My affinity with 'gridiron' started back in the eighties. Channel 4 was new and one of it's early success was American Football. My team back then and still is are the Raiders. Back then they were the Los Angeles Raiders and in the eighties they were, somewhat like Leeds United in the sixties and seventies, hated by most of the other teams and their fans in the United States.
Move forward thirty years and even though my eyes are heavy through sleep deprivation, I still enjoyed the 'big event' that started in the later hours of Sunday English time and lasted well into Monday morning; four o'clock to be correct.
Although my team was not playing, the game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers was a spectacle with Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars in the half time break, imagine that in LS11 on a cold February morning!
The Americans know how to put on a show and over seventy five thousand packed the brand new Lev's Stadium in San Francisco for the game. The majority seemed to be wearing orange, the colours of the AFC Champions Denver Broncos but scattered amongst them were fans of their feline opponents and NFC Champions, represented in black and blue.
Both teams had quarterbacks in differing times of their careers, 'The 'Sheriff' Payton Manning is at the end of his career. He's thirty nine and has previously won one Super bowl ring at his previous club Indianapolis Colts. The other is Cam Newton, twenty six, young, brash and some say cocky who joined the Panthers in 2011. Both are exceptional players in their position.
The game was dominated by defenders and although the favourites, the Panthers tried valiantly they could not pass the Broncos star men of Ware and Von Miller, who were so impressive in previously getting their team to the final. The final score was Broncos 24 Panthers 10.
I've seen five games at Wembley in the last few years and enjoy the company of the fans, we: 'the Flowerpot men' as we are known have made many friends in watching this sport. Yes it's different but special as where in the world could you put thirty two teams' fans in a beer garden in Wembley and not see an argument or signs of any kind of trouble and very little, if any police presence. It's so different and I really enjoy it.
Leeds will always be my first team, but this sport, although not everybody's 'cup of tea' could learn the football authorities a few things about how to treat it's fans and organise the events we see.
They call it 'The Greatest show on turf' and you can see why.
By Keith Ingham
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