Andrew Cunneen already has his flight booked for December to travel 4,300 miles from the UK to watch his favorite team in action.
On Sunday, the die-hard fan only has to travel a couple miles to watch his cherished Chargers up close.
He won’t be alone.
When the Chargers head across the pond this weekend to face the Tennessee Titans, they’ll find a sizeable number of enthused fans welcoming them to London for the first time in a decade.
“All over the UK, Chargers fans are hyped that their beloved team is playing in London,” said Rob Spragg, who runs the British Bolts social account. “The buzz is massive on social media and I know lots of Chargers fans can't wait to meet up and enjoy the whole experience. Parties and tailgates have been arranged for the whole weekend.”
Philip Rivers noted how the Bolts were one of the first teams to play across the pond. Watching from afar the last 10 years, he noted how enthusiasm for the sport has only grown the more they’ve been exposed to it.
“The whole NFL in London was still brand new (when we were last here), so I think they were a little even more new to the game itself,” he said. “I imagine now after 23 games, it’s a little more calm, and obviously with the games before over there every year, but I just remember the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ every time the ball went in the air. It’ll be a heck of a crowd. A great NFL base over there.”
Being one of the first teams to play oversees combined with the team’s high-octane offensive fireworks has led to large contingent of Chargers fans throughout Europe.
“The NFL began its growth on the continent over the last fifteen years, which coincidentally overlapped with Philip Rivers' career,” Cunneen explained. “It's not coincidental that Europe was attracted to this team. When you consider the array of complete ballers that Rivers has had in his arsenals over the years, it's hard not to fall for the Bolts. The trajectory of Antonio Gates' TD records became a talking point over here and to see it happen was special, but seeing it live will be even better. It's hard not to love Rivers' passion and bite - something European sport is synonymous with.”
“I'm expecting a very large (turnout),” Spragg added, referring to Chargers fans at Wembley Stadium. “Hopefully an exciting performance will mean that we can gather even more fans. I'm excited to see the whole team of course but I would have to say Phil Rivers will be a huge draw for me. To see the guy who has led the Chargers so well for so many seasons right there in front of you will be wonderful. I'll be looking out for the GOAT, #85, too, and we hear that LT will be in town. Melvin Gordon has always been a guy that reaches out to UK Chargers fans and what a season he is having again! I think you will see on Sunday just how much support for the Bolts is growing in the UK.”
A true appreciation for the game continues to grow overseas as well.
For instance, while most fans have their eyes glued to the skill positions, Cunneen is most excited to see a certain Charger who makes his living doing the dirty work in the trenches.
“This may be exceptionally left-field, but I'm excited to see Mike Pouncey,” he said. “Nick Hardwick has long-been one of my favorite Chargers and the run to replace him has been one storyline that piqued my interest immediately. Tom Telesco, who for me, is the heartbeat of the organization, really made a splash in the right places while so many offensive line acquisitions around the league fell flat. I always laugh when Phil identifies the mike pre-snap, because I can imagine Pouncey's eyes lighting up when he gets to the second level. Hopefully he goes on one of his trademark stampedes and finds Melvin (Gordon) a lane for a big gain.”
Should that happen, Cunneen will be among many Chargers fans who relish being able to witness it live instead of halfway around the world on their television.
Sights From London
Check out the views from London as the Bolts get ready to face the Titans at Wembley Stadium for Week 7.