Have purple, will travel: Vikings fans ready for London invasion

  • Article by: COLLEEN KELLY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 26, 2013 - 2:57 PM

Whether you’ll be at the game or watching from the States, meet the people who will be showing their Purple Pride in London this Sunday.

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Who are the Vikings fans who are making the trek to London? They’re students and couples, season ticket holders and expats living in Europe. They’re college students studying abroad and a native of the UK who sports his purple proudly. Two fans live in Iowa and have to “travel” to every home game. For some, it’s the trip of a lifetime, and they’re sparing no expense. Others have scrimped and saved, including a group of teachers who worked summer jobs to swing the trip. One is packing his purple kilt. Whether you’ll be at the game or watching from the States, meet the people who will be showing their Purple Pride in London on Sunday.  

Tom Carothers | Richfield

What size is your group? I’m going with my wife and about 10 friends. My purple kilt – purchased in Scotland three years ago – is packed. All told, our group just kept on growing. It initially started as four people with a plan on going to Oktoberfest in Munich -- then the Vikes announced the London game. Of the four of us, two are Vikes fans and two are Steelers fans, who rank the Vikes as their second-favorite team.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? Even though he's a Hawkeye (I went to Iowa State), Chad Greenway... although Blair Walsh is a solid No. 2.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? It's a major expenditure. I worked a lot of freelance, and we used up a good bit of the wife's signing bonus at her new job. But, not really anything more than what we had planned to spend on this year's vacation.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) The wife and I are driving out to Stonehenge before the rest of the group arrives. We’re going to see Fulham FC play on Saturday and seeing "Phantom of the Opera" on Friday. Otherwise, I'm sure we'll be cruising on the tour bus and hitting the big sites. I've got my Viking hoodie, but will keep the good stuff for Sunday.

Holly Wruck | Fridley

Why are you going to the game?  I'm a season ticket holder and love to travel. Seemed like a fun opportunity to see London.

Who's your favorite Vikings player? It's a toss up between AP and Jared Allen.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget?  Ha! It's a big hole.

Are you unhappy the team had to give up a home game to play in London? I think it will be fun to be there; however, this isn't a trip I'll be able to afford every year. And if this is a yearly thing maybe they should consider lowering the price of our season tickets.

Jamie Rassett | Forest Lake, Minn.

Why are you going to the game? My husband and I are huge fans (me more so than him, but he'll never admit that. We were planning to go to Italy for our six-year wedding anniversary. When we found out the London game was going to be played on Sept. 29 -- our actual wedding anniversary -- it really worked out perfectly. We are flying home from Italy via London so we can go to the game.

Do you go regularly go to Vikings games? We go to every home game we can. We have been season ticket holders since 2009, and my in-laws have been season ticket holders for many years.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? Adrian Peterson, of course. (Wait, did Favre officially retire? If he's technically still a Viking, it's Brett.)

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) I really want to see Westminster Abbey, Buckingham and the Beatles Magical Mystery Walking. I'm also trying to devise a plan to get my husband to go on a Harry Potter tour with me without realizing that is what we are doing. Unfortunately, I didn't pack the Helga Horns...space was limited for 2 weeks in Europe. My AP jersey and purple shoes made the trip.

Gavin Henderson | U.K. native, living in London

Why are you going to the game? I'm a Vikings fan, and I've been to every International Series game, so was definitely not going to miss this one.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who didn't say AD (Adrian “All Day” Peterson) for this one -- such determination, he's a machine! Cordarrelle [Patterson] looks like a great pick this season.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget?  No more than an average weekend in London!

Are you unhappy the team had to give up a home game to play in London? I'm probably too biased to answer this one, but I really appreciate the fact that there are a lot of lifelong fans out there missing out on a home game in Minnesota. Sorry!

Karisa and Iselin Lundberg | Karisa is a Minnesota native; Iselin is from Norway. They live in London

Why are you going to the game? My wife and I are huge Minnesota Vikings fans that religiously follow from abroad. Because we live in London we don't often get the chance to travel back to Minnesota to see them play. So when the Vikings announced they were playing at Wembley, we knew we had to do whatever we could to get tickets.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? We're really big fans of Harrison Smith. The plays [he makes] every week are incredible. I can't wait to see how his career goes.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? Since we already live in London, the cost isn't really too high. We bought our tickets via Ticketmaster, not a resale site, so the prices weren't inflated. I think most Londoners would agree that events can be really outrageously priced, so I'm actually a little surprised they didn't charge more for the tickets.

Are you unhappy the team had to give up a home game to play in London? I think, understandably, it's a very popular stance for people, particularly season ticket holders, to get angry when they find out their team is playing a home game abroad. However, for fans abroad is an amazing chance to see your favorite team, as well as a great opportunity to gain more fans. The popularity of the NFL has dramatically increased over here in the past five years.

Justin Brandt | Minnesota native, living in Amsterdam

Why are you going to the game? I work for Levi's (yes, the jean company) and have been stationed in Amsterdam since February 2013.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the Vikes since they were so close.

What size is your group? I am heading over from Amsterdam by myself, but I am meeting a friend who is making the trip from the United States.

Who's your favorite Vikings player? Blair Walsh, with Harrison Smith being a close second.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? For me, a plane ticket from Amsterdam to London is only $100, roundtrip. My game ticket was another $75, I'll need a night in a hotel, and of course a few pints.  To be honest, not bad at all.

Traci Tufte | Cottage Grove native living in Edinburgh, Scotland

Why are you going to the game? Being away from Minnesota and my family has been hard, even though I am enjoying the U.K. My family gets together every Sunday to watch the games, and it is really something that I miss experiencing with them. As soon as I heard that the Vikes were coming the U.K, I knew I had to be there. It will be a great way for me to feel connected with home even from this far away, because I know at that moment, my family and I will be doing the exact same thing: cheering on the Vikings.

Do you go regularly go to Vikings games? I have actually only been to one game, and that was a few years ago. It was a lot of fun, though! Our tradition has always been getting together with our family to watch the games at someone's home.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? I am going to have to go with AP.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget?  Since I am still a student for a few more months, the trip will definitely make an impact on my finances. Luckily I only have to travel from Edinburgh, and a friend has offered to put me up for the weekend, so I should get by pretty easily. I have been doing an internship over the summer, and my final pay check will pretty much be my Vikings/London fund.

Elizabeth Hultgren | Minnesota native and U grad, teaching in Västerås, Sweden

Why are you going to the game? A friend [Katy Gorrilla] and I are both living in Europe for the first time this year. When we heard that the Vikings would be playing in London we couldn't pass up the opportunity to cheer on our Minnesota Viking's abroad.  It's also a little piece of home after being gone since the end of July -- nothing can beat Minnesota Nice!  It will be Katy's first Vikings game.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) We are planning on seeing as much as possible in the long weekend we are there. We really would love to see Big Ben, the London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, as well as just experience London for the first time.  We would definitely wear our horns if we had some.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? ADRIAN PETERSON! ...We would love his autograph.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? Well... as we are both fresh out of our graduate school program, we are getting accustomed to budgeting our salaries but we are also used to living as students and so we were able to travel frugally in order to experience the Viking's abroad.

John Duxbury | St. Johns University student, studying in London

Why are you going to the game? I am going to the game because I am a Viking fan through win and loss.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? Cordarrelle Patterson

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? The ticket is going to run me $175, not bad for the experience of a lifetime.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) I arrived here the Aug. 28, so I have already seen many sights of London including: Big Ben, the London Tower, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul Cathedral, I haven't been to Wembley Stadium yet but I am excited to get there. I don't own Helga Horns otherwise I would!

Tyler Abels | West Des Moines, Iowa

Why are you going to the game? My wife is a doctor in her second  year of residency and was she looking for an excuse to go on vacation at the end of September. I told her that I could get tickets to the Vikings game and we could go to London for vacation. She asked me if I would be willing to fly to London just for a Vikings game and my response was “Heck yes I am!”

Do you go regularly go to Vikings games? We live in West Des Moines so it’s hard to get to a lot of games, but I would try to get to at least one Vikings game a year. This year my wife convinced me to go all in and buy season tickets for the Vikes.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? I will go a little against the grain and not say Adrian Peterson. My favorite player is Chad Greenway mainly because I am pretty big Hawkeye fan and it’s awesome to see Chad playing for my favorite pro team.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? Pretty big. The flight alone was expensive, and we are also going to Germany to visit my cousin and go to Oktoberfest so it’s not going to be cheap, but I think it will be a lot of fun.


Gary Wieser | Minneapolis

Why are you going to the game? I have been a die-hard Vikings fan since growing up in North Dakota.  When we found out that the Vikings had a home game in London we tried to decide if it could be a possibility for us to attend.  We decided it was a great opportunity to get to Europe and see a game at Wembley Stadium.

What size is your group? There are four of us in our group: my sister Holly Lammers, brother-in-law Keith Lammers, and another teacher friend, Gina Keenan.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player?  AP

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget?  You know how people say that teachers have the summer off … well, we didn’t! We worked several extra gigs to help pay for this trip.  Plus we had to use personal days that we saved for the last five years to be able to get out of school.
Are you unhappy the team had to give up a home game to play in London?  We would be unhappy if we WEREN’T going! It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Paul Mendoza | Coon Rapids

Why are you going to the game?  I'm the biggest Vikings fan in the world and I've never been to Europe.  I also love to golf and have wanted to golf in Europe.  This is a great opportunity to play golf and watch the Vikes melt the Steel!

Do you go regularly go to Vikings games? Are you (or a family member) a season ticket holder? Yes and yes.  However, I don't attend the preseason games. Our flight to Europe left Sunday so I didn’t attend the home game against Cleveland.  What's weird is my first home game this year will be in London. 

Who's your favorite Vikings player? I'm usually a QB guy, but......so my answer is AP all day.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) Where ever the tour bus takes us.  I won't be sporting that I'm a Vikes fan until game day for personal safety reasons. 

Dianne Valerius | East Bethel, Minn.

Why are you going to the game?  First off, I bleed purple, so how can I miss a home game?  Secondly, I have always wanted to see England so this was perfect.

What size is your group? Traveling from Minnesota, it will just be myself and my neighbor for a girls trip.  When we go to the game and other NFL functions, we will be joined by six other members of my family who are living in England.  I was able to purchase eight tickets for the game by being a season ticket holder.

Who is my favorite Viking player? Jared Allen!

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget?  I started saving the day they announced last year that we were going to have a home game in England.  No vacations all year and yes I had to suffer that long hard winter without going somewhere warm this year!  I booked my airline tickets early, used my neighbors’ timeshare for a place to stay and got my tickets at a great price for being a season ticket holder.  Did it blow a large hole in my budget for 2013, yes, but it is so going to be worth it! This is a once in a lifetime trip..

Curt Wagner | Edina

Why are you going to the game?  My brother, two cousins and I take a road trip to a Vikings game every year.  This game is our “road trip” game this year.  We have been to San Diego, Kansas City, Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Green Bay and Seattle.  It just so happens that our main road trip this year will actually be a home game!  In addition, I studied in London for a semester in college, so this is going to be a great return for me and first trip for my wife.

Who's your favorite current Vikings player? It's hard to say anyone other than AD, Adrian Peterson.  I know I'm excited to have Greg Jennings on the team and getting comfortable playing in purple.  And of course, Cordarrelle Patterson.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) We are probably going to have high tea with the Queen.  She invited us and specifically asked us to wear our Vikings jerseys.  I think William and Kate will be there too.  Of course, I'm joking.  We have most of the tourist sights to see … and of course we will definitely check out Big Ben -- even though we will see the Vikings sacking him all night Sunday!

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget?  We have definitely saved for the trip.  We have no idea if we will ever be back to Europe, so we are taking advantage of our time over there.

Josh Kobow | Bloomington

Why are you going to the game? My wife and I are celebrating our five-year anniversary.  We've always wanted to go to London and figured the Vikings being in town was a nice motivation to make the trip across the pond.

Who's your favorite Vikings player? Blair Walsh (and obviously AP).
How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? London is very expensive.  I'm expecting a crater.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) The Shard, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.  Just one Helga Horn, to trumpet a first down. Skol!

Are you unhappy the team had to give up a home game to play in London? Somebody had to give up a home game.  I wish it was the Steelers, but we could do without ONE game in the "Inflatable Toilet." #goodRiddance

Dayna Myos | Brooklyn Center

Why are you going to the game?  A couple years ago a group of us decided we wanted to go to a Vikings away game each year.  It start in Kansas City, then Seattle and this year London (and Dallas, too).  Of the group, only Carrie Ginder will be able to make this trip to London.

Who's your favorite Vikings player? AP, Jared Allen and Blair Walsh.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) We don't have Helga horns but now I have something to add to my shopping list! Both of us have been to London before so we’ve done most of the touristy stuff already.  We are both obsessed with Princess Kate and want to go back to Westminster after watching the wedding.  We are going to go to the Downton Abbey house and hopefully get to a soccer game

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget?  YOLOAIDPFD is our motto and the explanation of why we do the things we do, such as travel to London to cheer on our Vikings.  It means: “You only live once, and I don’t pay for day care.” We actually have bracelets that say it. They are a good reminder of how great our lives are the way they are.

Daneen Kiger | Woodbury

Why are you going to the game? When we first heard about the London game last fall, we immediately decided we would forego our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Napa Valley and head to London to watch the Vikes!  We even went and bought a British flag to fly from our RV for tailgating in Purple Lot #3!

What size is your group? We have six people total and we bought our package from ThomsonSport out of London.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? Let's just say I'm happy that we got our bonus this past year to help pay for this trip. I'm planning on packing a duffle bag in one of our suitcases to bring back souvenirs from the game for family and friends.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?) We will definitely be wearing purple every day. I tend to wear purple and gold feathers, so watch for the feather trail at Wembley!  We are taking a detour to Scotland for a couple days, then the NFL festivities on Regent Street, then a few days taking in all the London sights.  The London Eye by night, the Jack the Ripper Pub Crawl, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and a lot of walking.

Eric Thomas | Sioux Falls, S.D.

Why are you going to the game? My wife and I are going to the game with another couple in order to watch the Vikings play in an international venue and to also make a vacation out of the whole trip. My wife and I are season ticket holders and get to the majority of the home games.

Who's your favorite Vikings player? Being from South Dakota we are big Chad Greenway fans. Harrison Smith is great as well.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget?  We will feel a pretty big hit on out budget from the trip but making it into a vacation as well makes it easier to swallow. We were planning on taking a vacation soon anyway.

Are you unhappy the team had to give up a home game to play in London? Yes, I'm unhappy they gave up a home game. It seems that they could have postponed this game until next year when we will be constructing the new stadium. That seems like it would have been to opportune time to have an international game.

Karl Shepard | Minneapolis

Why are you going to the game? It seemed like a fun and unique experience to see an NFL game in a different country.  My girlfriend, Meghan Lynch, studied abroad in London and has an interest in going back.  After the game we are also headed to Berlin for a few days and then end our trip in Prague … and of course because I love the Vikes.

Who's your favorite Vikings player? That's like asking a parent to pick their favorite child.  But I might have to say Blair Walsh.

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? Several thousand dollars, but it depends how much we spend when where there. 

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? Not totally sure yet.  My girlfriend studied there so she’ll be the tour guide.  We do have plans to see a play in the theater district.  It's also my birthday Sept. 28, so we'll have to celebrate that.  I'm looking forward to walking along the Thames at night and seeing Big Ben and Parliament at night.

John Meyer
 

What size is your group? My group is four people: my father, stepmother, a family friend, and myself

How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? This is a gift from my stepmom. I am going as "security" for them.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? I do plan to wear purple every day I am there, not much of a change for me. We have already lined up tickets for the Imperial War Museum, a cruise on the Thames, and a roundtrip Channel ticket to Paris. I also plan to carry my Purple Pride towel everywhere for photo ops

Are you unhappy the team had to give up a home game to play in London? The hard core fan in me was, but I also know that every team is going to have to take their turn. Much happier right now knowing the Steelers’ struggles this year.

Mark Fritsche | Eagan

Why are you going to the game? My friends and I had planned a trip to Germany for Oktoberfest for the last three years, with this year the target date.  When we found out the Vikes were going to be in London playing we modified our travel plans to stay in London longer and make the game!

Who's your favorite Vikings player? Fran Tarke… er, Adrian Peterson, the bright spot on the team.
How big a hole is this going to blow in your budget? I’ve been saving for this trip for three years so an extra day or two in London and tickets to the game were not a big blow.

What London landmarks are you going to try to see? (Will you wear your Helga Horns?)  No Helga horns, but I will be sporting my big fuzzy purple hat and #10 jersey!  We are planning a fluid trip, no set plans, but will do what sounds like fun, spontaneity is the rule on road trips!  Maybe a soccer match for the non-American football experience.  We do plan on going to the “tailgate experience” on Saturday to see how they portray it.

Are you unhappy the team had to give up a home game to play in London?  Not unhappy at all since I get to make all the “home” games this way!

Fan responses have been edited for space and clarity.
 

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