SPECTATOR SPORTS IN LONDON

SPECTATOR SPORTS IN LONDON

FOOTBALL. From late August to May, over half a million people attend professional football (soccer) matches every Saturday, dressed with fierce loyalty in team colors. Though violence at stadiums has plagued the game for years, the atmosphere has become much tamer now. The big three London teams are: Arsenal, Highbury Stadium, Avenell Rd. (7413 3366; Tube: Arsenal, Zone 2); Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, Fulham Rd. ( 7386 7799; Tube: Fulham Broadway, Zone 2); and Tottenham Hotspur, White Hart Ln. ( 8365 5000; Tube: Seven Sisters, Zone 3 or DRL: White Hart Ln.). Tickets are £1040, but they are never easy to get on short notice.

RUGBY. Rugby was allegedly created when an inspired (or confused) Rugby School student picked up a regular football and ran it into the goal. Never as popular in London as it is in the north, locals still turn out to support the four big London teams who play their season from August to May on weekends: London Wasps ( 8993 8298); NEC Harlequins (84106000); Saracens (0192 347 5222); and London Broncos ( 090683 3303). Late winter bring the Six Nations Championship (featuring England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales.). Tickets for matches at Twickenham (8892 2000; DRL: Twickenham) are nearly impossible to get.

CRICKET. London’s two cricket grounds stage both county and international contests. Lord’s, on St. John’s Wood Rd. is the home of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the established governing body of cricket. (7432 1066. Tube: St. John’s Wood.) The Oval, on Kennington, also fields matches. (7582 7764. Tube: Oval.) Every summer a touring nation plays England in a series of matches, including a customary thrashing every four years at the hands of the Australian Cricket Team.

TENNIS. Every year for two weeks in late June and early July, tennis buffs the world over focus their attention on Wimbledon. Reserve months ahead or arrive by 6am (gates open 10:30am) to secure one of the 500 Centre and #1 court tickets sold every morning; otherwise, settle for a “grounds” ticket for the outer courts. (All England Lawn Tennis Club. 8971 2473. Tube: Southfields. DRL: Wimbledon. Grounds £9-11; after 5pm £5. Show courts £19-60.)

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