Been dazed and confused…

3 10 2014

It’s that time of the year sports fans!

The NFL is back (click here for a little nostalgia) and kicked off with the Oakland Raiders taking on the Miami Dolphins last weekend.

The powers that be closed off Regent Street to traffic on the Saturday so that all the fans and unsuspecting shoppers could immerse themselves in all things American Football before gameday.

There was a stage with live music, cheerleaders, players, managers, commentators – you get the idea.

Dotted all up the street were various activities such as giveaways, team information, face painting and games.

My brother-in-law and I have a competition each year with these games.

There’s a throw the ball through the hole game.

A kick the ball through the hole game.

A snap the ball through the hole game.

etc.

But this year there was a kick the ball as hard as you can game.

Excellent.

The prize for the ‘longest kick’ was VIP tickets to the game and the score reset each hour.

So we stepped up and had a go.

The game was contained within a 2m cube – rigid metal frame with netting to keep the ball inside.

A girl would put the ball on a small cone, you’d line up and then blast it as hard as you could with three attempts.

Simple.

Nothing could go wrong.

That is, until I stepped up.

The first two attempts were good but unfortunately the sensor did not pick up the speed (too quick obviously).

I wound up like a tightly coiled spring for my last shot at glory.

Even if I do say so myself, I put a lot of power through the ball.

The ball took off with the ferocity of space shuttle taking off.

It struck the metal frame, obviously didn’t get over the ball enough, and rebounded straight back towards the crowd.

Fortunately it didn’t reach the crowd.

Unfortunately the ball girl’s face stopped it from reaching the crowd.

She wobbled about like the Led Zeppelin tune, said she was fine and tried to carry on.

Reminded me of this.

Racked with guilt I tried to apologise but she had no idea where she was or what was going on.

I met up with her at Wembley Stadium on gameday as the event was being run there too.

She eased my guilt when she said that it was obviously not my fault and was just an accident.

Her make-up was a little heavier across the nose and eyes.

Oops.

Aside from that, it was a great weekend!

Didn’t have my camera with me this year, so here’s some random camera phone shots.

We were sober, honest.

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Mr. Tickle visits the American Football…

4 10 2013

The weekend gone saw an amazing spectacle.

No, not my new glasses.

The NFL landed on our plates with a great big mound of American razzamatazz and a side of English reserve.

Now in its 7th year, it was the turn of the Minnesota Vikings to host the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Accompanied by my brother-in-law in traditional fashion, we ventured into London to begin our weekend of football.

Saturday morning took us to the Fan Forum at the Landmark Hotel where Daunte Culpepper, Meril Hoge and Ahmad Rashad fielded questions from some hardcore fans.

One thing that always surprises these NFL dudes is the level of knowledge that UK fans have.

Surprisingly, people outside of the US watch American ‘Football’.

After a little dig at Culpepper about the infamous Love Boat scandal and an invite to a Thames boat cruise, we were shipped off to Regent Street.

The powers that be had closed the street down between the circuses of Piccadilly and Oxford so they had plenty of space for their own clowns.

There were loads of events to take part in, watch and experience.

Be a Quarter Back, Kicker or Centre (grrrr don’t care if it should be Center) in various games.

Run against a mate whilst connected to a bungee chord (which I broke) to grab a football.

Watch the main stage which featured players, cheerleaders and various forms of entertainment.

And more.

We experienced as much as possible adorned in our respective team shirts and were even interviewed by The New York Times.

I gave my opinions and thoughts that have consequently not been featured in any article.

Sunday was game day.

Wembley played host to a tailgate party from 12pm through to kick-off.

Those powers that be had picked up everything from Regent Street, sprinkled it over Wembley and added lots of American themed food and drink vans

And like bees to honey, all the fans buzzed and busied about collecting freebies, cheerleader autographs and memorabilia.

Or just got drunk.

It was a great party atmosphere aided by scantily clad cheerleaders, a drummer crew and lots of big beats courtesy of various DJs.

We escaped briefly to a pub called the Green Man pub, which played host to fans in the know.

There were incredibly few people not in their team shirts, which made for maelstrom of colour, support and banter.

I teamed up with my brother-in-law for a game of Beer Pong against a fellow Bears fan and a Steelers fan, losing out on the last cup.

Gutted.

But we got chatting to the Bears fan who was from Chicago and have a laugh together.

And that summed up for me what is one of the reasons I love going back every year.

The fans are great.

Everyone gets on well (apart from the chap who I annoyed in a queue to the tube by tickling his ear with a flag, but that’s another story).

There is no hostility just a bit of friendly banter (apart from the chap who I annoyed in a queue to the tube by tickling his ear with a flag).

You could just go up to anyone and start talking to them (but I think I burned my bridges in the ticklegate episode).

The atmosphere during the game was electric, best to date.

Everything kicked off with a young man who apparently had a tiny temper.

The game was in full flow as were the beers and we sat back and watched a fantastic game.

Plenty of great plays, big scores and even bigger cheers.

JJ has even benefitted from a mini American football and a mini helmet.

A great weekend and I look forward to the next one in about five weeks.

And I’ll be sure to avoid tickling any fans ears next time.