Destroyers are on a mission

Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood. Picture: JCM Motorsports Photography

Stevens and Charlwood make major change

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Portsmouth Destroyers are banking on some international assistance as they chase 2014 glory.

Five members of their coaching team are jetting off to the United States for an experience they hope will help them put Portsmouth back on top.

They will travel out to a Californian college to learn fresh techniques and playing styles.

And the Destroyers will feel the benefit on their return.

The team, founded in 2006, lifted the national championship in 2011.

But after missing out this year, the extra knowledge and experience from the upcoming US adventure should help the team up their game for 2014.

Newly-appointed head coach Alex Phillips is in place and everything is coming together for the Destroyers.

President Chris Herbert, who is also running backs coach, is confident his side will do the business.

He said: ‘With 52 (out of 70) players returning to play next year, we are really optimistic about our chances of becoming national champions again.

‘The other top teams in the UK are aware of our situation and know that we will be a force to be reckoned with.’

The Destroyers were beaten by Derby during the second stage of the UK play-offs this year.

That was a blow after they had won all seven of their Thames Valley Conference games, including four victories in seven days in what was dubbed ‘hell week’.

Herbert added: ‘Hell week really took it out of the players.

‘But we needed to play the games if we wanted to reach the play-offs.

‘We had to organise yoga sessions and ice baths for the lads.

‘But when we sealed the four from four, it was all worth it.’

The Destroyers will be grateful that there will be no ‘hell week’ in store for them during 2014.

They will be playing on a new all-weather 4G pitch which is under construction at Furze Lane. The pitch will have American Football markings and a special viewing gallery to attract people to watch the sport, which finds itself at an all-time high in the UK.

‘With the introduction of the NFL UK Wembley games and increasing publicity, we have definitely noticed an increase in interest and people wanting to play, and that can only be positive for us,’ said Herbert.

The Destroyers will be relying on Lloyd Scott to help lead their charge to glory.

Scott has played for Great Britain Universities as a defensive end.

And he is a leader and motivator on and off the pitch for the Destroyers.

Herbert will be at the helm of the club for one more year.

He’s determined to put plans in place to ensure that any success they achieve is sustainable.

He said: ‘I’m going to put into effect a three-year plan.

‘A long-term view is needed, especially when budgeting for essential safety equipment which is so expensive.

‘I’d like to thank Skyebar for their continued sponsorship and support. They are superb and treat us all like kings!’

Press Officer Rhianna Dawes will say goodbye to the Destroyers when she graduates.

But she leaves the team in a great place with their sights firmly set on picking up more trophies.

She added: ‘The guys are great together and they all want what is best for the team.

‘Before they started playing, some of them wouldn’t be seen dead in the gym.

‘But now most of them go because it’s what is needed for the team to perform.

‘I urge any new guys to get involved.’