No matter what you’re in the mood for, London has it. As I mentioned prior, I am from the boondocks of Southern Ontario and am used to having to put in some real effort not to be bored back home. Here in England, it is a totally different game.
Because I work just over 40 hours per week (something most North Americans in the turf industry are not used to), I have plenty of time to do whatever I wish. So naturally over my first month here I prioritized going to as many sporting events as I could.
My first sporting event had to be a “football” match. Even though I didn’t really know what was going on it was still great to see the third league conference championship between the David Beckham-owned Salford City FC vs. Fylde. To top it off the match was played at Wembley Stadium, a pretty decent spot to watch my first live soccer game. Although only a quarter of the stands were filled, it was still ridiculously rambunctious. The rumours ring true: the English do not mess around when it comes to their ‘footie’. What I thought was a bit ridiculous was their effort to control the rowdiness: alcohol was not allowed to be consumed in the seats or where you can actually see the field. We had to follow the rules, so to ensure we got our money's worth and didn’t miss any of action we had to make sure the beers flowed very efficiently.
Although the soccer was a hell of an experience, a true European sport that has been on my bucket list for years was darts. I was fortunate enough to find my way into the Premier League Darts Championship at the “o2” in London. If anyone here has ever watched darts on TV, the insanity you see is no exaggeration. This was without a question the best live sports atmosphere I have ever been a part of.
Match 1 - Michael Van Gerwen vs. Daryl Gurney
To dial back a bit after a wild darts night out my next excursion was to a sport I have never considered a real sport: cricket. With the World Cup currently taking place in London and hanging out with the other Australian cricket-crazed interns, I had no choice to attend my first match between Australia and England in Southampton. It made for a great day out. The rules are still very blurry in my mind but I like to think of it as a mixed-up version of baseball.
The Ageas Bowl in Southampton
The final weekend of May I attended one of the largest horse races in the world: the Epsom Derby. The best part about this was it was 100% free and literally steps away from where I live.
A five-minute walk.
Derby Day 1928 (above) and 2019, below.
Since the course is on public land, it was free for all to watch. There were over 100,000 people in attendance which in turn resulted in downtown Epsom hosting a good night out. Although difficult to see in the photo, the racetrack is in the shape of a “U” and was a flat race on natural turf. This was the first derby I have ever been apart of and even Queen Elizabeth decided to join in on the action. After seeing the ridiculous outfits sported by some of the attendees, I instantly fell in love with the sport.
All this action in just my first four weeks here! May was a month to remember.