Monday, 1 November 2010

The American Dream

It’s official. I am a 49ers fan. Okay, so I might not know who their quarterback is or know why they are called that (something to do with San Francisco being founded by Miners?) but I don’t care. Because, you see, yesterday I went to Wembley to see them play the Denver Broncos. It was the second American Football game I have ever watched, and as my American friend who was also there is a ‘Cisco girl, it was a no-brainer. Okay, so they might be at the bottom of their league but last night they won. And I was there to watch it.
Him Indoors is an American Football fan. I’m not sure why, being an English boy with a twist of Italian in him. He supports the New England Patriots, purely because of the “England” part (it was nearly the New York Giants for the same reason) and, given half the chance, will happily stay up all night to watch a game. So, for his birthday, I bought two tickets for the game. Well, I couldn’t let him go on his own, could I?
About a month ago, I began to receive emails telling me about the tailgate party before the game. A couple of weeks ago, I sat through my first ever game, recorded on Sky Plus and watched at a more sociable hour than the usual three in the morning. On the 19th October the tickets arrived. Yesterday, at Kings Cross Station, we started to spot supporters proudly displaying their team jerseys. The atmosphere on the train was jovial despite the array of teams represented. At the tailgate party, fans from all corners of the USA watched others practice their skills, check out the 49ers Hall of Fame, eat hotdogs and drink Coors Light. The atmosphere was not unlike that of a music festival. Even the high consumption of alcohol did not provoke any aggro. Queuing up to buy my 49ers t-shirt, I got into a conversation with a guy from California who was travelling around Europe. No agenda, just a bit of banter before the game. It was great. Relaxed. Fun.
After a few hours of partying, we headed into the stadium. Broncos and 49ers supporters sat side by side, cheering for their respective teams. On the screens at either end of the stadium we were asked to text any unruly behaviour to a special number. The cheerleaders entertained the crowd with their moves. A troupe of drummers got the crowd going in between quarters and music filled the stadium at every given opportunity. Flags were flown, chants were started and a Mexican Wave did four laps of the stadium.
Okay, so I admit, I did get a bit lost at times. Not only is my grasp of the rules a little shaky, but I kept getting distracted by the entertainment, which made figuring out who had the ball after the snap (see, I’ve picked up some of the lingo) with my dodgy eyesight a bit of a challenge. But it didn’t matter. The carnival atmosphere made up for any confusion. And the fact that the Niners won was the icing on the cake.
I recently asked a Nottingham Forest supporting friend to let me know if she ever had any spare tickets. You see, at the grand old age of 30, I decided it was about time I give a good old English football match a proper go. And, having grown up in Robin Hood country, it seemed like the obvious choice. But something tells me it won’t be the same. The Americans have got their game down to a fine art, balancing entertainment, good spirits and competition. I suspect they would put the average Premiership match to shame.
Tickets for next year’s game will no doubt go on sale early next year. I think I might just have to indulge. And even if the 49ers don’t come back to Wembley, I will wear my new t-shirt with pride.


  1. One question - was it the 'York' bit or the 'Giant' bit that appealed to him indoors???

  2. Hang on... no, I think it was the York bit...