LIV-ing it up in Miami

This time last week I was sitting by a pool with a beer in hand listening to us all say “I can’t believe we’re doing this” It’s a mantra we’ll all repeat many times over the next few days. This was a trip arranged in about 12 days but for me it felt like one 12 months in the making. After making my first (& so far only) trip to KC in 2017 I instantly knew I wanted to go back. As Patrick Mahomes became everything we wanted him to be and reaching Super Bowl became more than a pipe dream I decided that’s what I would do, I would go to KC and watch us win the Super Bowl. Our daughter Margo had other plans though, she was due in February last year so I always knew 2020 would be my first chance. As much as Dee Ford’s fingertips cost us last year it did mean I’d have a chance to be there for the first time in 50 years. I’ll make you 2 promises here, you won’t hear Dee Ford’s name again in this article stick with me though and you might see some cute photos of Margo.

As Championship Sunday approached this year our AA writers whatsapp group lit up. Tongue in cheek suggestions about who was going where turned into searches for flights and hotels and quickly into solid plans, a quorum formed, KC morphed into Miami. Did it matter that we wouldn’t have tickets? Not at all. The weather, the beaches, the parties, the atmosphere. If, IF, the Chiefs could get past the Titans we were going to Miami!

We know what happened that night. Another comeback win, THE Run, lifting the Lamar Hunt Trophy at Arrowhead…. While you were enjoying the presentations we were frantically on booking sites securing flights and a hotel for Super Bowl Sunday. Myself, Brad and Luke from Arrowheads Abroad along with Tom Childs (formerly of this parish), Spencer (Tom’s mate) and Michael (one of our German members) were booked and raring to go. All we had to do was suffer one of the longest 2 weeks imaginable.

For 2 weeks the group chat went something like: I can’t believe we’re doing this! How much do we really think tickets would go for? What memorabilia was Brad willing to part with? What body part could I do without? For sale, 1 kidney, 1 careless owner. Surprisingly few takers. Which celebrity party would we grace with our presence? Do you think we’ll get tickets? Where would all the Chiefs fans be? Where should we watch the game? No, really, what are the chances of tickets?! It was a long 2 weeks.

Finally I find myself bolting through London Gatwick airport to catch my connecting flight to Miami. Tom and Luke are waiting in the bar for me, they’ve already got me a beer. I’ve made it on time and I’m having a pint before 9am. It’s a good start.

10 long hours later we get there, Spencer landed an hour before us and Brad is not far behind us, Michael will arrive later in the afternoon from Germany. First impressions of Miami? By jove it’s busy. The 20 minute taxi journey took nearly an hour with rush hour traffic and Super Bowl punters like us arriving. It did give up the first celebrity spot of the weeknd though. Brad swears blind he saw Morgan Freeman driving past in a Bentley. Check in at the hostel goes smoothly, it.s at 3120 Collins Avenue. Remember that, it will be important later. First impressions are that this will do us nicely. It’s got a bar and a pool, all the essentials we’d need for the fun and games ahead. Michael arrives, his ride took ages too, he didn’t spot anyone famous though.

It’s Friday night, the Super Bowl is on and we’re in Miami, quiet night in lads? Common sense prevails and we head to South Beach for Cuban food. I won’t embarrass or offend by attempting to pronounce what we had but we had huge portions of chicken, beef and pork with rice, beans and fried plantain. It tastes goooooood. As we’re walking off dinner along the beach (this is every bit as romantic as it sounds) we find ourselves drawn to what looks like a posh wedding. We wonder if they’ll let us in? I knew I should have worn my kilt! The wedding is in fact the Commissioners Ball. Surely Roger Goddell would be more than delighted to host 6 fans who’ve come so far. We chance our arm. Tell them we’re from the UK. nope. Tell them we’re from Germany too, nada. Is Mr Hunt there? Tell him we’re Arrowheads Abroad. Still nothing. Even playing the Brit Chief card doesn’t unlock the magic password. We give while the security guard is still smiling. It looks like rain, maybe it’s time to head home. The Uber ride is an interesting one, our driver, Carla, is a chatty soul with a questionable sense of direction. Twenty minutes into the ride we drive back past the very spot we’ve just been picked from! Luckily her conversation keeps up going with varied topics ranging from immigration policies back home, Scottish ‘skirts’, a theology lecture and ending in some local culinary advice – don’t eat the beans. Sadly this advice came a few hours too late for some members of our party. We’ll leave Friday night there.

On Saturday we have tickets to the NFL Experience, a perfect opportunity to break the kilt out. En route we bump into a couple of our members, David and his wife Louise, they’re also Scottish and also have their kilts on. I feel a little less unique but a whole lot more proud. The Experience is terrific, like an NFL theme park for kids of all ages. We start with throwing practise. I’m not saying I’d make a good QB1 but only one of us hits the target and he’s the one wearing the kilt. Kicking is Tom’s domain as he splits the uprights with a 40 yarder. “Best moment of my life” says Tom. Little did he know……

All in all its a successful morning. We get our flags on GMFB, we meet a handful of our members and get a chat, it’s truly heartwarming to know there are folk actually listening to the podcast and reading the text commentary at 4am on a Monday morning. Thank you each and everyone for the support. We get a photo taken with the Lamar Hunt trophy but collectively refuse to go near the Lombardi – that’s tomorrow’s objective and we don’t want to jinx it. Judging by the number of red Chiefs jerseys we see, ‘GO CHIEFS’ shouts we hear and the fact there is not a single Chiefs jersey left in the shop (compared to full racks on the Niners side) we’re going to be in good company this weekend. Chiefs fans are definitely in the majority. Brad even manages to get himself interviewed by Australian TV. If you didn’t already know “he’s kind of a big deal” 😉 

So we all know about Pat Mahomes and “The Run”, well here comes Tom Childs and “The Tweet”. Brad, Luke and I are walking back to base while the others taxi back. Brad checks social media and stops in his tracks. For the first time since I’ve known him he’s speechless. A KC radio station ran a competition to win a pair of game tickets and it looks like Tom may have won. “Check your messages Tom” they say. Brad’s already on the phone to him, although we’re still not sure he;d be capable of actual words. Back at the hostel confirmation has arrived, it’s not a joke, Tom and Brad are going to the Super Bowl! Brad’s a geordie so his initial reaction is unprintable. This picture says it all though.

At this point I experienced a brand new, yet to be named, emotion. A combination of being absolutely delighted for the guys with some of the deepest jealousy imaginable. To be serious for a second though this couldn’t happened to 2 more deserving people. Tom’s done more to bring Chiefs fans together than 95% of the rest of us put together, without him this platform wouldn’t exist and you wouldn’t be reading this article. Aren’t you the lucky ones!

If there’s a downside to winning free Super Bowl tickets it’s having to go 30 odd miles to collect them, that means Brad and Tom will miss the pool party hosted by rapper Fat Joe that we have tickets for that evening. Tom in particular had been looking forward to it. I’ll admit I had not been. I’ll also admit I was wrong. It was a riot. The closest we’ll get to what I imagine spring break must be like. Rain eventually stopped play for us, the next day we woke up to discover we left before Fat Joe was joined by some friends, 50 Cent, DJ Khalid and OBJ. On the bright side at least we’re fresh: today is the day.

Our Super Bowl Sunday starts with an 8am game of 3 v 3 on Miami Beach. The sun’s warming us up, the view is beautiful, hardly the worst way to start the day. (FYI Tom missed that extra point attempt) Back to hostel for final big game prep (brunch and a nerve settling Miami Weiss beer), we’ve been active on Twitter all weekend keeping everyone updated with our activities and have been inching towards 10k followers. One final push gets us to 9,999. This is nailbiting stuff. A voice in the back pipes up, it’s Spencer. Turns out he doesn’t actually follow us! The cheek! Anyway, he gets us nicely over the line. We’ve hit 10k! On game day of all days! Incredible! What a perfect start to the day, I must admit I’m feeling pretty invincible at this point.

As Brad and Tom head off to Hard Rock we head to South Beach to secure the best seat in the house to watch the game. We immediately happen upon a massive bar dedicated to Chiefs fans, it’s a sign, this is the place for us. The place is rocking, there is a DJ, a drummer, dancers and we’ve got hundreds of Chiefs fans for company. All we have to do now is pace ourselves, still 4 long hours till kick off.

Eventually the time is here, in true Arrowheads Abroad fashion there is a last minute panic as the DJ pulls the wrong plug and cuts the sound. It wouldn’t be an AA meet without one, if you know, you know! Thankfully it’s back on in time for the intros and anthems. We give the latter the treatment it deserves, The Home Of The CHIEEEEEEFS is as loud as if we were at Arrowhead. This has been textbook so far, what could possibly go wrong?

The first half goes by in a bit of a blur. 10-10 feels about right, Mahomes hasn’t hit his stride yet, Jimmy G is throwing a lot more than we thought he would, this could still go either way. Every Chiefs completion is cheered to the rafters, I think i saw one Niners jersey in the place. Hats off to that brave soul. The half time show divides opinion in the group, to split the vote I took external council and was reliably informed that it was “SO Miami”. I took this to be a positive so we’ll give it pass marks. I just hope I can still move like that when I grow up (disclaimer: I’m 39 and have never been able to move like that).

The second half is a tougher watch. Much tougher. The atmosphere in the bar is subdued, when Mahomes threw his second pick we all feared it might not be the fairytale ending we wanted, even if no one was willing to say it out loud yet. Then came the comeback this team has made its signature move. Starting with the play we now know as 2-3 Jet Chip Wasp the Chiefs started moving the ball. We got louder, as if life and hope and energy had been IV’d directly into us all. When Williams went in at the corner the place erupted. They’re reviewing though, why oh why do they have to go to an ad break when they do that?! We’re biased but we all think it’s in, the wait is agonising…… IT’S GOOD. CHIEFS LEAD. CHIEFS LEAD! The party begins. I think I’m still hugging strangers when we stop the Niners in midfield. I start hugging more and only catch the very end of Williams second TD run. We’re only going to win this thing!

The rest is a joyous blur, adults are crying, everyone is hugging, the place is literally bouncing. I’m sure I’ve never grabbed as many complete strangers in such a short space of time. Decades of emotion all released at once. I felt tully privileged to share the moment with so many other passionate Chiefs fans. It’s not always easy to support this team (just ask the man live tweeting the moment Mahomes was lying injured under a pile against Denver at 4am on a school night – clue, it was me) but this is exactly why we do it. This is special. Really really special. Drinks are ordered, these are the sweetest ones all weekend!

South Beach clears out not long after the game finishes but I think we’re emotionally drained anyway. Time to head back to the hostel. I look up the address one final time for Uber and notice that we’re staying at 3120 Collins Ave. 3120! In a Super Bowl full of omens we’ve just found our own icing on the cake. A perfect way to end a perfect weekend.

PS I promised you a photo of my daughter, here’s the one I was sent on the morning of game day. Like I say, it was a perfect day.

Duncan x

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