Football for Academically Challenged British Plonkers: Tailgating & Football Games
What the heck is up everybody!? Welcome the 100th edition of FACBP. Exciting right? To commemorate such an amazing achievement I am doing a giveaway. Please see Iestyn’s Twitter for more details.
Anyway, today we talk about… you guessed it: Tailgating and Football Games. Get excited losers!!!
I had the extreme pleasure of FINALLY seeing a game live and in person thanks to a very dear friend, Brigid (@be_brig). She was so wonderful to offer me a ticket at the start of the season and, obviously, I jumped at the chance. How could I not?
In this edition of FACBP, I talk you through travelling to the States, dos and don’ts of tailgating, and the all-important game. So strap in, get your Light Blue and your chicken wings as I take you through a journey of Buffalo Bills football culture through the eyes of a Brit who has as much culture as a loaf of bread.
When travelling to the States, don’t forget your inhaler.
I received a message from Brigid in July informing me she had an extra ticket to the home opener and it was mine if I wanted it. I spent a few weeks looking up ticket prices, hotel costs, budget etc. And I found that I was broke af. Shit was EXPENSIVE.
But, a once in a lifetime opportunity to see my beloved Buffalo Bills at home, in a season where they’re Super Bowl favourites!? I put it all on a credit card and just said “fuck it” I can be broke for a while. It’ll be worth it.
So, with tickets booked, and Brigid and her mum graciously offering me a place to stay in Buffalo, I. Got. Amped. (Shoutout Mari who’s a gem and AMAZING host.)
So amped in fact that, in true Chaotic Trish fashion, I didn’t actually pack until the day before my flight. Which was a huge mistake as I forget my inhaler.
But, I found a work around and arrived safely in Toronto WITH my inhaler and absolutely no issues. I spent a few days with my family ❤️ and then got on my bus to Buffalo. This is where the fun began.
Rule 1: Be prepared and don’t leave things to the last minute.
Customs at the Niagara border was… intense? Those people clearly hate their jobs because it was like all the joy had been sucked out of the building and replaced with a dozen Rozes.
But, they didn’t have any issues with me and just let me into America? Oh, they had no idea what they just into their country (*insert evil laugh here*).
I have never been to a US city before. I’ve been to Disneyland, but Florida doesn’t count as a real place. So, Buffalo was my first introduction to America and holy cow every single meme of the States that I’ve seen is true.
Mari (seriously shoutout to this superstar she’s truly the best) immediately took me on a historical tour of Buffalo as soon as I got off the bus and it was just *chefs kiss*. And everywhere we went was just… so American. I definitely knew I was in USA because there are literally flags everywhere? Like seriously, E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. The country isn’t THAT great, like my guys. Chill.
People are nice? Like they actually smile at you and wave? Who tf does that??? Psychos. If someone smiles at me in the street in England, I assume I’m about to robbed, killed, kidnapped, or a combination of all three. My instinctual British response is to just avoid eye contact or glare. So sorry, not sorry to anyone I may have encountered and you found my response to be rude.
The houses? Why are they so spread apart!? Each house is on it’s own island like JC Jackson. What’s that about?
I need to preface by saying I went in mid-September. So why, oh why, did I see so many Halloween decorations out? It’s far too early and so over the top? Are 100-foot skeletons really necessary?
MAGA stickers. MAGA stickers everywhere. I see all the stuff online, but I forget that these are real people. It was just jarring to see.
Rule 2: Be prepared for a truly typical Reddit-esque America. Seriously, every stereotype came true.
But Buffalo, I love you.
Really, despite all the American-isms, the place was truly magical. The boat parade? The Theatre District? The Architecture!!! Seriously, as an engineer who did a LOT of architectural work at university, I was in love. The buildings were truly a work of art.
And, of course, the all-important Buffalo Bills. Billboards of the team. Every store front having a Bills flag or merch in the window. The people all wearing Bills clothing.
In the UK, sport is not that celebrated. It’s a quiet love. The only places you’ll see anything like this is in the immediate vicinity of the stadium. Even then, there’s no billboards, no posters or flags. Absolutely nothing. In fact, the only reason you’ll know a game is on, is if there’s traffic in the area.
So obviously, this was a gigantic culture shock and I loved every bit of it. I felt like I was really SEEN when wearing Bills clothes. People didn’t look at me weird for loving an American sport. It was heaven.
Rule 3: Make space in your heart for Buffalo because it will legitimately take up the space of a child or family pet.
BLUE CHEESE IS DISGUSTING!!
Nothing more to add, it’s just disgusting. But I was very happy to meet some of the Buffalo Fanatics team ❤️❤️❤️.
Rule 4: Don’t let anyone tell you blue cheese is nice because they’re lying.
Wow. Just wow. I truly have no words for just how incredible this entire experience was.
There is absolutely nothing comparable to it. They do nothing like that in the UK. It’s basically a giant party before a sports event? I have many questions, mainly why? If I go to see Manchester United here the most “prep” I do is making sure I have the address for the car park. That’s it.
We went shopping the night before. (Side note: All shops in the UK close at 4pm on Sundays due to government rules. It’s wild that we could do a grocery run at 9pm on a Sunday in Buffalo!) Brigid was buying stuff for tailgate including a chicken wing dip.
Guys, dips are things like hummus or salsa or guacamole. Wtf is chicken doing in a dip?? And this is when I realised that dips are very deeply American. You have taco dips? Seven layered shit? You guys know your food. The chicken wing dip was so good that I made it for my family literally the day after I landed in the UK. It did not disappoint.
Also, why do you have separate stores for liquor and beer. Also, why do you have to be 21? That seems wildly stupid.
Anyways, tailgating was seriously the most fun I’ve ever had. 10/10 would recommend. Did you know I’ve never played beer pong before? What a fun game that I should definitely play more. I never got to play cornhole but it’s such a simple game that I’m surprised by how much you all enjoy it. Shotgunning beers? I did it once a few years ago and have learnt to never do it again. What a time. Also, shout out to Brigid’s cousins for letting us tailgate with them and their friends. Also, thanks to Aunt Suzanne for being an absolute blast and doing a shot with me 😂❤️.
I also met Kate, which was truly a fun moment for me because I learnt that she wasn’t a scary cyber stranger tricking me into buying her merch.
Rule 5: THERE ARE NO RULES FOR TAILGATING, JUST HAVE FUN!!
I cannot explain the pure feeling of joy I had walking into the Ralph. Getting inside the gate was one thing, but coming out onto the field was something else entirely. I may or may not have cried. You’ll never know.
It’s just so beautiful. And it was a nice evening, so it truly was a perfect experience. Just a sea of Bills fans, the fireworks, the rush out of the tunnel. Just writing about it gives me chills all over again.
Marv Levy kicking off things with what was truly a magical moment in which the entire stadium yelled:
My favourite part was the shout song and high fives every time the Bills scored. I did not know how loud that place could get. My ears were ringing on the drive home and my throat had started to feel seriously sore. But it was so worth it.
Rule 6: I can’t give you any rules for this. Just go there.
I SAW TYLER BASS!!!
Truly the absolute highlight of my trip. The fans had started emptying the stadium in the fourth quarter because the Bills absolutely demolished the Titans. As such, the seats around the tunnel were empty. So, standing there, just above the field, I saw this absolute beauty:
At this point I really did cry. I hope you’re reading this Bass because I truly love you!! ❤️❤️❤️
Rule 7: Tyler Bass is the NFL’s Swaggiest Kicker and anyone who tells you otherwise is crazy, so you need to drop them from your family/friends.
The Best Holiday
For you International Bills fans, or US fans who haven’t yet had this experience, I would highly recommend it. This piece was supposed to be funny and filled with my usual charm and wit, but I couldn’t do it. The more I wrote, the more love just poured out.
It was legitimately the best holiday I’ve ever had and I don’t think anything could ever top it. If I’m unfortunate enough to never go again, it’ll be okay, because the first time I went was amazing. It’s just one more item checked off of the bucket list.
With that in mind, I once again have to thank Brigid, her mum Mari, and their entire family. Thank you for allowing me to have that experience and for the the amazing goody bag. Thank you Aunt Barb for letting me crash your birthday party. I truly had a good time with your loud and funny family. It felt like home ❤️.
And finally, thank you Buffalo.
Featured Image: Trish Patel