When asked about their favorite sport, the typical Brit would usually respond saying they enjoy rugby, cricket or soccer (O.K. football). But Simon Brown, Phil Lee and James Bird aren’t typical Brits. They enjoy ice hockey, primarily Pittsburgh Penguins ice hockey.
Brown, 30, Lee, 23, and Bird, 24, are some of the Penguins’ biggest fans that hail from across the pond. Over the past years, they have followed the team in the standings and throughout the postseason. Now the trio is getting to experience firsthand what it’s like to see their favorite club play live.
“It was up and down then up and down again,” Brown said. “But it really has been a fun trip. I am happy to have come with these guys. It’s an experience like no other.”
The men are in town till November 30 scoping out the local Pittsburgh scene, but their mainly here to see their beloved Pens in action against the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s a pretty interesting story as to how the three ended up as friends.
Brown, who currently lives in Spain, has been an avid hockey fan since he was a kid when he was playing NHLPA ’93 on the Sega Genesis. When it came to him picking a team in the game, Brown liked that there was a club named after his favorite animal, which was the tuxedo-clad bird.
Stemming from his love of video games, Brown first met Lee while playing another NHL video game online, which is where they would befriend Bird too. After getting to know each other over the course of a few months, the three decided a trip to Pittsburgh should happen.
“I met them online playing in the EA Sports Hockey League and it was funny that all three of us liked the Penguins being from England,” Bird said. “After a while we all just came to a consensus that we should go to a game.”
The three are also a part of the British Penguins Fan Club, which is a social-media based group for fans of the U.K. Brown, who just turned 30, was wearing his British Penguins Fan Club hoodie.
So far, Lee seems to have enjoyed his trip the ‘Burgh as well.
“I love it here,” Lee said. “Coming through the tunnel and seeing the skyline was wonderful. The people are so nice and everyone seems to enjoy talking to you. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget.”