crown to concentrate on gridiron. Employed in publishing, he’s 6ft 1in and 16 stone.
BRYN WALTERS (tackle): A double glazing firm employee who has recently had difficulty breaking Bainbridge’s grip on the second tackle spot that was his until injury forced him out earlier in the season. Lives in Burton Latimer.
JOHN FLINN (kicker/running back): A 19- year-old Alconbury bank clerk who has plenty of time on the sidelines to his name to tot up his stream of touchdown conversions. The Yorkshireman also has two touchdowns to
His name from his occasional stints at running back.
ALAN BROS (linebreaker): The people most in need of the insurance this 6ft 6in giant sells for a living are opposing quarter-backs and running backs! Don't be fooled by the touching sight of his two-year-old son Wayne cheering Rebels on from the sidelines, for Bros, from Burton Latimer, is out to crush anyone carrying a ball in his direction.
JIM ROSE (linebacker): As nice as they come when the game is ﬁnished, but this six foot pig farmer from Slipton is not known as ‘Mad Dog‘ for nothing. Stirs up the men he leads with blood curling cries and his bite is every bit as frightening as his bark. Chaired off the field when scoring two safeties in the last match against Croydon. Aged 25.
RICHARD MOSES (linebacker): The other member of the terrible trio of ‘hunter- killers’, this 21-year-old tyre-fitter from Wellingborough knows how to look after himself having reached the Midland ABA quarter- finals as a Kettering Keystone boxer two years ago. Carried off with a badly bruised knee in the semi-final, one of the highlights of his season was a kick-off return touchdown at Macclesfield.
DAVE ROBERTS (linebacker): The man who’ll step into the starting line-up if Moses doesn't make it. An airman from RAF North Luftenham who came from Stamford-based Hereward Rams.
BAL SINGH (defensive end): Kettering shopkeeper who never sells his team-mates short. The 24-year-old Ugandan used his speed, strength and aggression to establish himself as one of the best men in his role in the country when playing for the Stormbringers last season and has done nothing to tarnish that image.
TOMMY NEWELL (defensive end): Sacking the opposition quarterback -- ie grounding him behind the line of scrimmage is every lineman’s supreme aim, and this 25- year-old Barton Seagrave lorry driver did it three times in the semi-final against Brighton. His previous high spot was a 52-yard touchdown run after recovering a Newmarket tumble in June.
ANTONY SHIPLEY (defensive end): Though behind Singh and Newell this 23- year-old Kettering-born software engineer has ﬁgured in every game this season. Also into karate, until breaking-a shoulder, and basketball.
ROD MUGGLETON (lineman): Predicted the club's Superbowl appearance at the start of June and has been an important ﬁgure in making that forecast come true. At 15st 101b, the 28-year-old Kettering engineer completed the misery of Brighton's quarterback with two semi-ﬁnal sackings. No relation to Howard Tait (picture editors please note).
STEVE HILBOURNE (lineman): A 19st 4lb, 6ft 4in 22-year-old who stays light on his feet playing badminton, as well as rugby for S and L and Kingston Polytechnic. Born in Wales but a lifelong native of Corby.
STEVE JAMES (lineman): 17½ stone 21-year-old van driver from the Leicestershire village of Morcott; Fills in anywhere along the line.
STEVE BENARR (lineman): When it comes to one-upmanship this Wellingborough- based 39-year-old tops them all having learned the game with New York Giants. Quit as to the Stormbringers at the start of the season and his experience makes him an invaluable back-up player.
MICK BOYLE (cornerback): One of the original band or greenhorns who first brought the game to Kettering with impromptu get-togethers at North Park two years ago. An Edinburgh-born former Henry Gotch pupil, Boyle (19) is one of two men responsible for covering the opposition wide receivers.
JASON SMITH (cornerback): The other member of a teenage pair, Huntingdon-born engineer Smith (17), is coach Bob Lee’s choice as the most improved player at the club. A willowy 6ft 3in he's a former schoolboy athletics star he has excelled with anything thrown his way in the air.
JEFF CRABB (free safety/quarterback): On the offensive line for the Stormbringers last season this former Banger racer, 24, is now gridiron's equivalent of a soccer sweeper. But the assistant-manager of Selects Tyres’ Kettering exhaust centre is also earmarked to step in for quarterback Warren Lee if necessary, a role he’s keen to make his own.
ANTHONY HENNESSY (safety/cornerback): Menswear sales assistant who's always tree to cover in any of the deep field positions. A 6ft 1in Irishman who might have ended up for Croydon having been born in neighbouring Balham. Aged 20.
TONY DWIGHT (cornerback/strong safety): A 22-year-old engineer from Burton Latimer who also plays in either of the secondary positions. Former Venturers cricketer.
IAN CLARK (lineman/linebacker): A real featherweight for gridiron as a 5ft 7in 108- pounder, but they make him tough in Aberdeen, the town of his birth. An air force corporal at North Luffenham he has yet to establish himself in the Rebels top string.
JIM WESTLEY (lineman/linebacker): Another jack of all trades, the one he pursues outside gridiron being that of self-employed electrician. Born in Kettering but lives in Wellingborough.