BAGSHOT, England -- Drive an hour southwest of London, wind through some side streets to a tony small town and you’ll find Pennyhill Park. Good luck finding it without a map.
The Raiders have enjoyed the isolation during a week of work heading into Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins at London’s Wembley Stadium. That ended after Friday’s practice, when the Raiders packed up and headed to the city center.
The fanfare cranks way up on Saturday with a massive festival down London’s famous Regent Street. The exposure should be great, providing stark contrast to the quiet confines of this world-class resort.
While some players have made the trek to London for a quick bite, most have hunkered down in the countryside.
“I’ve been locked away over here in the meeting rooms,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “It’s like a dungeon over there. We’ve been focused on football, which has been beneficial, but I think you can sense the excitement from the people here in the UK. I think our football team is excited about being here and excited about playing the game.”
The Raiders hope their hard work will deliver the season’s first win, and that the isolation has built strong chemistry.
Anytime you have a chance to get away and keep the team sequestered into one little area, it can be a good thing,” Allen said. “The guys have spent a lot of time together this week. It’s been a good experience. Hopefully it will help us get some wins.”
Raiders players enjoyed staying on the grounds of rustic old-world resort for the United Kingdom’s rich and famous. It’s so posh, in fact, that a spa membership cost £20,000 per year.
“It feels like we’re staying at Hogwarts,” receiver Andre Holmes said. “I’ve got the Harry Potter room. They put me up in the attic.”
The city life awaits, with the first game of the NFL’s International Series just a few days away. While some likened the experience to training camp, defensive end Justin Tuck had a different take.
“I look at it more like college bowl week," he said. "Training camps aren’t that fun. But we’ve had a good time over here and it’s good to be confined to one area with your whole team. A lot of chemistry has taken place this week, and like I said, I had the advantage of being here in ’07 when they first did it and the experience has changed a little bit. I think the NFL has gotten better as the years have went on, so this week has been good for us as a team. You’re just looking forward to getting to Sunday.”