A View from State Side
Piece by Gary, a 49ers fan in need of a win
I have just returned from an amazing 9 Days over in San Francisco after what can only be described as an epic trip.
One of the main factors in the location was my well-known love of American Football, and having been a massive 49ers fan since playing Madden games on my SEGA Mega Drive in the early 90’s, it was a dream to get out to a game.
Having seen the crowds at the Levi’s Stadium in Week 1 I was a little nervous that we would be watching the game in a half empty stadium. This was made even clearer on the day of the game as local news was reporting tickets for as low as $15. Now we know that a lot of fans boycotted the team on the back of Kap’s protests last year and the fact that the team have been awful. The tickets very started quickly selling based on the publicity and the fact it was a beautiful day weather wise.
Travelling to the ground we decided to go via the train and decided that this may be a factor in the dwindling crowds. It took over 2 hours each way to get from central SF out the Levi’s Stadium. The cost was only around $16 return but still if you add that on to a 4-hour game and you are talking nearly 9 hours.
We arrived at the game around an hour before the stadium opened to check out the tail gate to compare it with what London puts together. In all honestly it was reasonably quiet, mainly we were told as it was a Thursday game, Sundays are when people get on it all day. There were though still plenty of people with BBQs on the back of some epic pick- up trucks and the numbers grew in the hours up until kick off. My personal favourite was in a big tailgate group where some 60-year-old dude was busting out some wicked beats in a 49ers gazebo.
The stadium itself had some bits to do pre-game and the queues weren’t too bad so we had a go at most of them with some free bits to take home to remember the day which was a nice touch. The 49ers give away something free at every home game when you get to your seat as a little memento.
The atmosphere just grew throughout the game as it was a night game and with kick-off being at 5pm there were people arriving after work. They started off with a big show for the national anthem, American Idol singer, massive fluttering field size flag and fighter jets fly over at the end of the song. This was, remember, the day before Trump decided to throw a few grenades into the mix.
The difference being in a stadium of fans mainly local and clearly passionate was so different to London. I have seen the 49ers play in London when the faced the Broncos a few years back. I remember a cold evening in a quiet stadium. This was nothing like it. The concourse was massive with loads of food and drinks spots (it has been said it’s too good and keeping fans away from the game) and people selling hotdogs, ice cream etc in the stands.
The game as I’m sure you will all know by now was an absolute thriller and I know D’Mike has already done a write up and the crowd was electric. There was lots of whistling, booing and High-Fiving and as the lights came on and the sun went down you could feel the anticipation as the game developed.
So how did I feel as a 49ers Fan?
Well to be honest I loved the whole game day experience and it has re-enforced my opinion that this game is one the most complex yet brutal sports you can play. I think the franchise needs to do more to entice the fans out to stadium and that the offer on the pitch of excitement if not success is key.
I felt like the team was better than I thought it may be but there were still some obvious and gaping holes. Brian Hoyer had some big plays in the second half but still gave away a TD with the first play of the game meaning the team were always playing catch up. The defence against the throw looked very vulnerable and late on this opened the running game for Gurley, who had a stormer.
Two standouts for optimism were Buckner and Hyde who both looked every inch seasoned and professional footballers who play for most teams in the NFL. I believe that this team will win in the next two games and needs to if it is going to build on the positives that were displayed in this performance.
It was intriguing to be out in the States when the Trump statement was made. The coverage of the story was huge and on almost every time I turned on ESPN. The view was consistent and that Trump clearly misunderstood what the flag meant and what the actions of these players were representing.
I wore different NFL tops in different locations whilst away but the Kap story was something that everyone wanted to bring up. People couldn’t believe he was no longer in the NFL and no team was willing to employ his services. It is clearly still massive news and does put into perspective how brave it was take the first stand.
The last thing was the lack of excitement around the London games, nobody talked about it. If I’m honest I was a bit gutted to find, having gotten up at 6.30am local time to watch the game in the hotel gym, it wasn’t even being shown live. There may be a desire with some of the lesser supported franchises to push this money-making stream but most of America did not seem bothered at all.
So, in a Nut Shell
IT WAS AMAZING!!
Every fan should do it if they get the chance to visit a game it’s a completely different experience.
I spent a fair whack of money buying all sorts of crazy merchandise that I can’t back home.
At the end of the day how else would you rather spend your wedding anniversary?
Cheers for reading,