The Blue Raiders were formed in August 2006 by Dave Pankhurst and present-day Team Manager Steve Guy to replace the former teams from local towns such as Luton, Dunstable and Milton Keynes who all found success during the 1980s and 1990s. After quickly recruiting coaches (starting with Chris Wallis, former Head Coach of local rivals Peterborough Saxons and Cambridgeshire Cats who Guy knew from their time together at the University of Cambridge Pythons BCAFL team in the mid-1990s) and a full playing squad.
The team were accepted as associate members of the BAFL in August 2007.
As part of the BAFL's requirements for associate members, the Blue Raiders arranged the two friendly matches which would enable them to gain full membership and enter the league the following season. The first of these was a home game played on 9 September 2007 against the Maidstone Pumas. Despite the visiting team scoring a first period touchdown, the Raiders were able to come back to win 18–8. Their away friendly match was played four weeks later against the Leicester Falcons, who themselves were associate members aiming to join the league. The Raiders lost 0–32. Two weeks later they played their third friendly match away to another associate team, the Milton Keynes City Pathfinders. Despite an early setback when their player-coach Anthony Coverdale dislocated his knee during the kickoff, they recorded a convincing 35–0 win.
The following month, it was confirmed that the Blue Raiders application to become full members had been accepted by the BAFL, and so they were entered into the league for the 2008 season where they were placed into the Eastern Conference of Division Two alongside the Peterborough Saxons, Cambridgeshire Cats, Watford Cheetahs and fellow expansion team the Milton Keynes City Pathfinders.
The 2007 End of season awards took place at Bedford Athletic Stadium:
Blue Raider of the Year - Steve Guy
Players Player of the Year - Lee Hayward
Offensive Player of the Year - Lee Hayward
Defensive Player of the Year - Kevin Elsdon & Paul Settle
Special Teams of the Year -Dean Faulder & Chad Chisolm
Rookie of the Year - Paul Settle
Head Coach's Blue Raider of the Year - Anthony Coverdale
Head Coach's Player of the Year - Mark Davis, Tony Law & Martin Songhurst joint winners
BLUE RAIDERS SIGN NEW COACHES
The Bedfordshire Blue Raiders announce the signing of former Kent Exiles Head Coach Craig Ramsay as Defensive Co-ordinator and Minor League Hall of Fame Member Bob Shaw as Offensive Line Coach.
Coach Ramsay was a founder member of the East Coast Leopards in 1985 and a Britbowl winner in 1990 as a player with the Ipswich Cardinals. He had an impressive and successful coaching history with the Norwich Devils before moving on to be Head Coach at the Exiles in 2007.
Coach Shaw joins the Blue Raiders after a season coaching the Cornish Sharks. In the past he has coached with the Peterborough Saxons, Cambridgeshire Cats, London Mets and Team England.
Published Game Reports from 2008
Setback for Bedfordshire Blue Raiders following first ever win
Following the elation of a first-ever competitive win, Bedfordshire Blue Raiders were brought crashing back down to earth with a 35-0 defeat to Cambridgeshire Cats on Sunday.
Having opened their first-ever British American Football League (BAFL) campaign with defeat against the Colchester Gladiators on April 12, Raiders hit back to record a morale-boosting 12-6 win over Watford Cheetahs a fortnight later.
In the game against Watford, it took time for both teams' offenses to settle into the game, with all the points coming in the fourth quarter. Raiders took the lead when they ran the ball home from just a yard out after a 66-yard drive down the pitch.
That joy was short lived though as the Cheetahs ran the ball 68 yards from the kick-off return to score a touchdown.
However, with less than three minutes to go, Matt Smith caught a touchdown pass to seal victory for Bedfordshire.
On Sunday, meanwhile, Raiders had a day to forget as they were outclassed by Cambridgeshire Cats.
The defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for coach Chris Wallis, who was returning to the club he guided to 47 wins in 69 games.
Raiders struggled right from the outset and could not cope with the Cats.
Peterborough Saxons put Bedfordshire to the sword
Bedfordshire Blue Raiders failed to score in a second consecutive game as they went down 25-0 to the Peterborough Saxons.
In hot conditions, the Saxons took an early 6-0 lead after the Raiders had surrendered possession.
Despite the early momentum, the Saxons never had the chance to score again in the first quarter as the defense started to play with more aggression but, as has often been the case, the Raiders struggled to move the ball forward.
The Raiders had their moments and managed to keep the deficit at six points going into the final quarter.
Fitness began to tell and the Saxons scored two touchdowns in the final 13 minutes to consign the Raiders to their third loss of the season.
Explosive offense bags Bedfordshire victory
Some explosive offense from Bedfordshire Blue Raiders saw them record their second British American Football League win as they beat local rivals Milton Keynes City Pathfinders 35-18.
The game started well for the Blue Raiders, first preventing the Pathfinders from scoring, before taking a 6-0 lead through a two-yard run by Mike Wilson.
However, after an explosive start, the game slowed with both defenses prevailing. With half time approaching, a huge run by Richard Cohen set up the Raiders, Wilson powering through again from three yards to give his side a 13-0 lead.
After half time the resurgent offense, who had failed to score in their previous two games, scored again with quarterback Nick Tilbury running home from seven yards.
Fearing a landslide, the Pathfinders stepped up their game, forcing a fumble and scoring to reduce the deficit to 19-6.
Blue Raiders replied with Cohen running in for his first ever touchdown from 10 yards, before defensive end Nick Barker, not wanting to be left out of the scoring party, recovered a fumble and returned it to score the Blue Raiders' first-ever defensive touchdown to put them out of sight. Chris Gray made his first and only ever Interception and ran the ball back 15 yards before being tackled to stop another Pathfinders attack.
Two consecutive touchdowns for the Pathfinders late on gave the scoreline a more respectable look.
The 2008 End of season awards took place at The Flower Pot in Bedford:
Blue Raider of the Year – Andy Barnard
Player of the Year – Mike Wilson
Offensive Player of the Year - Mike Wilson
Defensive Player of the Year - John Murphy
Special Teams Player of the Year - Michael Cox
Rookie of the Year – John Murphy
Coaches Player of the Year – John Murphy
Head Coach's Player of the Year – Iain Connor & Tony Law
Head Coach's Blue Raider of the Year – Andy Barnard & Steve Guy
In Blue Raiders most successful season they reach their first (and only) Playoff only to be stopped by Colchester Gladiators for the 3rd time this season.
The team were ranked 4th in the conference at the end of the regular season and therefore qualified for a playoff position.
Being ranked 4th meant that they were to meet the number one ranked qualifying team the Colchester Gladiators.
Raiders lost 16 / 41 to the Gladiators.
Coach Wallis Steps Down
The Bedfordshire Blue Raiders announce that Head Coach, Chris Wallis steps down.
Blue Raiders Announce New GM
General Manager and Founder Member, Steve Guy announced step down, although he will remain a part of the Blue Raiders organisation in the future.
Former QB Tony Law takes over the reigns at the team and unveils to the team the re-brand and the future of the team on his watch.
Blue Raiders sign new Head Coach
The Bedfordshire Blue Raiders announce the appointment of Craig Ramsay as the next Head Coach of the team.
This season saw the public unveiling of the new Blue Raiders logo aka "Kiefer" after its initial unveiling to the team at the 2009 Awards evening.
Blue Raiders win the John Slavin Award 2010 for Best Marked Field for both "Best in Division Two" and "Best in the League".
BAFRA awards the John Slavin Trophy in even numbered years to the team with the best marked field. This includes correct field dimensions, correct line and other markings, correct size goal posts, correct positioning of pylons and the condition of the field surface. The title is awarded to the team that has comes out best in an audit carried out by BAFRA members at each game. A perfect facility scores 0. In 2008, when the Trophy was last awarded on this basis, it was won by Oxford Saints. This year saw Bedfordshire Blue Raiders take the title in a close run contest with fellow Division 2 team Berkshire Renegades.
The 2012 season started off well for the Raiders as with an influx of new rookies and several veteran players joining the team.
This coupled with the appointments of former London Blitz Offensive Line Coach and current Great Britain Lions Offensive Line Coach Anthony Fitzpatrick as the new Offensive Co-ordinator and former Blue Raiders Center and Offensive Line Coach Martin Songhurst as Special Teams Co-Ordinator.
Renewed positive influences were starting to show within the team.
Conor Hewitt (DL) becomes the first-ever Bedfordshire Blue Raiders player to be selected for the Great Britain Lions U19 American Football team.
The 2012 End of season awards took place at Bengal Brasserie in Bedford:
Blue Raider of the Year - Tony Law
Team MVP - Gareth Pullen
Rookie of the Year - Byron Chowles
Coach’s Player of the Year - John Murphy
Offensive MVP - Enrique Alonso
Defensive MVP - Conor Hewitt
Special Teams Player of the Year - Byron Chowles
Blue Raiders win the John Slavin Award 2012 for Best Marked Field in Division Two for the second time running.
With great expectation the 2013 season came with the addition of a new Home strip that incorporated the colour scheme from the logo re-brand of 2010.
This season saw the club have the first winning start to the season in its history.
Riding high on a 4-0 start to the season after defeating Essex Spartans, Watford Cheetahs and Maidstone Pumas twice no one could have predicted how the rest of the season would play out.
Once again though, it was an away trip to Colchester that started the downfall of the Raiders season. Poor turnouts in the practices leading up to the game, were starting to take its toll, but as usual the squad arrived on Gameday confident of pulling out a win. Sadly that wasn’t to be the case, and Colchester cantered to a 48-16 victory on their way to lifting the National Division title.
Whilst sporting a record of 4-1, externally everything was rosy for the Blue Raiders. Internally however, practice numbers were falling into the low teens occasionally, as injuries and a lack of player commitment by various members of the squad started to take its toll. 3 back to back losses, including a 21-7 loss to rivals Milton Keynes Pathfinders had left the Raiders with a 4-4 record heading into the last two games of the season. By this point the Raiders had lost a lot of players, and the squad size was approximately half of that which started the season, none of which could have been expected. With no healthy QB’s on the roster for the scheduled game against the Kent Exiles, the decision was made to forfeit the fixture and hand Kent a 1-0 win. This took the Blue Raiders to an upside down record of 4-5, with no hopes of making the playoffs and struggling to see out the season. Practices were now down to around 5-15 people average, and the future was not as bright as all had hoped.
The final game of the season was an away fixture at the Essex Spartans, the team the Blue Raiders beat in the opening game of the season. In order to be able to play this fixture several members of the Blue Raiders coaching staff had to re-register as players and start this game. Thankfully the experience of the players brought them through a tough game, and they finished the season a respectable 5-5. Little did anyone know that this would be the final game the Blue Raiders ever played.
At the end of the game, Club General Manager Tony Law announced he was stepping down as Chairman, and that an EGM would be scheduled to sort out a new GM moving forward. At this point, Coaches Anthony Fitzpatrick, Anthony Coverdale, Martin Songhurst and Head Coach Craig Ramsay also announced they would be stepping down, with Fitzpatrick and Coverdale heading to coach at Premier Division team, the London Blitz, Songhurst stepping down to concentrate on other interests and Ramsay stepping down to spend time with his family, after nearly 25 years of coaching.
The 2013 End of season awards took place at Indian Summer in Bedford:
Team MVP - John Murphy
Offensive Player of the Year - Darragh Mooney
Defensive Player of the Year - Michael Cox
Special Teams Player of the Year - Danny Lipner
Rookie of the Year - Jack Judge
Longest run 94 - Lee Hayward, (Bedfordshire Blue Raiders) vs Maidstone Pumas, 9 September 2007
Most Sacks In a Season 13.0 - Paul Settle – 2008
Oldest player to rush for a 1,000 yards in a season Michael J Wilson (born 1963) in 2008. (This record was never submitted to the Britball)