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Our guide to London: Sport

Whether you prefer spectating or taking part, London offers myriad sports.  The capital attracts top professionals for spectacular encounters.  If you’re the active type, there are loads of ways to get sporty.

 

Football 

English football (or soccer) is passionate and if you have any interest in this game, then catching a league or FA Cup fixture is a must.  The season runs from mid-August to early May when the FA Cup Final at Wembley rounds thins off.  There are four league divisions: one, two, three and at the top the twenty-club Premier League.  There are London clubs in every division with six in the Premiership: Arsenal, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur.  Most Premiership fixtures kick off at 3.00 pm on Saturday although there are always a few midweek games (usually 7.30 pm on Wednesday) and one or two each Sunday (kick off between 2.00 and 4.00 pm) broadcast live on Sky TV.

Rugby 

Rugby gets its name from Rugby public school where the game mutated from football in the 19th century.  There are two types of rugby played in Britain: fifteen-a-side Rugby Union, which has upper-class associations and thirteen-a-side Rugby League which since recently has been a professional game played almost exclusively in the north of England.  The Super League features the big-name northern clubs and one London Club: the London Broncos which shares a ground with Charlton football club.  Games traditionally take place on Sundays at 3.00 pm but there are also matches on Friday and Saturday nights.  The season runs from March to September.

Cricket 

In the days of the Empire, the English took cricket to the colonies as a way of instilling gentlemanly values of fair play.  These days the former colonies – Australia, West Indies and India all beat England on a regular basis.  To see the game at its best, try to get into one of the Test matches between England and the summer’s touring team.  These international fixtures are played in the middle of the cricket season which runs from April to September.  Two of the matches are played in London: one at Lord’s (the home of English cricket) and the other at The Oval.

Tennis 

Tennis in England is synonymous with Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam tournament in the world to be played on grass and for many players the ultimate goal of their careers.  The Wimbledon championships last for two weeks and are always held during the last week of June and the first week of July.  Most tickets, particularly for the main courts (Centre and No. 1) are allocated in advance to Wimbledon tennis club’s members, other clubs and corporate sponsors and once these have been taken there are few remaining for the general public.  This means that on tournament days, queues start to form around dawn – if you arrive by 7.00 am you have a fair chance of obtaining a ticket for the Centre and No. 1 courts.  There is extensive TV coverage for Wimbledon.

Horse Racing

There are five horse racecourses within easy reach of London: Kempton Park, Sandown Park, Windsor, Ascot and Epsom.  Thousands of Londoners attend Derby Day at Epsom which is held on the first or second Saturday in June.  Other popular races are the Oaks and Royal Ascot in mid-June.

Greyhound Racing

A night out at the dogs is still a popular pursuit in London.  It’s an inexpensive, cheerful spectacle.  Meetings usually start around 7.30 pm and finish at 10.30 pm and usually include a dozen races.  The two easiest stadiums to get to are Crayford and Wimbledon.

 

Chelsea Football Club

Chelsea Football Club is a professional football club based in Fulham, London, UK that competes in the English Premier League, of which they are reigning champions. Founded in 1905, the club’s home ground since then has been Stamford Bridge.

Capacity: 41,663

Watford Football Club

Football club Watford Football Club is a professional football club based in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, that plays in the Premier League, the highest level in the English football league system.

Capacity: 21,577

Arsenal Football Club

Arsenal Football Club is a professional football club based in Highbury, London, England, that plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football.

Capacity: 60,432

Lords Cricket Ground

Lord’s, also known as Lord’s Cricket Ground, is a cricket venue in St John’s Wood, London. Named after its founder, Thomas Lord, it is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club and is the home of Middlesex County.

Capacity: 30,000

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club

White Hart Lane is the home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from 1899 to 2017. Its capacity varied over the years; when changed to all-seater it had a capacity of 36,284 before demolition. They currently play at Wembley Stadium for the 2017/18 season.