In my last blog, I mentioned that I had planned to give a 1st Half ‘Ali Award’ to the favorite player of the VERY Loyal and VERY Dedicated NY Giants Fan Club of the United Kingdom. Yes – there is one, and they’re worth knowing about. And when I went to ask this group their opinions on their current favorite Giants player and why, I received so many responses, and not only typical (one word) responses – they were mostly quite thoughtful ones (they actually listened to the question and answered WHY) – so I decided this group needed a blog all to itself, and it needed to be recognized (although, not ‘recognised’ at they might write it in the UK).
I bet many American football fans have very little idea what is really happening over in the UK when it comes to America’s Game. Sometime in the last year, I think it was my friend Duncan Holden, a diehard NY Giants fan from Blackburn, England, who invited me over to the NY Giants Fan Group UK on Facebook. I belong to a lot of fan groups and I like to really keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the minds of Giants fans, and NFL fans in general, but I can honestly say – I am truly honored to be a member of this group. It has quickly climbed to the top of my most frequented fan groups on Facebook, and here’s why…
I went in without expecting, but these guys know their stuff! They care to know the history. They care to know the way the game is played. They have get-togethers in London from time to time where the pub becomes ‘MetLife East’. They are thoughtful in their analysis of what’s happening with the team or players, and they take it seriously. They wear their fan gear. And perhaps most importantly, they figure out where to get their feed and they stay up until the WEE hours to watch games! Think about it – a Thursday, Sunday or Monday night game has these guys starting at 1:30am London time! THAT is dedication. And they ALL do it, and they go to work a couple hours later!
And I will add… they all seem to get along quite BRILLIANTLY (and I am attempting to say that in a perfect British accent).
Keith Burton, a graphic designer and website developer from Basingstoke, England, started the UK New York Giants Fan Group back in 2009. Most of the membersare British born-and-bred. Some are also US servicemen and women serving in Europe. Others are US citizens resident in the UK looking for a fellow sports fans. The group has grown to about 300 members, and they have a Twitter following of almost 800. They have even gathered together for organized Flag Football outings from time to time!
So the other day I asked this question of the group: Who is your favorite current Giants player, and why?
As I mentioned, I received a lot of responses, and as you might suspect, there was quite a bit of diversity amongst the answers. Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Antrel Rolle received the highest number of votes – so they get the honorary:
‘Blimey! You Are Brilliant! You Are the Bee’s Knees’ Ali Award – Congratulations to 10, 80 and 26!
But lets not leave out the rest, because there were a lot of votes! Brandon Jacobs, Terrell Thomas, Steve Weatherford, JPP, and Dave Diehl were next in votes; and Hakeem Nicks, Jon Beason, Rueben Randle, Linval Joseph, Peyton Hillis and Kiwi also got votes!
And here are just some of the reasons why:
“For his presence of mind and coolness under fire.”
“I love that his image is dweeb-like, but his presence of mind and coolness under fire is the opposite of that. Sure, he’s inconsistent. Certainly, he’ll always be in the shadow of his big bro. But, one day people will look back and realize how under rated he’s been. And he’s big blue to his core. A true Giant.”
“He is a good leader and… is not egotistical and will accept responsibility when he plays bad.”
“Huge affinity for Eli for his even keel cool under pressure leadership”
“Eli… He pulls us through. In tight spots it is in Eli we trust. And we have two Lombardis as reward. He is the embodiment of a Giant… Take a beating… Get up… Take a beating… Get up and score. You don’t get points for sacks. You get points for finding hands.”
“He has shown great leadership when it was needed”
“He’s got a great attitude – and that’s been consistent over the last few years, in good times and bad.”
“His passion, growth, leadership, teamwork, spirit, ‘make it happen’ approach” (ok, I admit that one was was me)
“A one-man moral boosting cheerleader all season. He’s made play after play and is the only player on the team brought in from outside and voted a captain. That tells you want his team think of him. He started out critical of TC’s coaching methods yet has become his most vocal supporter. Plus, he’s also a rather natty dresser.”
On Terrell Thomas:
“Coming back from so many injuries, I really didn’t think he would be as good as he has been.”
“It’s amazing the story in regards to his battle against adversity and all the injuries he has had, yet he’s come back stronger than ever where I think 98% of people out there would’ve given up long ago”
On Brandon Jacobs:
“Everybody knows Brandon Jacobs is a big reason why I became a Giants at the end of the 2009”
“His passion and love for the giants is second to none, (and) he always forms an amazing bond with the other RB’s which really shows he is selfless when it comes to the Giants… classic pound the ball Giants football.”
“I love the fact that when at his best, while he does have the ability to get round defenders, he’d rather go through/over them. The guy loves the Giants, didn’t want to leave, and turned down other try outs to hold out for a return home.”
On Victor Cruz:
“His story is inspirational and proves hard work and dedicating yourself pays off plus he a humble guy off the field yet a baller on it.”
“He does it all as a wide out. Outside, in the slot, YAC yards, most TD’s between a QB and a WR of over 80yds, has playing speed and makes defenders miss on tackles and lets not forget THAT JETS TD for 99yds.”
“Pretty much my favorite player in the whole NFL is Victor Cruz.”
On Dave Diehl:
“Diehl for the way he has stayed the course through thick and thin and his detractors have been many!”
“Diehl has been a revelation. I thought he was done, but he’s come back onto that line (albeit at guard) and has marshaled those players like an old school sergeant major. Fair play to him; that’s a real Giants player right there.”
“in the twilight of his (playing) career he has brought a bit of stability to the line and is a massive help making the centre calls for cover centre Jim Cordle who also deserves a shout stepping into the hardest job on the o-line.”
On Steve Weatherford:
“What an immense role model for all players. Professional to the core and a huge presence in the community. Someone that above all other players I would have representing my organization any day of the week.”
“He is truly inspirational and does so much work for charity and in my mind is the best punter in the league. He’s well worth a follow on Twitter too.”
There were so many great, thoughtful comments from the UK NY Giants Fan Group. I couldn’t possibly share them all – but I will fess up that I changed the British spelling in some cases. LOL.
(Here’s dedication – this is Khasif at the Jaguars vs Niners game at Wembley 2 weeks ago!)
With all of the discussion around more games being played at Wembley Stadium in London, and the possibilities of bringing a franchise to the UK, I do hope that fan groups such as the New York Giants Fan Group UK will continue to help spread the love for America’s Game; and I also hope that someday this group will have an opportunity to be recognized in some way by the New York Giants organization. They are as dedicated to the team and the game as anyone I’ve known on this side of the Atlantic.
Many thanks to the following members of the New York Giants Fans UK Group for contributing to this article:
Ian Case, Alex Agius, Paul Wakeford, Duncan Holden, Keith Burton, Andrew Hamilton, Dod Cooper, Martin Sanford, John Eleazu, Tom ‘Shoryu Reppa’ Lewis, Tony Little, Mark Lawrence, John Parsons, Alfie Brennan, Lord David Rees, Khasif Patel, Phil Bailey, Scott Williams, Harry Jennings, Tim Wood, Ben Minett, Adam Osmond, Nathan Hope, Steve Gibson, Phil Kirkpatrick, Frances Wright, John Shockley, Martin Barr, Kevin McManus, Warwick Bowen, Dan Stewart, Stuart Munro and James Krakowski
And until we next weekend (10am PST, 1pm EST and 6pm in Londontown) when we head onto the field to beat the Rrrrrrrrrrraiders, cheerio!
Also follow me on Twitter @aliconig
You can follow the New York Giants Fans UK on Twitter @NYGiantsFansUK