Royalty Tours USA

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Royalty sees a basketball game in London!

After I got dropped off in Central London following the Classic Rock tour I took, I walked over to the Underground. I got on at the Bond Street station on the Central line around 6:15PM. I proceeded to go out to East London. I got off at the Stratford station about a half hour later. By doing so, I was within walking distance of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where the Olympic Stadium that hosted some of the Rugby World Cup matches was located. In addition, that's where the Copper Box Arena was as well. That's the home of the London Lions who play in the BBL aka the British Basketball League.

Welcome to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Welcome to Cooper Box Arena
Thanks to my pal Rob Campion, I was able to squeeze in a basketball game into my busy schedule that week I was in London. When the schedule was released in July, he wrote me & said you can see a game on Thursday, October 8th. He said the game was starting at 7:30PM. It turned out to be a perfect fit for me. After I walked over to the arena, I wound up getting a voucher from a lady outside. She told me I had to go to the box office to get an actual ticket with it for 5 pounds. I was planning to pay 17 pounds based on the prices I saw on their website. I proceeded to go downstairs to the box office & I got myself a ticket. I went back upstairs to the gate where people were entering the building. I proceeded to go in. Since it was getting close to game time, I decided I'll eat something after the game instead of settling for a hot dog there. The food selection at the concession stand didn't look that enticing. I remember passing a shopping mall when I got off the train. 

London Lions Video Board
That night the London Lions were hosting the Bristol Flyers. Unlike the NBA here in the States, they play four ten minute quarters instead of four twelve minute ones. When I got myself situated, I decided to ‎sit right at center court in the back of the first level. The arena holds 7,000 people. I estimated about a few thousand showed up that night. What was so unique about the venue were the multi colored seats they had throughout the seating bowl which consisted of the two levels. It was very colorful to say the least. 

Opening Tip
Free Throw attempt during game
As for the game I saw, the London Lions got off to a fast start. They lead, 20-10 after the first quarter. They slipped up a little in the second quarter as the Flyers cut the lead down to five at halftime, 37-32. In the third quarter, the Flyers continued their comeback as they exploded. They outscored the Lions, 28-15 to take a 60-52 lead. In the fourth quarter, they managed to maintain their lead as they went on to win the game, 76-64. It was their first win of the season after they lost their first four fixtures.  
Me & Mathias Seilund after the game
‎I only recognized one player who played in that game‎. His name was Mathias Seilund who was from Denmark, a Great Dane indeed. I had a feeling that I saw him play in a college basketball game in either LIU in Brooklyn or St. Francis in Brooklyn in the past. Ironically I did find out I was right to a point after the game. I saw him talking to a young lady in the stands down by the court. I got to say hello to him & I asked him where he went to college. He said he went to FDU which is Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack, New Jersey. I told him I thought I saw you play in the States. Your name rang a bell. He finished that game with 13 points & he grabbed 8 rebounds in 33 minutes for the Bristol Flyers. It's his second season in the BBL I was told. He wound up getting a four year scholarship to play basketball at FDU. He was kind enough to take a picture with me. That made my night. When I returned home, I checked to see if I did indeed see him play while he was at FDU. With that being said, back on January 17, 2013, I sure did. I saw him score 9 points in 20 minutes of play as the FDU Knights fell to the LIU Blackbirds, 79-75 in overtime. Ironically a guy I know named Burt Shoobs is the public address announcer at FDU. Unfortunately I haven't seen him since to let him know. In addition, on January 16, 2014 I saw him play again this time in Brooklyn against LIU. That night he scored his career high 20 points in 26 minutes making nine out of eleven shots as FDU won, 89-67. 

I love seeing live sports on different levels. You never know when you can say you remember seeing a guy play back in the day. This game was a perfect example. What a way to cap off my amazing day.

After I left the arena, I walked back to the shopping mall which is known as Westfield Stratford City. They had a number of restaurants there. I even saw a Shake Shack. Since it was around 10PM, most of them were closed or they were done serving food at that time. I was starving. After numerous attempts, I finally went into TGI Fridays which thankfully was still open. While I was eating, I was able to charge up my phone at a charging station in the mall. They gave you the first 30 minutes for free. You locked your phone up in a box & you took the key. That worked out well for me. Unfortunately I couldn't take a picture of the great meal I wound up eating. It consisted of salmon that was chargrilled in Jack Daniel's glaze that came with creamy mashed potatoes & broccoli. I also got a bottle of coke to go with it. It was really good. It hit the spot. It was my farewell dinner there. Glad I passed up eating something at the game. It just proves that some things are worth waiting for in life. Patience is a virtue.

Stratford Station
Central Line Train arrives
After I finished eating, I went & I unlocked the box. I got my phone & I headed to the Underground to catch the train back to the Grantly Hotel to call it a night. The train came just after 11PM which enabled me to have some time to pack up & relax before I went to sleep.  

Stay tuned for one last post that will wrap up my week long journey to England.

Thank you for reading & following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

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