Monday, 31 October 2011

The American Suburbanite goes to Wembley

NFL takes Wembley Stadium
Last week, my husband and I woke up early to catch a train to London.  What were we heading to London for?  Football...American Football that is.  It was the 5th regular season game in the international series of the NFL.  Not a 'friendly' or preseason game this game counts towards the season for both teams.  

Trafalgar Squares Lions at NFL Fan Rally
We arrived in London and to our hotel around 1130.  Our check in time was not until 1500 so we dropped off our luggage with the concierge and headed to Trafalgar Square for the fan rally. The NFL dominated the tourist attraction with a giant bear (inflatable), a pirate ship with a full crew aboard as well as the normal long snap, quarterback toss, and kicking attempts.

When we first arrived things were just warming up.  A band was on stage and people were milling around.  As the band wrapped up, things seemed to take a more football focus. 

Some Buccaneers of Tampa Bay invaded Trafalgar Square to give Lord Nelson a run for his money!

The ever popular Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders took the stage as well as a few of the players themselves.

Followed by the Chicago Bears and their drum line. 

The commissioner and Dan Rooney(complete surprise) even made an appearance!  I bet if you look at Mr. Rooney's pictures you will see me and my black and gold union jack!

Dan Rooney, a true gentleman of the game

Could there be an NFL team in the UK?

Then there was the reason we stayed on Trafalgar Square as long as we did came on stage, Jerome 'The Bus' Bettis.  I made a poster just for his appearance which gathered lots of attention throughout the two days in London.  I was snapped by the event photographers, you can find some of the photos here at Concerts Captured website gallery.  I even got a thumbs up from The Bus himself on Sunday before the game at the tailgate party.  

Proudly showing off his hardware!

After the Superbowl champion left the stage, another band took the stage and we headed back to the Hotel Grange St. Paul.  We took a hot bath in our nice big tub and shower in our lovely multi jet shower!  It was great for warming us up even if it wasn't very good for washing long thick hair. 

We met up with a few friends for dinner at Sartori in Piccadilly.  The menu had plenty of great choices.  As a starter, I had mozzarella and prosciutto and my husband had calamari.  Then we all shared an enormous pizza.  It gave us plenty of energy to prepare for the next day.

We had a leisurely morning with croissants and pan au chocolate with pears for breakfast.  Read the newspaper and watched the weather on TV so we were fully prepared for the evening game.  We set off towards Wembley in the early afternoon.

A girl from the 'Burgh
Steeler Nation UK
It was a fairly easy journey on the tube once we figured out which lines were running.  We even met a Steeler fan on the train who was interested in my husbands English Steeler Fan t-shirt! Once in Wembley, we stopped for the sandwich deal at Tesco (in order to get something healthy instead of fast food). 

When we arrived at the Stadium we made our way to the tailgate party, where we the atmosphere was similar to Trafalgar Square (or even a Superbowl).  Jerome Bettis even donned a jersey (from a fan) and ran the ball in to the 'endzone' of the stage! 

Our seats were absolutely amazing in the Buccaneers end zone, unfortunately we did not see them in there enough times. 

Pre-game festivities: cheerleaders, GooGoo dolls and both US and UK armed forces
Buccaneers take the field proud to be in the UK

A few of the other highlights of the game?

A squirrel not sure where to go once he made it on the field.  After about 15 minutes, he made it under the stands, poor little thing. 

Squirrel, squirrel, squirrel!

And a streaker who had some good moves avoiding a couple of tackles from security.  If you look at the middle photo, a woman is not going to let him get passed if her coleague misses his tackle!

Wish these pictures were a bit closer, they told me I was not allowed to use my camera (a Cannon Rebel eos dSLR), only the press were aloud to use 'those professional cameras' as the man told me.  Now, no one said anything to me as I walked in with it around my neck, searched and patted down multiple times.   I did not put the camera completely away, but I kept the standard lens on it as opposed to switching back up to my 200mm telephoto lens. 

Anyway, we had a great weekend sharing American football in the UK!

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