The Cambridgeshire Cats return to the British American Football Association, Premier Division

Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794745)

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

They cruised to a 44-34 win over the Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Premier League semi-final last weekend to return to the top tier for the first time in eight years.

Having come close to promotion in 2019, losing in the semi-finals, they did better this time around and Cats head coach Andy Whiteoak said: “It’s great to take the next step and play for the championship.”

The Hertfordshire Cheetahs quickly took a 13-0 lead before the Cats cut 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 battled back to enter halftime with a two-point lead.

Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794725)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794725)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794727)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794727)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794723)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794723)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794721)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794721)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794719)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794719)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794717)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794717)

The see-saw nature continued into the third quarter, with the Cats giving up a fumble return touchdown before two more Rivett touchdowns gave the Cats a 32-28 lead heading 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 we’ve put in since losing to Solent in the semi-finals,” defensive lineman Chris Fenton said.

“It makes all the efforts during the lockdown and after the lockdown worthwhile. We were able to test ourselves against the best in the division after a season against local teams from lower divisions and coming out on top is proof that our confidence in ourselves was not misplaced. I have been playing football for almost 20 years and this is only the second time I have reached a final. Now is the time to prepare and make sure we walk away as champions.

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

Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794711)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794711)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794709)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794709)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794707)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794707)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794705)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794705)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794700)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794700)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final.  Photo: Chris Worrall (58794697)
Action from Cambridgeshire Cats victory over Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the BAFA Division One, Semi-Final. Photo: Chris Worrall (58794697)

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

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

“To be promoted to the Premier Division is a just reward for the hard work and commitment shown by the players, coaches and organizational staff of the Cats,” said Whiteoak.

“I am so proud of everything we have achieved as a team this season, and I look forward to the challenges the Premier Division will bring in 2023.”


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