I was a very lucky boy this weekend. I was in attendance at Wembley stadium as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on the Chicago Bears in the NFL's 5th annual International Series (sponsored by Pepsi Max)
The day started early, 5am to be precise all to be ready for my 5.45am pick up. I got in the car and we flew down to London at quite the pace, landing at our trusty Bed and Breakfast (apart from without the breakfast), Johns. Every year we have been, this being our 4th (3rd for me as I was in Australia last year), we have stayed at the Wembley Guest House, a small house formerly ran by a man named John (whose name really blatantly isn't John) It is not 5 star by any stretch, it would probably struggle to get a star, but its location is immense, no more than a 2 minute walk from the stadium, and a cash point and McDonald's 10 seconds away.
We got ourselves a quick bite at the aforementioned Maccas, and then it was down Wembley way, where we stumbled across a man with a ship on his head.
After a short wait we were into the Tailgate party. Now I feel this is where the NFL out do themselves. They throw an event before the game called the tailgate party, there is merchandise, a tent with Superbowl rings and the great Vince Lombardi trophy, a few shows, including cheerleaders, and most importantly of all; beer.
Sounds like heaven, and it is apart from the beer cost us £4.20 for a pint! Which is hard enough to bare for anyone, but for us lads from Teesside where an average pint costs between £1.80 and £2.50, this was quite the pill to swallow.
And swallow it we did, and we had a great time having a few beers, a laugh and taking in what was on offer. Particular highlights for me were a beat box lad named Beardyman, obviously the lovely Tampa Bay cheerleaders and a word from my all time NFL idol, Jerome 'The Bus' Bettis!!
Soon though, after me accidentally throwing a ball on to the roof of a tent and my friend Rooksie, who was wearing his brand new Clay Matthews top, being asked "Have you ever even been to Wisconsin?" Which in truth he hadn't. We were off to take our seats in the home of football, both kinds it seems.
Now we spent a little extra this year and plumped for Club Wembley seats, and we were treated to a fantastic view, padded seats and cup holders, so a very comfortable perch to watch the game from.
From there on everything was excellent, pre-match was good fun, a squirrel on the field and the game itself was great. The Bucs were my team for the day and they unfortunately didn't win, but it didn't matter, we got a safety, a few touchdowns each and more interceptions and sacks than you could swing a cat at, ending in a 24-18 scoreline to the Bears.
Now after the announcement that the NFL are going to come and play at least one game on these shores for the next five years, then I hope that us British fans will continue to turn up in our thousands and support a great thing the league is doing by giving us this experience, I know I will continue to go.
One request though, any chance of the Steelers next year?