Belfast Blitzers v Coleraine Chieftains 1985

Northern Ireland American Football Association Flag Football 1985


NIAFA Flag Football 1985

PosTeamWLTPctPFPANet PtsStreak
1Tyrone Tornadoes1001.000000W1
3Belfast Blitzers1100.500000W1
4Coleraine Chieftains0200.000000L2


NIAFA Flag Football 1985


The Coleraine Chieftains were formed in December 1984, the first American Football team in Northern Ireland. The following March, Steve Stacher, who had only arrived in Ireland a few months previously with his Irish wife, had started up the Tyrone Tornadoes. Meanwhile David Freeland had founded the Belfast Blitzers. The three teams formed the NIAFA – Northern Ireland American Football Association – in April 1985

The first match involving two Irish teams was a 7v7 or 9v9 Flag Football (non-contact American Football) between Tyrone Tornadoes and Coleraine Chieftains in Omagh Rugby Club, Co. Tyrone, which the Tornadoes won. Ballymena Wolfhounds, Bangor Buccaneers and Craigavon Cowboys had joined by mid-summer, and an ad-hoc series of games was played between the teams for the first season.

Tyrone Tornadoes disbanded after a few months due to the GAA players in the team focusing on Gaelic Football during the summer and Steve Stacher, along with a few others formed the IAFRA – Irish American Football Referees Association. Belfast Blitzers first match was against Coleraine Chieftains and they went on to play in the Final Match, a loss in the Final minutes to Craigavon Cowboys which was to start a fierce Inter-town rivalry.

Belfast Blitzers v Coleraine Chieftains 1985
Belfast Blitzers (Red) and Coleraine Chieftains (Blue) in an early Flag Football match in 1985. Steve Stacher is on the right of the picture in red jumper and blue jeans.


[1] Belfast Blitzers Facebook Page (2013) Album, November 3, 2013 “Belfast Blitzers first ever game!” [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 12 October 2018]

[2] Belfast Blitzers Facebook Page (2013) Album, November 3, 2013 “Belfast Blitzers first ever game! – Blitzers D” [Internet] Available from:;6f6ceE7RzrOY4x7nvUvad7~;8fz2cPdY6j7qslX74X9xRwwhw~-~-.bps.a.455903324520828/455904087854085 [Accessed 12 October 2018]

[3] Steve Stacher (1987) “AN OFFICIAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL IN IRELAND” Receiver, 1987. pg. 25.

[4] Anon. (1985) “MEET THE ‘TYRONE TORNADOES'” Ulster Herald. Saturday, April 6, 1985. pg. 4. [Past editions of the Ulster Herald are available to view online at: ]

[5] Anon. (1985) “AMERICAN FOOTBALL” Strabane Chronicle. Saturday, May 11, 1985. pg. 9 [Past editions of the Ulster Herald are available to view online at: ]

[6] Neil Johnston (1985) “Introducing Tyrone’s Tornadoes…” Belfast Telegraph. Saturday, March 2, 1985. pg. 1.


Thanks to David Turner (Belfast Blitzers)


Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 5 September 2021

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