WEMBLEY, England -- There was a light but persistent drizzle, long
lines at the tube station and football shirts on the backs of
thousands of fans.
All the makings of a typical Sunday afternoon game in London in
October. Only this time the red of Arsenal and blue of Chelsea gave
way to football jerseys of the NFL variety.
Rebuilt Wembley Stadium hosted the first regular-season NFL game
in Europe, and fans of all teams flocked to northwest London to see
the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10. Many in the sold-out
stadium came from the United States, and the dreary fall sky posed
"It's good football weather," said Matt Krosche, a 21-year-old
student from New York wearing a Giants shirt. "Football isn't
meant to be played in the sun."
Joe Krosche, Matt's father, said the decision to travel all this
way for a game was easy -- especially since Sunday was his 56th
"They announced it right after the Super Bowl," said the elder
Krosche, who owns a limousine company. "I called my other son and
I said, 'Hey, guess where we're going for my birthday?'"
Some Dolphins fans who made the trip from Florida were already
struggling with the team's 0-7 start. They looked at the game as a
break from day-to-day life back home.
"We made a vacation of it," said Candace Hartsell, who came
from Fort Lauderdale with five other Dolphins season-ticket
holders. "Our seats here are almost identical to our seats at
Those British fans at the game clearly made a choice:
Giants-Dolphins instead of watching Liverpool host Arsenal in a top
Premier League match.
They still got to see a few of their favorites athletes on the
field for the coin toss. The Giants were represented by England
soccer captain John Terry, who plays for Chelsea and was booed by
many in the stadium. Former England rugby captain Martin Johnson
stood in for the Dolphins. Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton also
was on hand.
The fans soon rose from their seats for the U.S. and British
national anthems, with many singing along with the latter.
Before the second half started, a streaker ran onto the field
and danced and did pushups before being chased away by security.
Thomas Barker, a 21-year-old student wearing a New England
Patriots jersey, is hoping for more games in London and more
success for the NFL in Britain.
"If they keep doing one-off matches, it will work," said
Barker, who became a fan after seeing the Pats on TV four years
ago. "They need more exposure."
Neil Taylor, a 34-year-old driver, is a member of Dolfan UK, a
Dolphins fan club in England with more than 100 members.
"I turned on the TV in 1985, the playoff game against
Cleveland, and I was hooked," Taylor said. "I go to 6-7 games a
Peter Fairclough's family got turned on to the NFL the same way.
"We've loved American football for 20 years," said the
60-year-old electrical manager from Rotherham, wearing a Minnesota
Vikings hat and sweat shirt. "We have a Super Bowl party every
Rob Elstone, another 21-year-old student, came to Wembley
wearing a New York Jets shirt. The rivalry between the Jets and the
Giants was not lost on him.
"I want to rub it in their face," Elstone said.