When most Bengals fans in Cincinnati found out about the team playing a home game in London in 2016, the reactions weren't positive. "We're going to lose a home game," was the general thought that upset fans most.
But while fans in the Cincinnati area may not be happy, there are many fans in London who have been waiting for this moment for years.
"I am over the moon that the Bengals get to play at Wembley. I am 24-years-old with a young family so a London game is the only possible way I could watch a game live, I simply couldn't afford a trip to Cincy," Tony Bunney from Hartlepool, England said. "I understand Cincinnatians will be angry about losing a home game and rightly so, but we will do you guys proud!"
Bengals are headed to London
Bengals to host the Redskins in London in '16
The NFL has announced the 2016 International Series and the Bengals are slated to make their London debut.
Bengals are headed to London
While this will be the first time many Bengals fans from the UK see the team in person, some Londoners have made their way to the Queen City before for a game. "I have been to watch the Bengals play nine times in Cincinnati between 1999-2005," said Alec Mulinder, the original president of the UK Bengals fan club. "I have watched them in their last year at the Riverfront. I've made many friends from local Bengals fans and still stay in touch. I watched the Bengals through some of the toughest years."
Mulinder expressed he feels sorry for local Bengals fans to lose a "precious home game" but, that this is a dream come true for the loyal group of Bengals fans in the UK.
"I am stupidly excited to see the guys play here in England," said Matthew Catterall of the UK. "The whole UK Bengals fandom is going mental and plans are in place to show Cincinnatians who are making the trip across the pond that we are just as passionate about the team as you all are."
While the distance from Cincinnati to London is 3,953 miles, you'd hardly know it by how many passionate Bengals fans there are in the United Kingdom who are ecstatic about the game. And, the fan base stretches across Europe, too. Eirik Talhaug, a Bengals fan in Norway has been a fan since 1988 and saw the Bengals in Indianapolis in 1997 and in New York against the Jets in 2008. He says he loves that the Bengals are coming to London and is looking forward to meeting up with Bengals fans and making a trip out of the experience.
One of the biggest ways that Bengals fans in Europe differ from Bengals fans in the U.S. is their vocabulary. Dan Wait, a Bengals fan from the UK expressed his excitement about the team coming to London, saying, "I, for one, am absolutely cock-a-hoop about this."
"Cock a hoop" may be how we should start expressing all good things that happen to the Bengals, right?
"I had intended to come over to Cincy sometime next year, and still may, finances permitting, however I'll be taking my stepson to this one," Wait said. "I don't know what to say, I'm mega excited - it's fabulous! I've followed the Bengals since the 1987 season when I was 15. The Bengals were pretty bad that year, but then of course went to the Super Bowl a year later, and I've been a fan ever since."
For some Bengals fans, the idea of the team coming to London was more a dream than something they really thought would ever happen, but that didn't stop them from being fans.
"I never thought I would see the day the Bengals would play in London, mainly due to Mike Brown, now the dream has become a reality, I'm speechless," Bishu, a fan in London said, "I will be attending, fully suited up. Looking forward to this more than any soccer game game."
One way Londoners become Bengals fans is through playing Madden. Cincy Jungle commenter BengalTigerTA is one of those fans, in a way, though his story of how he became a fan is much cooler than just that.
"I first got into American football about six years ago through Madden and just staying up late and watching on free to air TV at like 3 a.m. when I was a student," BengalTigerTA told us. "When it came to picking a team, I wanted to have an actual connection, rather than picking a successful team or from a more known city. My family hails from the Punjab, India, near to where there are Bengal tigers. I started following the Bengals for that reason, without really knowing any of the history of Cincinnati or the team."
BengalTigerTA plans on attending the game and maybe making it to Cincinnati for a game sometime soon, too.
Another way Londoners choose which team to make their favorite is their jerseys and helmets! That was the case for Marco Fernandez. "I became a fan at about 14 years of age. It was simple: choose the team with the coolest helmets and that was obviously the Bengals," Fernandez said. "I still think the helmets are awesome (although I don't understand the white side stripe on black jerseys - the old 80s black jerseys with no white were much better) and I have a pro Bengals helmet on display in my living room for my wife and children to admire!"
Fernandez came to Riverfront Stadium in the early 90s and again saw the team play at Paul Brown Stadium two years ago. "I love London, I think it's the greatest city in the world and it's my home, in my blood; and I love the Bengals, am practically obsessed with them. So putting the two together and having Dalton, Atkins, Burfict, Bernard, Green, Eifert etc come to our iconic Wembley stadium is just surreal to me. I still feel like I'm in a dream," Fernandez said.
"SwissBengal" aka Jan Fröhlich is another excited European Bengals fan.
"There's a bunch of Bengals fans spread over Europe and some of them have been to a game in Cincy but for all those who haven't, this is a unique opportunity to see their team live," Fröhlich said. "Another aspect is of course meeting fellow Bengals fans from Europe - I haven't met one in person yet so that's something I'm really looking forward to. I'm excited like a kid before Christmas and I've got something to look forward to for almost a year so it's really an early Christmas gift for me."
Christopher Hood, another Bengals fan in the UK admits while it's a shame the Bengals are sacrificing a home game, it will still be a great day for the Bengals and their many fans in Europe. "Being totally selfish, I like it being a home match so that we get all the proper music and Ben Gals at the match, too. I'm hoping we’ll get free flags like the Jaguars gave out so we can show our support! I'll be wearing my Bengals shirt with pride that day. Over 30 years I’ve been supporting them, and at last I get to see them play a game live… still want to get to the PBS one day, but this is a great start!"
Hood started watching the Bengals in 1984 and immediately loved them. He didn't get all the rules at first, but a football computer game helped him learn. The "great design of the hemet" also helped him to become a fan.
As for what Bengals fans should do if traveling from the U.S. to London, here's Fernandez's advice: "Obviously all the visiting fans will go to Big Ben and Piccadilly Circus. But, my favourite parts of London are the long walk along the South Bank, Covent Garden and taking a boat ride (public transport) along the Thames to Greenwich for a stroll there (there's some cool museums in Greenwich too). The parks are all great (London is an amazingly green city) and the British Museum is the best museum in my opinion. I wouldn't recommend any of the soccer teams because I'm an Everton fan in the UK and I hate them all!"
But, most importantly, Bengals fans in the UK want to make sure the Bengals have a warm welcome in London and that their "home" game feels just like a Paul Brown Stadium home game.
"Bengals fans in Europe are desperate to really help the players at Wembley by supporting them loud and proud," Hood said. "We owe it to the team and the fans that can't make it over from Cincy."