We give you a top 10 to look forward to
When it comes to major sporting events, London is rarely left wanting and the coming months will be no exception.
Summer will see Europe’s first ever Major League Baseball match played in Europe. Cricket’s World Cup will also stage several matches, including the final, in the capital. And, of course, the hardy annuals such as the FA Cup final and Wimbledon tennis will be held here.
Another big American sport – American Football – will stage four games in the capital (one more than in 2018) split between Wembley and Spurs’ new ground.
Let’s look at these and other significant sports events in date order:
1. April 7: The Boat Race
Or to give it its full title, The Cancer Research UK Boat Race, is the annual contest involving Oxford and Cambridge Universities. For some, the closest they have ever got to these seats of learning is to visit the respective cities. Yet still, many sports fans ‘adopt’ one of the two boats as if they are alumnus of one or the other. With a course of a little more than four miles there are plenty of vantage points to see this race. Current holders are Cambridge.
2. May 17-19: FINA Diving World Series
The opportunity to see some of the world’s top divers in action at the London Aquatics Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London. Divers will be honing their skills as part of the run-up to next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
3. May 18: The FA Cup final
At the time of writing the identity of the two teams who face each other at Wembley Stadium is yet to be determined. As is the kick-off time (3 o’clock please, no more of that 5.30 nonsense). But, although there has been the odd damp squib (last year’s match was fairly abysmal in terms of excitement but at least a London team – Chelsea – triumphed) the sheer magnitude of the event should make for a great sporting occasion.
4. May 30-July 14: ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
England are ranked as favourites with the bookies but their exploits in the West Indies this year are likely to have given members of their Barmy Army supporters cause for concern. Scores of 418/6 one day and just 113 all out three days later suggest a lack of consistency.
It’s a round-robin tournament involving 10 teams so one defeat is not the end of the world (cup). The semi-finals will be contested by the four teams at the top of the league table when all 45 matches have been completed.
Matches will be staged at the Kia Oval in Kennington and Lord’s in St John’s Wood. Lord’s will host the final. In total 10 games will be contested in the capital. England will play South Africa in the opening match at the Kia Oval before heading off around the country. The host nation’s only other guaranteed match in London pitches them up against Australia at Lord’s on Tuesday June 29.
5. June 29-30: Major League Baseball – London Series 19
Two of the most iconic names in baseball will take over West Ham United’s home patch, London Stadium, for a two-game series in late June. The contests will be between the current World Series champions the Boston Red Sox (2018 was their ninth win) and the record-holding New York Yankees who have won the World Series pennant no fewer than 27 times! It’s hard to image how MLB could have picked two bigger hitters (pun intended).
6. July 1-14: Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships
Will he, won’t he? Will Andy Murray play again at Wimbledon is the question on the lips of many tennis fans. The idea of going down in a blaze of glory is a very British concept. We seem to specialize in glorious failure. But, the prospect of him not being able to play to his best is a concern for fans. One thing you can be sure of, Murray or not, the grand slam tournament in South-West London will grab the nation’s attention for a fortnight.
7. August 2-4: Longines Global Champions Tour
This prestigious showjumping event will be held at the Royal Hospital Chelsea over three days. This is the 13th leg of the series. The field will include Olympic and world champions. Cheer on the local team – the London Knights.
8. August 24: Ladbroke’s Challenge Cup final
The northern-centric rugby league has staged its Challenge Cup final at Wembley since 1929. Teams from the north of England continue to dominate the rugby league in the UK. However, last year for the first time in its history the trophy went outside England to the Catalans Dragons based in Perpignan, France.
9. August 4: Community Shield 2019 This is the match that pitches the winners of the Premiership up against the FA Cup winners. Should one team win both they will face the side that finished runners-up in the Premiership. An extremely large shield goes to the winners. When Jose Mourinho was in charge of Manchester United he included the Community Shield when speaking about the trophies his team had won. Strictly speaking, this was not inaccurate, but many observers of the game thought he was stretching credibility in doing this. The Shield forms a nice opener to the 20119-20 football season.
10. October: NFL games (dates to be confirmed)
Four American football games will be staged in London this year. Wembley Stadium and the new Spurs ground will each host two. Although the dates are yet to be confirmed the teams taking part have been announced and the runners-up in this year’s Superbowl – The LA Rams – will be among them. They will be up against the Cincinatti Bengals. The other three matches involve the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders; the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars; the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Jaguars have played in London for each of the past six seasons and at one time it was rumoured that the franchise (hate the word, what’s wrong with team) might relocate to London. The club’s owner is Shahid Khan, who fills the same role at Fulham football club. Last year it was reported that Khan was bidding to buy the new Wembley Stadium, but, amid uproar, he withdrew the offer.
An American football team in London? Who would bet against it? Spurs might want to recoup money for their new stadium fast by supporting it, though keeping the pitch in decent order for football (the English kind) to also be played might be a tall order. Dave Buckley