The foundation of the Lincolnshire Bombers can be found way back in the 1980s when, during the height of NFL popularity in the UK at that time, teams such as the Scunthorpe Steelers, Boston Blitz and the Lincoln Bombers were all bringing American Football to Lincolnshire.
As the popularity of the NFL started to decline in the 1990s, so did the number of teams playing in Lincolnshire with the Scunthorpe Steelers folding, the Boston Blitz (renamed the South Lincolnshire Blitz by this point) merging with teams from Kings Lynn and Peterborough to form the North Sea Hurricanes and while the Lincoln Bombers remained they were rebranded as the Lincoln Saints.
In 1993 the newly renamed Lincoln Saints went on to achieve notable success by winning the First Division title, however this success wasn’t enough to keep the team going and by the middle of the 1990s both the Lincoln Saints and the North Sea Hurricanes had folded leaving Lincolnshire without a Senior American Football team in almost two decades.
However, the flame of American Football wasn’t completely dead in Lincolnshire with two youth programs still running in the form of the Haven/UCLA club in Boston (who went on to become the Peterborough Saxons who we faced in 2015) and the UDL Longhorns.
The Foundation of the Bombers By the early 2000s Lincolnshire was without any form of American Football following the folding of the UDL Longhorns and the relocation of Haven/UCLA from Boston to Peterborough. However, this situation was not to last long.
In 2005, only three years after the Saxons had left Lincolnshire, the club we know today as the Lincolnshire Bombers were founded by Iain Bushell. Iain had previous experience playing football with the Manchester Titans and the Teesside Cougars and when he relocated back to Lincolnshire was determined to resurrect gridiron in Lincolnshire. This was achieved relatively quickly by tapping into the underground support for the sport built up during the 1980s and early 1990s.
To honour the history of American Football in Lincolnshire and as recognition of the close links that the club and the county as whole share with the Royal Air Force the decision was made to name the team the Lincolnshire Bombers.
A slow start to life in the league The Lincolnshire Bombers had a rocky start to life in the League with the team going 1 & 9 in their first season. Things didn’t get any better after that with the team going 0 & 10 for the next 5 seasons.
At this time the future of the Lincolnshire Bombers was in doubt. The team was struggling financially and were finding it difficult to attract new players to the team. To try and improve their situation the team set about making changes that have ensured the team is still playing today.
A closer relationship was built with the University of Lincoln team, the Lincoln Colonials, with senior players going over as coaches to the Colonials and in return many University players would transfer over to the Bombers during the summer with some players travelling in from Leicester and Bedfordshire every weekend.
The management structure of the club also went through some changes with the decision making process streamlined and a closer relationship between the coaching staff and management was put in place. This resulted in better planned recruitment events and sponsorship opportunities. The changes put in place didn’t translate to success on the field straight away however it wasn’t long before they did.
Flying high In their first game of the 2012 season, with the new recruitment drive working and increased awareness of the team, the Lincolnshire Bombers recorded their first win in almost 6 years against the DC Presidents. The change in attitude of the team was almost immediate, from a team of perennial losers to hard working winners. A couple of close loses followed, however the momentum of that first win never left the team and they ended the season with a respectable 4 wins, 4 loses and 2 draws.
With optimism high the Lincolnshire Bombers entered the 2013 season with high expectations. It was not to be however as the team limped to the end of the season recording a familiar sounding 0 & 10 record. All was not lost however as the success of the previous season, and the close links with the University side, saw a new Head Coach appointed and a belief that the team could bounce back.
As the Bombers got ready for the 2014 season, the team rebuilt using the new recruitment set up in 2012 and added the power of social media to its arsenal. The team also took the step of leaving RAF Cranwell and set up a new home in Lincoln playing at the Christ Hospital School.
The Bombers got off to a flying start by beating eventual Conference Champions the Shropshire Revolution. Much like the 2012 season this was followed by a number of close defeats. However, the Bombers fought in every match and recorded another respectable record of 4-5-1.
In the course of the season the Lincolnshire Bombers would record victories against all 3 teams that finished above them (Shropshire Revolution, Peterborough Saxons and the Oxford Saints) and earn a draw against Shropshire Revolution (resulting in the Bombers being the only team not to lose against them). These results lead to the Bombers being named the Underdog team of 2014 by Double Coverage. Play-off football The Bombers development has been no better identified than in the success of the 2017 and 2018 seasons where the ever-growing roster finished with combined records of 10-8 and a first-ever trip to the British American Football Play-Offs. In 2017 a strong influx of players from the Colonials helped the side to a 6-4 record – only missing out on the play-offs by a 6pt deficit on a Head to Head standing with the Staffordshire Surge. However, the following year that was rectified. Despite starting the season 0-4, the Bombers recovered to 4-4 and snuck in as the NFC’s 7th seed. The first play-off game ended in defeat to the Chester Romans but it was another step in the right direction for the side.
The Bombers further cemented their place as an emerging Division 2 force as they downed the 2018 Divisional Champions Staffordshire Surge en route to a 6-2 record - losing only to the Birmingham Bulls, to seal a home play-off tie for the first time. Unfortunately a close 22-18 defeat to the Inverclyde Goliaths ended the post-season campaign at the first stage. The Goliaths would go undefeated in the play-offs and earn promotion as the National Division 2 North Champions.