The teams are already in town for this Sunday’s sell-out NFL clash at Wembley between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Francisco 49ers, and tomorrow (26 October) you can join their stars from past and present in Trafalgar Square between noon and 4pm for the increasingly traditional London Fan Rally.
More than 40,000 people have attended this event in the past and the blend of entertainment, refreshments and hard to find merchandise promises to make it as popular again this year. Another big draw for many will be the chance to set eyes on 49ers quarterbacking legend Joe Montana. “Joe Cool” is a legend amongst UK fans in general, many of whom grew up watching him lead his team to four Superbowl wins via a catalogue of late comebacks, not to mention being the man who launched the ball for a play so epoch-defining that it’s simply known as “The Catch“.
The NFL also announced today the full line up of six teams for next year’s three matches at Wembley. The Jaguars will be back to host a second opponent with a massive international fan base, the Dallas Cowboys, while the second game will feature two sides new to this country when the Atlanta Falcons host the Detroit Lions. Finally, the Oakland Raiders, who have a couple of Brits in their squad, will welcome the Miami Dolphins back to our shores for the first time since they were the designated home team in the game that started off this series six years ago.
So far this season, the Cowboys and the Lions are the two teams with the best records, though at four wins and three losses each neither is setting the league alight just yet. The visits of the hugely well-supported Cowboys and Dolphins will certainly please fans over here and help in promoting “away” games against opponents with smaller fan bases. Sporting fortunes can change quickly and any one of these teams might be riding high this time next year, but at this distance it’s the Falcons versus the Lions that looks to be the toughest sell of the three fixtures and it will be interesting to see if the demand for tickets for that game in particular matches the enormous demand we’ve seen for all the Wembley games so far.