Cheesehead Origins: Brian Carlson’s UK Fandom Long Predates NFL’s London Series

This UK-based Packer fan is no newbie to the Packers.

Welcome to Cheesehead Origins, an offseason series geared toward showcasing Packer fans with interesting fandom origin stories! CheeseheadTV is devoted to Packer fans worldwide, and we want to hear (and share) your stories. 

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The very first person I featured in my Cheesehead Origins series this year was Mark Oldacres, a CheeseheadTV contributor based in the UK. Mark is on the younger side, and his fandom began around the time the Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

This week’s feature is also from the UK, but his origin story stretches farther back, long pre-dating the NFL’s series in London to a time when there were not a whole lot of other NFL fans around in England.

Brian Carlson is a 45 years old and lives in the village of Ottershaw in Surrey, about 20 minutes south of London, with his wife, two children and dog  (a cocker-poo named Lambeau, who his non-football friends often mistakenly believe is named after Lamborghini). He’s been a fan of the NFL and the Packers since the mid-19990s, and in that nearly 30-year span has been able to enjoy from afar a lot of green and gold success.

Once he had access to be able to explore the NFL, he became a big fan of the sport.

“I went to university in 1995, which coincided with Sky starting to show live games in the UK each week on Sundays,” he said. “Up until then there had only been weekly highlight shows and the Super Bowl live. Being a student made it easier watching late games, and I also got into Madden on the Playstation with all my spare study time.”

The combination of hard hitting and play calling strategy really appealed to Brian, and he quickly became a huge fan of American football. 

“I chose the Packers as my team for three reasons,” he explained. “I loved the history of the team and how it was owned. Seeing Brett Favre slinging it around was amazing. And lastly, on Madden, Dorsey Levens quickly became one of my favorite players as there seemed to be no stopping him!”

In those early days of his fandom, even as Sky Sports increased access, it still wasn’t particularly easy to be a fan of a sport that barely got coverage in his country. Since then, of course, a lot has changed.

“As a student I would spend my Sunday nights in the ‘computer room’ on campus staying up till the early hours of Monday morning completing my assignments whilst watching the box score on NFL.com, seeing the little football icon move up the field with each play,” he remembered. “Now I have Gamepass so I never have to miss a Packers game. Sky has its own NFL channel here in the UK, and Twitter enables me to keep up with everything going on with the Packers. And yes, I even enjoy Bob Demovsky’s training camp tweets when the stopwatch comes out to check on the punters’ hang times!”

He notes that there are still some drawbacks. Primetime kickoffs aren’t until 1 a.m. in the UK and they finish around 4:30 a.m., but as he puts it, “that’s just part of carrying the G over here.”

The game has, of course, continued to grow in the UK, helped by the international series that began in 2007. Brian was lucky enough to be in the sold-out Wembley Stadium for the first NFL game played in London between the Giants and Dolphins that year, and has been to many of the games in the UK since. He says that at every one of those games, Packer jerseys continue to be among the most-worn in the crowd.

“It’s been a long time coming with the Packers being the last team to play in London,” he said. “I understand why it hasn’t happened before with those home games being so important to the Green Bay economy, but hopefully our Wisconsin friends will be happy to loan the team for this ninth ‘home’ game this year. I can promise you one thing, the stadium will be green and gold with all the UK Packers fans, so I can’t wait to see us get the win over the Giants.”

Brian has certainly been waiting a long time this moment. And for the knuckleheads on Twitter who think proximity to Green Bay or Wisconsin has anything to do with fandom, think again.

Brian purchased Packers stock in this most recent offering with the help of a friend who lives in New York. The certificate now hangs proudly in his study with the rest of his Packer memorabilia collection. He says he counts this as playing his little part in continuing to keep the Packers in Green Bay.

He’s even traveled all the way to Green Bay to see the Packers play. In 2019, he had his very first Lambeau Field experience, as he was present (along with yours truly) for the Monday Night Football game against the Detroit Lions that ended with a Mason Crosby walk-off field goal.

“Walking into Lambeau for the first time was an experience I won’t ever forget, and the atmosphere after Mason Crosby’s walk-off winning field goal at the end was electric,” he said. “Some other highlights included doing the stadium tour with LeRoy Butler (hearing about his journey was an inspiration) and sitting at the Stadium View bar on the Sunday night. I started speaking to the guy next to me and it turned out to be Craig Nall, so I shared my first Wisconsin cheese curds with him as he recalled some stories about Favre and his time with the Scottish Claymores over a beer.”

Brian recalls how friendly everyone was, and the incredible gameday atmosphere that there was surrounding the stadium. 

He’ll be present when the Packers take on the Giants in London this year, a much easier trip to make, and one he’s been waiting for his entire adulthood. It’s a game that will hold a lot of meaning to a man who was a fan long before the vast majority of other people in his country.

Meanwhile, Brian has done plenty of work in getting other friends to start paying attention to football, and has connected with quite a few Packer fans over Twitter. He’s got a WhatsApp group with fellow UK Packer fans who chat about the team year round. He even has friends who have taken up fantasy football. 

And of course, he’s appreciated the constant coverage from CheeseheadTV.

“I’ve followed CheeseheadTV for a number of years now, ever since joining Twitter in 2009,” he said. It’s always a go-to source for Packers news, and it’s great to see it go from strength to strength over these years. I’m still holding out hope for Aaron Rodgers to finally come on Packers Transplants with Nags and Corey though!”

As are we all.
 

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Many thanks to Brian (@packerstribe on Twitter) for reaching out via the CHTV email to connect with me! Really enjoyed hearing his unique perspective as a long-time international fan. Be sure to follow him on Twitter!

 

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (5)

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Pantz_Burp's picture

May 12, 2022 at 07:00 am

Thanks for sharing your G story Brian. I love your cool Packer items and the pooch as well! 👍✌️👌

Thanks for being a fan of American football and introducing it to your friends. Enjoy the game in London and Go Pack Go!

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Packerstribe's picture

May 12, 2022 at 09:58 am

Thank you! Can't wait to see them again this October.

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mrtundra's picture

May 12, 2022 at 07:49 am

GO PACK, GO!!!

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 12, 2022 at 09:05 am

Great story! Thanks!

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Packerstribe's picture

May 12, 2022 at 10:00 am

Thank you!

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