19th August 2018
Written by Louis Terry

For the final game of the regular season, the Farnham Knights welcomed the London Olympians to Wilkinson Way. Ending the season on a positive note was the order of the day for Farnham, but the Os were out to spoil the party in order to secure third place in the BAFA Premier League South division. 

Both teams were in action the previous weekend, but despite not having a break to rest and recover they were raring to go, and as the clouds parted and sun broke through the game kicked off.

For this final game, head coach Pete “Too Tall” Fields named Dave Carpenter as Knights team captain, with tight end Harry Alexander and wide receiver Stephen Godfrey as offensive and special teams captains respectively. Defensive back Tom Tame was named as defensive captain for the first time this year with Coach Fields saying “Tom has been one of the first names on the team sheet all season and becoming captain for the final game couldn’t be better deserved.”

The Os elected to start with the ball having won the toss and immediately put the pressure on the Knights defence. But the Knights stood firm and kept the opposition out of their end zone on their first drive. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of quarterback Frano Annandale, the Knights were also forced to go three and out, and on their next possession the Os made the Knights pay, opening the scoring and getting the point after touchdown (PAT) to make it 0-7.

The Knights didn’t take this lying down and with the defence holding firm once more and ensuring the ball got in the hands of the offence, the Knights went to work and scored on back-to-back drives with wide receiver Stephen Godfrey scoring the first and Nick Roope, who had stepped in as quarterback following an early injury to Annandale, rushed for the second. The first PAT was missed and on the second the Knights elected to go for two. Unfortunately, Roope was rushed and an attempted shovel pass to his receiver resulted in an interception and return all the way to the Knights’ end zone for two points for the Os.

With Farnham leading by just three points (12-9), the intensity of both teams picked up. The Olympians struck next making it 12-16 but the Knights got another rushing touchdown courtesy of Nick Roope, and Frano Annondale kicked the extra point to once again lead by three (19-16). The Knights were hoping to go into half-time with the lead but the Os had other ideas and punched through the Knights D for their third touchdown of the afternoon. With the extra point successful the half finished with the London Olympians edging the game slightly at 19-23.

Coach Fields spoke to his team at half time and asked for more of the same. After a long, hard season the Knights were playing their best football and with the fans behind them they still believed they could finish the 2018 campaign with a win. His words didn’t fall on deaf ears and with the Farnham defensive unit keeping the Olympians scoreless in the third quarter, they allowed the offence more time on the field, which led to two Annandale field goals that brought the score to 25-23 in Farnham’s favour. Andrew Gillard, who it turns out was playing with a broken foot, and Matt Niven were standout players for the defence and showed why they have been regular contributors to the team all season.

The game was poised at 25-23 going into the 4th quarter and Farnham came out all guns blazing and scored another touchdown courtesy of some great play by the defence. As the defensive line broke through and bore down on the Olympians quarterback, a hastily thrown ball was tipped up and caught by lineman Tom Outhwaite, who returned the ball to the house for probably the most popular touchdown of the year. Tom, the starting left tackle on the offensive line for Farnham, had stepped in as defensive tackle and on his first play on defence scored a TD. The player, who made his debut for Great Britain in Finland a few weeks ago, was deservedly mobbed as he made his way back to the Farnham bench. Farnham got the extra point and with the score at 32-23 were hopeful of the win.  

However, as the quarter wore on it was clear the Knights, who had significantly less players than the Olympians were battling on despite having heavy legs and running on low. The London team took advantage of having more rotations and piled on the pressure with back-to-back touchdowns bringing the score to 32-39.

The Knights defence managed to give the ball back to their offence and into the hands of QB Nick Roope for one final do or die drive with 8 seconds left on the game clock. Roope took the direct snap and made a break into the Olympians backfield before being tackled – as he was brought down he tossed it to wide receiver Stephen Godfrey, who in turn tossed it to running back Aaron Sekwalor who sprinted away down the right hand side before tossing back to Harry Alexander who then tossed it to Stephen Godfrey. Sadly the final pass was deemed to be forward and subsequently illegal so the play was stopped, and with that the game was called to a halt and the London Olympians emerged victorious after a long and hard-fought contest. 

Coach Fields used his post-game speech to announce Tom Outhwaite as the game MVP. When asked about the game, Outhwaite commented, “It was a really fun game. The Olympian’s are always tough and coming so close to winning is pretty hard to take. It’s not often I have to run further than five yards so to run 40 and score a touchdown was incredible. However, at the end of the day it would have been even better if we could have got the team win. That’s more important than any individual effort.”

The Team GB lineman continued, “This season has been such a learning curve for me and as a team. We’ve come a long way this year and we’re a family unit now. I trust every player with my life and with that feeling in the squad next year is going to be even better. I can’t wait.”

Coach Fields echoed his comments, “I’m so proud of all of these guys – they played their hearts out and I couldn’t ask any more of them. Whilst it didn’t go our way today, we have things to work on and from where we were at the start of the season to where we’re ending it, it’s just incredible.”

Speaking about the support on the sidelines Fields added, ”I’d like to thank our supporters, not just today but for the whole season. The noise from the sidelines has been deafening at times this year has definitely helped us at key times in games. Next year we will give you more wins to cheer about I promise.”

As the Knights now look at offseason training, recruitment of new players and rookie days, club president Dave Carpenter summarized the feeling around the team, “This year has been about the re-building of this team, and I’m incredibly proud of all management, staff, coaches and players of this organization who have laid strong foundations and are now looking towards next year. I’d like to personally mention Coach Fields and Laura Hill, who together have done so much for the club. From painting field markings to coaching the youth teams to building an adult team who can now compete with the top teams in this league, they are the embodiment of what it is to be a Knight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you’ve done.” 

The Farnham Knights would like to once again thank it’s sponsors for making this year possible. The Knights are proud to be supported by Tango Security, DNA Brickwork & Builders, LT Sports and American Football Direct. For more information on all of our sponsors click here. 

Finally, thank you to everyone who supported the charity BBQ at the match. All proceeds are being donated to the Rainbow Trust charity who help families suffering from stillbirths or loss of a child across the UK. It’s a cause very close to the Knights family and we will continue to support them in the 2019 season. Keep up-to-date with Knights activity during the off-season on social media, and if you know anyone who would like to be a part of the club, either as a player, coach or staff member then get in touch.

To visit our gameday gallery, courtesy of Mark Sandom, click here.