Fans from Scotland join the ‘sea of red’ for the first time
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Billy Humphries watched the Huskers for the first time in 1972 when the Orange Bowl aired in his home country Scotland. He said he fell in love with “the way they played the game.”
“I just wanted to wear red and white, and that’s my favorite color,” Billy said. “So I picked them, and I’ve followed them ever since.”
Glasglow, Scotland is over 4,000 miles away from Lincoln, NE, but that doesn’t stop Billy from hollering at his TV on Saturdays. When the Huskers played in Dublin, Ireland last year, he and his wife Ellen watched University of Nebraska Lincoln play in-person. While staying in their hotel, the Humphries befriended a couple from Lincoln, Nebraska- Rick and Valerie Duntz.
“Ellen and Valerie were chatting like old high school friends, and Billy and I would get a quip in or two,” laughed Rick. “We’d have a few laughs and talk about sports and things like that. They were just nice and easy to talk to.”
The Humphries were amazed by the energy of Husker fans at the Dublin game. Then Valerie told them, “You should see what it’s like in Memorial Stadium.”
The Duntz invited them to Lincoln, and the Humphries took them up on their offer for the first home game of the 2023 season.
The Scottish husband and wife got on three planes and flew 27 hours to land on the Wednesday before the game. The group went to Misty’s Steakhouse and Lounge to clap along with the Marching Band, watch the cheerleaders’ and take a photo with Herby Husker. They also visited Nebraskan stores and the Haymarket Farmers Market.
“Everybody is just so friendly, and it feels like home,” Ellen said. “They’re just so very welcoming. These are total strangers, and everyone is saying we love your accent. There’s something to say about being a fan of Nebraska Cornhuskers and traveling all this way.”
In the meantime, their anticipation grew. Valerie and Rick gave their Scottish friends the full Nebraskan experience by inviting them to tailgate with friends before kickoff.
“It brings a new spark and a sense of pride,” Valerie said. “That somebody from so far away could love us as much as we love us.”
There, Billy chatted with former Husker football players and even got his hat signed.
“I hope I didn’t ruin it,” chuckled Dean Steinkuhler, former Husker and Oilers athlete. “But they’re nice people and it just shows the open arms that these people got accepted into today.”
When people at the tailgate heard of the new visitors, they insisted on gathering together in a big group to cheer, “Gooooo biiiiiig reeeeed! Go big red... from Scotland!
Finally, the long-awaited moment came for the Humphries to enter the largest stadium they’ve ever stepped foot in. The roar of the swelling crowd hit them first.
“I did buy earplugs today because in Dublin there was only 20,000 (fans), and the ‘Go big red’ was still loud,” Ellen said. “So I figured over 85,000 people must be even louder.”
The size of the stadium baffled them next.
“Ireland was good,” Billy said. “This is off the charts.”
They sat on the west side of the Memorial Stadium in section four. Even though they were apart from their Nebraskan fans, they still enjoyed clapping along with the marching band, and Ellen stretched her arm up to video their formations with her phone.
“You can’t even see the people, I can’t pick them out out,” said Ellen Humphries, Scottish Husker fan. “There’s so many of them.”
Another thing that surprised the Humphries was how “family friendly” the crowd was compared to some spectators at football or soccer games in Europe. Billy said that’s why they tend to watch American sports like baseball and football.
“We’re actually born in the wrong country,” Billy said. “We feel like we’ve been born in the wrong country. We should be Yanks.”
Before the game, Billy predicted the Huskers would beat Northern Illinois by 17 points. He wasn’t too far off as the Huskers won 35-11.
When the Huskers scored their first touchdown, Billy and Ellen rose with the rest of the crowd, sweeping their arms from side to side- officially joining the “sea of red.”
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