Cardinals gear up for the new season

THE Ipswich Cardinals have begun training at a new ground.While the Cardinals will continue to play their regular season home games at Northgate Sports Centre, the squad can now be found training on Sundays at the Ipswich YMCA ground on Rushmere Road in the town.

THE Ipswich Cardinals have begun training at a new ground.

While the Cardinals will continue to play their regular season home games at Northgate Sports Centre, the squad can now be found training on Sundays at the Ipswich YMCA ground on Rushmere Road in the town.

Franchise chairman Ralph Alexander made the move from the Northgate school facilities to the YM, as the excellent rugby-orientated centre is, for training purposes, a little more American football-friendly.

Head coach Sandy Francis, and his assistants Miles Innes, Chris Hailstone, and Howie Borstal are working hard to assemble a squad capable of challenging for the Division One title this year.


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Most of last season's team kept in reasonable shape during the winter months, and have been back in serious training since the start of January, while Alexander, Francis and Co. have been busy recruiting new talent from the Ipswich area.

“We all have the NFL to thanks for the rise in the popularity of our sport,” said Francis. “And I am not surprised by the number of potential squad members that have come to practice.”

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Francis has been particularly impressed by new lineman Alvin Henderson, safety Dave Flack, receivers Lindsey Stewart and Ben Firman, and linebacker Dom Long, while Rob Symons, Marcus Long, Ben Gladwell and Petr Sulc all look to have very bright futures when their positional coaches get to grips with them.

Last year's starting quarterback Shane Rhoades is back in the US with work, so Francis has his eyes firmly fixed on passing talent from the local airbase.

Hoping to catch more passes this year, the evergreen Ian Girling leads the wide receiving corps, and continues to pass his experience and knowledge on to the likes of Lee Watts, Craig Thompson, Ben Firman and Stewart.

Now aged 40, but looking and playing much younger, Girling remains one of the top possession receivers in the UK.

There are now only ten weeks of practice left prior to the opening game of the season, but Alexander and Francis are still looking for a few more new players, and waiting on a few more old ones.

Practice at the YMCA starts at noon every Sunday.

Ralph Alexander can be reached on 01473 410887, and all potential new players are welcomed at training sessions.

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