Crusader Raider and Cross Bones Kelly representing the Silver and Black UK in Florida!
Well the time has come once more for a crusade to Oakland to represent the SBUK as Kelly and I made the 3500 miles trip from Gatwick to Tampa. This was the first time we had been to Raymond James Stadium and what a roller coaster game we had to endure. We left London on the Tuesday and the fun begun from the Wednesday as we met up with friends from the Florida Raider Nation booster club including Kirsten Black and her mum Shea and boy did we have fun hanging out in Disney world and Disney Hollywood studios getting as many people as possible to say go Raiders including Chewbacca from star wars and staff throughout the parks. Friday see Cross Bones head to Harry Potter world at universal studios with Pimp Raider and Kevin Raider Nerd whilst I headed off to Clearwater beach with Randy from the Raider Nation podcast and the main conversations were about how much fun London had been two years earlier when the nation met up with SBUK for the Dolphins game.
Heading into the weekend the fun went on with a Friday night party for over 700 visitors at Gaspers bar, with live music , great food and awesome company. Saturday we headed out in the day to the Cigar city brewery for an awesome tour and one or two fine local IPA beers whilst other friends headed to Busch Gardens for the day, then Saturday night it was the big fundraising night where over 600 fans shared stories, cocktails, food and laughs as we all came together to raise money for the two charities selected by the Florida Raider Nation booster club. This was a great night and was good to have Pimp Raider , GorillaRilla , Cross Bones Kelly, Raider Nerd and Dr Death as well as Captain Jack who joined the fabulous team led by Dave Covey and Kirsten Black and the Florida Raider Nation booster club team.
Onto to game day, we had early breakfast at the hotel before heading off to the tailgate, SBUK was represented well with friends from Hertfordshire, Dundee, Aberdeen and us from London joining our friends from the USA, Hungary, Canada, Mexico, Italy and Germany to name a few showing how world wide the nation truly is. The tailgate was awesome with hundreds of fans enjoying the food and bar and grabbing some much needed shade from the sweltering heat. JT the Brick joined in the party and was sharing his happy memories of his time with the SBUK fans in London and you could see Tampa fans going past our tailgate thinking how they wished they could have as much fun as the Raider Nation on game day, in fact for that matter any day!
Into the stadium the nation was well represented with 1000’s off travelling fans blacking out sections, we was in the end zone in 86 degrees watching what turned out to be an epic game with records broken by Derek Carr for passing and the team with 23 penalties , but somehow we came through to win in overtime with Seth Roberts running towards our end zone for the winning score to send the Nation into jubilation. We then proceeded to take over the Bucs pirate ship before heading back to the hotel pool to cool down, before supper and beers to celebrate the Win.
Onto Monday, SBUK FANS had a farewell breakfast with the chat around the game, the parties, the days out and the fun we had , had together and how wonderful our hosts the Florida Raider Nation booster club had been. Then off to the airport next stop Oakland!
Keith “Crusader Raider” Smith