Personal memories - Andrew Battye
My personal love affair with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started with a family holiday to the Bay
Area for New Year 1984-85.
Until this point, I had never seen a football game - in fact, my only
exposure to the game had been a single PE lesson at junior school when a classmate brought back a
strangely shaped ball from his trip to Buffalo and our teacher had our class of 7-year olds
practicing three-point stances and blocking assignments. It definitely made a change to our
usual game of British Bulldog.
We were taken by the friendliness of the people we met in Clearwater, including those who invited our
family of five to their New Years Eve party. On our return to the UK, my father and I pledged
our allegiance to the Buccaneers. Of course, the 1984 season was over by then, and John
MacKay was replaced as coach by Leeman Bennett for the start of the 1985 season - not the best
time to start being a Bucs fan.
Since then I have followed the Bucs as thoroughly as possible for someone with an aversion both to
flying and to spending money. In the old days, getting the updates from the games meant wiggling an
aerial in order to get reception from Armed Forces Radio, or ringing those 0898 phone lines (try explaining
that to your mother).
Back then, who would have believed that one day we could be watching live TV
direct from Florida via our home computers? In terms of Buccaneers coverage, both from official
sources and from enthusiastic amateurs (mentioning no names - Bucpower), we've never had it so good.
When it was announced that the Buccaneers would be coming over to play in the UK, my first thought was
obviously "I've got to go", quickly followed by "How will I afford it?". For various reasons, money
was in very short supply at that time and the monthly income was lower than the monthly outgoings! Finding the
cost of tickets and an overnight stay for my wife and I was looking unlikely.
It was time to raid the
bookshelves - a few years ago I had splashed out on a book of magic tricks by master illusionist Derren Brown. The
book was out-of-print, and in high demand. I had no option but to list my copy on Amazon and hope for the best.
Within days, it had sold and I was £200 better off - enough money to go to the game!
I've had many trips to Wembley in the past - for the old American Bowl games and for London Monarchs games -
and have always come away somewhat underwhelmed. The old stadium simply was not up to scratch. Most seats
were way too far from the field, with no legroom and the most uncomfortable seats.
At the American Bowl between
the Browns and Eagles, our seats were actually below the level of field and everyone had to stand in order
to see even the slightest bit of action. The highlight of that game for us was when someone tripped down the
gangway on their way back from the bar - six pints of overpriced lager went all over the first three rows
of the crowd.
The new Wembley, however, is simply fantastic. There is not a bad seat in the house, and even
from the cheaper seats, the view of the action was amazing. Being sat with club members made it even better, as
banter and chit-chat was great.
I realise, with some sadness, that the Bucs will probably never come to the UK again, but some events are only
meant to be experienced once. I definitely glad that I went, and am only sorry that my Dad was no longer around
to experience it with me.