This week is the big one, the commander of all commanders, the ultimate chief, we get to know Head Coach John Moore!
Not only is HC Moore firmly holding the reigns at the helm of the Adult contact team but he has also dedicated years of blood, sweat and tears to the Exiles organisation. Coach Moore has seen success in the past two years with the Adult Contact team being promoted to the premiership and succeeding in staying in the UK’s top tier of American Football. With his wife at his side as his Team Manager and a team of incredible coaching talent for support, we are certain John Moore’s Exiles will ‘Change the Narrative’ of the Premier League this year!
How did you get into American Football?
From the age of about 10yrs I played all traditional British sports. Soccer at school and Sundays, Cricket and Rugby. When I was about 15 a good school friend Colin Hubbuck introduced me to this new sport which was on Channel 4 every Sunday Night. From there we found out that there was a local team to us the Medway Mustangs. They didn’t have a junior team, so we decided to start our own team affiliated to the Medway Mustangs. We managed to recruit others to play and before we knew it we were playing American football, entirely self-taught. When we were old enough at 18 years old, we graduated into the Senior Medway Mustangs team. In the late 80’s many teams had American Imports and for a few years, groups of around five, both players and coaches, would come to the UK and play and coach the Mustangs. This culminated in the Mustangs winning a National Title (Second Tier). Being part of a team like this had me hooked.
Did you play AF / What position did you play?
I did play and I was always a bit of a bruiser. I liked the physicality of the game and being a strong lad I started playing on the defensive Line. There I stayed for many years, my aim to be such a handful that the OL would need two to block me. A simple yet effective goal. In the mid 90’s I tore my ACL playing in a game for the Exiles. A long recovery and time away from the game I eventually returned but with a reduced capacity in the knee I played on the Offensive Line as it was slightly easier on the knee. That is where I stayed for the remainder of my playing days. Eventually retiring from playing around 2007.
What position did you dream you could play?
I always had great hand / eye coordination. That meant I could catch a football. I’ve found over the years that whilst catching is a skill that can be practiced and improved, as a starting point you either can or you can’t. I always had a hankering to play Tight end. To be a great blocker and every now and then go out in a pattern and catch the odd pass. Alas my coaches would invariable point out that my perception of quite how fast I was in the routes was always some way away from the reality. “Just play Nose Tackle and draw those double teams” or “we want to run the ball and need your blocking ability”, were the phrases I heard most.
Why the Exiles?
Between the years 2007 and 2011 I was the Head Coach of the East Kent Mavericks. I took that position after the departure of the previous head coach, the team had no one else and so I stepped in. After a few years of initial success culminating in a Play Off spot in 2009, the following years saw losing records as the opposition improved. After finishing 2-8 in 2011 I realised that I needed to go somewhere and learn how to be a better coach. I did some research and found out that one of the teams I had played for, the Exiles, were being coached by one of the best up and coming young Coaches, Tony Bainbridge. All of the Players I shad spoken to, spoke very highly of him and people believed he was going places in Britball. I reached out to the Chairman Dave Pester and asked if they needed any coaches. I remember my first conversation with Coach Tony. He gave me a hard time and wanted to know why I would leave a HC post to come and Coach the OL at the Exiles. He even asked me to send him a play book I had written as a test. I knew that this was a guy I wanted to Coach for and that he would teach me what I needed to know, So in 2012 I joined the Exiles as their OL Coach.
What is your greatest achievement in this sport so far?
It would not be easy to single out one single greatest achievement during the 30 plus years I have been involved as a player and coach. Playing and coaching are so very different. My greatest achievement is still a work in progress. Leading the Exiles to the Premiership and a Britbowl appearance in 2018 is perhaps my greatest achievement as a Head Coach but that was years in the making. Maintaining the Premiership status in 2019 was just as important but these themselves are just building blocks for what is to come.
What motivates you to coach football?
Building teams and being a catalyst for people from all backgrounds to come together in pursuit of a common goal. Being responsible for seeing a football player achieve their goals. In 2018 we secured our Premiership status by beating a very good team, the Solent Thrashers. Coach Steve Reins the Thrashers HC is one of the winningest Coaches in British Football, this was going to be a challenge! This is now referred to in Exile folklore as The Monsoon Bowl. The rain was ridiculous, standing water on a 3G pitch that was inches deep, It never stopped! I remember as the players took to the field looking across the pitch to see several Solent players huddled under a little Marquee trying to keep dry. It came to me that this game would be won before a ball was even kicked. I looked at a couple of our coaches struggling with an umbrella and told them to put it away – we had to show the players that this rain is not going to stop us or even effect us. As coaches we had to set that example right there and then, ditch the brollies, ignore the rain and finish the job. Watching our team warming up, embracing the conditions whilst the other team looked at us like we were mad made a big difference that day. Being able to say I was there that day is why I coach.
What are your goals for the Kent Exiles Adult contact team over the next five years?
Change the Narrative of the Premiership South and the National picture. When the Premiership is discussed, no one looks past the Warriors and the Blitz in the South, and now Tamworth in the North. Quite rightly, those teams have earned the right to be considered nailed on play off teams, year on year.
We want to Change That Narrative.
We have assembled a collection of Coaches that rival any set in the country. My job right now is to define and implement a culture amongst our players that can deliver those results. Its not going to be an easy task, but then getting out of Division 2, then out of Division 1 and finally staying in the Premiership last year wasn’t easy either. The work we have put in since we have been allowed back to training has been immense. Others are typing away on keyboards, moaning about refunds and restrictions. We are running, we are lifting and we are learning!
Aside from the Kent Exiles which team do you support and why?
The New York Jets. Why, you ask? Because many years ago I literally said the next team featured on Channel 4 Sunday Night American Football Show will be the team I support. Loyalty is a key feature of being a leader. Hence I’m still a Jets fan and I’m looking forwards to the 2021 No 1 Draft Pick. Officially ‘Tanking for Trevor’!
If you could have one NFL or college player on your team who would it be?
Tough one. Easy pick would be one of the stand out QB’s – Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson to name a couple. I think though I would go with Defensive player Allan Donald – he is an absolute machine and his work ethic is off the charts.
What sets AF apart from other sports and why do you think it is growing so well in the UK?
I had a call from a potential new player the other day, as usual I asked him about his background, sports played fitness levels and so on. He tells me he used to play soccer but they told him he was too big and too slow to play, so he just stopped. How big are you exactly? I asked. “I’m 6’4 and around 310 lbs”, he said. A smile slowly spread across my face. “ I have exactly the right spot for you”.
This game is as inclusive as it comes. Big, small, quick, strong we can use them all. At the Exiles you can play football from age 8 upwards, boy or girl. My two youngest daughters play flag, my wife plays on the Exiles Women’s contact team. There’s No other sport like it!