Tension mounts as the Lions prepare for xpLosION 2014

xpLosION is back with a bang, as the Birmingham Lions prepare to blow away the Hertfordshire Hurricanes


With reading week looming for the lucky few and the days gradually getting shorter it can only mean one thing… one of the University’s biggest sporting events has finally arrived.

On Saturday at 4.30, the Lions will look to kick off another season under the floodlights of the Bournbrook pitches as they face off against the Hertfordshire Hurricanes in the eighth annual American Football season opener.

This infamous event has embedded itself into every free Gatecrasher calendar as a date to remember, with students turning up in their thousands to get behind their team and show their support.

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Mr. Go-Go Gadget Arms himself, one of Birmingham’s most notorious Defensive Linemen, said: “The Hertfordshire Hurricanes are a really tough rival, we played in three championships in the past two years, in the playoff game last season and are a really tough opposition to play against.

“You always have to be confident in games like this that you’re going to come out on top and we have no doubt at all that we’ll do the job.

“We had a really strong end to the season, although we lost a few key players we’ve recruited really well.

“But in general it’s a massive boost to have a crowd there cheering us on, and there will be fireworks afterwards so hopefully it will be a celebratory fireworks display.”

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Stefan Rowden, one of the lions hoping to help lead the pride on Saturday to victory, also added: “Hopefully we can get another 3,000 people there to do the biggest pre-lash for fab, to have a good time and support us.”

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Mr. Gadget Arms quickly piped in adding: “We also want them to give a bit of light hearted banter to the Hertfordshire faithful and cheer us on the way. We definitely notice the crowd going mental when we’re on the field.”

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The Lions’ coach, and the head coach of the GB American Football scheme, Wayne Hill, told The Tab: “The preparation has gone really really well.

“We’re quite lucky that we have got a lot of returning veterans, who have started practice two weeks before term started.

“Now we’ve got a large amount of rookies but they’ve picked things up very well, they’ve worked really hard in kind of keeping up with the speed and hopefully now they’ll be ready to show what they’ve learnt on Saturday night.”

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When Wayne Hill was asked to comment on the opposition he spoke of the Hurricanes with the utmost of respect, he said: “Hertfordshire have always been a great programme and we’ve dated back for about 10/15 years, we’ve always had a good rivalry with them and their head coach Jim Messenger has always developed a great team there and they’ve had some quality players.

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“They’ve got some good players there, they’ve got a good programme, some good coaching staff with Jim and Simon Hatcher and some of their graduating players.

“We’ve played them every year for the last 4/5 years in the playoffs or the championship games so we know each other very well. So, it’s going to be tough for us, it’s going to be a real challenge for us first game of the season.

“I think the atmosphere definitely helps the team. The partnership we have with the University has developed over the years and xpLosION has gotten bigger and better every year.

“So, it’s exciting to start the season in the way it is and I think having that platform to showcase our sport and what we do as a professional programme is always a benefit to us.

“The players enjoy that, they have a target of what they want to produce and show case the game, so it should be a good thing.”

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All in this together

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This didn’t stop the coach from piling the pressure on to the team, for which he has high aspirations, he said: “We have got to win every game and to get through to the playoffs.

“So we need to go out there and play mistake free football on Saturday night and do what we do, focus on our game and from that we’ll hopefully be successful.”

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Ending on a rather light-hearted note, the man at the helm of the team added: “We’re just ready to play football. You can only practice for so long and you can only beat on each other for so long.

“So if you can now turn that to beating on somebody else, that’s a good thing.”

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As if that’s not enough of a reason to turn up, the game also features a half-time show from the multi-award winning Birmingham Pussycats, a performance from the University’s own dance society and a breath-taking fireworks display which promises to outshine Old Joe itself.

With food stands and a draught bar on site, you’ll never want to move on to fab. Also, did we forget to mention it’s free.

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So there you have it, plenty of excuses to sack off that impending deadline and instead start those pre-drinks for fab that little bit earlier. After all, it will probably be dark by the time you’re drunk.

And if you’re still not convinced, it is rumoured that the half time fireworks have a mystical and magical pulling power. So, what better way to spend your Saturday afternoon than guiltlessly drinking beer and watching the Lions whip up a storm for the Hurricanes.