The joy of running this club and site
It is just over a week now until the Bucs UK is 20 years old. Two decades ago, I wrote to Rick Odioso, then PR Director of the Buccaneers, and received approval and support for a potential Buccaneers booster club on this side of the Atlantic. Two decades - holy Toledo.
Where have the years gone? I know that my life has certainly changed from the involvement in these activities - heck, it's now over half my lifetime in all. And whilst interest in soccer and baseball has come and gone, my love for all things Buccaneer continues unabated. OK, so since San Diego results will never have the same life-or-death meaning as before as the pinnacle of achievement has been reached, but it still will never detract from the pleasure of a Tampa Bay victory.
I have been lucky enough to have seen Buccaneer games from every possible angle - on the sideline, in the clubseats, Tampa Stadium, Raymond James Stadium, the Glazers' box, and of course Qualcomm Stadium in January 2003. I've seen them from my living room, listening on Armed Forces Radio in the middle of the night, from the studio at Sky Sports, and lying in a drunken heap at Phil's house last Sunday.
But I still remember all too well the euphoric experience of my first live game - 20 November 1988. It didn't matter that the Bucs lost badly to the Bears that day - I was there. Which was why I was so pleased for Jake Jahimak when he recently got in touch with me. Jake is a regular visitor to BUCPOWER.COM from Wisconsin, and recently had the chance to see his first Bucs' game live - I'll let him tell the rest.
"After waiting for so many years to go to a Bucs home game, my dream finally came true. Yes the game was amazing but this is the great part. I was wearing Charles Lee's Game used jersey from 2003 to the game and I was stopped by charles' mom and his wife to be. They talked to me for a while and stunned to see that charles Lee had a jersey made up. I told them that it was his and they were thrilled. They then gave me tickets to meet the players after the game and it was jsut a dream come true. I got to meet Griese, Lee, Simms, Dilger, Moore, Jermaine Phillips, Ronde, Spires and many more."
Then there are all the notes of support and thanks that I have been receiving from Bucs UK members returning from trips to Tampa. But these notes have been accompanying piles of Buc souvenirs for the Bucs UK prize cupboard. Sweatshirts, T-shirts, playing shirts, towels, magazines, caps, books, GameDays, even a cheering Buc hamster that sings "We are the Champions" (yes, seriously and if I can ever get it back from my four-year-old daughter .....)
This is what the Bucs UK is all about. Phil and I have worked for long years to build up a great rapport with the Buccaneer front office and you could say we're on pretty good terms with the Glazers now! Bucs UK members get to see their team play thanks to our ticket arrangement and bring back mountains of prizes. Bucs UK members who can't go to the games then get a chance to win these prizes in our weekly competitions. And all our members get tons of information c/o the Bucs' PR department, still happy to support us 20 years on from that first note.
This club is about hearing from people like Jake and their experiences. It is getting a picture of a fan with the SuperBowl Trophy as Roger Jacobsen was quick to send me last year. It's about meeting up with a Chris Sterbenz who was in London in business last week and wanted to talk Bucs with yours truly. It's about one of our youngest members spending $15 of his holiday money on a T-shirt for the club because he was so happy he'd seen the Bucs play live.
On Saturday 27th November, this club is 20. There are a good number of us getting together that night for a meal and a good few toasts will be said to the success of the Bucs UK. But for everyone who is part of the club or visits BUCPOWER.COM, this is to you. You are part of something very special and something I am very happy to be at the forefront of. Thank you for the past 20 years and here's to the next 20.