Welcome to our Meet the Team series of Blog Posts.
Throughout these entries, we will try to give you a chance to get to know the people behind the scenes at UKFL.
You might already know some of our backgrounds and you may already know what our job title here is, but this is an opportunity to go a bit deeper. Some of the questions are the obvious ones, but we’ve tried to also throw in some fun ones – because who doesn’t want to know what Coach Rooney’s favourite food is!?
Meet the Team – Jonathan Rooney
Where are you from (originally and now if they are different)?: St Helens originally, but now Newcastle
Job / Background outside of UKFL: Education: Teaching, Coaching, Mentoring and Training. Currently employed as a Development Coach at Durham University.
Role with UKFL: Director of Football Operations
So, what do you actually do!?: Decide on what will happen when the lights go on! Schedules, coach and staff recruitment and onboarding, stadia selection and dressing, rules and general team management. As a founding member, I have also been involved in the startup work, business plans, costings, initial discussions with partners and more.
What are you most excited for with the UKFL?: A chance for players and coaches to shine in front of an excited British audience.
Favourite NFL Team: New York Giants
Favourite NFL players: Michael Strahan and Lawrence Taylor – or for a currently active player, Will Hernandez
First-ever NFL game: Ravens @ Panthers, circa 2009. I was coaching H.S in N.C at the time and was a nice break from the hectic day to day of H.S football.
Favourite NFL moment: David Tyree’s helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII
Favourite Jersey you own: NY Giants custom jersey with Rooney and #1. It was gifted by players of my school programme when I left teaching. Those guys mean the world to me. To see them fully grown up and living good, strong lives as adults now is huge.
First-ever American Football memory / memories: Holding chains for the St Helens Cardinals at about 8 or 9 years old.
American Football position (if applicable): Full Back and Linebacker mostly. Defensive End and Tight End as I slowed down later on.
American Football jersey number (if applicable): #5
American Football teams played for (if applicable): Lancashire Wolverines Colts, England U19, Newcastle Raiders, Gateshead Senators, GB Bulldogs, Bristol Aztecs, D.C Presidents, Northumberland Vikings.
Biggest personal American Football achievement (where applicable): Head Coach of the Durham Saints when they won the National Championship in 2018.
What American Football goal/target is on your Bucket List?: To see British kids who dream about playing American Football here and beyond.
Top 3 Sports Ranked:
- Football – Manchester United
- American Football – New York Giants
Favourite Sports Movie: Moneyball (but as always, you should read the book)
Biggest non-American Football hobby: Chess, and more recently Golf
One fun fact about you not already mentioned: I will beat you at Bloodbowl, the Games Workshop fantasy sports board game.
Favourite type of food: Eggs or Beef – preferably together.
Most famous person you’ve ever met: Princess Anne, representing AF at the BUCS Centenary event. We chatted about AF in the U.K and the development of the NFL London Series. She was very charming and clued up about the recent developments of the NFL.
I also visited with Mississippi State in the Dan Mullen era and with Arkansas State when Guz Malzhan was H.C., but they probably only beat Princesses Anne in the coaching world.