Some sporting events that simply demand our attention. There’s nothing like gathering around the television with family or friends to soak up the excitement and the tradition of the UK’s biggest occasions on the sporting calendar. Whether it’s the FA Cup final, the Grand National, Wimbledon or others, these events are enjoyed by millions.
Let’s briefly take a look at some of the biggest events on the UK sporting calendar, and examine the tradition and importance of each.
The FA Cup final
The allure of the FA Cup final has perhaps become slightly dampened in recent years, but it is still one of the most eagerly anticipated matches in the football season. With a rich and long history – the first FA Cup final was in 1872 – this showpiece event in the English football calendar still attracts a huge audience all around the world.
Some of football’s most memorable moments have occurred in FA Cup finals. From Ricky Villa’s incredible solo goal in the 1981 replay against Tottenham Hotspur, and Wimbledon’s shock victory over Liverpool in 1988, to more recent heroics such as Steven Gerrard’s last-minute screamer in the 2006 final against West Ham, to Ben Watson’s winning header as unfancied Wigan Athletic defeated Manchester City in 2013.
The Saturday of the FA Cup final and all the TV coverage that goes with the match is something that all football fans look forward to, and will always remain a key occasion in English sport.
The Grand National
Whether you’re a horse racing fan or not, everyone loves the Grand National. The most famous race of the year, the Grand National at Aintree, attracts 150,000 spectators with a further 600 million people watching on TV. Horse racing betting becomes even more popular on this day every year, as many try their luck with a little flutter on their favourite horse.
There have been numerous remarkable results in the Grand National, including Mon Mome’s incredible 100/1 triumph in 2009, and AP McCoy’s long-sought-after victory a year later with Don’t Push It. The 2019 Grand National was won by Tiger Roll, ridden by jockey Davy Russell, and many will already be looking forward to the 2020 edition of the race on the 4th April.
For two weeks every summer, the UK goes tennis-crazy. Wimbledon is the third Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year, played on the pristine grass courts of SW19, with strawberries and cream the order of the day for spectators. It is the perfect setting for the stars of the game to do battle – legends like Boris Becker, Roger Federer, and Serena Williams to name a few.
Over the last decade and a half, there has been even more British interest in Wimbledon as Andy Murray has risen to prominence. His triumph in the 2013 edition of the tournament was one of the greatest moments in UK sport, as he became the first British winner of the men’s singles since Fred Perry lifted the trophy in 1936.
The Boat Race
The Boat Race is one of the most traditional and historic events on the UK sporting calendar, as rowers from Oxford and Cambridge Universities slog it out on the Thames. The first race was held in 1829, and eventually, the race became an annual event, offering the opportunity for the two famous universities to win bragging rights over each other. The race is enjoyed by thousands who line the banks of the Thames every year to watch events unfold.
Cambridge won the 2019 men’s and women’s Boat Race, having won both races the previous year as well. All eyes now turn towards the 29th March 2020, where Oxford will be seeking to wrestle the titles out of their rivals’ grasp.
These four events all hold a unique place in the hearts of so many UK sports fans, and indeed those for whom sport is only a passing interest. These are the occasions people mark on their calendars and make plans around, so they can savour every piece of the action these famous events have to offer.