By: Jacqueline Zonkowski
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October 2015 I went to London to see the New York Jets play the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium and I was so excited! That was the main basis for my trip, which my little sister came along on. It was Lauren’s first trip to Europe. We got to London Saturday morning and the game was Sunday afternoon so naturally we went out Saturday night and were maybe not at the top of our game Sunday. Regardless, we got dressed in our Jets best and hopped on the tube to Wembley. PS – I love the tube. Its so much nicer than public transport in America.
One of the things that really fascinates me is how people perceive the NFL overseas. I’ve been out with a few Brits and they all know of the NFL but don’t necessarily get it, or are trying to learn it. So when we get on the tube I’m looking around (hoping I got us on the right line) and start noticing all of these people wearing NFL jerseys. Not just Jets and Dolphins, but other teams around the league.
On the tube we sit across from these two guys in Dolphins gear who start giving us crap for the Jets apparel. I started to rib them back but also wanted to find out why they were Dolphins fans – family in Florida. Then I noticed Ravens and Patriots jerseys too so we are all bullshitting with each other. There was a girl sitting by herself who chimed in to say she had no idea anything about the NFL but she heard it would be a good time and spent the whole night reading football for dummies to try and learn before going. I was blown away!
Me, being the outrageous, unapologetic person I am, decided that everyone in NFL gear on my car had to take a photo together. I thought the train was wild, but getting out and going up the walk to the stadium was something I had never seen before! It was a mob scene, all 32 NFL team jerseys scattered throughout the crowd. Lauren was taking pictures of every Panthers fan and even spoke to a few of them asking why they were fans of our home team. Some travel to Charlotte, NC from London every year for a game, crazy!
Anyway, so we get into Wembley and we are walking around by our section and there are a few concession stands in the concourse. I’m peaking through and I see Curry Fries (my friend said they were amazing, she was drinking the curry sauce in our seats) and a hot dog with pulled pork and mac and cheese on top and 2 beer selections: Carlsberg and something dark.
We were in our seats at the start for the National Anthems, first was The Star Spangled Banner performed by Brian McKnight, which was awesome, followed by God Save the Queen performed by a British singer. The whole stadium was up and singing their anthem and it was so moving. I feel like at most games in America, you let the person singing the song do it and then clap at the end but here everyone was singing with the woman. I had goosebumps for sure.
During one of our beer runs this woman stopped myself, my boss, and a few of my coworkers and asked if we were married to the players since we were all women sitting on the front row. Personally, I was ready to play along but my boss informed her that we were just employees. “I was wondering where your bling was,” the woman said back – low blow lady, more beer please.
The Jets won the game but we lost track of the Carlsbergs, small sacrifice in my book. Bottom line – if you are ever in London and there is a game at Wembley Stadium you need to go. Especially if you appreciate sports. The stadium is really top of line, its beautiful, its clean, and apparently there is a food court that I missed. No worries, I’ll go back again to find it 🙂