Archive for November, 2010

Yes the queues were massive, and after watching a highlight of Steve Young picking apart the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX I was not exactly thrilled about only seeing on team’s Hall of Fame exhibits.

The Wembley Stadium car park became the 49ers Hall of Fame for a day

Waiting in a soggy car park at Wembley Stadium with my gorgeous wife was hardly the NFL dream, but for football memorabilia geeks like me it was worth it to see the shirt Steve Young wore in his only Super Bowl win, as well as the actual shirt that Terrell Owens wore when he caught an NFL record (at the time) 20 passes in a single game.

 

Owen's shirt from his 20 catch game against the Bears

Here is the sign by Terrell Owens shirt

Yes 81 is my favourite number - its the one Art Monk wore. Wonder if Terrell Owens chose 81 because he admired Mr Monk?

Much to my wife's shame I got an NFL football temporary tattoo on my cheek whilst in the queue

 

Have to admit I’m a sucker for an NFL legend. Spotting Jerry Rice at the Wembley NFL game was special, so to see his team-mate Roger Craig about 5 metres away from me was just as much fun.

I remember that the former 49ers running back used to paint ‘power pyramids’ on his ankles to give him mystical powers. Hell they must have worked as he won three Super Bowl rings, was in the NFL team of the Eighties, and most impressively was the first player in NFL history to run and catch for 1,000 yards in a season.

Roger Roger give us a wave !

Roger Craig and former Eagles fullback Cecil Martin get ready to bump fists at Wembley 31 Oct 2010

Under the helmet you will find 3 time Super Bowl winner Roger Craig

Jerry Rice's 49ers Hall of Fame plaque in London

In 2009 the NFL Hall of Fame exhibits that were bought over to London were amazing.

This year the NFL downscaled to just the 49ers Hall of Fame exhibits.

Judging by the queue at the Wembley car park last Sunday to get to see the 49ers exhibits it was if Tutankhamun was being displayed.

The long winding queue to the player shirts, Super Bowl rings and Super Bowl trophies went via the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame inducted player plaques.

There were many players I know and loved watching, including Roger Craig, John Brodie, Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott.

I made the point of asking my wife to take a picture of me by Jerry Rice’s plaque as I grew up watching Rice torture 27 NFL teams and break every record imaginable.

It was at the precise second that I started reading Rice’s accomplishments when a cheer went up in the nearby stage area.

Using my zoom lens I focussed on the stage area, and to my absolute delight the main man was being introduced – yes here I was about 100 metres away from the legendary Jerry Rice.

Yes the man in the suit is NFL legend Jerry Rice

My paparazzi shot of NFL all time #1 WR Jerry Rice

 

My own picture of Tim Tebow at the Wembley Stadium player entrance - Halloween 2010

It’s not every day that you come face to face with a Heisman Trophy winner, let alone a NCAA National Champion.

So to do this in England was one event I will never forget for the rest of my life.

This guy may be 13 years my junior but meeting a College legend (and hopefully a future NFL legend) was my personal highlight from attending the San Francisco 49ers v Denver Broncos game at Wembley Stadium.

Having sprinted through about five blocks of seats to try and meet Tim after he had completed his own pre-game warm up I was very pleased to find Tim engaging warmly with both US based fans who had travelled thousands of miles as well as UK fans, who like me, were in awe of this legend of College football standing about one metre away from us all.

Wearing my rather faded Washington Redskins hat I quickly whipped it of my rather sweaty forehead and thrust in in front of the unflappable Tebow. He did say that he had to get back to the locker room for his pre-game team talk, but he made sure all of us fans who were holding out hats, programs or NFL trading cards were all signed with a black Sharpie.

I think a few of the younger UK fans I stood next to were not quite sure who Tim Tebow was, but regardless he was a gentleman to all fans and looked genuinely happy to be shaking hands and signing items for us mere mortals.

My rather old Redskins hat has shot up in value now it has been signed by former Florida Gator Tim Tebow

My snap of Tim Tebow after his second warm up session at Wembley Stadium in Halloween

Tebow and his twin guns warm up at Wembley Stadium last Sunday

Tebow will not have a rookie season that will match the likes of the Rams Sam Bradford, or even the benched Panthers 2nd round 2010 pick Jimmy Clausen, but if he continues to show the same amount of respect to his fans he did on Sunday (31 Oct 2010) then he deserves more playing time.

Having said that it was extra special that the first touchdown scored at Wembley this year was a quarterback run by none other than Tebow himself.

It can’t be every day that you get to meet an NFL rookie quarterback, get him to sign your hat and then watch him score a rushing touchdown.

A special day indeed.

A relic from the 1980s - this tiled wall on Wembley Way makes me smile every time

Despite the gloomy grey clouds and typical drizzle the walk up Wembley way is always fun.

Aside from the swathes of ticket touts and people selling godawful fake NFL scarves it was a smooth walk up to the 49ers tailgate party.

Was good to see fans from all over the UK wearing their favourite NFL team shirts, as well as seeing some dedicated fans who has dressed up for Halloween. I swear I saw Captain America !

As usual the merchandise was grossly over priced, but I could not resist a program.

Program cost £10.00 however the 49ers flag was free

Every NFL trip starts with a hearty breakfast

If memory serves me right the last time the 49ers came and played in London, England was in a rather awful pre-season game in 1992 against the Washington Redskins.

Lets say I was hoping for more this time around, with starters like Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree playing on the first as well as the last series of the game.

The Halloween journey to Wembley was pretty eventful, with a pheasant trying to commit suicide by hitting my wife’s car on the M40.

After overcoming that fright-fest we arrived at Hillingdon tube station and I had the pleasure of meeting former First Down editor and current NFLUK writer Keithe Webster.

Keith was very gracious, talking to me for a good five minutes. We had a good chat about the survival of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Keith told me he read a comment I added to an article he wrote about the future of the NFL in England.

The tube journey after that was quick, and soon we were at the Wembley Park station. Cue the obligatory shot…..

Yes it is a cliche but it has to be done !