The Merseyside Nighthawks hosted their second annual Super Bowl Party at The Long Shot sports bar in Liverpool.
Around 140 players, coaches, friends and associates made their way down to Albert Dock for an evening of football, food and fanfare.
The Nighthawks, of the UK Premier Division, were 2014 National Champions as well as 2015 NFC 1 Champions.
Their website describes them as not just a team but a family, and Sunday night’s celebrations demonstrated as much.
It was just past 10pm when Merseysportlive stepped through the doors of the brick-walled, dock side sports bar and were greeted by a warm and lively atmosphere.
Across the venue’s two floors was a bustling scene of vibrant NFL jerseys, chicken wing platters and a collection of Jack Daniels merchandise (the evening’s sponsor).
The Super Bowl may have been happening 5000 miles west of Merseyside, but it felt like we were just round the corner from Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm stadium.
As the 11.30pm kick-off neared and nerves built, attentions turned to the array of big-screen TV’s filling the Long Shot’s walls.
The Sky Sports’ cameras honed in on two of the game’s main talking points and opposing quarterbacks, Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts.
It was the first Super Bowl in history to feature two black quarterbacks.
MSL spoke to Merseyside Nighthawks’ quarterback Luke Ryan and 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Gary Plunkett, who both pledged their allegiances to the Eagles and predicted Hurts to win Most Valuable Player.
To the left of us on the upstairs floor was a table of punters draped in Eagles’ green and to the right, an equally invested group of Chiefs fans.
Were it not for the scouse accents, engaged in a tennis match of good-natured ribbing throughout, you’d have mistaken it for an American dive bar.
The teams’ athleticism and agility produced a feisty opening two quarters, fuelling festivities inside the Long Shot.
The bar, floor and kitchen staff worked tirelessly to keep the punters well fed and watered into the early hours of Monday.
The Eagles to our left began the happier, as Hurts ran, dodged and threw his side to a 24-14 lead at the half.
But after an iconic half-time show from Rihanna and a few more rounds of beer and JD, the Chiefs fans were buoyed by Mahome’s exploits.
Following an injury scare in the first half, the two-time season MVP completed 13/14 passes and scored two rushing touchdowns to inspire his team to a 38-35 victory.
He ensured that the trophy headed back to Kansas for the first time since 2020, earning himself the Super Bowl MVP to boot.
And while this classic encounter would inevitably end in disappointment for some inside The Long Shot, the night was an undeniably positive one for all involved.
The Liverpool Echo have reported an estimated 28,000 people play American Football in the UK, with a further 13 million fans of the sport.
The spherical ball will always remain king in this city, but Sunday night showed us there is a strong Merseyside community behind the “old pigskin”.
To find out more about the Merseyside Nighthawks, follow the club on Instagram, @merseysidenighthawks; on Twitter, @nighthawks_news; on Facebook, Merseyside Nighthawks or check out their website www.merseysidenighthawks.co.uk
For enquiries at The Long Shot, Royal Albert Dock: call 0151 438 6799 or email [email protected], Instagram: @thelongshot.bar