One cold and wet winters eve, inside the Springhill Pub in Wolverhampton, five friends gathered to discuss the news that paintball was moving towards structured leagues, what should they do, what should they call ourselves. The lads spent most of the night making some outrageous suggestions, and drinking lots of beer, when towards chucking out time the barmaid asked what was so funny, as they had been laughing out loud, and getting louder as the night wore on, when they explained, she looked very disappointed and said,” that’s just SAD!”. Eureka, as the guys all echoed her comments,” well that’s that then, “we are, SAD.” This was the 23rd March 1993 and the problem was that the leagues were 10-man, a minor problem at that. The team placed an advert in PGI to solve this, a few months later at a local council meeting room, their plans to smash the league were laid out.
Roll forward to the first round of the 10-man league, playing their first game against the Marauders and beating them… Then promptly losing every other game in that first season. SaD were the Midlands newest whipping boys, and were regularly whipped. Beaten but not a bowed, they were always smiling and polite, they tried to play hard, and lost fast. Their luck changed in March 1994 at NPG Uttoxeter, in a dual flag 7-man tournament. The team actually did pretty well finishing a strong 4th place and grabbing a spot in the National finals.
SaD continued their upward struggle against the tide of experienced cohesive teams making sure not to lose heart, instead, happy to be playing and making some great mates. They were often seen as easy points, but during this time a few teams learned not to underestimate them. During a round of the Forest Nationals, Amalgamation (a team made up of players from two of the top UK sides Shades of Grey and the UK Predators) were beaten by them for the loss of one player, was this that magical turning point, or was this just a series of fortunate events that conspired against or for them?? Though as good as it felt, is was however short lived, being on the receiving end of a beating was resumed with alarming ease.
Next major influential event in SADs evolution was a trip to the 1995 World 5 man, at Finmere in Buckinghamshire. The team were out completely for the craic, many good stories came from that weekend, but the game that had the biggest impact was the one against the Vulcans. SaD broke their left tape as they broke SADs, calls from both teams of “they’re behind us” lent a comedic air to the proceedings, despite the strong start, SaD eventually lost. But, camping next to the Vulcans was to prove to be a fortuitous move. Dave Ruggles the Captain of the Vulcans offered to come along to their home site, and run a training day for them, well it would have been rude not too. This was not the team’s first training day, they actually attended a Phil Ham training day months before. But Daves approach to the game was different,” I can teach you guys how to win, or how to play better”.
1996 rolled along, and the guys at WDP saw fit to well and truly shake the paintball tree, so much so all of the breaches fell off, and we were treated to a field of constructional plastic pipes, Hyperball, if you weren’t there where were you, it was immense, press, camera, TV, spectators, Dave Ruggles came along and guested for SaD, A major change occurred as WDP were striving to change public perception of the game, ALL traditional CAMO was banned, SaD had new playing strips made, in nice two tone blue, with black sleeves, they were the dogs wotsits.
Well where do you go after Hyperball, Belgium, to the Belgium 7man woodland open in fact, at the suggestion of Global Leisure and certain Steve Bull. Kappellan was a complete blast, imagine the surprise of the teams when SaD turned up to play Woodsball up in their newly christened blue strips, resplendent with their names and numbers on the back. ” I like your blue suits, they’re very nice” said one Marshall chuckling to himself as SaD walked out for their first game. Eureka moment no.2 “we could all see each other easily across the field, as blue stands out in woods, and, you cannot see through trees or barricades”, Wow what a transformation, they almost won the event, played hard and fair, and finished 4th, and was also awarded most sporting team.
Upon returning to the UK scene, SaD decided to keep to playing all events in blue. In 1996 Mark stepped down as Captain, handing the reins. SaD played mainly in the Midlands and all across the North, attending events run by Undercover, Activ8 and Paintball Park. Mark was then able to focus more of his time organising the team off field, bringing new players in, working with supporters looking to improve team deals each year.
Whilst attending an event in the Midlands, Mark felt that the team had been deliberately short changed by an overzealous marshal who felt so strongly he complained to the promoter. His reply was to set in motion a chain of events which would propel the team forward. After the event he spoke to the team, suggesting that SaD should think about running a tournament, they chatted a while, and agreed that they should seek to partner with an established site operator, and so the four seasons series was born. It ran for a couple of years, and delivered additional funds into the team account, it also required the team to marshal, this provided a unique view of the game, and helped them to develop their reputation as a club.
After two years of the four seasons, a decision was made to run their own independent series of events, spread across the region. These would be based mainly around the recently introduced sup air concept fields. To kick this off a charity event was planned, held at Wolverhampton Aldersley stadium, the first Shoot the Rainbow event in 1999 attracted 24 teams, and raised over £2500 for charity. This was the launching point for the Midland Masters.
The Midlands Masters opened up new opportunities for the team, attracting several sponsorship deals, one of these being the WDP deal which saw the club move all three teams onto the Angel platform.
The Midlands Masters events were very well received in the main, the additional funds they generated allowed the club to play and train a lot more.
It was during this period in time that SaD enjoyed their greatest successes, with great industry support from WDP and Diablo paintballs, coupled with the financial backing of the Masters, the team went from strength to strength, both within the domestic scene and on their European travels.
Culminating in the 2003 season where the clubs teams were active most weekends and were regular visitors to the podium, making the Sunday club in two Millennium events, taking a first place at the Zap Open in Germany, then following the Campaign Cup with Mark deciding to call it a day, the club slowly unfolded, many of the clubs players moved onto other established teams.
Fast forward to 2013, what was the 20th Anniversary year of the teams founding, Mark had an itch, he decided to try and reunite the team for a celebratory event, the opening round of the 2013 CPPS series, six of the clubs former members turned up to play that event, the team had decided to enter the bottom division as it had been almost 10 years since they has last played together, and were all older, greyer and fatter. Joined by Marks son Jacob to add some youth into the side, the team set out to have fun, they did playing 10 games, and finishing 2nd. They had so much fun they carried on for the season, picking up more former players along the way, and two more podiums, a third and a first.
The team seemed to be back, but were lacking something, in 2014 with an influx of new players SaD formerly became a club, and set out a plan to establish themselves as a credible organisation within the UK.
Entering the 2018 season the club now has a four tier structure, over 100 members, supporting 10 competitive teams, with players ranging from complete novices into aspiring Pros…