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Billy on the box: No more taking the Mick


Really wild show: I’m no Bill Oddie but even I know that these aren’t Falcons, even ones that claim to be from Atlanta

Really wild show: I’m no Bill Oddie but even I know that these aren’t Falcons, even ones that claim to be from Atlanta

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Really wild show: I’m no Bill Oddie but even I know that these aren’t Falcons, even ones that claim to be from Atlanta

I have to say the novelty of NFL games coming to London has been beginning to wear off a bit of late and with three this season it, quite frankly, is like a big plate of pancakes smothered in maple syrup - a good idea in principle but heavy going after the first couple.

Sunday's helping wasn't the most appetising thing on the menu either as Falcons and Lions were the dishes of the day and no harm to either of them, fans from both aren't that prevalent in the United States of Kingdom.

Sky are even, dare I suggest it, becoming a trifle blasé as football leaving America to come to the home of soccerball is becoming as regular as an under-pressure President invading a foreign oil-laden land.

With this in mind it took a whole six seconds before we got our first glimpse of Big Ben, the Underground and a red bus going past the Houses of Parliament. That was that, no more tired clichés were to be seen, apart from the London Eye and a black taxi going over Tower Bridge.

This was all accompanied by a lovely ditty by popular beat comboist Eminem entitled 'Survival', which was apt I suppose with all those wild animals roaming around Wembley, and includes the line 'this is winner takes all' but no Jimmy Tarbucks were spotted prowling amongst the lush green sward.

Indeed there has been a slight regime change at Sky as well with presenter Kevin Cadle now held captive in the studio although that may have something to do with the threat of a Megatron exploding.

The Megatron in question is Lions' wide receiver Calvin Johnson, one of the stars of the show, only he wasn't as he was shown walking into Wembley.

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"Calvin 'Megatron' Johnson will not thrill the Wembley crowd today as he won't be playing," said Cadle, in slightly deflated fashion, although not as deflated as Sky who had recorded an interview with him earlier in the week.

Undeterred they showed it anyway perhaps hoping that because the game was on so early no-one would actually notice.

It was the first ever lunch-time kick-off, good news for UK fans, but not great for their American cousins who were still dreaming of pancakes when it was about to start.

Studio pundit Cecil Martin, who seemed relatively unscathed from his recent trip to Belfast, was probably still dreaming of an Ulster Fry but said it wouldn't be a problem for America.

"It's game day, so America is going to be watching this game," he confidently predicted.

"On the east coast they may be watching it a little bit more than those in the mid-west and those on the west coast where it's super early for them so they may not make it."

So, not all of America is going to be watching then?

"It's game day and they will be up!" he insisted.

I just wish he'd make up his mind.

Our man on the spot was Neil Reynolds, normally the studio analyst, he and his big TV had decamped to pitchside where he revealed that the NFL had labelled the event 'Wake up to Wembley', although there is still some debate clearly on whether that meant all or just some Americans.

The UK fans didn't mind, they were awake and in dreamland, including some Lions' fans interviewed outside by reporter Laura Woods.

"I might know the answer to this but who are you guys here to see today?" she asked, with a booming 'Megatronnnnn' the answer, and we all sniggered a little.

If that was an unwelcome surprise there was a most welcome one to come for those of us whose love of the game was nurtured by one man with many gleaming teeth.

Mick Luckhurst was the face of the NFL when Channel Four first started the games and he was back, accompanied, bizarrely by Sky's intrepid Johnny on the spot, Johnny, sorry, Geoff Shreeves.

It turns out Mick gave Geoff his break in telly and he was back to lead out his former side, the Falcons, and was as delirious as a Lions fan here to see Megatron.

He had plenty of reason to be cheerful, the Falcons soaring to a 21-0 half-time lead and another dull Wembley game was confirmed.

Only it wasn't, just as on Survival when a zebra dandered jauntily across the savannah oblivious to the dangers afoot, the Falcons were given a right savaging by the Lions, and just in time as with the last kick of the game they witnessed the wonderfully named Matt Prater score the winning field goal for a 22-21 win.

In the words of renowned American philosopher, Hannibal Smith, I love it when a plan comes together, but what we all need now is a break from these London games for a while.

What's that? They're back in a fortnight? Wake me up when they get here.

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