ONE OF Britain’s oldest American football teams are stepping up their preparations for the momentous new season ahead, which is set to begin on April 14.

Chester Romans were established back in 1986 but are now preparing for their latest campaign – played at their highest level since 2015 - in the British American Football Association National Leagues (BAFANL).

Chester sealed their rise to the second-highest domestic division after an impressive campaign in 2018, where they went unbeaten through the regular season to finish top of the NFC 2 Central league.

The Romans then confirmed their promotion to the NFC 1 South with subsequent play-off victories over Lincolnshire Bombers and Staffordshire Surge.

Chester will now battle with Doncaster Mustangs, Lancaster Wolverines, Nottingham Caesars, Sandwell Steelers, and Shropshire Revolution for a place in one of the two Premiership divisions, the pinnacles of competitive American football in the UK.

But first, the Chester team will put their skills to the test in a pre-season friendly against the Premiership North side, Merseyside Nighthawks, with Levi Edwards, the Romans Head Coach, saying:

“It’s going to be big for us, but it’ll be great to get out there and play against somebody else after practicing with ourselves for quite a while.

“(Playing Merseyside) provides us with an opportunity to really see where we’re at especially because we’re up against one of the better teams in the North West.

“And from a coaching standpoint, it’s great for us because we can make sure all the kinks are worked out and we’re ready to roll come April 14.”

Since dropping out of the NFC 1 in 2015 – where they competed alongside teams including Shropshire, Nottingham, and Doncaster – the Romans could count themselves unlucky not to return quicker.

Their recent promotion has come as an eventual reward to the Romans who suffered play-off heartbreaks in both 2016 and 2017 despite enjoying successful regular seasons.

And speaking about their incredible journey so far, Levi Edwards adds: “We had a really good campaign last year.

“It was the first year for me as a head coach, and we had a lot of success changing up some of the ways we do things in a way to try and become more professional.

“The way we operate has led to some really good results so far. Now we’re just looking forward to the new campaign and being able to get out there and actually starting.

“We’ve played against the likes of Shropshire, Nottingham and Doncaster before. But we’re going to be a little different from what they’ve experienced in the past with the Romans.

“Playing against them will give us a great chance to see how far we’ve come along. We’re really happy with the squad we have at the moment, so it bodes well for us moving forward.”

As part of their intense preparations for the season ahead, Edwards has also introduced a gruelling 14-hour training camp day which the Romans endured earlier in March.

37 players attended Cheshire County Sports Club in Upton for a taxing 6.00am to 8.00pm day of workshops and training, which Edwards described as “fantastic.”

He said: “As coaches it’s an absolute dream, and we kept referring to it as ‘football heaven’ because of all that hands-on time with the players.

“It’s the first year we’ve done anything like that, but it’s something we did back home (in America) over a four-day period, so I did tailor it a little for the guys here.

“It was fantastic, though, and we got a lot accomplished. We we’re able to get a lot of time on the field, and from a team-bonding aspect, it was fantastic for the guys because it was a tough day, but they banded together and got through it together.”

One player to have gone through it all with Chester Romans is the experienced wide receiver, Tom Morley who has been a part of the team for 5 years.

He said: “We’ve got the feeling of being used to winning after a steady and successful three years or so. And the culture in the club that we have is that success breeds success.

“This year is a big step up, but it’s an exciting time because we’re ready to handle it. A lot of teams fancy us to struggle this season, but we’re looking forward to proving people wrong.

“Levi (Edwards) has definitely brought a lot of energy to the club and brought a lot of the players together by making sure everybody is totally invested.

“We’ve got a group of 50 guys who are fully committed and who have brought into his ways of doing things and his philosophy.

Chester Romans officially begin their 10-game regular season in a home clash against Nottingham Caesars on April 14, with the curtain-raising match due to take place at Cheshire County Sports Club, Upton.

The season runs until July, with the play-offs taking place in August and September 2019.

If you’re interested in plying your trade for the Chester Romans, the team are always open to new players and advise any keen players to train with them on Sunday sessions at Cheshire County Sports Club.