I remember seeing an itinerary, which included tours of some of well-known historical locations that anyone coming to London for the first time would visit. Also listed were practice times. We visited all the sites that time would allow, such as Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. We even spent one night at the theater seeing “Cats” on a revolving stage, which really was amazing. The pubs were great, along with the famous fish and chips.
When I say that practice was probably the last thing on our list of things to do, a person might understand. But there was a game to be played in a couple of days. I remember very little about the actual practice, although I do remember the location. The Cumberland Hotel was located just a short walk from Hyde Park. Yes, Hyde Park. As a team, we practiced a couple of times in Hyde Park, with onlookers wondering what are these crazy Americans doing?
The game itself was rather uneventful, extremely generic as I recall. I do remember the fans that made it to the game -- tickets were free -- were very excited and cheered whenever a punt or a kickoff took place. I think we won the game, but I have no idea of the score. It seemed the fans had no idea either and really didn’t care.
Our last day in London started early. Everyone was excited about returning home to their own bed and air-conditioned homes and apartments. We said our goodbyes, sent some luggage back with teammates and began a journey that would change us forever.
Marianne and I had planned ahead. We already had purchased a Eurail pass, which gave us unlimited train travel throughout the European mainland. The “Chunnel” did not exist yet, so we left England on a ferry from Dover, landing in Calais, France, after crossing the channel for the first time. We made stops in Paris, Munich, Salzburg, and Rome with no plans, no reservations and way too much luggage for three weeks. That three weeks turned into a lifetime of adventures exploring the European continent, creating friendships with fellow travelers, as well as locals we met along the way. I never imagined as a young boy learning how to punt, pass, and catch with my father and brother in our front yard in La Porte, Texas, that the game of football would take me anywhere.
Boy, was I wrong.
Scott Woerner was an All-American defensive back and kick returner for the Georgia Bulldogs and played on the 1980 national championship team. He was drafted by the Falcons in 1981 and played for them one season before moving on to the USFL. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Woerner is a retired elementary school teacher, and he and his wife, Marianne, live in Sautee Nacoochee in the North Georgia mountains.