What it Means to this Brit that the Packers are Coming to London

A UK Packers fan describes his feelings on the Packers playing in London

 

A UK Packers fan, Ian Caleb give us his view from the other side of the pond:

 

To be a UK fan of the NFL is to send your passion across the pond to cities you may never visit and teams who might only exist at strange hours on strange TV channels. A regular member of the 3am crew, you weren’t told from a young age that your family supported the Pack and that was that. No one pointed at your state proudly and expected you to bleed green and gold for your home soil and your forefathers. Your schoolfriends didn’t try to right the wrong of 4th and 26 as you traded three Robert Ferguson stickers for a Mike McKenzie. You had to discover the game yourself, maybe tripping over some glitz-laden highlight reel and, before you knew it, heading down a dark path that led to watching preseason games or pretending we know that free safety prospect from Clemson was a reach – or what a Clemson is for that matter.

 

Okay, we may be more 4-4-2 than 4-3, more tighthead props than tight ends. We might rely on pressing the “Ask Madden” button instead of knowing how a team can attack a Cover 3. Less football, more handegg, am I right? But our passion comes from knowing we chose this sport, and we chose this team, when there was absolutely no reason to do either. It’s the passion of knowing we love the game not out of habit or habitat, but because our love meant we’ve always made the effort to go the extra mile when the sport is so many miles away.

 

When the London games began in 2007, our hopes of the pride of Wisconsin gracing the Wembley turf were high. Yes, we’d stomach the lopsided scores. The Cleo Lemon bowl. The parade of teams who filled their own stadiums with tarpaulins, not people. The “home games” where 31 sets of jerseys cheered every score (sorry Texans fan). All in the hope we’d get our team on that field one day, a few dozen metres away instead of thousands of miles. And we waited with hope, even as we slowly discovered the home games were too sacrosanct and away games too lucrative.

 

The news that, after 15 years of waiting, we would finally get our turn probably saw thousands of tiny manic celebrations up and down the country. Imagine someone fist pumping at a petrol station while his mates discussed the Chelsea penalty. A vicar moonwalking down an empty aisle. Me, having to explain to my boss why I was so damned passionate about that spreadsheet. Knowing full well that we might be celebrating on our own, but we were also celebrating with so many others who had gone that extra mile for all these years.

 

I hope the fans who feel they are losing a home game can get behind the fact this will be no awkward exhibition in front of an indifferent crowd equipped with inferior hotdogs. I hope when they see the full throated, full hearted support the Packers get here and will get in the stadium, they’ll realise giving up the ninth home game is in part about appreciating the privilege of seeing eight games a year in the first place. I’m prepped to scrap and scrape for a ticket and I’m sure thousands of UK fans are saying the same thing tonight, because even with the international obligations these days this might be the one chance we get.

 

So on a day of those thousands of celebrations thousands of miles away, please don’t tirade on the twitters, grumble on the ‘gram or flood facebook. Instead raise a glass, heck raise a pint, to the fans who can finally make the pilgrimage to see the best team on the planet. After all, if we want Green Bay to be World Champions, then surely we want to world to have the chance to champion them.

 

- Ian Caleb

 

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"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  Follow Al on twitter at @JerseyalGBP

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6 points
 

Comments (13)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Turophile's picture

March 01, 2022 at 03:47 pm

Living in England, I've watched NFL Europe teams live (saw the Monarchs at Bristol City football ground). I've seen other NFL teams playing at Wembley stadium, but in over 30 years of following them I've never seen the Packers play live.

Now I get the chance. Assuming I can get a ticket, and I should hope I can (the Tottenham ground can hold 76,000 fans), I'll be somewhere in that stadium, cheering.

Awesome.......................now where is Nagler hanging out ?

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SanLobo's picture

March 01, 2022 at 03:53 pm

I’m excited for the Brits. But also for our troops. I remember how I felt during my 4 years while assigned to Germany knowing I couldn’t go see a game…any game. The handful of American DoD High School teams overseas did their best. The late nights and early mornings watching the games we did get, then dragging yourself in for morning PT sucked, but was always worth it when it was a Packers game. I know it’s different now with high speed internet and Gamepass, still I expect there will be lots and lots of 4-day pass and leave requests from all over Europe the week of that game.

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mbpacker's picture

March 01, 2022 at 04:10 pm

Enjoyed your article and I now more fully appreciate the fans across the pond love affair with our Packers. So happy that you all will get a chance to see the Packers live, something I have yet to do myself, with the exception of Family Night. Pip, Pip , Cheerio, and all that rot! GPG!

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Coldworld's picture

March 01, 2022 at 04:19 pm

The English have had football a long time. Interestingly the oldest versions can be won by one player. It’s not soccer, not rugby but real time tested football: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atherstone_Ball_Game

Yes I’ve seen it and they don’t lack toughness

As a former Monarchs fan before the death of the world/Europa league, it’s nice to see some Brits are excited.

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Turophile's picture

March 01, 2022 at 04:58 pm

There is the Eton Wall game.
The traditional and most important match of the year is played on St Andrew's Day, as the Collegers (King's Scholars) take on the Oppidans (the rest of the school). The College has only 70 boys to pick from, compared to the 1250 or so Oppidans.

At that St Andrew's Day match, the Oppidans climb over the wall, after throwing their caps over in defiance of the Scholars, while the Collegers march down from the far end of College Field, arm-in-arm, towards the near end, where they meet the Oppidans.

It is played on a strip of ground 5 metres wide and 110 metres long ("The Furrow") next to a slightly curved brick wall ("The Wall") erected in 1717.

Goals are rare. The last time a goal was scored in that game was 1909.

Probably not the most exciting sport for fans to watch.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

March 01, 2022 at 05:10 pm

I'll tip my hat to that young man for an article in which he expressed himself well. A true Packer fan.

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PeteK's picture

March 01, 2022 at 05:16 pm

I visited London a few years ago and loved the old, but well kept city. The pubs with their pies were fabulous. The Pack visiting will be exhilarating.

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Tingham's picture

March 01, 2022 at 05:42 pm

I will likely head over to London for the game. I live in Southern California and have seen the Packers play on the west coast quite a few times. But this would really be special. I've visited London a couple of dozen times for both work and pleasure so the extra familiarity will make for a great time.

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KenLass's picture

March 01, 2022 at 06:54 pm

Very well written. Had me smiling throughout. I was one of those grumblers about losing a home game. This article changed my perspective. Jolly well done.

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Mike_D66's picture

March 02, 2022 at 05:36 am

I was one of those Brits who discovered the NFL on our Channel 4 in 1986 when they had little else to broadcast and quickly learned to marvel at this team who played the same game whether they were 20+ points ahead or trailing. With the Magic man Don Majkowski at the helm, the heart attack Pack rode the rollercoaster every week and it had some big highs and lows - but it was always great.

And so it has been great ever since, and now the Packers are expected to be in the playoff hunt every year. I have been lucky enough to see a few games in the US unfortunately not at Lambeau and no victories, but I will be willing to loose my budget, my voice and my hopefully loosing streak for the Pack at Spurs stadium. GPG for life - since 86

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Mumarek400's picture

March 02, 2022 at 11:38 am

Originally from Wisconsin I now live in East London no more than 5 miles from the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. About a quarter of the NFL gear I see worn around this side of town is Packers. That is really impressive given there are 32 teams and the Packers are the only one never to play here. It will be a party.

Also, it is worth noting that bratwurst is not really that popular here, the Brits have their own sausages and tend not to have them on a bun, so you need to go to a specialty German shop to get some. For the 49ers playoff game I went out to one such shop to get some and the guy said I got the last package. Said he never had demand for brats like that before. Maybe a coincidence, or maybe there really are alot of Packers fans here.

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PackfanNY's picture

March 02, 2022 at 01:05 pm

I feel happy for the fan that he will get to see the Packers.

However, you can make the same statement for the fan in Mexico, Canada and South America. I have met Packers fans throughout the world who have expressed that desire. They all said it would be great if the team played there. So sorry, the fan in the UK is no different. I’ll assume German Packers fans might find London too expensive and really wanted the game in Berlin. I know a fan in Mexico City who wants the Packers there and is disappointed as well. Let’s call this what it is. A MONEY grab by the NFL.

By the way, I would love a Liverpool/Chelsea game in the U.S. I can guarantee 80,000 fans. You know why a regular season EPL game hasn’t been played here? Fans in the UK won’t support it.

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KentPackersFan's picture

March 03, 2022 at 03:20 am

Miracles do happen - The Pack coming to London, let alone giving up a home game, is something we thought would never happen. Had the pleasure of going to Lambeau Field 3 times - once to see Favre, twice to watch Rodgers. If you get the chance to go to Titletown, do whatever you can to get there!

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