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Local Giants Fans Rally for Big Game

New York fans, like their New England counterparts, eager for kickoff.

John Spence didn't grow up in New York. In fact, he's a New Englander, born and raised.

He's a lifelong Red Sox fan and has earned multiple accolades for his broadcasting work in local college hockey and auto racing.

He's also a die-hard Giants fan.

Spence, a 61-year-old Merrimack Police dispatcher, said when he was growing up in Lowell, Mass., the G-Men were the only show in town. Literally.

"When I was a kid, Giants games were televised on Boston TV. We had no team here in New England," said Spence. "Everybody in this area that had an interest in pro football had an interest in the Giants."

He said his passion began when the National Football League's New York franchise won the NFL championship in 1956. By the time the Giants fell to the Baltimore Colts, 23-17, in sudden death overtime of the 1958 title tilt – a contest affectionately remembered by most professional football junkies as "The Greatest Game Ever Played" – Spence said there was no turning back.

"I was hooked by the time the Patriots and the AFL were conceived (in 1959)," he said. "Y.A. Tittle became my hero in 1960 and the rest is history for me."

Though his bio on the Merrimack PD's website says he is "known coast-to-coast as one of New England’s biggest New York Giants fans," Spence - who has also dispatched in Nashua and Hollis - said living in New England hasn't always been easy for a Giants fan.

"Patriot fans were not very kind prior to and after the 2007 win," he said. "I have license plates that make reference to the Giants and have been harassed on the road more than I care to think about.

"My son has had damage done to his vehicle," Spence added. "It's not a good situation."

Though 54 years-old Yonkers native Andy Michal hasn't experienced the level of hostility Spence described, he said his experience with Patriots fans has been mostly harmless. Still, he admitted he's sometimes annoyed with locals making excuses for the G-Men's 2007 victory.

"The Giants were not a threat to the Pats for a long time," said Michal, who now resides in Windham. "Since (2007), (New England fans) have been telling me the Giants were lucky and if the game was played 10 times, the Pats would win nine. Whatever. They didn't."

Like Michal, 57-year-old Steven Serra was born in the greater New York City area, Brooklyn, to be exact. He moved to southern New Hampshire 23 years ago, and says he has been wearing his Victor Cruz jersey since the Giants beat the Jets on Christmas eve. He'll, of course, be sporting No. 80 again Sunday night.

Despite his loyalties, Serra admitted a begrudging respect for his team's Super Bowl opponent.

"I do not dislike or hate the Patriots at all," he said. "Bill Belichick won two Super Bowls for my Giants when he was our defensive coordinator. I would be rooting for the Pats against any other team."

David Beach of Bedford, on the other hand, isn't a big fan of Boston-area sports fans in general. He often jokes that he's looking to relocate anywhere outside of New England just to free himself of obnoxious Red Sox enthusiasts.

Beach, who bleeds New York Giants' blue and red, didn't grow up in New England, or New York. He was raised in Panama. His parents were from New Jersey. His first sports American sports memories are centered around visits to his grandparents home in the Garden State. He also attended college at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Still, like Serra, Beach said he can't find it in his heart to hate the Patriots.

"I actually like Brady and Welker, and Bill Belichick," he said. "Should be interesting on Sunday."

Speaking of Sunday, all four local New York fans are taking a tentative approach toward their predictions.

"It should be a great game," said Michal. "Last time, I was just hoping the Giants could be in the game in the second half. This time, I am expecting both teams to be ready."

"I don't like to make predictions," said Spence, "but if the Giants play 'Giant Defense' and Eli and company take care of business, I like our chances."

"I think it's going to be a good game," said Beach. "I'm not confident on the Patriots secondary. I think the Giants will win, but it could be a shoot-out.

Serra was more to the point. "34-20." Giants.

Love 'em or hate 'em, these and hundreds of other local Giants fans, like their New England counterparts, will be glued to the TV when the ball is kicked of at 6:29 p.m. Sunday.

Jay McGillicuddy February 03, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I am a few years younger than Mr. Spence and I too grew up loving the Giants but once the 70's hit with Grogan I turned to really like the Pats and now I love this team. Pats 27 Giants 24. Go Pats!
Ryan O'Connor February 03, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Well said, Hocus Pocus!

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