This week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Assistant QB Coach John Slade, affectionately known as ‘Sladey’ to many at the Exiles! We explore Coach Slade’s rich QB history, love of the British game, working with QBs across all teams at the Exiles, before taking at look at his plans to conquer Europe!
How did you get into American Football?
The Stock Exchange were looking to get a team together to compete in the Budweiser Premier League in the early 80s. As if by magic, The Stock Exchange / City of London Stags were born, with my uncle starting on O-line with them. I was 12 at the time and was invited along to a training session. I started my day catching balls for the HC and starting QB Thom Theys, who was a former Wisconsin badger. That was it… I wanted to be a QB.
Did you play American football/what position did you play?
Yes, thankfully my dream was realised; I spent most of my time playing QB & training with Stags adult team due to age and lack of junior teams available. The Stags had a great passing game that was up there with some of the best. Sadly, when it was my turn to step up and our season started, I was badly injured and broke my leg. Then out of the blue, Budweiser pulled their funding, and the Stags were no more. I Floated around after that with different teams but with injuries mounting called it a day. I still wonder how I would have done if I had been able to play to my full potential.
What position did you dream you could play?
Only ever been QB for me, but I have always fancied playing WR I know I can catch I have good hands I just wished my legs back hips and the rest of my body were as good as my hands. If I listed my injuries, it would take a week for those of you that know me everything I wear holds me together.
Why the Exiles?
I was introduced to the Exiles by a former player Scott Shepherd. He invited me to an Exiles game, and it was almost like déjà vu being back on the field listening to players and coaches; it was a welcomed change but tough as a spectator. Then Scott introduced me to Zac Richie watching him play I realised how far the game had come and progressed. I started following and got an invite to a QB camp that Zac was running, and wondered could I still have a chance?
The answer was no.
First 3 steps drop and all the aches and pains were back, it was never going to happen. The upside was a great friendship was formed, and HC John Moore & Zac asked me if I would like to be Zac’s assistant coach. From this point onwards, everything else was history in making.
What is your greatest achievement in this sport so far?
Being part of a Club that’s gained promotion to the Premier league will always be close to my heart, because I know what it meant to the players and coaches who had been with the team longer than I have. That day alone will always be special.
What motivates you to coach football?
The motivation for me is the drive for success. We want our QBs and all training camps to be ‘the Elite of the Elite’, but that comes with hard work and dedication. Zac is the best QB coach in the country, in my opinion, so who better for to learn from than him.
What are your goals for the Adult team over the next 5 years?
To make sure all the QBs learn and progress go out there on the field and play the position properly. Making sure they enjoy what they are doing, work hard, have fun, and bring home a few championships.
Aside from the Exiles, which team do you support and why?
49ers of the 80’s, with a cheeky shout out to the 1991 London Monarchs; had some fun times watching those guys home and away!
If you could have one NFL or college player on your team who would it be?
This one is easy: Joe Montana the greatest QB of all time. Backing up Cooky of course!
What sets American football apart from other sports and why do you think it is growing so well in the UK?
Media coverage NFL Europe & games in London are giving the UK hands on exposure to a great sport. It also has a position for everyone if you are willing to work hard. The UK has embraced it and now that we are competing at much higher levels than ever before… we should be targeting Europe.