Sunday, January 22, 2012

Unforgettable Moments

As a sports fan I have experienced a number of unforgettable moments, moments that I can remember as if they were yesterday. I remember where I was, who I was with and the feelings I had at that time. This is what being a sports fan is all about!

My first unforgettable moment came in May 1995 when I was just 9 years old. Watching Blackburn vs Liverpool on our families 15" TV. I had chose to sit in the chair that was right in front of the TV and for most of the game my face must have been no further than 4 feet away from the screen. I remember being so nervous, yes I was nine and I was nervous I guess sports has this effect on all ages. It only got worse as that free kick went in to give Liverpool a 2-1 lead but all that was lifted watching the Rovers fans in the stand listening on the radio to the full time whistle at Upton Park. West Ham had held on to give Blackburn top spot in the league. This brought pure and unforgettable joy to a 9 year old. I was jumping and leaping around the room so loud that it scared my Mum. She rushed in asking whats wrong? 'Whats wrong! Nothings wrong they just won the league' I answered. My oldest and probably fondest sporting fan moment.

Not all unforgettable moments can be as joyful as my first and my next one was definitely not. It came 4 years later in 1999. I again took up my position in the same chair (I now thought of it as the lucky chair and had sat in it for pretty much every game I watched). I remember thinking I would need the luck on this day. Blackburn needing to win against United to survive another day in the Premier League. But the lucky chair couldn't do anything to help as Blackburn could only manage a 0-0 draw which meant relegation. I remember sinking deeper and deeper into 'the chair'. It was enough to bring tears to my eyes and again my Mum was there this time to offer words of consolation. 'They will be back next year don't worry'.

She wasn't exactly right but pretty close. It was in 2001 when a single Matt Jansen (one of my boyhood heroes) goal gave Blackburn a 1-0 win over PNE and promotion back to the best league in the world. This unforgettable moment was the first that didn't involve 'the chair'. I was staying with my Dad at the hotel he managed and the only place the game was on TV was in the staff's social lounge. I remember my Dad's work colleagues trying to talk to me and I was just nodding them off. I just wanted to be left alone to watch the game. I was rewarded for my teams promotion with a half pint from my Dad even though I was only 15!

I didn't have to wait long for the next moment as it came a year later in 2002 when Blackburn made it to the league cup final. My Dad and I headed to our hotel in Cardiff (Wembley was still being rebuilt) the night before the final and as we entered the lobby we were greeted with a sign saying 'Welcome Blackburn Rovers FC'. It took a few seconds to sink in but then I realised we were staying at the same hotel as the team. My Dad looked at me with a smile knowing he had done well! I got to meet many of the players throughout the night and morning of the final and sent them off on the team coach. I will never forget bumping in to players in the hallways of the hotel. It got better the following day as I celebrated Andy Cole's winning goal in the final and celebrated in the stands with my Dad. What a weekend one I will never forget, Thanks Dad!

As a kid I was all about football (soccer) and that was the only sport for me. However as I got older I started to spread my sporting wings and with working summers in New York (my place of birth) I started to add new sports teams to my heart and soul. One of them was the NY Giants and they bought me my most recent unforgettable moment.

In 2008 I was studying at Cardiff University and living with 5, non American football fan, roommates. But this didn't stop me staying up very late into the night to watch the Giants win the Super bowl against the undeafted Patriots. I was able to convince a few of my roommates to stick around to watch the first half. Although I think they were just there for the game snacks because once they were all gone they all headed off to there rooms. They all said there was no point watching, they were not followers of the sport and as like many others looked at the facts and well the Patriots were undefeated. But as a fan you always believe in your team even against all odds. I remember that final drive like it was yesterday. Manning escaping the tackles the catch by Tyree. I was very happy to gloat the next day to my roommates that they were not only wrong to doubt my team but also that they missed an unforgettable second half and unforgettable moment in my life.

I am just your average sports fan and have many unforgettable moments that I cherish and catch myself thinking about from time to time just like I am sure we all do. I hope we all have many more to come hopefully the ones full of joy and not the ones of sorrow.

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