THE REBIRTH

The league restructured and play again commenced in 1995 with a wholly European League consisting of the 3 original European teams and 3 brand new teams, the Scottish Claymores based at Edinburgh in Scotland, Amsterdam Admirals in Holland and Rhein Fire in Dusseldorf, Gemany. This was a bold move by the NFL who based a team in Scotland, a country with very little gridiron background, but as you will see later a stroke of genius. The League was accepted back with open arms by the game's action starved fans and the season's 10 game per club, home and away format proved a success with Frankfurt Galaxy winning 26-22 over Amsterdam Admirals.

THE CLAYMORES

The season started in controversy for the Claymores with the head coach Lary Kuharich being sacked after a back- fields rebellion by the players due to his management style, he was replaced by Jim Criner who had been an assistant head coach with the Sacramento Surge in 1992, Criner a 30-year coaching veteran was to prove a blessing in disguise although we didn't know it yet. The Claymores had a disappointing year ending up in the doghouse at the bottom of the league with only 2 wins , but the losses they suffered were all close scores apart from 2 defeats by the Admirals and by Frankfurt in the final home game of the year.

From the doghouse to the penthouse

1996 began with a new team line up for the Claymores, some players returned including running back Siran Stacy who was about to continue where he left-off by pushing his stats even further and eventually breaking the current WLAF records. Rugby legend Gavin HastingsGavin Hastings, picture by Gerry Kennedy had been drafted into the squad, an absolute rookie to the game of gridiron but one who wasn't afraid to go out and give his best, and during the season he would return the faith put in him by kicking 23 of 27 PAT's.

The season got off to a flyer with wins over London (who had William "The Refrigerator" Perry) 24-21, Barcelona 23-13 and Amsterdam 21-14 before a controversial 1 point defeat by Rhein in Week 4 when a line judge threw a flag thinking he had been tripped by the Scottish sideline and awarding an automatic first down to Rhein which allowed them to run out the clock. The Claymores kept up the pace the following week by handing Frankfurt a 20-0 beating to reach the half season mark at the top of the League and with it the automatic right to host the World Bowl at their home stadium, Murrayfield.

Scott Couper scores touchdown, picture by Gerry KennedyThe second half of the season started well with the Claymores defeating Rhein 24-19 and Frankfurt 20-17 at Murrayfield before we went to Amsterdam and lost 31-27, Week 9 brought the Monarchs to Murrayfield and they fell to the Claymores sword 33-28. The Scots then travelled to Barcelona where the fire breathing Dragons roasted them by 32-27, meanwhile the Galaxy would snatch the final spot at the World Bowl by beating Amsterdam.

WORLD BOWL 1996

A sunny 23rd June was about to be etched in to Scotland's history books as the Claymores met the Galaxy an expected 15,000 crowd turned out to be nearly 40,000 mostly partisan fans who were treated to Ronnie Browne singing The Flower of Scotland and unusually, Edinburgh Castle's One o'Clock gun being fired to start the game at 6pm, the game was kicked off by Scotland's Gavin Hastings to Frankfurt's normally safe hands of Mario Bailey who caught the ball and started his run from the 10 yard line but Claymore defensive captain George Coghill ripped it from his grasp, the ball popped into the hands of Markus Thomas and the Scot's RB ran into the end zone for a TouchDown after only 11 seconds of play the fastest TD in WLAF history and the Scots were in a 7 point lead when Hastings converted the PAT. The Galaxy fought back to score a TouchDown and bring the first quarter to a 7-7 draw then raced ahead to take the lead by 14-7 Scot's WR Sean LaChapplle went down injured ending his game before Scotland's QB Jim BallardJIM BALLARD fired 2 TD's to wide receiver Yo Murphy the second being a beautiful one-handed catch with both feet in bounds in the Endzone for the Scots to end the first half 19-14 as both PAT's were missed (one being a 2 point attempt).

The second half started with a Scots field goal pushing up the score to 22-14 before the Galaxy replied with a TD (2 point PAT missed), Scotland came back with another Yo Murphy TD (PAT missed) to finish the 3rd Quarter 28-20 in front. 5 minutes into the 4th Quarter kicker Paul McCallum boomed a 50 yard Field Goal for another 4 points (a WLAF Rule) but Frankfurt replied once again to bring the score to 32-27, the closing minute of the game brought controversy when after Scotland had to hand over the ball (being unable to gain 10 yards) Frankfurt fumbled the ball and the ruling of being unable to advance a fumble in the final 2 minutes meant that the Scots gained posession. Jim Ballard took a knee and the clock ran out giving Scotland the World Bowl.SCOTT COUPER

The stadium erupted as the crowd hailed their triumphant heroes and coach Criner led his team up the steps of the West Stand to receive the World Bowl Trophy with his cry of "How 'Bout Them Claymores"

Read the book "How 'Bout Them Claymores" ISBN 1-85158-925-2 from Mainstream Publishing


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January 2002