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.

Like most American football fans, he can’t wait for the weekend. He’s going to socialize with other Vikings fans at a street party in London on Saturday, then prepare for a rare home game.

“I want to meet some of the people who are coming over here and give them a real British-American football experience,” he said. “And I want to show them what a real pub is.”



 

  • 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.”

  • Photo gallery: Vikings in London

    Friday September 27, 2013

    A visit to the Tower of London, Friday, Sept.27.

  • 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

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
UNLV 67 FINAL
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60
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 NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close