The Wembley weekend actually started months earlier for your committee at our AGM. 

Back in January in fact, when we knew that our beloved Dolphins were heading back here. Planning started immediately, and, knowing that several members have made a stay at the Renaissance Heathrow a regular event, it was quickly decided that we would consider that as a venue to host the inevitable Club Do. Carla was on the case with the events team at the hotel to see what options and costings they could provide.

At the same time, our treasurer, Dave Wilson set the wheels in motion with the NFL for our tickets once again, only this time with the complication of three games to arrange. Thanks heavens he’s an accountant, and has a head for figures!

Meanwhile, buoyed by news of the Dolphins visit, Brian started working on the membership packs, with designs and ideas being floated about by all.

Pete continued his great work developing the website and Facebook page, whilst Bob went to work with the Dolphins about acquiring prizes and seeing what we could organise with them.

As ever, Eddie was the glue that held everything together with his enthusiasm and willingness to be a sounding board for some of our ideas.

Work progressed through the year, with Bob & Carla bringing some quality Dolphins items back from their sports memorabilia contacts in Arizona for the raffle, the main ones being the Shula signed SI cover, the signed mini helmet by the two HOF players and the Dwight Stephenson signed photo. After another committee discussion, Bob contacted Shawn Wooden, who agreed to be our honorary president.

Dave continued to make sense of the orders (and changes of orders) for tickets for one, two or all three games.

As we headed into the summer, we agreed on the membership pack item, being a commemorative scarf. Brian got to work on the design, and as usual, the committee took a vote and chose a design. Yes, we were going to get these out for the start of the season!

Carla started to process the membership renewals, and is still doing so to this day!

The Renaissance advised Carla that they were more than happy to host our event, and even we were surprised at the low cost, £18 per head that they charged. I think everyone agreed that to keep it under £20 after all these years was an offer we couldn’t refuse, and we would be hard pressed to match that anywhere else. At the same time, the hotel gave Carla the booking ref for our members to book a room over the weekend, which all told, with car parking and breakfast included, was still a very good rate. Bookings were taken for the Club Do with the function room finally booked and menu agreed upon by Carla with Eddie’s expert advice.

Bob’s discussions with the Dolphins continued, and we soon realised that they were basically visiting on a touch and go basis, so time to arrange anything was increasingly limited.

As we entered September, disaster struck. The scarf manufacturers declared that they could not use our design. Brian went back to the drawing board, with much back and forth (and many hours work) to no avail. Our other item came back looking awful. A very quick committee chat was called online, and we settled on a baseball cap. More work was done by Brian, with designs and re-designs for everything to fit. Finally the manufacturer was given the order to go ahead with the hats. Unfortunately, they arrived the day before the Dolphins arrived, giving us no time to get them sent out! You will all get them in the coming days, and I think we should all recognise and give thanks to Brian for his work and tenacity in getting them done.

With a week to go, Bob’s discussions with the Dolphins continued, with it becoming more apparent that the short visit had a very, very tight schedule, with pretty much every minute accounted for. This was after all, a business trip for them. With a couple of days out, Bob was given permission to take the committee to the Saracens training session, with the limit being 10 people. Carla, Eddie and then Dave were unavailable, so with us having to immediately provide names, we approached long serving members who were able to confirm instantly that they could attend.

At the same time, Bob put in a request for some pre-game field passes, but it became apparent that this depended on Mr Ross, and how many of his “sponsors” and “corporate” were in London, as they were brought over too. That would go down to the wire with a disappointing conclusion, although the box of goodies and signed merchandise did arrive that week from the Dolphins, as did a couple of signed cards from John Clay, one of our members.

Friday came, and the group attended Saracens. Peter covered that visit superbly with his article, and it was, indeed fantastic when the players approached us at the end of the session. One of our group taught one of the players how to say “cheers”, as an alternative to “thank you”. Bob taught him another word which he promised to use on the field that Sunday. All in all, it was wonderful to meet with them, especially great that the final person to come down the line was Coach Philbin himself who popped over to thank us for our support, and to sign whatever we had. We even managed to get three caps signed by multiple players for then Club raffle.  Whilst Peter mentioned us being interviewed by Sports Illustrated, we were also interviewed by the Palm Beach Post, Kim Bokamper of CBS4, and even filmed a trailer for the game for BT Sport! A small and embarrassing note….none of us recognised Kim Bokamper, although Bob kept mumbling that he knew the face!

Saturday came, and whilst most of our members were either in London, or headed this way, we prepared for the Club Do. The committee met at the hotel early that evening, and prepared the room. I think that those who attended really enjoyed the Club Do, and it was a shame that more members were unable to be there. However a great time was had by all, with Peter hosting a great quiz.  The food did not disappoint, and it was great that the hotel now charges pub prices for drinks, matching the pubs in the area. The raffle was superb, and most people went home with something to show for their money! The prizes, were by luck of the draw, pretty much spread between members.

A smaller draw was held for the chance of pre-game field passes, as we had still not had those confirmed at that time. Sadly, we were advised that four passes were available, but not until 16:30 on the day of the game, so the email was never received, and the passes went unused. The game was better than expected, and we all had the feel good factor of seeing a Dolphins victory here in London. It was excellent to see everyone together at Wembley Stadium.

So the weekend came and already seems such a distant memory.

The committee’s work continues as ever, with Dave doing what Dave does best…the club accounts.

Carla continues with the memberships, Brian is sending out the membership packs and cards, Peter is about to upgrade our website, keep the Facebook page updated and has also started up a twitter account, as we seem to have a couple of others in the twitter world claiming to represent all DolFans in the UK out there!

Bob continues both building our relationship with the Dolphins, and is working on raising our profile with them. Both he, Eddie and the rest of the committee continue to put their minds together to see what new ideas we can come up with for the rest of this season and next year(and beyond!).

At this stage, we, the Committee would like to thank you all for supporting us over the years, and for showing your continued support. We’d also like to thank Bill Galante and the Miami Dolphins for their ongoing support, the Renaissance Hotel for the Club Do and their welcome, John Clay for his kind raffle donation, the Bazos family for their encouragement and support, and Bill Cox, who during his months at home in Florida never misses an opportunity to talk about us to the players, alumni and staffers at the Dolphins that he knows and meets!