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June 10, 2024

Broad Street meets Abbey Road: A week like no other for Philly Fans in London

The lifelong obsession with Philly sports reaches well beyond the confines of the Delaware Valley. The Phillies' trip to London over the weekend made that strikingly clear.

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PhilsLondonGame.JPG Nick Tricome/PhillyVoice

London Stadium after the Phillies' win over the Mets on Saturday.

I was on vacation last week. London, for the series. 

And I didn't know much, if anything. I had never been abroad. I didn't know what the UK was going to be like, or how my friends and I were going to get around. 

All I knew for sure was this: I wanted to cross Abbey Road, and at the end of the week, we had tickets to go watch a Phillies game in a soccer stadium.

The latter was the catalyst for the entire trip in the first place. 'We were always gonna go somewhere big eventually, why not London while the Phillies are there?' was pretty much the entire line of thought.

But then that game – those two – did something I'm not sure anyone could've fully expected until feet were actually on the ground. As the week went on, they brought out Phillies red (and Eagles green) nearly everywhere we went – across the London Bridge, at the steps of St. Paul's and Big Ben, the gates of Buckingham Palace, the bars and pubs (a lot of them), and yeah, Abbey Road, especially Abbey Road actually. 

London felt familiar, quickly, and comfortable. And look, yeah, part of it was getting our bearings, but much bigger was seeing fans, a massive community at large, all there for the same thing. 

Philadelphia showed up to London this past weekend for the Phillies, and you could see it – on the London Series broadcasts, and through the many, many photos and videos that came in over social media over the past few days. 

And in isolation, that was all for what was ultimately just two baseball games in a long 162-game schedule. But big picture, it showed that Philadelphia sports and its following, its obsession have progressed far beyond the confines of the Delaware Valley. 

Philadelphia is everywhere, and you don't even have to look all that far to find it – even when you're all the way across the pond.

We flew in Monday morning. Our tickets were for Saturday, and we were sure to see as much as we could in between, but the icebreaker of where we're from always seemed to follow. 

We went to the top of the Shard, a skyscraper in the heart of London that lets you see the entire city from above, the ticket attendant down below at the desk took our info and saw "Philadelphia" on the check-in sheet. She talked to us about the Sixers, what Tyrese Maxey's next contract was going to look like, and whether they were going to get Paul George. 

We did cross Abbey Road (getting the picture of it experience), and when we turned the corner in a quiet suburb to one of the most important places in music history, we were met with a cluster of Phillies fans waiting for local traffic to die down a bit so they could all, within their own groups, do the same – and all holding phones for one another to get the shot.

Moreover, the studio was guarded by white walls along the street, where anyone visiting was free to take a pen and sign whatever they wanted on them. And standing out like a sore (fuzzy?) thumb among all of them: A Phanatic that someone had drawn with a "Go Phils!" and the "Ring the Bell" tagline in red.


There was Major League Baseball's own organized "Takeover" in Trafalgar Square, a weekend-long block party intended to celebrate both the Phillies and Mets and the growth of baseball in Europe. Of course, there were Mets fans when we arrived once the festivities started on Friday, but...yeah, that may as well have been a block party right back here in Philly there was so much red and throwback powder blue. Even crazier, I saw other friends from back home at the party that made the trip, too. Then Chase Utley showed up (walked right by me). The cheers for him were huge. And maybe the biggest tell of how much of a Phillies crowd it was, at least on Friday: The space was split into two halves, a Phillies side and a Mets side with bars and food trucks inspired by the respective city on either end. The lines for the Phillies' side grew way longer than the Mets' side and eventually spilled over. 


When Saturday's game did finally arrive, the train ride over and walk up to London Stadium was filled with talk among strangers who just as quickly became friends, and that continued on into the building (with a shoutout to the Phandemic Krew, who I caught inside and was happy to see made the trip out). 

Everyone in Phillies gear, it was 'When'd you fly in?' 'What did you see?' 'How you feeling about the Phils? – the Birds?' and so on. Standing inside the concourse, I talked to a couple of UK locals in powder blue throwback jerseys who were amped to finally see the Phillies in person. They had been to Philly a few times throughout the years to see the McNabb-era Eagles and the Giroux-era Flyers in person, but a trip to Citizens Bank Park to see the Phils was still on their to-do list. They were more than happy to take this past weekend in the meantime though. They were also Crystal Palace Football fans, and wanted to know what I thought about Josh Harris' ownership of the Sixers back home. We'll leave the details of that conversation out, but let's just say feelings were pretty mutual. 

But then there was one more major question to nearly everyone in Phillies red that week: 'Have you been to Passyunk?'

And let me tell you about Passyunk Avenue.

It's a few Philly sports-inspired London pubs set up across Fitzrovia, Battersea, and then the big one in Waterloo. But between any of the three you visit, none of it's posturing. They get it, and they were ready for the Phils to come to town. 

The main Waterloo pub is settled within a tunnel loaded with graffiti that has piled up throughout the years, and with space to work with, the entire place was flipped into a makeshift mini-Reading Terminal filled with food trucks, extra taps, and tables leading up to the actual bar. And inside the bar, the one that had a big watch party for the series finale against the Brewers and then got a visit from Rob Thomson after he got off the plane the day after, walking felt like home. 

There was paraphernalia of the teams and the Big 5 schools from the walls and onto the ceiling, paintings made to look like stained-glass windows of Philly sports' biggest moments, and along the stairs leading up to a second-floor balcony were massive murals of Nick Foles and Jason Kelce delivering his Super Bowl parade speech leading up to another illustration of Foles' touchdown catch on the Philly Special arched above the balcony's view. At the top of the stairs was a red No. 7 Eagles practice jersey, too. It was Jeff Garcia's (I checked the back), which has kind of gone on to be such a specific and narrow moment in Eagles history, but if you know, you know – "LISTEN."


Like I said, they get it, and that place was an experience and a half, but our time at the Fitzrovia spot might have had the moment that said it all. 

That one's a hole in the wall by comparison, but had its own distinct identity. All the Philly jerseys, posters, pictures, and banners are there, but the walls were also filled with US dollar bills that had messages left by the numerous patrons that have come through – we each wrote our own on the way out, but by far, the best one was a bill posted from behind the bar with "F--- GANNON" written as large as possible in Sharpie.

That spot had its own monument to Foles and the Super Bowl team, as well, posted up by stairs leading down a basement that the bartenders were constantly running through. 

It was a Kelly green-painted wall, with a photo of Foles' catch and his quote about struggle and growth in the long-awaited celebration printed in the Eagles' font around it.

I walked up to take a picture of it, but as I did, one of the bartenders was jogging up the stairs. I backed up and pulled my phone away to let him through. 

"Sorry," I said. "I just wanted to get a pic. This is so cool."

And with the biggest grin and a British accent that couldn't be imitated, he looked back at it and quipped "Lit, innit?" And kept on moving. 

Philadelphia is everywhere, even thousands of miles away from it.

FolesWall.JPGNick Tricome/PhillyVoice

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