Awhile ago I wrote a thread about coming to the Chargers game and wanting advice on a tailgate. I got some excellent tips and the like and at some point someone mentioned that I should write up a fanpost of my experience. So with a bit of time up my sleeve, here it is:
I had 2 extra tickets to the game so advertising around the hostel roped in a couple of loose kiwi blokes who were keen as well and mainly sold on it by the tailgating. We picked up our beers fairly early and drew comments when we caught the train out. Unfazed we made our way to the parking lot after the annoyance of changing trains to a shuttle bus and back again. I had in my mind where the Hogs Haven tailgate was and we made our way to where I thought it was. I didn't have any real idea what to look for so I kind of sidled up to someone who looked like the ring leader and asked if we could hang out. Out of the pure kindness of his heart and with no judgement creeping into his expression or words he welcomed us to his tailgate and we joined in the fun.
After a couple of awkward minutes, we were all bonded over a kiwi opening beers with his crotch bottle opener and we smoothly transitioned into the tailgate and were chatting with everyone, having a great time. Me and the other Aussie completely hogged the beer pong table as we went into triple overtime with some absolute cheese jockeys with insane luck on the other end. We were given free beer, a free shot, sausages and more shots and cider and people were genuinely interested in our story. I can safely say that I was super impressed and happy and completely hammered by game time. It was awesome.
The game also, apparently, was awesome. But I was hammered and in the partially obstructed viewing seats watching Pirates of the Caribbean. It's also a damn wind tunnel in the so I was freezing my bits off. My memory of most of the game is fairly hazy. At half time I went to a merch store and got a jersey and met a cool chick, who by my count was totally into me. I sat with her for the rest of the game as I figured I'd better try my luck while I'm here...what could be hotter than a hot chick in a redskins jersey? Turns out she was an avid Christian and her connection to Australia was the Hillsong Church and instead of giving me her number she prayed for me. Not the desired outcome but I bounced back quickly. By this stage I was cold, even more hammered and surrounded by mostly chargers fans so I was just cheering everything. Despite not giving me her number, she had the decency to corral my cheers so I was mostly only cheering for the Skins.
We won in overtime, that was awesome. I do not know much else about that.
After leaving the game, we came across a post-game tailgate run by some chargers fans, who invited us to hang out, play beer pong, which we did, and were undefeated (for those keeping score, we lost to skins tailgaters and beat all chargers fans, therefore skins fans are better than chargers fans...faultless science, the experiment even had a control), they gave us more beer and were generally also awesome.
You will note that most of this diatribe has been directed towards the experiences before, after, in and around the game and not so much of the stadium or game itself. I count myself lucky to have seen the game I did, as picking a win to go to this season is low percentage, but the stadium was not fun, the seats were not fun and the game was very difficult to see and the obstructed viewing sapped the atmosphere from the game really quickly. Felt like I was watching the game from a chilly warehouse. However I still had the most amazing time.
It occurs to me as I watch the Redskins season yet again spiral into a mess of losses and petty dramas, injuries and terrible play lacking any sort of cohesion or play to play (let alone week to week) consistency that the things that make the Redskins so incredibly awesome are things that the current oragnisation has absolutely no direct control over.
1) The history: I didn't begin following the NFL in earnest until the 2009 season, so basically every good thing occurred well before my time. However as a diligent Hogs Haven reader and sports junkie I have now seen and read everything that makes this team so special, I am very upset that it is all growing more distant in my rear view mirror however.
2) The fans: You guys were amazing. We also met some fans in a pub in New Orleans for the Thursday night game against the Vikings. We hung out with these guys heaps after that and they were amazingly nice and generous and really helped us poor traveling bums out. The tailgating experience will stay with me forever, I wish so much we had a similar thing in Australia but appreciate and also love that it's your guys thing. We went to tailgate at the Sunday night Saints V Cowboys game but the vibe was way different and just didn't measure up. Even taking my bias out, the Skins tailgate was way more awesomer.
I see this team stink it up week after week and wonder what on earth drew me to go for them in the first place, and why I still get excited every week, stay hopeful and want success for the team so badly when week after week, stupid shit keeps happening. The reason I keep coming back is because of the things, no matter how terrible the team looks on gameday and in the press, will never change, you guys and the storied history of this great club.
So Thank You, you helped me have a great time and confirmed to me why I will be a Skin until the day I die.
Now lets go get a fucking win!!