Milton Keynes Pathfinders
|Home ground||Emerson Valley Sports Pavilion, Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes
|General manager||Jenny Chilton|
|League||BAFA National Leagues|
|Division||Division 2 East|
The Milton Keynes Pathfinders (often abbreviated to MK Pathfinders) are an American football team based in Milton Keynes, England, competing in Division 2 East of the BAFA National Leagues (BAFANL). They play their home games at the Emerson Valley Sports Pavilion in Milton Keynes, which they share with Milton Keynes Rugby Club. The club was first formed in 1997, with the senior team being founded in 2006, entering the BAFL in 2008 and reaching the play-offs for the first time in 2011.
The club was first formed as a youth team following the demise of the Milton Keynes Pioneers in 1997. They started off competing in flag tournaments, and in 1999 won the British Youth flag championship after winning their conference with a 6–0 record, then defeating the UCLA Renegades 18–12 in the final. The team then withdrew from competition for four years before returning to compete in the British Junior and Youth Kitted Championships from 2004.
The club then decided to form a senior team in late 2006, and joined the BAFL as associate members. As part of the BAFL's requirements for associate members, the club arranged the two friendly matches which would enable them to gain full membership and enter the league the following season. Their first match away to the Cambridgeshire Cats was followed by a 0–35 defeat at home to the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders, a fellow associate team looking to join the league.
Having completed their associate games in October 2007 the senior squad were invited to apply for full league status for 2008. For the 2008 season, they competed in Division Two's Eastern Conference against the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders, Cambridgeshire Cats, Peterborough Saxons and Watford Cheetahs. The team posted a 0–9–1 record, scoring 60 points and conceding 445 points over a 10 game period, the highest total since the 464 points conceded by the Andover Thrashers in 2005.
In the 2009 season the team were handed a tough schedule which included East Kent Mavericks, Staffordshire Surge and recently relegated Colchester Gladiators, all of whom went on to win their respective conferences. Despite the draw and a small inexperienced squad the Pathfinders did record their first victory in a very even game with the Lincolnshire Bombers, taking the tie 14–12. The Pathfinders ended their season with another close game, losing at home to the Staffordshire Surge 0–7, having conceded in the final 4 minutes and a touch down disallowed due to a flag on the final play.
Post 2009 season The Pathfinders announced a merger with affiliate team Northants Hotrods (formally Northants Nightmare) increasing the squad size. In addition the team recruited a number of experienced locally based players and coaches including Defensive Coordinator Matthew Hannigan-Train from Bedford Blue Raiders.
The 2010 season started badly, despite some strong preseason scrimmages with Maidstone Pumas and div 1 teams Kent Exiles and Cambridgeshire Cats, MK lost their first 6 games. On a positive note they were highly competitive in the majority of the games, including a tight 17–15 defeat at league leaders Hampshire Thrashers. On the back of that result the Pathfinders went on a run of 4 wins to close out the season, including a 13–35 win away at Watford Cheetahs ending their playoff hopes. The season ranked up a number of new records for MK, including first away win (at Gloucester 8–24), highest points in a game (35 at Watford), most wins (4) and highest overall points tally for a season with 126. In addition Andy Larwill ranked joint first in the league for Sacks with 12 and Matthew Hannigan-Train also made the Div.2 top 10. Larwill also ranked in the top 10 for tackles, while Ben Williams ranked in the top 10 for running yards, overall points and kicking yards.
At the end of a solid developmental season Offensive Co-ordinator Jon "Wyle.E." Langstaff decided to step aside and spend time with his family, in addition Head Coach for the season Dave Ayres vacated his role to allow former GB linebacker and Farnham Knights Coach Sean Gray to take the reins. David Stokes also decided to move on from the club, having previously been Manager and Player for the team. David had been a big part of the team for the previous seasons, but a combination of his commitments to Coaching at Bletchley Rugby Club and a serious injury lead to him moving on. Stokes, Ayres and Langstaff had been at the club since it’s senior inception and it would not have continued to flourish without their hard work; for which The Club will always be thankful.
In the 2011 season Coach Gray and his staff took the Pathfinders one step further in their progression. Starting the season with a comfortable win over a young Norwich Devils, the Pathfinders would go on to record their first winning season. Ending the regular season with a record of 7 wins, 2 defeats and 1 tie. The tie would be against eventual Conference Champions Kent Exiles in a game either team could have won and the two defeats would be against the Essex Spartans. The Pathfinders record would see them qualify in the final Division 2 Playoff spot, despite finishing third in their Conference, and have to travel to Glasgow's West Coast Trojans. The undefeated Trojans went on to win that game and eventually reach the national finals.
In the off-season Coach Gray moved on from the club and The Pathfinders appointed Roger Brown as Head Coach for the 2012 season. Coach Brown appointed Darren Hill to coach defensive backfield and utilized Quarterback Mike Keogh to assist with Coaching the Offence. The team were once again competing National League Division 2 East; renewing rivalries with old friends from Watford, Bedford and Maidstone and meeting in addition The Peterborough Saxons and The Colchester Gladiators who both dropped down from Division 1 in 2011. The seaon opened with MK at home to Colchester and both teams initially struggled to take an advantage, before the Pathfinders Defence left their mark on the game forcing both Colchesters starting QB and RB out of the game. MK went on to take the win, this was to be the start of the Pathfinders most successful season, ending with an 8-2 record and finishing as the highest scoring Offence in the conference. The two defeats both coming at the hands of the Peterborough Saxons (32-0 away and 14-21 at home). In the Playoffs MK drew the West Conference Champions Oxford Saints in what would be the first ever meeting of the two teams. The Pathfinders took the game 42-24 and booked themselves a place in the Southern Final, once again this would be against the Saxons who had overcome Cornwall Sharks in a playoff quarterfinal. Saxon's made it 3 wins in 3 against the Pathfinders, but went on to lose the final to Sheffield Predators in overtime.
On the development front the club is reforming a youth section and looks forward to developing young talent and providing a participative and competitive football experience for the 14–17-year age group.
Senior team season records
|Season||Division||Wins||Losses||Ties||PF||PA||Final Position||Playoff Record||Notes|
|2008||BAFL Division Two East||0||9||1||60||445||5 / 5||—||—|
|2009||BAFL Division Two East||1||9||0||32||406||4 / 4||—||—|
|2010||BAFACL Division Two West||4||6||0||126||223||5 / 6||—||—|
|2011||BAFANL Division Two East||7||2||1||240||135||3 / 7||0 / 1||—|
|2012||BAFANL Division Two East||8||2||0||333||168||2 / 7||1 / 2||—|
- Head Coach: Roger Brown
- Defensive Coach: Darren Hill
- Offensive Coach: Mike Keogh
- Academy Lead Coach: Martin Thompson
- Academy Coaches: First Team Playing Staff
- President: Charlie Edwards
- general manager: Jenny Chilton
- Academy Manager: Amy Goodwin
- Treasurer: Steve Jones
- Press Media Officer: Rich Smith
- Player's Representative: Matt Woollard
- Merchandising: Dave Keay
- Statistician: Mark Chilton
- Head Ballboy: Tom Goodwin
- Mascot: Olivia 'Doodles' Goodwin
- "1999 League Standings" (XLS). Britball Now. 20 December 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2008.
- "2004 League Standings" (XLS). Britball Now. 20 December 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2008.[dead link]
- "MK City Pathfinders – About Us". Retrieved 8 October 2008.[dead link]
- "BAFL League Regulations". British American Football League. 1 April 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2008.[dead link]
- "Blue Raiders Beat Local Rivals". Bedfordshire Blue Raiders. 22 October 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
- "BAFL news announce new teams". BAFL. 23 November 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2008.[dead link]
- "BAFL announces alignments for 2008". BAFL. 12 January 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.[dead link]
- "2005 League Results" (XLS). Britball Now. 2 January 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2008.[dead link]