Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Football? NFL at Wembley

OK so it was something to watch on a Sunday night 10 or 15 years ago when my kids prevented all but a smidgen of sleep. It was intriguing because it was occasionally tangentially involved in a film, sorry movie, and I never could figure out what the hell was going on. One minute we saw carefully positioned players with strange stances, almost like a chess position, then we saw carefully choreographed movement and finally everyone tried to beat the shit out of everyone else for precisely four seconds. Yes I used to watch American Football.

My eldest lad, at University now, has even dabbled a little in playing the sport, and we both play Madden on the ps-360-two or whatever it is, now and again. So when the Dolphins versus Giants clash was announced we immediately decided that my wife could easily spend a day on the internet endlessly clicking the mouse to try to get us some tickets.

Anyway after weeks of anticipation and thousands of emails trying to sell us Dolphin tee shirts, Dolphin coats, Dolphin jock straps et al, we finally approached the home of English football on Sunday afternoon.

I must say that Wembley is truly wonderful, especially the hand dryers in the gents, you must try them. The arch really makes the place special and even from just five rows from the top we had a great view and really could feel the atmosphere. I can just about imagine what it would be like with a proper crowd who could actually sing songs with gusto, even though all we managed, in true American style was a straggly, shouted "first! down!" in response to the no-longer-got-a-hope-but-now-I-started-I'll-just-have-to-finish announcers cry of; "Another Miami Dolphins' . . ." I think we did this 4 times in the whole game ;-(

A few thoughts and highlights;

We had three guests to "assist" with the coin toss; Martin Johnson (large cheer), John Terry (huge boo), and Lewis Hamilton (standing ovation).

I discovered that I am actually happy to sing "god save the queen". That is, when it can be construed as putting the yanks down by putting the US anthem to shame. (:-)) Yes this does not mean the royals are reprieved from being first against the wall when the revolution comes. Cognitive dissonance be damned.

The Brits proved that they do know how to streak. And when they do, the yanks showed that they don't know how to react. This was no opportune moment of drunken madness. It was an almost military style operation, apart from the fact that it worked and that no one shot anyone on their own side in the excitement of the moment, of course.

It was the second half kick off. Just before the ball was to be kicked one of the seeming thousands of umpires wandering about the pitch suddenly raised his arms and ran into the middle. One dramatic pull on his obviously specially designed umpires-uniform-disguise and he was naked apart from socks and boots, and into the traditional streakers dance, he threw himself with gusto.

The nearby players seemed frozen to the spot. Surely this was a chance for the Americans to demonstrate once and for all time their innate superiority over the English male. I mean, come one, he was outnumbered 20 or 30 to 1. The 20 or 30 also had enough padding on to survive a game of ice hockey, even if they were the puck, while the 1 was starkers and vulnerable. Surely he would be pulped. Smashed and humbled.

But something unspoken passed between the men on the field that day. The heavily armoured Americans acknowledged that they could never win such a contest. They turned the other cheek, to the other cheeks on display as it were. A hush went around the ground as the crowd realised that Wembley will remain forever English. As this realisation of a subtle but important, and long overdue, rebalancing of the "balance of power" in world politics sank in, the crowd let out a united roar of victory. With an injection of new found confidence the streaker started doing press ups and the kind of dances and jigs made popular by the famous "upper class twit of the year" Monty Python sketch.

Eventually, as is traditional in these circumstances, the four least-mobile and most-elderly stewards in the ground stealthily approached our hero, slyly moving in from the four corners of the pitch. After a couple of body swerves good enough to put the running backs to shame, he was captured. His moment of triumph over, he was passed into the arms of the police who immediately removed him from the centre of attention by escorting him slowly around three sides of the ground to tumultuous applause.

Anyway, the game was poor.

Yes we can afford a roof. Yes it was open. No, I don't know why.

The Americans go in for a 3 hour pre match party in the car park. We Brits don't even have a car park. But we make up for it by a 3 hour temporary car park in the M1 on the way home.

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