So, the first ever NFL game played at the home of the RFU, Twickenham, has been and gone and I have no idea where to start with this post about my experiences there. Do I just dive straight in to the game or the stadium and surrounding events or even the events over the weekend I attended, hmmmmm.
I guess I might as well wade in with my general feelings of the gameday event as a whole whilst they’re a bit fresher in my mind, I have a memory like a fish if I’m honest.
So let’s start with getting to the stadium. This was pretty straight-forward and pain-free except for the fact that there were no signs to be seen in or around the Richmond tube station to indicate where the shuttle buses were going from. It’s only by chance that three guys in front of us knew where they were going as I think they said to another person, who also had no idea where they were going, that they had been to the stadium for rugby games in the past and they had put these shuttles on for those games. I was expecting the journey on the tube to Richmond to be worse than it was seeing as there were works being carried out on some other lines meaning more people would have to use the District line. We set off on our journey quite late so, it would appear, missed any gameday rush to the stadium. There was only a small number of jersey wearing fans making there way to the event at the same time as us.
Once there, like I said, it was a bit disappointing to not see any signposts, even if they had just been handwritten, telling us where the shuttles were as, naively, I’d half expected to see them outside the station. As it happened, they were just a five minute walk down the road and round a corner turning left at a roundabout. Once on the bus it was straight to the stadium along with a bunch of drunk, B.O. smelling kids, which would end up being the theme of our day at the stadium.
After the thankfully short bus trip to the stadium I was confronted by this giant ugly concrete building surrounded by tall iron gates and fences. Not a warm and welcoming image in my opinion at all. I wonder what the NFL players and coaches etc thought when they rolled up to this building considering what they’re used to back home. I realise the Rams play in the Coliseum right now but surely even that looks more welcoming, and MetLife compared to Twickenham? Oh my word.
Thankfully we got there not too long before kickoff and missed what, according to pretty much everything I’ve read on social media about it, was a pretty bad tailgating experience. It seems it was squeezed into too small an area with huge queues taking up to 45 minutes to get served, according to a Facebook comment I read. I imagined it would have just been exactly the same stuff as they have at all the pre-game tailgate events so knew I wouldn’t have missed anything, especially seeing as we went to the NFL House event on the Saturday which was actually very good if badly advertised and explained….in my opinion.
Once we figured out how the stadium was set up and where we were supposed to be in order to find our seat, we made our way through the turnstiles and into the inner ring, if you will, around the outside of the stadium. We were in U42 which we soon discovered stood for ‘Upper 42’. We wound our way up the ever spiralling walkway up to the top of the stadium and found our seat block. The view from the spiralling walkway was actually very good and we could see right across central London and it’s landmarks and all the way up to Wembley stadium.
At this point I should insert an image to show the view but I only had my crappy phone on me that wouldn’t have taken a very good image and my wife still, apparently, has a lot to learn about the settings on the camera. Just imagine me tutting and rolling my eyes as I say that, hehe.
As it would transpire, my biggest mistake leading up to this event was to not get a couple of tickets for seats next to each other so that I could sit next to my wife. I instead went for what I thought would be seats with better views and so I sat directly behind her. To start with this wasn’t a problem as no-one sat in the 7 seats to her left which allowed me to sit there.
Eventually a group of student yoofs rocked up followed by a rather large gentleman and occupied the seats next to my wife. The kids had obviously been drinking and some were starting to show it a little, particularly the one sitting just the other side of the rather large chap who had ended up sitting next to my wife. Luckily we were on the end of the rows so she could subtly lean to her right and still have room. I’m still not 100% sure if the guy was with the younger mob but he didn’t stick around too long anyway as he got a phone call which he left his seat to take and never came back. Phew, we thought.
This actually turned out to be worse as it opened up the way for the drunken fool, who was getting more drunk as the game went on, to start chatting to my wife. This wouldn’t have been a problem if he’d kept it to the game as he did to start with. He did, however, start getting a little more aggressive about the subject of the game by asking her stuff like, “How can they just have let that happen!!?” and “Are you even watching the game!!?”
Now, my wife’s knowledge of the game isn’t brilliant in her opinion, I’d say she knows a lot more than many people at the games but she still puts herself down a little about how much she knows so isn’t overly confident when some ***** like him starts saying stuff like that. She did very well, though, and held her own so I didn’t say anything.
Anyway, halftime came along and we went for food and beer as is the norm at that juncture. When we came back he had nicked our flags which annoyed us as our daughters like to have one and I like to have the other for my collection. Have you ever tried to explain something to a drunk kid who is about to throw his toys out of his pram if he doesn’t get his own way? Wow, unbelievable. When I say ‘kid’ we’re talking university student age by the way and not a young kid….I’m not that mean, hehe. In the end he had three of the four flags and we had one of ours and another that had been left at the end of the game.
After ‘flag-gate’ he then proceeded to try and interrogate my wife as to where she had been for the whole of the second quarter and halftime as he obviously was having vision or memory issues due to the beer, followed by waving his flag in everyone’s faces and hanging it over the people in the row in front of him as he discussed nonsense with his friends, much to the annoyance of the guy sitting there to the point I thought he was going to get up and hit the moron. He then went to the bar and got his mates beers that they didn’t want, and wouldn’t take from him, so he stood up for ages in peoples way to which I heard a female American accent shout, “Yeah buddy, I paid a load of money to come here and look at your ass didn’t I!?”….brilliant.
Anyway, after quite a long time of him annoying many people around us, he finally got his comeuppance. Suddenly a few senior stewards came running up the steps to our block looking for someone they’d had complaints about. During the first half of the game a number had been displayed on the big screen for anyone to text and report anti-social behaviour should you see any. Once they had zeroed in on who it was that the report was about they asked him to accompany them out of the stand. Apparently they’d had reports that he’d been exposing himself and were ready to eject him from the stadium.
After several minutes he came back in and exclaimed, “You bastards!” towards his mates. They all burst out laughing as one of them put his phone away. I found this highly amusing as did most of the people around us. It worked as well seeing as he didn’t say much to anyone after that and kept himself to himself.
Basically, please don’t get too drunk and act like a dick at these games where we’re all crammed in. It can make for a very uncomfortable experience for those fans who aren’t ‘on it’ beer-wise.
The game itself was a decent affair but not one that will stick in my mind as a ‘barnstormer’. I’m a Cleveland Browns fan so have had no true affiliation towards a team that has been to play over here yet, so I usually just support the home team and try to help create a better atmosphere for them.
This game at Twickers was a different beast, noise-wise, than the Wembley games as the stadium, in my opinion, generates much more noise as the roof seems to channel it back down towards the stands and pitch.
This is the main reason I liked Twickenham over Wembley as I’m always a little embarrassed by the crowd noise at Wembley when I watch the game back on Gamepass. It seems for long periods of the game that you could hear a pin drop….not good. I didn’t like Twickenham for a lot of reasons but this was a major plus point for me. No amount of noise I made to try and help create a home-field advantage for the Rams was going to out-do all those great Giants fans and the noise they were making for their team.
My wife and I had actually commented the day before, as we were walking around central London, that the Giants were going to be way more supported than the Rams if the ratio of jerseys we’d been seeing all weekend was anything to go by. Turns out we were right, well done Giants fans, you made the atmosphere great and the volume level more like a ‘real’ NFL game.
After the game is where it all went wrong as far as organisation went for us. We needed to get back to Richmond tube station so we could get back to St. Pancras and our train home. With this being our first time to Twickenham we had no idea where we were going so we just followed the crowd, D’OH! This was a mistake as we’d apparently come out the wrong side of the stadium if we wanted to catch a shuttle bus to our tube station.
As we were walking along we asked 3, yes 3, stewards if we were heading in the right direction to catch a shuttle bus to Richmond station and 3, yes 3, times we were told ‘yes’. It wasn’t until we’d walked a fair way and got to the shuttle bus point that we decided to ask a more senior looking steward at the front of the shuttle bus queue if these were the correct ones to get to Richmond that we were told “No, they are going from the other side of the stadium”. WTF!?
Not happy at this point as this was all eating into the 2 hours we’d given ourselves to get to St. Pancras. He told us our best bet now was to keep walking and catch a normal bus to Richmond. We carried on walking for quite a while then thought, ‘Sod this’ and jumped in a black cab. It cost us £8.40 but saved the day after spending too long walking about somewhere between the stadium and the station.
This and the drunken moron were the only downsides to the day but they did leave me with a bad taste for this event for some reason. Perhaps it’s just because I’m so used to going to Wembley to watch the games, after years of doing so, and can navigate those events on autopilot. More planning of transporting ourselves to and from the game(s) at Twickers next year and we should be sorted.
We managed to get to St. Pancras with time to spare, thanks to the taxi, and grabbed a nice cuppa before boarding the train for our cramped journey home. Something about some rail tracks closed for repair work so lots of people squeezed onto our train.
All-in-all I would say that I liked the NFL House event they put on in central London on the Saturday as it had the superbowl rings, Vince Lombardi trophy, signed helmets, games of Madden 17 on the go, and a computerised QB alley machine working that measured several things about your QB throwing skills. I found out that I can consistently throw a football hard and fast with a 100% spiral efficiency, hehe, I assume that’s good judging by the look on the guys faces that were running the machine 😉
I also loved the atmosphere inside the stadium and was well impressed by the noise the Giants fans made, and when they made it, as in past years the NFL people have commented that British fans don’t seem to understand what’s going on judging by the noise levels and patterns. When I say that I’m talking about many years ago but it all just seemed to come together perfectly at this game. Even the Giants players on the pitch and sidelines realised they had the support and started applauding the fans for their noise levels which actually resulted in at least one false-start by a Rams offensive lineman. Brilliant, just brilliant!
I also loved the fact that I had 4G on my phone inside the stadium and could use my phone perfectly well. At Wembley I get sod all reception of any kind which annoys the crap out of me. The toilet situation was much better in Twickenham than Wembley as was the food and drink stands inside the stadium as the queues were waaaay shorter for both.
I didn’t really like the feel of the place as you approach it and the feel of it outside. It just felt cramped and imposing. I guess I’ve been spoilt by how open and how much space there is around Wembley stadium. I’d get used to this at Twickenham now I know what to expect so it’s not a big deal. It also seems like the tailgate party was a mess so I’m glad I missed that.
The biggest downside to this event for me was definitely the transport situation to and, more so, from the stadium. They sure as hell need to get some people in to steward who actually want to do it and are willing to learn where and when stuff is. The people they got in for this event were appalling!
I’m definitely contemplating just travelling down for the game itself next year when it’s at this stadium as it seems the people who were happiest about the event are the ones who sorted themselves out with their own transport to and from the game and just went for the day. I’ll either drive or go on the coach, I think, and leave the weekend London partying for the Wembley games. I love going to the Hippodrome casino in Leicester Square after the game to watch the later games as well as the Fridays and Saturdays spent in London before the game(s).
As a general feeling for this first game at Twickenham I’d say that they have a lot to put right immediately outside the stadium as well as with transport links away from the area. They also MUST get better stewards who actually know what they are doing and aren’t just there chatting and killing time until they receive their paychecks. They were truly awful!!!
The atmosphere inside the stadium was great and the noise level was much better than at Wembley (to date), as was the concourse set-up with toilets and food stands.
So, inside the stadium was better than Wembley but outside was worse for me. If we could only get a location that could blend all those good things together we’d be sorted! Anyone got any suggestions of a place like that?
Why not let us know how your gameday/weekend panned out and what you liked and disliked about the whole event in the comments below.