DALLAS — Traveling to see an English Premier League soccer team can be a bit of pilgrimage for American fans.
Brandi and Ken Saxton of Waxahachie last saw their favorite club, Tottenham Hotspur, play in 2019, and this week they made the 31-hour, 4,600-mile journey by train, plane and automobile to see them at an away game in Burnley.
“How everybody interacts, it's very infectious, very infectious,” Brandi said.
“Burnley just so happened to be on the docket the day after we arrived,” Ken said. "I was like, 'you know what the away days are almost as fun if not more fun than the actual home matches.'"
But a historic winter storm in the UK created blizzard conditions, with winds at nearly 100 mph and dropping half the region’s yearly snowfall in a single day, according to government reports.
“It was some pretty impressive, you know, fat flakes snow. It was coming down and then stacking up pretty good for,” Ken said. “Being an American sports fan, you know, you don't really consider that. Baseball has some issues with rain and whatnot, but being football fans and all that stuff, it's it's one of those things that you don't really take into consideration.”
Crews worked all day to clear the field but despite the shoveling and heated pipes under the surface, the snow wouldn’t stop, and the game was canceled.
With European soccer, there are always rumors to go with any drama. In this case, Burnley is without several starters and is facing relegation because its poor record.
“There is some Twitter rumor and speculation that Burnley did this on purpose and that they were literally watering the field in freezing temperatures,” Ken said.
“It was sad that the game was canceled, but, walking through Burnley in the morning with the snow, was just breathtaking,” Brandi said.
The couple headed to a pub in town to watch games and eat and while there, Spurs Captain Harry Kane saw Ken’s tweet about the couple’s trek to watch the team play.
“When Harry retweeted us then it it definitely blew up a, you know, a little bit more crazy,” Brandi said.
The team and Kane personally invited them to home games in London this Thursday and Sunday.
“He's asked, you know, that we show up and be a VIP guest at a match for him to represent that, and of course, that's exciting. You don't say no to that,” Ken said.
What started as failed journey became a pilgrimage to remember with an assist from mother nature.
“It's really surreal. I think is a good way to put it,” Ken said. “You don't think ever that anything like this would happen.”