September 3rd, 2007. Report by Rebecca Gough
At a time when Norwich City’s footballers are desperately trying to pick up points, one of the city’s less well-known teams has gone the whole season without losing a single match.
One of the oldest running American football clubs in the UK, the Norwich Devils, have won 10 out of 10 games this season and seen off top teams such as Essex, Cambridge and Chiltern to finish the season with an unblemished record.
They now play for the chance to go through to the quarter, then semi-final games with a view to culminating at the playoffs in Sheffield, at the Don Valley Stadium.
Norwich Devils Senior team coach, Nick Rockell, 34, said: “It’s not unheard of for a team to go unbeaten all season but it is unusual.
“We’ve got all ages of players, from their twenties to their fifties with us, and they all work hard.
“We work with the players we’ve got and success builds success.”
The Norwich Devils American Football Club is made up of three levels and includes a youth, junior and a senior team.
The seniors, 18-years and over, currently compete in the BSL Division 2 Eastern Conference and they, along with the youth team, face a tough playoff schedule to reach the finals.
American football is a growing sport in England and attracts some top players but as the sport is growing in popularity it remains lacking in publicity and public awareness.
Mr Rockell, said: “The game has had a bit of resurgence. It’s not going to be like it was in the 1980s and 90s but it’s definitely had a sudden growth.
“I find a lot of people don’t know there’s even a league in Norwich though and it’s hard to raise the profile because you are in competition with Sunday league football and that kind of thing.
“My ambition is, in five years time, we’re competing in the play offs at the top level championships. Our players have all said they want to win and they’ve all put the work in. It’s the best feeling you can have when you win a game.”
While hell will probably freeze over before Norwich City go a whole season unbeaten, Premiership club Arsenal were undefeated during the 2003/4 season.