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Cambridgeshire Cats make return to British American Football Association, Premier Division





Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794745)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794745)

Cambridgeshire Cats will be back in the British American Football Association, Premier Division next season.

They clinched a 44-34 win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final last weekend to return to the top tier for the first time in eight years.

Having gone close to promotion in 2019, losing out in the semi-finals, they went one better this time around and Cats head coach Andy Whiteoak said: “It feels great to get to the next stage and play for the championship.”

Hertfordshire Cheetahs jumped out to an early lead of 13-0 before the Cats clawed it back to 13-13 with two touchdown passes from Mark Rivett (6). An interception return touchdown from Maleek Addae (87) gave the Cats a brief lead before the Cheetahs regained the upper hand to go in at half time with a two-point lead.

Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794725)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794725)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794727)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794727)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794723)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794723)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794721)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794721)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794719)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794719)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794717)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794717)

The seesaw nature continued into the third quarter, with the Cats giving up a fumble return touchdown before two more passing touchdowns from Rivett put the Cats 32-28 ahead going into the fourth quarter.

Veteran cornerback Chris King (21) gave the Cats their second defensive score of the day, and Kayode Dennis (17) scored the final touchdown to complete the victory.

“It’s special, a culmination of all the hard work that we have put in since losing to Solent in the semi-finals previously,” said defensive lineman Chris Fenton.

“It makes all the effort put in during lockdown and post-lockdown worthwhile. We have been able to test ourselves against the best the division has to offer after a season facing local teams from lower divisions and to come out on top is proof that our self-confidence had not been misplaced. I’ve played football for nearly 20 years and this is only the second time I have reached a final – now it’s time to prepare and ensure we come away as champions.”

The BAFA Division One final will be in London on September 4, and by reaching it, the Cats have secured a Premier Division place for next season.

Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794711)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794711)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794709)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794709)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794707)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794707)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794705)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794705)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794700)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794700)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794697)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats' win over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, semi-final. Picture: Chris Worrall (58794697)

The Cats won the British National Gridiron League, Division Three national final in 1994 and then Division Two in 1995.

They were promoted again to the Premier Division in 2012, despite a 5-5 season, and spent two seasons there, in 2013 and 2014.

“Achieving promotion to the Premier Division is a just reward for the hard work and commitment shown by players, coaches and the organisational staff for the Cats,” said Whiteoak.

“I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished as a team this season, and look forward to the challenges the Premier Division will bring in 2023.”



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