DIARY OF A DOLFAN, JETS vs DOLPHINS WEEKEND
It was the start of a busy weekend, the Dolphins were coming to town needing to beat the Jets. However before it all kicked of at Wembley, Dolfan UK had arranged to make the weekend special. It all started on the Friday when the club had made it possible for its members to watch the team train at Saracens rugby ground. We all got ushered into the stands prior to the team turning up in the cavalcade of coaches. All the players came out onto the field to do their walk though, the main basis of the session seemed to be to run through and familiarise the players with the Jets alignments so they knew what to look for. During the period it appeared as though a local school had come to watch and promptly added some noise to the proceedings, chanting DOLPHINS, DOLPHINS, which a number of the players responded to. When their time was up the majority of the players went back to the waiting coaches, but not before we got chance to meet a number of them and get some memorabilia signed. I was lucky enough to get a football signed by Cam Wake, Brent Grimes and Matt Moore to name a few. Some of the players didn’t leave with the team and stayed behind to put the school kids through their paces in a ‘Play 60’ program. I decided to stay behind for a while and managed to meet and have a quick chat with Kenny Stills and Ju’Wuan James on their way out. I also got an opportunity to talk with Chris Perkins of Sun-Sentinel about the state of the team and get his thoughts on the problems.
Next up was the highlight of the night when the fanclub club president Shawn Wooden and his lovely wife Marcia made an appearance. First off there was a question and answer session. Bear in mind Shawn was on the team at the same time as Marino and you can imagine, it made for some great stories. He told us how much of a competitor Dan was and how sure he was of himself. He recalled one time in training camp when he was trying to defend the pass, Marino told Shawn the route the receiver was going to run and when he was going to throw it so that Shawn would have a chance to stop the pass, it didn’t work Dan still zipped it in, he gave him another chance, making it even more clear where and when the ball was going to arrive, but as with the first time he didn’t get anywhere near the ball, Marino was that good. Another story involved Dan in the locker room after his final game against the Jaguars, that was particularly amusing. Shawn held centre stage with his charm and wit for the entire time he was with us, it was a truly special moment. Not only that but he brought with him a lot of great raffle prizes, there was a signed Marino cap, hats signed by Duper, Clayton, Jim Jensen, Joe Rose, Keith Byars, OJ McDuffie, Sam Madison and Shawn and a playing shoe signed by Tannehill. His time with us flew by and after he pulled out the raffle prizes he sadly had to get back to his hotel. The evening ended with everybody bidding farewell, with the hope that the team could turn it's fortunes around against the Jets.
On Saturday evening was the annual DolFan UK club do, it was a chance to catch up with fellow Dolfan’s and console each other about the state of the team. A number of them had been to the fan rally in Trafalgar Square that afternoon and few of them were extremely lucky as they literally bumped into Dan Marino in the Sun and 13 Cantons pub. They were inside having a quiet drink when one of them got nudged by somebody, only for them to turn round and see that it was Marino. On realising who it was one of them quite calmly said “ Hi Dan, how are you”, not sure I would have been so composed. As is usual with the club bash there are some great prizes to be had in the raffle but this year was going to be special for other reasons. Behind the scenes the club had arranged for a number of cheerleaders to come to the event, and on schedule Paige, Etta, Jess and Danica turned up to sign things, have photo’s taken and get to hang out with the club.
Sunday morning I decided to get up and head over to Wembley early to take in the atmosphere and see what was going on. I wander around for a while taking in the NFL experience but then decide to go and track down the team and see if I could get any autographs. After working out which hotel they were in and coming to the conclusion that none of them were in a hurry to come over to meet the fans I decided to make my way over to the fan plaza.
As it was a Dolphins home game there were a number of Dolphin legends being brought out onto stage to interact with the fans. Not only that, but while they where waiting in the wings and after their appearance they willing came over to sign things for eager fans. Fortunately for me Shawn Wooden was one of the alumni so I took the opportunity and asked him if he would do the honours and get a few autographs for me. He obliged while Bob Griese and Nat Moore were next to him. Adding to that I managed to get the Marks Brothers, OJ McDuffie, Joe Rose, Jimmy Cefalo and Sam Madison and also had a fleeting conversation with each of the them.
As a long time fan who starting following the Dolphins back in 1985 when Duper and Clayton were torching secondaries it was surreal to actually meet them in person and have a quick conversation. After their time on stage the cheerleaders came out to get the crowd going, not before to long the attention turned to the game. We all know what happened inside the stadium. The topic of conversation after the game seemed to centre around the question of how much longer Joe Philbin would be HC. As it turned out he barely got back to Miami before being relived of his duties.
All that was left to do was to swing round to the coach park to see if any of the players would be interested in signing my game day programme, unsurprisingly most of them didn’t want to know and I wouldn’t blame them, but as always Ju’Wuan James did the homours, top man. It was a weekend to remember from Friday all the way until to Sunday evening, all that was left for me to do was make my way back home along the M4 with my memories hoping that it won’t be too long before they return again.