Hello fellow Bronco fans,
I am a frequent reader (10 times a day?) and commenter of Mile High Report, but do not post FanPosts myself very often as I usually do not have a lot to share. I generally read other peoples topic and discuss things there.
Today, however, I get to share with you my story of being in London for a weekend to attend my first Broncos game ever at Wembley Stadium.
If you want to know a little bit of my background, read this Denver Post article. And for those who don't know me, I'm the guy from The Netherlands.
So without further ado, here is the first and last time in my life I've written a diary. The concept worked well for the occasion though. Here we go:
If the hectic start of my day would be a forecast for the rest of the weekend, it would not have been very good. Getting up at 5 AM, barely catching my train to the airport at 6:40 AM, and then my flight to London being delayed; it didn't look good. Luckily things changed for the better. After taking off from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport 30 minutes late, we arrived at a dry and at times even sunny Gatwick Airport 50 minutes later. It was the shortest flight of my life, and the idea that the bus I take from home to university every day takes longer than the flight from Amsterdam to London kinda made me smile again. A train to Central London, a couple of different tube trains, and a bus is what it takes before I arrive at my bed & breakfast in some London suburb. After all, I'm a student, and trying to limit my costs. It's cheaper than the Marriott downtown, but I pay for that by having to travel longer. Ah well.
The only thing I do is throw some stuff from my backpack in my suitcase and put on my orange Eddie Royal jersey, before I head back to London. I decided a few days ago that I would go to The Oval Cricket Stadium where the Broncos have their practice on Friday. Though I realized practice would be closed to the public, I figured I'd walk around the stadium and try to catch a glimpse of the players leaving the facility to go back to the hotel. As I arrive at the gate, I run into two guys from Germany who are looking at the busses. As they are not wearing jerseys, I asked them if they are Broncos fans as well. One of them laughs and confesses he is a Raiders fan. I joke around asking if he showed up to rub last weeks game in, and we talk a little about the game and football in general. Then the first Broncos coaches/assistents start coming out, and I realize the team is about the leave, like I had been waiting for. A bunch of players walk by to the bus, 15-25 ft from me. Some are focussed on their iPod and not even looking up, others pass by and smile or wave when they see 1 Broncos fan standing outside the gate in his orange jersey. I yell at Knowshon and he smiles, as does Tebow when I wave at him. Quinn, Harris, Moss, and a bunch of others pass, until a group of guys, both offensive and defensive players, walk by. I can't really remember all the guys I see, as, before I realize whats going on, Syd'Quan Thompson (I think) yells at Eddie and says: "Look over there!" Within seconds, Eddie is shaking my hand and one of the trainers/assistants is taking our picture. Then Eddie grabs his gloves and tells me to keep them. I thank him and try to tell him how much I appreciate it, but before I know it, he's back on the bus with the rest of the team, as they are ready to leave. One older lady comes up to me and tells me how lucky I am. I recon she is in charge of guiding the Broncos around London, as the tells me that last year when one of the teams came to practice at the Oval, there were 100s of fans waiting at the gate, and this year I am by myself. As the busses pull out of the parking lot, I wave and yell "Go Broncos" when they pass me. Eric Decker and Kyle Orton smile at me, and I see J.D. Walton stretch out (he's sitting on the other side of the bus) to see what idiot is standing there in his Bronco gear ;)
The last busses have some other Broncos assistents in them, and they seem to be more excited to see a fan than some of the players were. As the last bus pulls out of the parking lot I head back to tube. One of the thing I noticed was that coach McDaniels was driving seperately in a little van before the busses. Not sure if this is noteworthy, but I had kind of expected him to just drive with the team on one of the busses.
When I get back to central London I want to look around the Buckingham Palace area before going to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. When I get there I am a little late, and the wait for a table is already more than 90 minutes. So I opt to walk back and eat at Texas Embassy. They served a decent Chimichanga, but nothing to write a full review about. Then a short walk to Picadilly Square to take the tube back to my B&B. It's been a long day, and I obviously need to upload some pictures. Looking forward to meeting some fellow NFL and Broncos fans tomorrow at the NFL Fan Rally. Goodnight!
Saturday, October 30th, 2010.
Saturday is the big day of the NFL Fan Rally at Trafalgar Square. Even though it will be focussed only on the 49ers, I am still excited to go and meet other football fans. However, the rally doesn´t start till one, so I decided to spend my morning sightseeing, as it is my first time in London. I took the tube to Waterloo station, and walked past the London Eye, crossing the Thames river and past the Big Ben to Westminster Abbey. I really wanted to take a look inside, but I refused to pay 12 pounds to see a church with some famous dead people burried in it. So instead I go to the Churchill War Rooms, the only museum that I absolutely wanted to visit before going to London. They also charge 12 pounds, but I don´t mind paying for something much more interesting. I won´t give a full description but it was one of the most interesting museums I´ve visited in my life, thought that might be due to personal interest.
I get to Trafalgar Square 90 minutes too early, and since I don´t feel like waiting that long, I walk to Covent Gardens, where I run into two Broncos fans from the U.S. Bought some food after chatting with them, and by the time I get back in the line to access the square, it´s 12.30 PM. Around 12:45 they start letting people in, and around 1 I am in the qeue for the merchandise stand. It takes a little while and I talk to some fans, and when I get to the front of the line, they tell me the hoodie I wanted to buy is not being sold today. I'll have to get it at the stadium tomorrow.
I spend the rest of the afternoon at the rally, and though I am disappointed that there is NOTHING about the Broncos at the rally, I have a pretty good time. Maybe the highlight should have been seeing NFL Legend Jerry Rice on stage, but it was hard to pay attention when Marisa Miller was standing right next to him ;). I met @BroncosForums towards the end, and talked for a while until we both decided it's about time to leave the rally around 4:30 PM. While leaving, I can't help but think it will be a tough game for the Broncos on Sunday, as most of the fans who are not 49ers are Broncos fans seem to support the 49ers on Sunday. It's should be a fun game nevertheless!
I walk around Picadilly for a bit and after dinner I decide to head back to my B&B. Tomorrow is the big day. I'll check out a few places in London early in the morning, then head to the Broncos pregame party at the Sports Cafe, and then my first Broncos game. I'm stoked! Goodnight.
Sunday October 31st,
What do you write after another loss? It's tough to write a story about a great day while the team cannot take a W home to Denver, and is now at 2-6. But I guess I will try anyway.
I start my day early by taking a tour of the Globe Theatre, the famous theatre that all of you who had to read Shakespeare in high school will have heard about. After the tour I rush to Picadilly Square where some group pictures will be taken with a few Broncos legends. When I get there I am surprised by how many Broncos fans are there. The whole square was colored in Orange and Blue, a great sight. I run into @BroncosForums again and we talk and take a few pictures. When the Broncos alumni arrive at 12:15, I end up standing only 2 feet away from John Elway and Floyd Little, so I am excited to see the result of that picture when it shows up on the Broncos' website. After the final picture in which we all yell "London is Broncos country", the whole crowd gathers around Elway, and though I am able to take some good pictures, I miss out on an autograph.
Together with @BroncosForums and some other fans we walk down to The Sports Cafe for the Broncos Pregame Party. The place is packed with Broncos fans and the atmosphere is great. I got to meet some of the cheerleaders and take pictures, take a picture with Miles, and meet some cool other Broncos fans. After the raffle (in which they give away some jackets, cheerleader calendar, signed Orton picture, signed Elway minihelmet and a signed football by all the Broncos alumni who are in London) ends at 2:30 I head to Wembley. I figured the tube would be rather busy, but the journey there is smooth.
When I enter the stadium, Prater, Colquitt and Paxton are warming up, as are the 49ers specialists.
Colquitt looked solid during warm ups, but he was awful during the game. Prater missed one or two fieldgoals while warming up as well, and that carried over to the game I guess when he missed his extra point.
Looking at the game without thinking about the score (a hard thing to do), I can only say I had a good time. I can only imagine how great it is to attend a game at Invesco where I am not the only one who yells "Defense!" in the section I sit in. After the first half I was a little disillusioned. This was what I had been looking forward to so much? As I got back to my seat from going to the bathroom somewhere in the 3rd quarter I barely had a chance to put my bag down and sit when Kyle Orton aired it out to Brandon Lloyd. I went nuts, and was hoping that such a play would finally change momentum a little. I was sitting close to the opposite endzone, so I didn't even realize Tebow was in until I saw the replay of the touchdown on the screen.
We all know what happened the rest of the game. Twice I went crazy (flea-flicker and Eddie Royals return), only to look down the field to see a flag. When Orton started scrambling I knew we were in trouble as I could see that fumble coming from miles away. Don't know how to describe how he was holding the ball, but he should have been holding it a lot tighter to his body.
I left Wembley after Orton threw the interception with only a few seconds to go in the game.
I was pleasantly surprised how smooth the journey back to my B&B was. It was very busy obviously as 80.000 people left the venue all at once, but I did not have to wait for a train. Made it to the platform without waiting, and the train got there a few minutes later. We had the most hilarious tube driver, the guy could have been a standup comedian. I never thought I'd feel a little sad that I had to get off from a tube train ;) but at least the laughs made me forget about the game a little.
Now it's Monday and I'm sitting at the airport waiting to fly back home. I had a great weekend in London, saw some great and famous places, met some great people, and was able to see my favorite team in person. I'm trying to enjoy the feeling of having been able to meet Eddie Royal, the cheerleaders and seeing Elway and Little a little longer, before I start thinking about the game, where this team is heading and what we need to change.