His love for Vikings is transatlantic

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 28, 2013 - 8:34 AM

view larger photos

  

– Every 30 years or so, Geoff Reader takes advantage of a home game.

He’s been a Vikings fan since the team last played in London, in 1983. He’s been a Vikings season-ticket holder for years and flies to Minneapolis to attend games at the Metrodome.

Sunday, Reader will make a much shorter trek, from his home in Bedford, England, to watch the Vikings play the Steelers in Wembley Stadium.

“When they first played here and I went to see them, I thought, ‘I’m supporting a team wearing purple?’ ” said Reader, head of Pensions and Treasury Management for Bedford Borough Council. “That was a shock to the system. But we won, 28-10, and I won a pint of beer from my friend. That was a good day.”

Reader, 52, was born in 1960. “So I like to say I started at about the same time as the Vikings,” he said. “There is a bit of symmetry.”

He became aware of what Brits call “American football” in the 1970s, when, he says, a local channel aired highlights of the Super Bowl.

“Then, in 1982, a new company came in, trying to make its mark, showing highlights of American football on a nightly basis,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is really interesting.’ Because of the interest in those highlights, a crazy promoter decided he wanted to re-create the Super Bowl at Wembley in the preseason. They told him to get stuffed.

“He wound up bringing the Vikings and the Cardinals over. I went to that game. I had to choose a team for our bet. I chose the Vikings. The rest is history.”

In the pre-Internet age, being an international fan required work. Reader sought out every televised highlight and found some old NFL encyclopedias. He signed up for a tour that promised two NFL games in Florida, featuring the Dolphins and Buccaneers.

“But I found myself more interested in watching the Rams and Vikings playing on the TV,” he said. “I thought, I’ve really got to find a way to see the Vikings in person.”

He traveled to Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1988 to see the Vikings play the Bears in a preseason game, and they won again. “One of the highlights was seeing ‘AC,’ ” he said, using star receiver Anthony Carter’s nickname, “taking a slant route straight up the middle and beating the safeties and taking it all the way to the house.”

Soon after, he arranged his own trip to see two Vikings games in eight days. “Both games, they won 38-7,” he said. The hook was set.

Reader traveled to Berlin to see the Vikings play a preseason game against the Bills in 1993. “Practices were open, so that was a really good time, and another game the Vikings managed to win,” he said. “At that time, I was doing one or two games a year.”

He began collecting old NFL encyclopedias and old media guides. In 1994, he was having trouble finding the latter, so he wrote the Vikings, asking for help. The media guides arrived attached to a season-ticket order form.

“One of the things about the Vikings at that time was they didn’t sell out, so you’d get TV blackouts in Minnesota,” he said. “I had made some good friends and acquaintances in my time in Minnesota, so I thought I’d give a little back.”

He bought the cheapest season ticket he could find, near the Metrodome roof, and used his status as a season-ticket holder to purchase better seats. One day, he tried the season-ticket seat, and realized he liked being able to the entire field laid out before him. “That’s where the coaches cameras are, up there,” he said. “They’re there for a reason. When I go to a game, I like to analyze. I make fun of the fans who do the wave when our team is on offense.”

Reader lost interest in soccer as an adult. He buys season tickets for a couple of local rugby teams but has been turned off by clubs spending lavishly on free agents rather than developing their own players.

He prefers American football’s blend of athletic showmanship and strategy. He idolized “Two-Minute Tommy” Kramer, the Vikings quarterback in the ’80s. He admired Brad Johnson. He wears a Harrison Smith jersey but admits he ranks Adrian Peterson as his current favorite.

  • related content

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

    Thursday September 26, 2013

    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.

  • Cassel replaces Ponder as Vikings QB, but for how long?

    Saturday September 28, 2013

    Christian Ponder, the struggling starter, will miss Sunday's game with an injury and may sit longer if Matt Cassell shines.

  • Souhan: Diehard London sports fan: There's room for NFL overseas

    Saturday September 28, 2013

    One pub patron’s view: “This is quite a big city.”

  • Geoff Reader lives in England and travels to Minneapolis for Vikings games.

  • Geoff Reader, a season ticket holder for 15 years, watched the Vikings take the field against the Cleveland Browns. He lives in the United Kingdom and travels to Mall of America Field to watch the Vikings play. ] Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns - Mall of America Field MCKENNA EWEN · mckenna.ewen@startribune.com Minneapolis, Minn. - 09/08/2013

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close