GUEST BLOG POST
For a Christmas bonus, we gave our office manager, Anne, two tickets to take her daughter to Miami to watch her beloved New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins. Here is an account of her experience. Although Anne recently became a US citizen, it is enjoyable to note her UK background as she refers to the football game as a “match” and speaks of the differences between how fans in both countries enjoy their sports–LanceAround
Football fans in Florida are blessed in that we have three teams in the NFL–Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
I am a New England Patriots fan so whenever they come to Florida I try to get to go to the game. This weekend my bosses gave me an early Christmas gift–Two tickets to the Miami vs. New England football game.
Dolphin Stadium is approximately 200 miles from Orlando. We started out around 8am and it is a straight drive on the Florida Turnpike. As we got close to the stadium, we noticed more local Dolphin fans. I think our car was outnumbered 50 to 1!
Parking was a breeze and after walking past all the tailgaters having their parties, we went into the stadium and found our seats. We were in the “nosebleed section” (the football term for the seats in the highest part of the stadium.) My daughter, who attended the game with me, even joked that she was getting vertigo.
Dolphin Stadium did not appear to have the same variety of food vendors that I have experienced at other stadiums, but there was enough choice to suit most football fans. The view, even from our high seats, was very good and you could easily see the entire field.
After the national anthem, prayer and four military helicopters flyover, the game was on. It was a good match going back and forth, score for score. The Miami fans are very loud (to be expected from the home crowd.) Luckily there were enough New England fans around us so we could make some noise of our own. There are some friendly exchanges between rival fans and, occasionally, a not so friendly exchange.
Football here is very family oriented–All ages and members of the family join in the fun. This is not something that you would see in the United Kingdom. I know my mother was horrified when I first told her I go to the local Alehouse to watch the games wearing my Patriots team jersey. She really did think that I would be beaten up.
The Dolphin vs. Patriots game had four quarters, each 15 minutes long, and it was in the fourth quarter that we finally took the lead and kept it. Matt Cassel of the Patriots threw for over 415 yards and hooked up with Randy Moss for three touchdowns. Final score: New England 48 Miami 28. Yipee!
Ed Note: While Anne enjoys her professional football, the following post I wrote speaks of other great football in Florida. LanceAround
In addition to the NFL, Florida also boasts some of the best college football in the nation.
In January, the Florida Gators from Gainesville, FL will attempt to win their third national championship. The Miami Hurricanes from Miami, FL have won five national titles while the Florida State Seminoles from Tallahassee, FL have won two. Even the University of Central Florida Golden Knights (What is a “golden” knight anyway?) from Orlando, FL and the University of South Florida Bulls from Tampa, FL have achieved national attention in college football–And the Bulls did not even have a football team until 1997.
Last Saturday, the college football ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) Championship Game was held in Tampa. I took Mrs. LanceAround and Number One teenage daughter to Raymond James Stadium–Only an hour away from Disney and home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and college football’s USF Bulls–To watch the ACC championship game. Even though both Florida State and Miami are in the ACC, the organizers of the ACC and the management of Raymond James Stadium were disappointed to discover that the contest would feature two teams from outside Florida: The Virginia Tech Hokies (Speaking of weird nicknames, do you even know what a Hokie is? I do!) and the Boston College Eagles. The Hokies, from Blacksburg, VA are a 12 hour drive from Tampa and the Eagles, from Boston, MA are a 22 hour drive. Attendance at the game was going to be low!
We did not have tickets to the game, so we had to beg outside the stadium. We wound up with three $125 tickets in the club section exactly on the 50 yard line in the lower portion of the stadium. We paid a total of $50 for all three tickets! (Drop me a comment and I’ll tell you how I do that.)
What a game! The 17th ranked Eagles fell victim to the relentless, yet unranked, Hokies. The game was sealed in the fourth quarter when Jason Worilds of the Hokies knocked the ball out of the hands of Eagle quarterback Dominique Davis and a lucky bounce into the hands of Hokie Orion Martin resulted in a 17 yard touchdown runback for Virginia Tech.
After that touchdown, Mrs. LanceAround, Number One and I walked down to the front row of the stadium, just behind the Hokies’ sideline to join the team in celebrating their victory. We watched as Jason Worilds painfully took off his shoulder pads, revealing his heavily taped and injured shoulder. We cheered with the team as various fans threw oranges onto the field in recognition that the Hokies had won the right to play in the BCS Orange Bowl on January 1st.
Jason Worilds even picked up the battered, rusty lunchpail with the word “win” inscribed on the side (a symbol of the Hokies’ hard, “working class” approach to their playing) and came over to shake the hand of Number One daughter and thank her for coming to watch the game.