The Pittsburgh Steelers vs the Chicago Bears 1997


Larger ImageWith all the new arrivals, we took quite a few out to the final practice while Simon Charlton and Tony and Sarah Kamphuag joined us there. The people organising the field had learnt from the previous day and put up ropes to keep the increased crowds away from the players. Nick Halling was there with Mike Carlson arranging some post practice interviews with Kordell Stewart and coach Cowher.

Steeler’s photographer, Mike Fabus, was also there and I asked him for some advice regarding my approach to Greg Lloyd. Mike said that he had always found Greg a great guy, but that didn't allay any of my fears because Mike obviously knew the player quite well – whereas I was a stranger. He did give me some good advice though, "Ask him Gordon. That's the only way to find out." Simple isn't it?

Because I didn't want to intrude on their focus, I really hadn't spoken to any of the players. Sean Reali, the kicker was on the sideline and was just hanging out as kickers usually do during training camp. I thought I could risk talking to him as he wasn't directly involved in the scrimmages. I asked him if he was enjoying himself and he replied he was.

I then asked what it was like to play for the Steelers and he said it was great and they were a wonderful organisation. I agreed with him and said they had been good to me as the organiser of the Steelers UK Supporters Club. He replied that he knew who I was because he had seen me in the pub the previous day. I was gob smacked. How can the player recognise the fan?

I gasped and then it dawned on me, so I said something dumb like, "No, how embarrassing. You weren't the guy being interviewed yesterday and he smiled and answered, "Yes." I just couldn't believe it. How could I not recognise him? How stupid of me? My only defence was that hat he was wearing when I saw him in the pub. I said that I must take a photo of him for our web site to show how red I felt and he smiled and agreed. I thanked him and wished him well for the season and also good luck in making the team. (Editor's note: he didn't make the team and I can't find the photo.)

After practice, some of us went back into town while the others ventured to the NFL Experience to enjoy the pleasure of John Jackson, Jamain Stephens and Steven Conley taking their turn signing autographs and spending time talking to their fans.

Weekends in Dublin can be an awesome time. Everybody comes in from the surrounding countryside to increase the flow of people already there into a flood. After the good reports about Jurys, most of the members decided to meet up in the Steelers hotel to have a few beers and talk football. Terry Cozens grabbed quite a few autographs because of the prime table where the fans positioned themselves.

Saturday was a busy day, not helped by your editor suffering from a wee bit of the local hospitality from the night before. There was the Steelers autograph session to attend and at the same time, I had to find the person who had our game tickets and the field pass that would get me onto the field for the game.

Through the connections of James Delargy in the Irish Football League, I had been offered the opportunity of doing the chains. I had to be in three places at the same time, but fortunately for me in the same area, Croke Park. The stadium was a short distance from our hotel.

Larger imageThe Steelers were holding their final practice there and as it finished, a lady from the NFL invited the fans onto the field. Not all the players stayed, but I noticed Greg and Kordell signing autographs out of the corner of my eye as I searched frantically for the guy with our tickets.

I sorted my field pass out. I should have been doing the chains, but as I wasn't sure what sideline that would be on, I volunteered to assist on the Steelers side-line

Having the field pass in my hand and deciding the tickets would not be arriving, I surveyed the players that were left on the field. Greg Lloyd was still there and Keith Nicolson came up to my side and suggested I have a talk with Lloyd. I hesitated before Keith provided further encouragement. What's the worst Lloyd can do, I though? Ignore me? I can handle that.

With every ounce of courage summoned, I approached my main man. Despite the myth, Greg was great. I asked him how he was feeling and he replied that he was fit and ready. I shook his hand and wished him a Pro Bowl season. I was grateful that I had listened to those who had influenced my decision making.

Mike Fabus was there taking some photos and he urged me to have my meet Kordell. Having met Mr. Lloyd, I was prepared to rest on my laurels, but Mike once again encouraged me to have my photo taken. He then gave his camera to Tony Tye from the PPG and asked him to take a photo of himself with the UK Supporters

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