Panthers fans in England have been patiently waiting for the news that was announced Monday.
Their team is finally travelling across the pond, set to play the division rival Buccaneers in London during the 2019 season. It’ll be the first overseas game in franchise history, and for The Royal Riot – the London chapter of the Roaring Riot – the timing couldn’t be better.
The chapter was born this past September and is led by Joe Baucom - who grew up in Charlotte and became a die-hard fan before moving to London - and Oliver Harvey-Jones, a Londoner who adopted the Panthers as his NFL team a few years ago.
“Being able to see the Panthers in London will be incredible,” Baucom said. “We really have a great core of fans here, which is really cool. We got our Roaring Riot chapter up and running and everyone is just ecstatic about it.”
The Royal Riot brings about 20-30 fans together for watch parties each week, and that number is sure to increase with the Panthers making this long-awaited trip.
“It’s going to be huge,” Baucom said. “I’ve already gotten numerous messages from people who didn’t realize we had a group like this in London. I think we’ll grow exponentially by having the Panthers come over.
“The NFL in general is getting so much bigger in the UK. It’s definitely not how it used to be.”
Harvey-Jones would love to see more Brits take interest in the sport – and the Panthers – like he did back in 2015.
“It’s kind of like how people in America pick an EPL team (English Premier League) – you have to find a reason. I started to get bored without having the emotion to attach to it,” Harvey-Jones said. “Believe it or not, it was 2015 when I decided to pick a team. It was Week 2 and I had no idea how good a season the Panthers were about to have, but it was Cam’s somersault touchdown against the Texans that did it.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my guy. This is the team for me.’ That one touchdown converted me to the Panthers.”
Now, Harvey-Jones is a super fan. He’s traveled to see Carolina play in every NFC South venue.
And now the Panthers are coming to him.
“Seeing the team run out in London, it’s going to be so exciting,” Harvey-Jones said. “And to be able to welcome all the fans from over there – we’re going to try to put on a great experience for them as well.”