Formed in 1995, the Scottish Claymores is currently the only professional UK based American Football team in the NFL Europe League (NFLE), after the London/England Monarchs franchise was moved to Berlin.
The Claymores plays their home fixtures at Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow, and have had Hampden as their home venue since the final three games of the 2000 season. Before that, they played at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, which is still thought of by many Claymores fans as 'the Home of (American) Football' in Scotland.
The team consists of 48 players and of those 48, at least eight must be what is known as 'National players'. These are players who have no connection to the NFL teams in the USA. They may have played at American colleges, but they do not currently live in the US. Some of the more famous National players will be listed below.
The rest of the roster are players who have either been allocated to Europe by NFL teams, or have been drafted from a pool of players currently unsigned by any NFL teams.
For the 2002 season 60 players representing 16 different countries (including the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Japan) tried to win one of 48 National player spots on the 6 NFLE team rosters.
As the Claymores is a team consisting mostly of American players who have been allocated to Europe to get more playing experience before getting a chance to play in the big league in the US, the team roster usually changes dramatically before every season. Therefore, as is the case in all cities in Europe that host an NFLE team, loyalty to the team is appreciated by the fans, and returning players, often players that didn't get a chance in the NFL the year before, are greeted with a sometimes almost frantic enthusiasm by the fans.
The team starts each season with a training camp that is held in Tampa Bay, Florida, USA in March-April where the players meet many of their team mates for the first time. They then have a frantic training camp schedule where they have to get to know each other as well as the coaches and the play books for the team before going to Scotland a couple of weeks before the season starts.
The season itself is a ten week affair where the six teams of the NFLE face each other twice, home and away. Because of the short season, each game is vital to the team's success, as only the two teams with the best record reach the final game, the World Bowl.
After the end of the season the players go their separate ways and probably won't see each other again unless they meet in training camp for one of the NFL teams or if they are fortunate enough to get a roster spot on an NFL team and face their former team mate as an opponent on the field.
The success of the Claymores has varied since the team's inception in the NFLE.
The team's first season ended with a disappointing 2-8 record2, but the very next year, 1996, their fortunes turned, and they went all the way to the World Bowl which they won in front of almost 39,000 roaring fans at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh.
Following the success of World Bowl '96, the expectations were high for the 1997 season, but the Claymores would not make another World Bowl appearance until four years later, in 2000.
The 1997 season ended with a 5-5 record, and the team slipped even further during the 1998 season when they finished with a 2-8 record.
In 1999, the Claymores fans thought that the team would go all the way after winning three of the first four games, but in the end, they only won one more game out of the six remaining, finishing with a 4-6 record.
The 2000 season saw the Claymores returning to the big game as they finished the season with a 6-4 record and a place in the World Bowl with the chance of returning the trophy to Scotland. However, these dreams were quashed in the dying moments of that game as a would-be game tying field goal sailed wide left, leaving the Claymores the runners up3 in the league and the Rhein Fire the winners.
Before the 2001 season the team got a new head coach in charge and managed to struggle to a 4-6 record.
Trying to rebound from the 2001 season, the team looked strong before the 2002 season, but the team failed to live up to the high expectations of the fans and finished with a 5-5 record.
Former Claymore Greats
Jim Criner - Head Coach
Coach Criner was the head coach of the Claymores from their inaugural season in 1995 until after the 2000 season, and he brought the team to two World Bowls (1996 and 2000) of which they won one (1996). He was voted into the Claymores Hall of Fame during the 2001 poll after the fans had demanded it.
Scott Couper - Wide Reciever4
The longest serving National player for the Claymores. Couper5 played for the Claymores from the team's inception in 1995 and retired after the 2001 season with over 1000 yards recieving and 10 career touchdowns. This future Claymores Hall of Famer still works for the Claymores front office, trying to promote the game of American Football to the schools in and around Scotland.
George Coghill - Safety6
Coghill played for the Claymores from 1995 to 1997 and is one of only 12 NFLE players, and the only former Claymore to have won both the World Bowl and the Super Bowl. A standout defensive and special teams player, he was voted into the Claymores Hall of Fame in 1999 in recognition of what he achieved over three seasons with the Claymores. Prior to the 2002 season he was released by the Denver Broncos of the NFL with whom he won the Super Bowl in 1997 as part of their practice squad.
Yo Murphy - Wide Reciever
Murphy played for the Claymores for two seasons (1996-1997) and was named the World Bowl MVP in 1996 after catching 7 passes for 163 yards and 3 touchdowns. He now plays for the St. Louis Rams in the NFL, serving mainly as a kick returner and a 3rd reciever. He was voted into the Claymores Hall of Fame in 2002.
Siran Stacy - Running Back7
Stacy played for the Claymores during three seasons from 1995 to 1997 and then came back as a free agent in the 2000 season after being voted into the Claymores Hall of Fame in 1999. He holds a host of club records, and was a vital part of the team in their World Bowl season in 1996.
Rob Hart - Kicker8
A former London/England Monarchs player who was signed by the Claymores in 1999 after the demise of the Monarchs. Hart has an impressive streak of over 100 consecutive extra point kicks and holds the record as the club's all-time leading scorer. Originally from Southampton, England. He was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL for their 2002 pre-season camp, but was subsequently released before the regular season started.
There are many former greats to pick from the past Claymores rosters, including Scotland's Gavin Hastings who played for the Claymores during the 1996 season, but the aforementioned players are some of the fan favourites that have left their mark on the Scottish fans.
In June, 2003, the Claymores will host the World Bowl at Hampden Park, Glasgow, and it will be the culmination of the 2003 season. There will be plenty of activities in Glasgow during the week leading up to the main event, relating to American Football and the Claymores.
More information about the Claymores can be found at the Scottish Claymores home page and more information about the NFL Europe can be found at NFLEurope.com.