Ahead of our first game of 2019 this Sunday, we have now finalised our roster for the campaign. A few familiar faces, a few new additions and some switches in position have certainly added to the Nighthawks roster for this year.
QB #5 Ben Robinson returns, despite an off-season fraught with misfortune and alongside him in the QB position is GB Lions WR Harry Routledge (#17). Harry will also operate in the QB position when necessary.
Coach Nick Thompson has returned to the Nighthawks and has been working with the backs alongside Chris Hazelhurst. In that group we have Offensive MVP from 2018, Martin Murphy (#44), Laurent Tshimanga (#3), Tatenda Zvarayi (#1) as well as new additions James Head (#81 – from Nighthawks Junior Program) and Neil Penrose (#42), who we welcome back to us following a spell at Halton Spartans. Igors Smelovs (#87) has also made the transition from TE/WR to the RB group for 2019.
Whilst numerically not the biggest we have had for a few years, this is certainly one of the best skill groups we have had. Joining Routledge (#17) are GB Lions Alex Eager (#10), Jordan Houghton (#14), Dominic Woo (#21), Callum Burns (#19) and Jake Moore (#11 – from the Nighthawks Junior Program). Igors Smelovs (#87) rounds off this group in a WR/TE role.
The Nighthawks Offensive Line this year is one of the biggest, and most tightly knit groups, that we have on the roster. Despite losing two starters in Briscoe (left to Halton Spartans) and Horgan (knee surgery), this campaign’s OL unit is big. Joining last year’s group of Tim Reeves (#73), John Maher (#56), Nick Mitchelson (#72), Adrian Briody (#69) and Tom Walsh (#66) are Francisco Parra Rodriguez (#68), Steve Hicks (#79), Tom Smith (#58) and James Bissell (#74). Defensive Lineman Stephen Kilgannon (#75) also joins us as he makes the switch back to the offensive side of the ball.
Starting the defence with the heart of soul of this unit makes sense to us! Captain and LB Mark Houghton (#55) is joined by university players Jack Langton (#94), Will Mckeown (#58), Mike Bassey (#52) and Eddie Webster (#51), as well as Jack Wildsmith (#49), Japhet Nzangi (#68), Thomas Mckenon (#88) and Nighthawks Juniors Graduate Bobby Ludbrook. Daffyd Sion Roberts (#26) is also back after a title-winning season with the Liverpool Raptors.
Lat year’s DBs were all over the field, and we expect nothing less than that this year also. Joining Jonny Weekes (#23) Vijay Masaun (#28) and Dave Sampson (#27) from last year are Ben Rawthore (#6), Michael Houghton and Brandon Parker-Stone (#31). Pete Norbury (#91) also makes the move from DE to DB in this year’s moves.
Coach Pennington has been working throughout the off season to make this unit better than it showed last year and we certainly think they are ready to make an impact. Greg Williams (#98) returns, along with Matt O’Connell (#90), Carl Rugen (#54), Josh Robinson (#18), Ricky O’Callaghan (#99) and Thomas Kearns (#41). We’ve picked up new recruits in Andrew Thwaites (#78) and Carl Woods (#97) and also added Michael French (#48) from the Chester Romans. Tom Hyne (#40) also returns following a successful season with the University of Liverpool Raptors.
Joining Coach Pennington on the sidelines will be some solid recruits from our player group, as well as some seasoned veterans. As previously mentioned, Nick Thompson will be taking over the Offensive Co-ordinator role whilst Harry is on the field, and he is joined by Anthony Rooney (WRs), Chris Hazlehurst (RBs) and Dan Earnshaw (OL). The defensive staff has also got deeper, with Chris Dadswell (LBs) and Adam Stephens (DBs) joining HC Pennington.
There are a number of staff that will also be helping us out on the sidelines this year. We have 3 Sports Psychologists working with the team, Nathan Bloodworth, Bianca Raduta and Michelle Jackson, Andy Taylor will support Pete Horgan (General Manager) as our Game Day Manager and John Maher Snr will be on hand with his camera to capture every moment possible on his long lense.
That is it ladies and gentlemen, your 2019 Merseyside Nighthawks. We look forward to bringing you more with the team over the next few weeks! You can find a link to our whole roster here.