Britball: We Meet Manchester Titans' Jonathan Homer

By Peter Mann

Back-to-back national champions, Jonathan Homer’s Manchester Titans are ready to go again as they defend both their BAFA (British American Football Association) Premiership North, and BritBowl titles – but is a three-peat on the cards?

Having celebrated their twentieth anniversary just last season, the Titans have enjoyed five undefeated seasons, five divisional titles, and seven play-off berths during that time, and with that have already become one of the biggest clubs across all of Great Britain. 

On-field success aside, the Titans blueprint sees them performing through Adult Contact, Adult Flag, Women’s Contact, Women’s Flag, U19s Contact, U17s North Contact, U17s South Contact, U17s Flag, and U12s Flag, whilst also being awarded the title of “British American Football Program of the Year” in 2016 and 2017 – they certainly building from the bottom, up. 

However, as with other clubs in the game, they were affected by the lengthy period the pandemic inflicted; for Homer though, he and his charges have only lost once during his time at the helm, a period which also includes an 11-0, exhibition season (2021).

“I’ve been here since 2005, as a player, and began coaching in 2011, retiring (playing) four years later through injuries,” began Homer. 

“In fact, the worst injury I had was actually my Achilles which I done playing flag football; but when I was here as a player myself, back then, there was just the adult, so I’m responsible for the rest – flag, women, under 19s, under 17s. 

“There’s actually quite a few players out there who started off here and we’ve become something of a vacuum in the northwest with some 29 players in the 75-man Great Britain squad.” 

As in any sport, there’s periods of success clubs enjoy, their “Glory Days” and for the Titans, they’re looking to build on their recent success to make their current spell, theirs – mind, they do have a long, long way to match the achievement of the London Olympians, who won seven-in-a-row between 1997 and 2003. 

The most successful club in the British game has bagged themselves, thus far, eighteen divisional titles, a dozen BritBowl’s, two EuroBowl’s, and an EFAF (European Federation of American Football) Cup, with both 1993 and 1994 seeing the Olympians win consecutive trebles (Division, Brit and Euro). 

Titans Head Coach Jonathan Homer does have his, and the Titans’ gaze set upon the European game, often seen to be taking in games in Italy, due to his partner being an Italian, games there often attracting 1-1500+ spectators.

Nine Titans, including four Youth Team graduates, represented the Great Britain National Team in Milan this weekend against the reigning European Champions, Italy. Though the GB Lions fell 28-23, we are so proud of the eight players who received their first cap! 📸 Irena Leite

On British soil, things like attendance are a completely different story, but he’s also aware of the effect that something like the pandemic had on the game this side of the Atlantic.  

“It set the whole sport back and teams, they lost a whole cohort of players, and that’s only just coming back,” admitted Homer. 

“Working relationships have also been distanced, and other programs have folded since then also, whereas our U19s say, they’ve had to travel a lot – there’s been a knock-on effect so it’s frustrating really.”

A tough season ahead, as Homer and his coaching team are aware, they, like others, have had changes in personnel, the Titans HC knowing they not only have to hit the ground running against Tamworth Phoenix but build as they go as well. 

The Phoenix was the only loss on Homer’s copybook at the Titans helm, in 2022 in what he says was “a tight game, but there’s fine margins and it still rankles with me. It did stop us from getting away with ourselves though, so the adversity of defeat served us well.” 

This is Manchester. We do things differently here. #BritbowlXXXIV CHAMPIONS! 🏆

Over the past two years though, that which has seen the Titans in the season finale, BritBowl showpiece, seeing off the London Warriors on each occasion, 37-7 (2022) and 44-27 (2023), with quarterback Sam Bloomfield the MVP on each occasion (the Warriors had won six of the previous seven editions). 

“Last season we didn’t win by more than thirty and implemented what we call, ‘blended rotation,’ where every drive has a new set of players, along with a ‘rolling clock,’” continued Homer. 

“Facing the Warriors though, they were a lot better in 2023 than they were in 2022, the game was a much closer affair. However, we do feel as though we’ve moved ahead of the British game so yes, we are looking at Europe – we have to have a top-tier franchise.”

“Going into this one though, we aren’t as strong right now as we have been. We can be strong in a few months though, then at our best by the end of the season and we will build a dynasty here, just not with me at the helm.” 

81 Touchdowns 🏈 22 different scorers 🐝 One National Championship 🏆 Check out all 81 touchdowns from our Adult Contact’s Britbowl XXXIV National Championship winning season @ManchesterTitan

Perhaps a slight distraction for the Titans this coming campaign will see them having a side competing in the CEFL (Central European Football League), a dozen clubs from eight, European national leagues participating over four weekends throughout the season. 

With one weekend in April, one in May, and two in June, the Titans have been drawn to oppose the Stockholm Mean Machines, away, in the First Round (26 April), with the winner of that facing the defending champions, La Courneuve Flash, also away, in the Second Round (11 May).  

With the semifinals scheduled to be played at the start of June, the CEFL Bowl XVIII will be played three weeks later, at the home of one of the finalists. 

“Winning the Premiership North is the target for us, especially as going into Europe has hurt British clubs in the past,” admitted the Titans supremo. 

“So yes, we do have CEFL games where we could play up to four times and has created some challenges, but for us, it’s the right thing to do. I do think that we can win though, and we do have the talent to go there and beat Stockholm.”

“We have lost seven, eight top-end guys, through retirement, but we do have the likes of Sam Bloomfield, Adam Bamber, a core of running backs, as well as the new signings. But the aim, yes it’s to three-peat, although the likes of the Bristol Aztecs and London Warriors are significantly stronger; we have three months though in which to progress but I’d say to go 10-0 and win the North, and take a home semi-final as we know we can beat anyone here.”

Playing at Belle Vue Stadium, Gorton (National Speedway Stadium, M12 4JF), the Titans’ schedule for the 2024 season sees the following – Tamworth Phoenix (14 April, H), Newcastle Vikings (28 April, A), East Kilbride Pirates (19 May, H), Merseyside Nighthawks (26 May, H) Merseyside Nighthawks (9 June, A), Tamworth Phoenix (16 June, A), East Kilbride Pirates (14 July, A), Newcastle Vikings (21 July, H), Edinburgh Wolves (4 August, H), Edinburgh Wolves (11 August, A).