By AirLondonNever KnowNFL FootballSportsVacationWembley

Revenge for 1812 – The Patriots invade London

In honor of the fourth installment of the NFL international series in London taking place last weekend, I thought it would be a good time to recall my trip with my dad to London last year for the Patriots and Buccaneers game at Wembley.

As die-hard Patriots fans, it’s not every year you get to see your favorite NFL team play in one of the most storied sports cities in the world. To be precise, should the NFL have its way, it will occur approximately once every 16 years. Well, we were not about to wait another 16 years. Having spent a semester studying abroad in London the previous year, and being (one of the few) registered members of the official NFL-UK group, I had an opportunity for an advanced ticket purchase sale. Once the front-row seats at Wembley became available, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Block 119, Row 11 (the first 10 rows were blocked off because they were too low to the field) Seat 212. Beautiful.

We flew from the East Coast to London overnight Thursday, leaving us two days in London before the game, which of course was fantastic. Combining a mini-vacation with the International Series was a true treat. Sure, not many people in London seemed to care about the game, but passing someone on Oxford Street or Baker Street (my old stomping grounds) wearing a Patriots jersey was a personal moment of satisfaction, a tiny bit of sweet revenge for their rampage through DC in 1812. Maybe we didn’t burn any government buildings down, but we are invading with our sport nonetheless!

Due to the time difference, the game did not start until 5 PM, which gave us ample time to post up in a local pub and watch the soccer match with a pint of Guiness (it just isn’t the same here in the states). It didn’t beat tailgating in Foxboro, but then again, nothing does! When it was time, we took the tube to Wembley, approached the quite majestic stadium grounds (it better be majestic for the bill it accumulated) and found our seats. Of course, beer prices inside the grounds were just as ridiculous as the states, so we felt right at home.

The game itself was relatively uneventful, mostly due to the fact that it was the Buccaneers, who of course were quite terrible in 2009. It started with a pick-6 by Meriweather, a long touchdown by Sam Aiken, and then went downhill for the Bucs from there. Overall, a relatively dull game. But, the myriad of NFL jerseys at the stadium (Randall Cunningham was my personal favorite, although there were so many I can hardly recall them all), the interest from the crowd, and the overall feel of the event was all tremendous. It was probably the closest I will ever come to experiencing a Super Bowl-like atmosphere.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the pub crowd I watched NFL games with a year ago were somewhere inside Wembley. It brought back many great memories of watching NFL games with British accents all around, an odd combination I will never quite get used to. They taught me a lot about soccer, I taught them about the NFL, and we had many great debates along the way, all without ever throwing a punch. This game is just one more unforgettable sports experience I had in London, which must be the World Capital of Sports Culture.

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