I can’t believe it’s November already. It feels like just yesterday that I was going through orientation in central London with so many of the other students studying here. The fact that it’s November also means that I only have a little over a month left in England before I head home to the States.
Over the past month and a half, I’ve been able to: Go to Ireland with my parents, and spend my dad’s birthday there. I went to Scotland and northern England with Arcadia for an excursion to Hadrian’s Wall and by far one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done – I went to see the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium, as part of the NFL London Games this year.
I’ve been an Eagles fan since I was a kid. I was born in Philadelphia and was raised maybe five minutes from Center City, across the bridge in New Jersey. So, I’ve always been a Philadelphia sports fan. On February 6, 2005, the Eagles reached the Super Bowl against the Patriots. I was more than happy to share my 7th birthday with the Birds – I got a football-shaped cake, and my only wish for my birthday was for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. Well, I waited 13 years for my wish from 2005 to come true. Two days before my birthday, I sat in my apartment in the outskirts of Philadelphia and watched the Eagles defeat the Patriots 41-33 to win the city’s first ever Super Bowl. I vividly remember crying when Brady’s “Hail Mary” pass was dropped in the end zone, and the game was over. Our city had waited so long for that moment, and we went nuts. I called my parents that night, crying as I said, “My birthday wish was 13 years late, but I finally got it.”
I went to see the Eagles play in their first preseason game this past August against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was their first appearance back on the field at the Linc since they won the Super Bowl. I knew that I wouldn’t be home for the majority of the football season (for the second year in a row), so I was glad I could make that game. Before I left the States, I knew that the Eagles were playing at Wembley and that I had to go. I had a decision to make – would I go to Rome on an excursion with Arcadia, or go to the Eagles game? Well, Italy had to wait. When else would I be able to see my city’s team play in London, as reigning Super Bowl Champions? The tickets weren’t cheap, but my grandfather surprised me and told me that he would pay for the ticket. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that meant to me and how touched I was by that.
Fast forward to October 28, 1:30pm. Wembley Stadium was absolutely packed with fans from all over the UK and the world. I was sitting down near an end zone, and I was with a bunch of Eagles fans, who had made the trip over for the game from the States. I knew that Philadelphia fans traveled well to other games, but seeing the seas of Kelly Green in the stands was amazing. The entire game had an atmosphere like no other. The mix between Philadelphia fans’ passion and love for the Eagles, and the British fans’ pure passion for sports and the opportunity to see the NFL in London made for an incredible atmosphere. However, Eagles fans knew that this game meant a lot. With a 3-4 record coming into this game, we had to win going into our bye week. We had lost some games that shouldn’t have been lost earlier in the season, and we needed to get back on track to get ready for our divisional opponents and to set ourselves up for the postseason.
The game was pretty tame at first, with a few field goals to start off. Then we struck first. The Eagles were driving down toward my end of the field, and Carson Wentz found our rookie Dallas Goedert for the first touchdown of the game. It was so cool to see that play up so close, and the roar from the Eagles fans after that was absolutely deafening. Down at the other end, Wendell Smallwood had a great run for a touchdown, and again, we went nuts. Back at my end, the infamous dynamic duo of Wentz and Ertz struck yet again, as our two All-Pro’s connected for a touchdown. Whenever Wentz and Ertz connect for a touchdown, the crowd goes insane.
After an incredible game, the Eagles pulled out the win against the Jaguars by a score of 24-18. The absolute euphoria and joy going through the stadium every time we had a great drive, scored a touchdown or made a big stop or a sack on defense was like no other. We were near the Eagles' tunnel and got to see the team run out before the game, and they egged us on and got us pumped up after the game as they went back to the locker room. This was more than just a game, though. This was a mixture of my roots back home and my experience here in London. I was able to feel like I was back home for that day, as I embraced the atmosphere that only Philadelphia fans and teams can create. I was starting to miss my city, and seeing the Eagles play made me feel right back at home. Not many people can say that they made the trip to London to see the Eagles play, and this was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me that I’ll never forget.
To the Birds: Thanks for making me feel right back at home for the day. At a point in my semester abroad where I was starting to miss home, this was exactly what I needed to get me through until I come home. It was nice to not have to go out to a pub at 6pm on a Sunday to be able to watch the game for a weekend. Even though I have to do that for the next month or so, I can’t wait until I get to be back in the stands cheering you on. See you when I get home in December in Maryland for the game against the Redskins.