A many regulars to our cottages will know I am an avid American Football fan. Each year since its inception in 2007 Heather & I have travelled to London for the NFL International game at Wembley Stadium. The first year we took our oldest children Joe & Aimee to experience to opening game of something new & exciting, they also travelled with us the following year before we went on our own in 2009. Last year was very special for me as my own team (Denver) came to play, we travelled down with Heathers’ Dad & enjoyed the extra hospitality provided by purchasing ‘Club’ seats (free food & booze + seat cushions & cup holders). Unfortunately Denver lost the game & I must say I was less impressed with the passion around us shown by the ‘Prawn Sandwich’ brigade who seemed more concerned with the concessions than the game.
So we arrive at this years game, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vs Chicago Bears. This year we introduced Heathers brother Paul & his better half Julie to the game. Neither knows anything about American Football but they asked to join us & we always have a good time with them. Our seats this year were back with the ‘real fans’ who I must say are far more raucous & fun. Heather found that she had now picked up enough about the game that she could explain to Paul whilst I kept Jules up to speed with what was happening.
When taking our seats we found that each one had a card on it which we were asked to hold up during the national anthems (creating a Union Jack at one end of the stadium & the Stars & Stripes at the other). Kathrine Jenkins sang ‘God save the Queen’ with a huge part of the 76,000 attendees joining in. We were treated to fireworks, a performance by American band ’The Goo Goo Dolls’ and cheerleaders (lots of cheerleaders). Tampa bay provided every fan with a flag to wave as they were the ‘home team’ + Julie & I sneaked in some football rattles (no longer allowed in stadiums :-) to make as much noise as possible.
The game started & the fans were treated to a really enjoyable game. Tampa Bay fell behind early & due to injuries didn’t really look like they’d offer ‘the Bears’ any resistance (which can make for a dull match). However during the second half Tampa pulled back to within 3 points & threatened to reverse the result. With only 2 minutes to go Chicago increased the gap to 6 points meaning that Tampa had to get a ‘Touchdown’ (similar to a Try in rugby) to win. Tampa duly drove down the field & nearly scored in the last 30 seconds before Chicago regained the ball to seal a victory. The crowd spent the final quarter of the game truly energized as the result hung in the balance. We also had one man dressed as a Squirrel invade the pitch & a streaker (top off only) who evaded event staff for over a minute, high-fived players as he ran around the field before eventually being gang tackled & led away.
The day following the game was spent with a morning swim then afternoon shopping (Oxford Road). At night we went to Piccadilly & watched ‘The 39 Steps’ (well worth seeing and very funny) before getting a steak at TGI Fridays. All in all a great weekend spent with our closest family, now to plan for next year.