History

Early Years

The team started in 1986 as the Spital 69ers, with the name soon changing to Birkenhead Nighthawks. As with many teams at this time little money was available for equipment, but the team went ahead anyway, playing matches against other un-kitted teams.

At this time the other local team, Wirral Wolves, gained some financial backing, and some success even, playing home games at Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers FC.

Despite their secondary position the Nighthawks continued to bring in players, one of whom was Gary Lee, who became instrumental in turning the team into a fully-kitted and competitive one.

In the first season of kitted football the team had two wins and six losses in the CGL Baron Division North.

At this time the Wirral Wolves, the Nighthawks local rivals, were having problems within the team, which meant that the Nighthawks were gaining new players. The team was going from strength to strength.

The following season the Nighthawks played in the newly formed British National Gridiron League. In addition, the struggling Cheshire Cats joined forces with the Nighthawks and the team began playing home matches at Oldershaw Rugby Club.

 

The Merseyside Nighthawks

Two years of consolidation followed with the team gaining promotion in the second year. Home games were now played at Bebington Oval. Over time other teams in the North West of England came and went as did many of the players.

It was now 1990 and the club gained sponsorship, which resulted in a change to white shirts. At this time the team from over the water, the Merseyside Centurians, folded. Now being the only team in the area, the Birkenhead Nighthawks changed their name to Merseyside Nighthawks.

That year the team narrowly missed out in the play-offs to eventual winners Barnsley Bears.

However, 1991 proved a difficult year. Promotion to the Premier Division meant competition was tough and many games were lost in the last few seconds.

Lessons were learned though and in 1992 the Nighthawks became Premier Division Champions.

Being champions turned out to be a mixed blessing. Now playing in the National Division, the teams nearest rival were the Glasgow Lions from Scotland. An away match meant an overnight journey to Glasgow, which proved to be a strain on both, the club finances and the players’ families. After numerous meetings with all parties involved, a decision was made to pull out of that season and return the following year in a more appropriate league. Many players decided not to wait a full year and moved to various other teams.

January 1994 became the lowest point in the club’s history when attempts to re-group failed and the books were officially closed.

 

Re-Birth

However, the name “Nighthawks” had not ceased completely. In early 1992 former player Gary Lee formed the junior version of the Nighthawks team with the help of some other senior players. Playing at Bebington Oval against mainly collegiate teams, the team went 7 and 1 in the first year.

On hearing about the demise of the senior team during ’94, Gary decided to attempt to rebuild the seniors.

With the help of local T.V., radio and other media a team comprising of new and old players was recruited. 1995 started with the team entered into the British American Football Association, Division 3 North West. A 5 and 3 record meant that the team had narrowly missed out on promotion.

 

1996 to 2002

On a firmer footing, the club was playing in the top division during 97. Playing at Wallasey Rugby Club the team enjoyed some success but numbers started to dwindle. Playing at the highest level dissuaded new blood from joining the team. As a consequence, a decision was made to drop a division.

 

2003 to 2005

Under a new Head Coach, Andy Ley, the team has had to go through some rebuilding. Aftter famous victories in the 2003 season which included a thrilling win over the Staffordshire Surge, 2004 and 2005 have not seen such successes continued. With a large number of the Nighthawk veterans retiring the team is starting with a new core of players who are just finding their feet.

 

2006 to 2008

From rock bottom in 2005 the next 3 seasons saw a considerable change. Following a 2-8 campaign in 2006 the Hawks re-vamped offence (featuring a dual threat running attack and a mobile QB) coupled with an already strong defense saw them riser to the top of Division 2. After narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 2007 with a 7-2-1 record (highlighted by a last minute comeback win at a previously unbeaten Dundee) the Hawks took the North Division title in 2008 with an 8-2 record featuring double victories over arch-rivals Manchester, Lancashire and Chester. A surprising playoff loss to eventual Bowl finalists Tamworth ended their season but the Nighthawks were granted promotion to Division 1.

 

2009 to 2011

Following their move up to Division 1 the Nighthawks saw a number of players leave the club and lost a few more to unfortunate injuries which left the Hawks struggling to adapt. A new coaching set-up featuring new offensive and defensive schemes were also implemented and although the team held their own in the majority of their games and saw them record notable wins away to West Coast in 2009, Gateshead in 2011, and Coventry in 2012 – their overall division record suggested that they were finding the going tough.

 

2012 to Current

After a1-9 season in 2012 the team now finds itself back in Division 2 following the league’s re-structure. However, the nucleus of the current team still remains intact and those players alongside a number of promising young players look to bring success to the Nighthawks again over the up-coming seasons.