About the Blog

There are plenty of great stories out there relating to UK players who have graced in the NFL, the American Bowl games from the 1980s, the Channel 4 era when players like William Perry and Joe Montana were household names, right up to the recent International Series games at Wembley.  I want to get all of these stories together and write a potted history of the sport in this country.   If you have any stories or memories from the early days of the NFL in the UK, then please let me know, as all help is greatly appreciated.

Broadly speaking, I have categorized my findings into 5 categories:

The Origins of the Sport – Like most US sports, American Football derives from an English sport  – in this case rugby.  How did the sport evolve from the time that William Webb Ellis supposedly pick up a ball during a game of football?

The Early Days – Before Channel 4 got involved in the early 80’s, the NFL was a mystery to the vast majority of the UK.  However, there were a few connections, aside from the previously mentioned Smith.  I am also trying to track down a story that I’m sure I read in the guardian a while ago, it concerns a kicker from the UK who ended up in the NFL after a franchise decided to run kicking trials over here.  If anybody has a link to that story or more information on what happened then please can you let me know, as I seem to recall it was a great tale.

The London Monarchs and the World League – With all due respect the likes of the London Blitz and co, it seems ludicrous to think that an American Football team from the UK played and Wembley stadium and regularly attracted crowds of other 40,000.  It was a weird time for the sport in the UK, highlighted by the fact that my geography teacher used to put on Monarchs videos when he had time to kill at the end of a lesson!* The 80’s Boom – Everyone of a certain age (older than me I hasten to add) remember Channel 4’s coverage of the NFL, it led to a massive growth of the NFL in the UK and exhibition games being played at Wembley stadium.  Ultimately, Channel 4’s coverage was the catalyst for the League becoming what it has in this country.  They are plenty of interesting facts and anecdotes surrounding the sport and it’s presence in the UK during this period.

*  Finally, after a late nineties dip, we have the “Second Boom” that exists to this day and is underlined by the playing of regular season NFL games at Wembley.  I still get amazed when people complain about aspects of the International Series – Team x are crap, the queues at the Tailgate are too long, tickets are too expensive etc – we shouldn’t ever get complacent about the NFL playing in this country.  It is an incredible privilege that the overwhelming majority of sports fans never experience.  It is also growing year upon year -the Tailgates, the Fan Rallies etc and next year we have 2 games to look forward to.  What’s more, they are also events such as the Super Bash and the Thanksgiving Party that help to raise the profile of the sport here, as well as more and more games being televised.  It’s a fantastic time to be a UK based fan of the NFL, but what does the future hold and how can the sport continue to grow?

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