eldar: (Default)
( Oct. 29th, 2007 12:10 am)
We're off to back from Wem-ber-ly. Roll up, roll up, all the fun of the fair, the NFL circus has moved into town for one weekend only. Not some hokey pre-season friendly dressed up as an "American Bowl" this, though: this is the real thing, the genuine article, accept no substitutes, this game counts. The pilgramage is made, then, paying tribute walking up Wembley Way from the Tube station, with the grand spectacle of the arch looming out of the mist and rain.

Technically this is a home game for one of the two competing teams: the Miami Dolphins. So the whole orchestration of the game - the players coming on the field, the announcements, the big-screen video clips, the cheerleaders - all have a Miami slant. The "visitors" are the New York Giants. The weather is resolutely British: grey, wet, miserable, dank.

There's a ton of razzamatazz before the kick off. The Feeling mime a couple of their hits (ably assisted by the aforementioned cheerleaders) before a large (presumably Southern) American lady belts out the Star Spangled Banner, and then an English tenor (unfortunately not Russell Watson) attempts a similar rendition of God Save The Queen. The coin-toss is presided over by three English sporting heroes: World Cup-winning former rugby captain Martin Johnson (given the biggest ovation of the day), current England football captain John Terry (booed, before belatedly being cheered, because everyone thought he was his Chelsea team-mate Didier Drogba), and where would we be without our current most famous runner up, Mr Snatch-Defeat-From-The-Jaws-Of-Victory himself, Lewis Hamilton. The latter was sporting a rather dodgy-looking rhinestone-studded black denim jacket, and is short. Actually, compared to Martin Johnson, most people are short.

All that ceremony aside, we come to the game. By the way, did I mention that it had been raining lots?

Y'see, the thing with American football is, there are two ways you can play the game: you pass the ball, which, for the spectator, makes for attractive, fast-moving, usually high-scoring contests; or, you run the ball, which is slow, leads to lower scores as it takes longer to score, and is often more difficult to follow as the ball and its carrier nearly always end up at the bottom of a big heap of players. When it's wet and horrible, the ball gets slippery, and basically passing beomes difficult. So teams tend to play a grind-it-out, keep the ball close to the ground, boring as dirt, rushing game.

So that's what we were given: a pretty piss poor advert for the game, with tons of mistakes made when either side mistakenly decided to attempt to pass the ball. Low scoring, muddy, dull, dull, dull, all finished off with the Giants running out the clock for the last two minutes: a perfectly normal thing to do but the crowd didn't think so and made their feelings known. Final score: Giants 13, Dolphins 10. The Dolphins are yet to win this season, even more ironically the giant screens were pointing out every now and again that this season is the 35th anniversary of the famous "perfect season" of 1972, when the Dolphins won every game they played - a feat that's never been matched since. The most entertainment we got was due to a streaker who entered just at the start of the second half, badly disguised as a game official, and managed to get in a couple of naked-but-for-strategically-worn-sock press-ups in the centre of the field before he was tackled by stewards. The players just stood round and watched, presumably under orders not to intervene should injury ensue (either to them, or to the streaker).

I wish I could be enthusiatic about my view of the on-field action. Alas, from where I was sat (very front row, almost directly behind one set of goal posts), I had a ground-level end-on view of all the plays. American football, of all sports, is the most demanding of at least a top-down view. So most of what I gleaned was from replays on the giant screen at the other end of the stadium. Even worse the majority of the scoring was done at the opposite end. I did however get a great view of the Giants' warm-up, and several good shots of their star players' backsides (squeezed into tight spandex pants). Oh, and the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. And Tony "The Goose" Siragusa, Fox Sports' sideline commentator, who was based at the end I was at.

A final word to Wembley Stadium though: it's a fantastic venue, with a bowl that has near-perfect acoustics for a sporting event. For somewhere so big, the atmosphere generated is both immense and intimate, and that's quite an achievement.
eldar: (Default)
( Sep. 12th, 2007 12:45 pm)
I've managed to purchase a single ticket for the Dolphins vs. Giants NFL game at Wembley on the 28th October, after coming up in the ticket ballot (which still doesn't guarantee you a ticket; you get given a code to use on the Ticketmaster website when you try to book). I did try purchasing more, but the requests turned up nothing. So a single ticket it was. I've got perhaps the least desirable location in Wembley for my seat - right at the west end, in the bottom tier of seats, which will mean it's low down and right behind the uprights. Okay, I'll have a great view of one of the endzones, and a fantastic view of the ball sailing between the posts when it gets kicked there (and praying that the net used to catch the ball in these circumstances doesn't fail!) However any midfield action, anything down the other end, I think might be a bit difficult to see.

Now all I need to do is source an official Jeremy Shockey jersey from the Giants store... now who do I know in the New York area that may be able to help me with that, then?


eldar: (Default)
Neil Treeby


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