Tuesday 30 October 2007

NFL Sunday

Despite our various afflictions Rich and I made the long, long journey up the Jubilee Line to North London on Sunday. Our destination? The new and improved Wembley stadium. Finally the much anticipated day had arrived... the first regular season NFL game to be played outside the continental Americas.

We left nice and early to ensure we could enjoy the full experience... setting out at half past two. This turned out to be very lucky as there had been some sort of 'incident' in the Blackwall Tunnel which was adversely affecting all the traffic on the Peninsula. We got to the station in the end and hopped on a train... where we were joined by lots more NFL gear-wearing fans as we went up the line. Some time later we finally arrived at Wembley Park. It was quite impressive to get the first glimpse of the stadium and the arch from the train. It was even more impressive when we got off and walked up Wembley Way. We stopped to buy a programme... £10 was a bit steep, but it had to be done!

We arrived in the stadium just in time to catch the pre-game show... or in my case buy myself a Giants baseball cap (to go with my hoodie which finally arrived from the Reebok store, only just in time). We got our beer which we were allowed to take to our seats... this is very strange for people who are accustomed to going to football matches where alcohol is not allowed in sight of the pitch! After the 'show' it was time for the national anthems... I was impressed by the Star Spangled Banner... I didn't think that God Save the Queen was quite as impressive... although there was much crowd participation in the latter. Then came the coin toss... attended by assorted celebrities... John Terry who got massively booed (?!) and Lewis Hamilton who got massively cheered.

Finally the game was on. I was worried that without commentary I would find it hard to follow... but I actually found the stadium announcer just as enlightening and without the inane chit-chat. The game was easier to follow as well being able to see the whole pitch and not just the selected camera shots. It was a bit annoying for me (as a Giants fan) that the Dolphins were the 'home' team. I got particulary fed up with the stadium announcer and the info board everytime the Dolphins got a 1st Down with the whole rigmarole "It's another Miami Dolphins..." and the crowd all joined in "1st Down". Rich joined in too, just to annoy me!

The first two quarters passed way too fast... although I was very happy that the Giants were 13-0 up at half time! The half time show was great as the Band of the Royal Engineers came on and marched around... starting out with the Rocky theme. Odd. I do like a good marching band though!

The second quarter wasn't as much excitement (well not for me) as the Giants didn't get any more points and the Dolphins got 10. Still... it wasn't enough and after much noting during the game of the fact that 35 years ago the Dolphins had the perfect season and went 16-0 they are looking in very real danger of doing the opposite and going 0-16!!! With a minute and a half left on the clock the Giants had possession and all Eli had to do was kneel 3 times... for which he got roundly booed by the crowd! Poor lad... only doing his job!

We were lucky that the location of our seats and the fact that a lot of the people around us had already left meant that we got out of the stadium quite fast... and joined the stream of people heading back to Wembley Park. About 70,000 of the 80,000 it seemed! The police were excellent though. Crowd control was impeccable... we got to the station quite fast and onto a train, and a mere hour and 40 minutes later we were home! Superb.

An excellent day out (although exhausting) let's hope they come back next year!!!

Sadly the pictures aren't as good quality as normal as my camera chose to die the other week and has returned to it's makers to get fixed. Never mind!