When addressing Redskins Nation, I usually consider those primarily in the DMV. I assume that you know where Redskins Park is. I assume that you’ve seen a Redskins player in the grocery store at some point. I assume that you’re American born and raised.
But I guess it’s time to stop assuming.
Through the vast powers of the Interwebs, I met a commenter on the blog who called himself simply “Ian (UK).”
As I found out, Ian Richardson (pictured above on the right) is a 43-year-old fan from England, born and raised. By his estimation, he’s been a loyal fan of the Redskins since he caught them on the Armed Forces Radio Network late one Sunday night in 1981-82.
“The reception was terrible but I could just make out the commentary,” he said. “The only football shown then was two minutes of Superbowl highlights a week after the event.”
A 14-year-old Richardson got his first taste of football on television in 1983 when he stayed up to watch the Super Bowl in black and white. “The TV was hidden in wardrobe, as I was 14 and it was 3 in the morning, and rooted for the ‘Skins.”
Over the last three decades, the coverage of the NFL in England has steadily improved, and Richardson has been an avid consumer. “Terrestrial station Channel 4 started showing game highlights every Sunday afternoon a week after the games had been played. A few years later, Channel 4 started showing one live game a week.”
He continued: “As cable TV in the UK grew and grew, Channel 4 and then Sky Sports and ESPN means we have more and more football and baseball every night of the week. ESPN Sportcenter is regular viewing.”
Now, the best part about Ian’s story, is that he and his younger brother (40) have taken the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry international. At about the same time that he fell in love with the Redskins, his brother became an avid Dallas fan
“We can’t all be perfect,” he said with a smile. “We used to watch together but now we are grown up and living a few miles apart, we resort to abusive phone calls, texts and emails every Sunday night when the scores are flashing up on TV.”
Well Ian, you and I have that in common.
The two have even made the effort to fly across the pong and catch a couple games in recent years.
“I came over to Washington in 2006 just for the weekend versus the Cowboys with my Cowboy-supporting brother,” he said. “I spent Saturday touring Washington, Capitol Hill, Arlington, etc., watched the opening night of the NBA and spent Sunday at the game.”
Luckily for Ian, he picked an instant classic to attend. As he recalls: “Great ending, blocked field goal and Sean Taylor’s recovery with the Redskins winning field goal after time had expired on a defensive penalty.”
Richardson said that while the NFL is great when it plays games at Wembley Stadium in England, nothing compares to the American atmosphere. “The UK crowd are all true NFL supporters, and cover every club, so it’s very much a social event. But watching the game in the US gives you that US flavor.”
He made sure to add: “I would grab every opportunity to see the ‘Skins I can. I would never knock the NFL games at Wembley–just wish the weather could be better.”
In 2007, the two made the trip to Dallas and the game didn’t go quite as well for Redskins fans. As the American-sports junkies that they are, though, he and his brother caught some college football action as well.
“We did the Dealey Plaza tour and watched the SMU Mustangs play the UCF Knights so a good weekend was had,” he said. “Probably shouldn’t have walked through the Cowboys tailgate area though–they didn’t like the Art Monk jersey!”
In addition to his jersey, he’s also collected a signed Charley Taylor mini helmet, a full size Theismann helmet (courtesy of his brother) and the Encyclopedic History of the Redskins to 2006. “These all sit proudly on a book case next to my Wilson football, baseball glove and ball, Rays cap and Evan Longoria replica shirt and English Premier League Soccer team Sunderland memorabilia.”
Wow. What a terrifically random collection of sports memorabilia.
Richardson’s favorite Redskin is shared by many: the great Darrell Green. “By far,” he said. “I was amazed at his speed when he was in his prime and watching him run down Tony Dorsett is my favorite Redskins moment.”
Richardson reported that the NFL is definitely growing in popularity in England, and that the increased coverage allows him more access to his Redskins. He said that he’s able to catch two or three games a week, and two or three live games every season.
As with any fan in the United States, his ability to catch the games is subject to what his wife wants too.
“Historically it depended on whether the wife wanted to watch anything,” he said, “But now I have cable in two rooms.”
Great move, sir. I’m always report great fan stories like this, and I hope the influence of the Burgundy and Gold continues to spread.
Tags: Armed Forces Radio Network, Redskins Nation, UK, washington redskins
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