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UK Fans Relish Chance to Welcome Back the Bolts
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The news was music to their ears.
The Los Angeles Chargers have a number of fervent fans across the pond, and for the first time in a decade, they are returning to London.
The Bolts will host the Tennessee Titans at Wembley Stadium in either Week 7 or 8, which is the must-see event of the year for Andrew Cunneen, Josh Cheyene, Gary Fletcher and countless other Charger fans in the UK.
“The Chargers coming to the UK is incredible, not just for the United Kingdom, but for European fans in general because London is so accessible,” said the 25-year old Cunneen who hails from Limerick, Ireland. “Despite being here ten years ago, the NFL has taken a further meteoric rise in popularity since. That's a whole new generation of people who've grown up to watch the sport and idolize players that they've probably never seen live.”
“We're ecstatic about the Chargers coming over to the UK for the second time!” added the 25-year old Cheyene, a Manchester native who goes by the twitter handle @UKChargers fans. “The Chargers have a fast-growing fan base over here. NFL fans in the UK (new and old) tend to be very loyal, regardless of having little or no connection to a team to begin with. Many of us were lucky enough to watch Rivers, LT and company at the Chargers’ previous international series vs. the Saints in 2008 at Wembley - hopefully we come away with the W this time against the Titans!”
Fletcher also vividly remembers the first time the Chargers came to London, allowing him to finally see the team he grew up rooting for.
“My dad (Geoff) has always followed the Chargers, and me and my brothers followed suit,” he said from his home in Ellesmere Port. “During the season, it’s difficult to watch all games as I’m in the Royal Navy, but I like to use NFL Game Pass, Chargers’ (Website), NFL UK and NFL RedZone if I’m onboard ship. I was at Wembley in 2008 with my dad and older brother (Craig) for the game against the Saints. Unfortunately, my dad suffered a heart attack outside the stadium and never got to see the game, but he ordered me and my brother to watch it as we had never seen them play live before.”
Now he’s crossing his fingers he’ll be able to catch them once again.
“As for the Bolts returning to the UK, it’s amazing. My whole family is buzzing and hope we get tickets, especially my wife Steph, who has massively gotten into the NFL and the Chargers. It will be a great way to show Europe just what the Chargers can do, and hopefully increase their fan base. Regardless, it’s a great way to show off the sheer talent the Bolts possess, and I’m very excited to see them again.”
Meanwhile, Cunneen became a fan long before the Chargers played in London the first time, explaining how he became a fervent fan of the Bolts.
“I started watching some very small-scale highlights shows in 2001. I'm only 25 now, but I've been watching the Chargers' highlights way past my bedtime since I was eight years of age. Since then, I've grown up and the coverage in Ireland has gotten bigger and better. I'm able to watch every snap and analyze coaches' film on Game Pass, so I'm fully immersed in the day-to-day emotional rollercoaster that is being a Chargers fan.”
While numerous teams play overseas each season to great fanfare, Cunneen believes the Bolts will be a bigger hit than most.
“The Chargers in particular are a treat for European audiences because of how much Philip Rivers does at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “While some quarterbacks tend to run whatever play is given to them, Philip obviously has the authority to change plays, alter routes, adjust blocking and identify coverages. The Chargers have so many moving parts, and it will only better people's understanding of the nuances of the game, in-play. It's not often you get to see a top-ten running back, shoo-in HOF quarterback, stud youngster of a tight end; as well as a Pro Bowl defensive end tandem and a secondary ranking among the best in the league - all on ONE team. If European audiences don't know anything about the Chargers, it won't take them long to realize just how exciting they are to support.”
The passion and excitement pouring out of those fans overseas is exactly why Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley can’t wait to take the field at Wembley. As head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bradley played in London on an annual basis, so there is no one more in-tune to what it’s like to play over there.
“I think it’s an unbelievable experience,” he said. “You go on over, across seas, and you’re playing in a great environment. I have had great experiences being a part of it. I think now players are seeing that. The more and more teams that are going over there, and are coming back having great experiences, word has gone through the league that this is a great opportunity. Once I heard that we were going over there, I was excited. Just because of the experiences I have had personally over there. Just to see how welcoming they are. And you can see over the course of time how their knowledge of the game has increased. It’s awesome. It’ll be an awesome experience for our guys.”