Ipswich Cardinals

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Ipswich Cardinals
Cardinals Helmet.png
First season 1986
Head coach Sandy Francis
Other staff
  • Defensive coordinator: Sandy Francis
  • Special teams coach: Kevin Davies
  • Defensive line coach: Robert Stamper
  • Defensive backs coach: Sandy Francis
  • Offensive coordinator: Paul Borstel
  • Offensive line coach: Muff Woolf
Stadium Northgate International Sports Centre
Seating capacity 400
Field surface Grass
Location Ipswich, Suffolk
Conference National Division
Division South East Conference
All-time record 142–115–5 (.552)
Bowl record 2–5–0 (.286)
Claimed nat'l titles 2
Division titles 4
Current uniform
Colors Burgundy and Gold

The Ipswich Cardinals are an American Football team from the United Kingdom based in Ipswich, Suffolk. The team plays in the National Division South East Conference of BAFANL – the second tier of the BAFA National Leagues.


Formed by Colin Cox, Mark LePorte and Don Laisure II in December 1985 at the Drunken Docker pub in Ipswich.

The club was formed by the players for the players, the club was owned by the players.

What's in a name?[edit]

The name comes from one of Ipswich's most famous sons, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who was Henry VIII's Lord chancellor (Chief advisor to the king). It is a clever play on the traditional name for some American sports teams, whereas theirs is generally a reference to the cardinal bird, their name is a tribute to a local historical figure.

The team's first training session was set for January 1986 at Gainsborough sports centre, Ipswich. Over 100 hopefuls turned up for tryouts – a lot of them went by the way, but there were a lot of hopefuls. Don Laisure put the hopeful players through their paces along with Gary McCartney. The committee approached Jack Garner who was the head coach of the Woodbridge high school team. He became the head coach until he was transferred to Holland – then, with the team coach-less, JJ Johnson was asked to help. JJ and Andy Melton took over the coaching roles, whilst Don Laisure stepped down and played instead.

All Time record[edit]

Season Division Wins Losses Ties PF PA Playoff Record Notes
1986 Friendlies only 0 0 1 12 12 Vs Stevenage Aerostars
1987 United Kingdom Football League Championship 12 0 0 299 21 Runners-up losing 28–26 in the final to St.Helens Cardinals
1988 Budweiser Division 1 Championship 9 1 0 456 84 Runners-up losing 48–34 in the final to Herts Phantoms
1989 British National Gridiron League Division 1 7 2 1 216 54 Runners-up losing 18–9 in the final to Norwich Devils
1990 British National Gridiron League Division 1 9 1 0 256 77 National champions beating the Clydesdale Colts 34–22
1991 British National Gridiron League Division 1 6 2 1 279 130 Semi-finalists losing 50–0 to the London Capitals
1992 BNGL National Division South/East Midlands Conference 5 5 0 217 213
1993 BNGL Division Midlands Conference 5 5 0 150 95
1994 BAFA Division 2 South Eastern Conference 1 9 0 81 267 Relegated to Division 3
1995 BAFA Division 3 East Midlands Conference 3 7 0 86 207
1996 British Senior League Division 3 8 2 0 261 61 Quarter-finalists losing 14–0 to Winchester Rifles
1997 BSL Division 1 South East / Midlands Conference 4 6 0 151 177
1998 BSL Division 1 South East Conference 4 6 0 145 248
1999 BSL Division 1 South East Conference 2 6 0 84 126 Relegated to Division 2
2000 British Senior League Division 2 Championship 8 0 0 297 48 Runners-up losing 41–7 in the final to Farnham Knights
2001 British Senior League Division 2 Championship 5 2 1 172 91 Division Champions beating the Norwich Devils 47–15 Promoted to Division 1
2002 British Senior League Division 1 6 4 0 201 116 losing 14–3 to Birmingham Bulls
2003 British Senior League Division 1 4 4 0 137 67 Semi-finalists losing 12–7 to East Kilbride Pirates
2004 British Senior League Division 1 5 4 0 199 170 Wildcard round losing 46–0 to London O's
2005 British Senior League Division 1 3 6 0 86 201
2006 British American Football League Division 1A 4 6 0 165 334 Semi-finalists losing 20–7 to Bristol Aztecs
2007 BAFL Division 1 Championship 8 2 0 230 109 Runners-up losing 47–7 in the final to Farnham Knights
2008 BAFL Division 1 South Conference 5 5 0 167 175
2009 BAFL Division 1 South East Conference 3 7 0 175 219
2010 BAFACL Division 1 South East Conference 8 2 0 215 99 Semi-finalists losing 34–10 to East Kilbride Pirates
2011 BAFANL Division 1 South East Conference 6 3 1 242 172 Quarter-finalists losing 14–7 to London O's
2012 BAFANL Premier Division South 2 8 0 43 318
2013 BAFANL Premier Division South 0 10 0 41 380


Ipswich has a long-standing rivalry with the city of Norwich in all sports and American football is no different. The Cardinals and the Devils games are always fiercely contested with both teams stepping up their games.

It is an amusing accident that one of the league's biggest rivalries features teams with religious logos. With Ipswich being represented by an adaptation of Cardinal Wolsey and Norwich being represented with a depiction of a devil. Are there higher powers at work here? Probably not, but it all adds to the intensity of the games when these two teams face off on the field.

Logo and uniforms[edit]


The Logo worn on the helmet was originally a cardinal's head, then the "Fighting Cardinal" (a representation of Cardinal Wolsey) which was designed by Mark Ayers, the first quarterback. Kevin Davies took it to an artist at the Port of Felixstowe to refine it. [1]

Early Days[edit]

The original uniform first adopted by the Cardinals was a blue helmet with the cardinals head, red home shirt, white away shirt, white pants. It is believed these colours were chosen as they matched the local football team Ipswich Town FC, it is not known however, when or why the team decided to abandon these colours in favour of their current ones.

Cardinals Head Coach Ian Girling with his retired jersey


Later on the Cardinals switched to burgundy and gold for their helmets and home uniform, and all white for their away uniform. The helmets were gold with a central stripe of white flanked by two strips of burgundy. The jersey is burgundy and the pants gold.

The away uniform was white trimmed with red numbers and two red stripes on the arms.

Current Uniform[edit]

The Cardinals current home uniform is made up of three colours; the primary colour is burgundy. The second is gold which runs from the base of the pants up the outside of the legs and follows onto the jersey before moving under the arms to the top of the shoulder, and is also the colour of the shirt numbers. The final colour is white which outlines the jersey numbers. The pants are burgundy with gold trim and the socks are white.

The away uniform is largely the same as the home with the only difference being that the burgundy jersey is replaced with a white jersey with burgundy numbering outlined by gold.

Retired Numbers[edit]

At the end of the 2010 season Ralph Alexander, GM & Owner of the Ipswich Cardinals, made the decision to retire the club's first ever number. Head Coach Ian Girling has seen service with the organisation since its inception in 1985 first as a player in the Wide Receiver and Quarterback role, later as offensive coordinator and finally as the current Head Coach (As of 2010). In that time he has won 2 National titles and represented British American football in Europe. It was decided that a fitting way to recognise this outstanding commitment to the organisation was to retire his number from the team's roster. At the Cardinals' 25th anniversary party the GM presented the number 7 to Coach Girling and thanked him for all he has done to help make the team as strong as it is today.

Coaching staff and front office[edit]

Chairman/general manager: Ralph Alexander
CEO Hospitality/Entertainment/BBQ/Cold Beverages: Jan Alexander
CEO Matchday Operations: James Alexander
Matchday Manager: Steven Hawes
Treasurer: Clive Longden
Communications Manager:
Head Coach: Sandy Francis
Offensive coordinator: Paul Borstal
Defensive coordinator: Sandy Francis
Special Teams Coach: Kevin Davis
Defensive Backs Coach: Sandy Francis
Defensive Line Coach: Robert Stamper
Running Backs Coach:
Wide Receiver Coach:
Offensive Line Coach: Muff Woolf
Director of Statistics: John Goode


  1. ^ Mark Ayers, memoir

External links[edit]