Monday, 26 October 2009

Wembley Sunday! (long post!)

The reason we three came down to London in the first place... ;) I'm not particularly a fan of either the Patriots or the Bucs, but I just wanted to take in the atmosphere... goes back to me not having a specific NFL team really. 2 years ago we came down here with Neil and met up with my best friend from Germany, Markus, for the Dolphins v Giants game - the Dolphins of course being Doug's team, and the Giants ... well... I am surprised we've managed to see them live 3 TIMES considering that every single one of them was a snore-fest (even though they made it to SuperBowl XXXV in the 1999/2000 season (after we'd seen them play at Tampa Bay Bucs) and to SuperBowl XLII in 2007/2008 - which is after we saw them in the first of the "International Series" against the Dolphins in London.

Anyway... enough of history ... ;)

We got up early for breakfast, only to arrive at a 15 mins queue for the breakfast TABLES which would have probably resulted in another 15 mins queuing for the actual food ... so we filled in customer comments and went to a small cafe at King's Cross - which served a very nice English Breakfast (and if only Nikki or I would have spotted the option of the "Big Breakfast" including Hash Browns we would have gone for that!! ;) ).

Got to Wembley just about the right time to join the queue for the Tailgate party. Had a quick looksie around, took photos of some of the team info boards (Dolphins for Doug, Jaguars for Neil), then went on to the Merchandise tent, where I was dithering over getting something for either of them but decided against it. Didn't like this year's graphics of the game merchandise, so I just went for the obligatory mug - while Nikki and Dave purchased a couple of things... ;) Quite a funny mixture of fans we were - Nikki being total Pats (and Brady!) fan, Dave being a Cowboy Fan and me ... well ... nae NFL team claimed yet (or claimed me as a fan yet ;) ).

Onto the "Hall of Fame" Tent ... were thinking of taking a couple of photos in order to make up for the lost ones of the original ... however, there was a lot of queuing involved (there was a queue just to see the SuperBowl Rings!!) and we then got rushed into the 3-D experience ... which started off with only 1 of the projectors on... LOL. About 5 mins later the 2nd kicked in and THEN it was a great experience!! :) Oh ... and I saw a couple of Braunschweig Lions fans - but nobody I recognized.

On the way out of the tailgate party we ran into Stu and Goggs from the Wolves - which was quite funny, as I didn't know they'd be down. ;) Went onto the "unofficial" tailgate party at The Green Man pub - which was HEAVING! I think they'll have to look into a new venue in future! :o There I saw Ross (whom I hadn't seen since the demise of the Claymores), Andy from the Galaxy (whom I see on a more or less regular basis funnily enough! ;) ), Euan (ex Wolves lineman and treasurer), plus some BAFRA officials (Ben & Alan) whom I didn't think I'd see again until next Wolves season. :)

Today's food - a Jumbo hot dog (jumbo roll, not so jumbo dog) with onions courtesy of the Colchester Gladiators.

As the bar was getting totally stuffed we decided to go back earlier to the Stadium, get a tea/coffee there and rearrange my rucksack (hide the bigger lens) and then start queuing.

Queue was quite long, but at least this year there was NO RAIN (like 2 years ago when Doug and I went down or last year as per Nikki & Dave). Was quite windy though. :o After quite some queuing, a fairly quick search of my rucksack (and no detecting of bigger, "professional" lens) we made our way up to the "nosebleed section" seats with a fairly good view of the game. :) Was trying to contact some of my BritBowl Stats crew friends who were helping out with the stats today and also contacting other pals to see where they sitting ... a lot of FBing, texting and taking photos since early morning didn't really help my phone battery, which died in the crucial moment of trying to get information from the Clansmen HC where to go for the post game do!! :o With Nikki's loan of mobile & a quick text to obtain Coach Orr's mobile number from Doug that was resolved though.

Stadium around 3:30pm:

Stadium just before National Anthems around 4:55pm:

The game was fairly non-exciting, given the match up of the Pats v Bucs - fairly predictable outcome. I wasn't too happy about Brady taking a knee with still 1:50mins to play at the end though. Would have enjoyed the game more if there wouldn't have been those 3 soccer fans behind us constantly chatting about anything BUT American Football and not even stopping to breathe!! >:( You really wonder sometimes why people bother to pay money for a sports event ticket if they are not that much into the sport. :o I guess it's just a thing of boasting (I HAVE BEEN THERE!) ... and in the case of NFL games in the UK ... probably the novelty of being allowed to drink beer in the stadium!!!

Oh... and another bonus this time... we had someone doing a NICE rendition of "Star spangled Banner", without lots of warbling about a' la Witney Houston & Co! Well done, Toni Braxton!!! And a nice version of "Good save the Queen" by Katherine Jenkins, too. :) Final of the game - win to the Pats 35:7. Bucs had more possession of the ball, but that's that - and I missed their TD!! Quite a bit of Shotgun plays, which was interesting. The good thing in being a fan of neither team is that you can observe the plays properly - Defensive coverage, Offensive formation etc, which is quite good if you want to learn the technicalities of the game (for me it's good as I can spot/try to predict how the play will go and can therefore position myself properly for good photo shots!).

After the game - with still no reply from Coach Orr - we just tried to "wing it" to get to the Hilton Bar. Unfortunately, I didn't have the mobile phone no's of the other Clansmen on hand - and it would have been a fruitless action anyway as my phone didn't even start up anymore. ;) So we just googled it, and followed Google Map instructions ... which brought us to a totally different place in the beginning, as the GPS somehow thought we'd started off in a different location! ;) Nikki then checked with one of the helpful policemen who sent us back the road we came from and said the Hilton would be the 2nd or 3rd Hotel. A quite weird information, as we walked past a building site ... stating "4* Hilton" being built!! :o We tried our luck at "The Plaza Hotel", which looked as if it could have been a Hilton previously (font etc.) and lo and behold (after Nikki being able to wave to team busses leaving the stadium! ;) ) we found the Clansmen contingent (minus Head coach) in the bar - and the Cowboys game was on TV, which cheered up Dave no end. ;)

One of the reasons I wanted to go to the after game do with the Clansmen was to see Jonathan again, who came down to the Wolves with GT, Maciver, McManus, Michael Jordan and Coach Orr end of 2007. Unfortunately, the Stirling boys never became Wolves at that point, and Jonathan moved down to Birmingham. So while I am on course to get McManus and Maciver back into the "pack", I will not get Jonathan, who's now a "Bull". ;)

With me being told by Doug that my fantasy Football QB Shaun Hill (49ers) was benched (and earning me -1 point!!) I decided to have a "night cap" which extended to 3 as Coach Orr ordered rounds and included me in the Sambuca order ...

Now... not having been to an Italian restaurant with people who drink alcohol in quite a while I totally forgot that I actually cannot STAND that stuff.... because it's anise-flavoured!! :( But, in my defense - I only know the clear stuff ... while the order was the dark coloured version! Managed to drink them though, but after that it was fortunately time to leave for the tube - as I don't think I could have stomached another one!! ;)

Well... back at the hotel now, the cheeseburger bought on the way has given the sambuca some base and I hope I can sleep ok now. ;) Tomorrow is early start and then going back home... can't believe the weekend is over already! :o


Heather said...

Sounds a fun (though tiring!) day out. Darren's a Falcons fan first (Patriots second). If the Falcons ever come to Wembley I'll have to get tips from you on how to get tickets!

Lynz said...

Dude, are you not absolutely knackered?!? How's the wound? And if you want to join in the PIF from my blog - there's only 2 signups (in amongst all the comments!!) so there's room if you want. Take it EASY, ya nutter.