I started watching the NFL in 1984, the second full season on British television. But it wasn't until week nine that I got to see the Raiders, when they beat the Dallas Cowboys (who were 8-0 at the time, and the last unbeaten team in the league that year) 40-38 at Cowboys Stadium in a thrilling game.
I loved the silver and black uniforms, and immediately took an interest. I remember seeing Lyle Alzado, Howie Long, and Ted Hendricks leading the Raiders out and I knew this was my team. I followed them all the way to Super Bowl XVIII that year where they beat Washington, and I was completely hooked.
Many of my friends had an NFL addiction too, and we still hold a Super Bowl party every year. I even played for two different teams in England at linebacker.
I bought every book I could find on the Raiders, and read the biographies of Al Davis, Kenny Stabler, Jon Matuszak, Jack Tatum, and many others. I bought merchandise and a game shirt, and I learned everything I could about the Raiders and about football. In 2005, I became a columnist on www.raidernews.com.
It is of course every fan's dream to see their team play live at their home stadium, and I was able to come over to California in 2007 and see two games. I met plenty of friendly Raider fans who invited me to their tailgate parties, and I had an amazing time. I even got the Oakland Raiders logo tattooed on my shoulder whilst I was in the bay area.
I loved my experience so much that I came back again the next year, and this time, because of my work at Raidernews , I was able to get a press pass and do locker room interviews. I was in awe of the whole organization, which my friends still describe as a 'childlike fascination.'
In 2010 I came to California again to see the Raiders play, and this time brought my girlfriend Anita. I had it all planned out, and proposed to her at the game against the Houston Texans after the Raiders first touchdown. Thankfully she said yes and we are now happily married. We had dinner that night in Jack London Square and the whole thing was perfect. The Raiders even sent us a gift pack as congratulations for our happy day.
This year, after 22 years as a police officer in Birmingham, I earned my award for long service, and with it I got to choose a gift, I picked a custom made Phil Villapiano game shirt from the Raider Image.
I love the history of the Raiders and all the great teams we have had. Thankfully, I have plenty of people to talk Raiders stuff with, as they are well supported in the UK.
Raiders until I die!
David will receive a 3'x5' Raiders logo flag and a photo of and autographed by Hall of Famer Willie Brown.