American football: Doncaster Mustangs realistic about Premiership survival chances

Mustangs (in green), pictured in action against Coventry Jets.  Picture supplied by Donna Whitaker.
Mustangs (in green), pictured in action against Coventry Jets. Picture supplied by Donna Whitaker.

Doncaster Mustangs have just two games left to record their first BAFANL Premiership (North) win of the season.

Although general manager Mark Blyth is disappointed that Mustangs, who he helped form in 2002, are propping up the ten-strong league, he admits that his expectations for the season were never particularly high.

“We had a big turnover of players from last year and basically it is a brand new team,” he said.

“We’ve probably got just six of last year’s team.

“We are playing at the highest level in our particular league and if I’m being honest we should have seen what was happening and told the people in charge that we needed to be dropped down a league,” he said.

“But they are a proud group and they said they’d take their defeats and see how things went.

“Not surprisingly we’ve suffered some very big defeats.

“I hope I’m wrong, but the way we are playing I don’t think we’ll win any of our remaining games.”

He added: “For the previous two or three years a lot of the lads came from various parts of the country.

“For example, pretty much the whole offensive line came from Newcastle where a lot of them were studying.

“A few of others left to play for Sheffield, because one of two of them lived in the city, and others decided they just didn’t want to play for various reasons.

“It’s the nature of the game I’m afraid.

“It’s not a cheap sport to play and to buy a starter kit and to pay club subscriptions comes to around £400.

“Having a job or not having a job can often be a deciding factor.”

As well as the need for players to purchase their own kit, Mark says it takes longer than most sports for newcomers to get up to speed with the game.

“The basics of the game - running, passing, catching and tackling - are not difficult skills to learn,” he said.

“The schemes and systems are.

“It’s not like soccer (football) where you kick a ball to each other and which is a very simple game to play.

“The fact that an interested party has played other sports may be useful - particularly in terms of fitness.

“But because American Football is a completely different game to anything they’ve previously played, every newcomer will basically have to learn from scratch.”