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From England, With Love

How far would you travel to watch your favorite team?

Fifty miles? Three hundred? A thousand?

How about across the Atlantic?

That's how far Johnny Drummond of Billingham, England, travels once a year to see his beloved Capitals. Including last week's visit, during which he attended home games against the Senators and Rangers, he's come to Washington five times.

I first met Drummond at Piney Orchard Ice Arena a few years ago. He came over and introduced himself and we chatted for a few minutes.

Then he dropped the bombshell.

"I'm from England," he said.

"You grew up there, right?," I said.

"No, I live there," he said.

We've been e-mail buddies ever since.

I'm not the only one impressed with his level of dedication. He's on a first name basis with Ted and Olie and also has general manager George McPhee's cell phone number.

Last Monday, Johnny, his wife Elaine, nine-year-old daughter Daryl and nephew Anthony, watched the Caps rally to beat the Senators from Leonsis's suite.

A couple of days later, they were treated to a private suite for the Wizards. And on Saturday, they watched the Caps knock off the Rangers from the upper deck, near center ice.

"Back home in the Northeast of England, everything is all soccer," Drummond said. "I caught the NHL on T.V. in like 1985, and that was it. I couldn't watch anything but the NHL."

Oddly enough, Johnny fell in love with the Capitals on April 24, 1996, the day Pittsburgh's Petr Nedved scored in quadruple overtime to lift the Penguins to a 3-2 victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarters.

Johnny was watching the game live in England.

"It finished at like 6 a.m.", he recalled. "And I had to go to work the next morning. I was a crane driver. I fell asleep in the cab."

He was hooked.

Drummond's favorite current player is - surprise, surprise - Alex Ovechkin. His favorite all time player is Peter Bondra.

"I think it was February 18, 2004," Drummond said, shaking his head as he remembered the precise day Bondra was traded to the Senators. "It was sad. But I wouldn't swap the team we have now for any Caps team in any generation."

Although Washington's games are not broadcast on television in his hometown, Drummond diligently watches each one. A friend in Sterling, Va., burns every game onto a DVD and then ships it to him.

"We get the Versus feed twice a week," Drummond said. "Games start at midnight. I found the Capitals-Canucks game on the internet live. That started at 3 a.m., so me and Daryl went to bed around 10, woke up at 3 a.m. and watched it."

He just emailed me this afternoon to say he and his family arrived home safely. His luggage, however, is another story. It's lost.

"The airline have assured me that it will be on its way tomorrow," he wrote. "It had better be, I have a Kolzig signed puck packed!"

He sums up his latest American adventure like this:

"It was worth it ... a 6000 mile round trip. I got to see 2 fantastic Caps wins, booed Jagr and got to eat hot dogs in an executive suite!!"

See you next year, Johnny.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 13, 2006; 3:38 PM ET
 
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Comments

I would like to think that somebody over there would get sick of the 24hour Soccer barrage. It's nice to know that he picked hockey. Does Great Britain have a national team? I think they do....

Posted by: Eric | November 13, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

THAT is a cool story. I was just in Europe had that NHL-over-the-net thing is definitely way, way cool. The league may have a winner with that.

Posted by: TLGDC | November 13, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

I saw Semin left the ice early last night...did he appear ok to you, and was there any official word on whether he was ok or not?

Thanks

Posted by: Graham | November 14, 2006 4:22 AM | Report abuse

J.D.'s a great guy, glad you've gotten to know him!

He really ought to host a chat, now that I think about it...

Posted by: Sparky | November 14, 2006 4:56 AM | Report abuse

This guy my friends, is NOT A NARCF!!!

Posted by: Joe | November 14, 2006 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Joe ... I was going to make a NARCF reference. But then I would have to admit to wasting valuable company time by checking out the message boards.

Posted by: Tarik | November 14, 2006 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Tarik--too late.

Posted by: IJ | November 14, 2006 12:24 PM | Report abuse

That is a GREAT story.

Posted by: rain man | November 14, 2006 1:39 PM | Report abuse

That's outstanding! I'm glad he got to see two sweet games too. Thanks for giving this guy a little spotlight, hope I get to meet him next season.

Posted by: Goat | November 14, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Nice to hear that there are more Caps fans here in the UK. I live here now since moving from Montreal in 99. I have been a Caps fan since 88 and remember freezing outside the back of the old Montreal Forum and meeting the greats of back then, Hunter, Khristich, Bondra, Pivonka and Langway. Biggest guy though was Iafrate who made the bus driver wait till he got a burger from Wendys down St Catherines! Great story, Tarik about Johnny, must try the NHL over the net coverage. Heres to getting back into the playoffs where we belong.

Posted by: Kiltman | November 14, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but that dude is totally NARCF. He has AIRLINE tickets, not SEASON tickets.

Posted by: NARCF Narc | November 14, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

JD!
Have started speaking to him recently as we both had struggles to get the NHL radio working!
A great bloke who has blessed me with my first full Caps games to view.

There is about 1 game a week over here in Australia and it is never the Caps.
Have been a Caps fan going on about 8 years now and to finally see my first full game was so good.
Hopefully ill get a chance to see the boys live in action one day.
Ben from Melbourne.

Posted by: BennyD | November 14, 2006 11:19 PM | Report abuse

hiya johnny works for me in a tile shop in stockton on tees in north east england and he is a great lad and husband and dad. he so looksforeward to his familys trip to washington each year and has nothing but complimentary comments about usa and its people.any way from this side of the pond to our good friends be safe be happy be healthy

Posted by: peter hinde | November 15, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

hiya caps fans my name is anthony im J.Ds nephew, great story, i too was at them games and WOW we could not have got to go to two better games than that. Im not sure why some of you think J.D is a NARCF why would he be a season ticket holder when he is from england i think making that journey to see his team is good enough. while im on here id like to thank everyone who participated in making the trip as good as it was including my mam and dad who bought me my flights for my birthday and for my uncle aunty and cousin for taking me with them, also Ted Leonsis for being a great guy and Mike Vogel for some awesome tickets against the Rangers. thanks guys take care.

Posted by: Anthony Drummond | November 15, 2006 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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