So that you can plan your year ahead in between work and European travels, we thought all the expat Aussies in London (and Europe) would appreciate a summary of all the sporting events happening in London and the UK for 2017. In this article, Jason provides a great summary.
Jason Loewenthal provides a wrap of the major sporting events of interest for expat Aussies in London. Jason spent his childhood living between South London and Northern New South Wales. He’s been back and forth ever since.
2017 sports calendar for Aussies in London
Melbourne might be known as the sporting capital of the world but the UK is the home of many of the world’s most popular sports. For Aussies in London or visiting the UK there are many events on the sporting calendar that are worth attending that are an integral part of the British cultural experience. Because of the variety of sports on offer there is something to do all year round, if you know where to look.
The football season runs from August to May and there are a number of Australian players plying their trade across the various leagues. The most prominent are Brad Smith and Adam Federici at AFC Bournemouth, Tom Rogic at Celtic, Mass Luongo at QPR and Aaron Mooy at Huddersfield Town. It’s not too difficult to grab tickets to see games and watching football in the UK is a must for anyone who wants to properly sample the British culture, with the added bonus of seeing some of Australia’s best players live. It’s worth looking lower down the leagues too, whilst the quality isn’t as good as the Premier League, it’s cheaper and a worthwhile experience.
The Socceroos have played a number of friendlies against various national teams in the UK in recent years- the most famous of them being the 3-1 victory against England in 2003. As World Cup Qualification is in full swing at the moment there are no Socceroos friendlies organised in the UK, though it’s likely that some will be played next year as Australia prepare for Russia 2018, if and when qualification is secured.
The cricket season runs from March until September, weather permitting. While the Ashes is the highlight of the international cricket calendar, the next series scheduled to be played in England isn’t until 2019. That just means that Australian fans should try to watch one of the 18 county teams in action. Each year there are a number of Australians playing county and club cricket in England during the Australian winter. Lord’s is a place to visit for any cricket lover and there are a number of other nice grounds around the country.
Rugby union has to compete with football and cricket in parts of the UK but the international matches are always well attended. The Wallabies will tour at the end of the year, in November there will be matches against England at Twickenham on the 18th and Scotland at Murrayfield on the 25th. Both those grounds are iconic venues and likely to be sellouts. In recent years the Wallabies have also played games against Wales and Ireland. For anyone living in the UK long term, these tours happen nearly every year so there will be another chance if it isn’t possible this year.
Wimbledon is the highlight of the world tennis calendar and a great way to experience another part of English culture. This year the tournament will run from the 3rd to the 16th July. It’s possible to get ground tickets for as little as a fiver after 5pm and although this won’t give access to Centre Court, there are always matches happening on the outside courts and a chance to see professional players close up. Lleyton Hewitt was the last Australian man to win in 2002, while Evonne Goolagong was the last woman in 1980. Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, Samantha Stosur and Daria Gavrilova will lead the charge in this year’s event. Be sure to get down to SW19, even if it’s just to get some of Wimbledon’s famous strawberries and cream.
The Open is one of golf’s showpiece events and held in July each year. The last Australian to win it was Greg Norman in 1993. Jason Day and Adam Scott, ranked first and seventh in the world respectively, will be looking to end that drought this year, when the event is held from the 20th to the 23rd July at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England.
Formula One heads to Britain in July with the British Grand Prix. Mark Webber won the race in 2010 and 2012 and was the last Australian to do so. This year the race will be held on the 16th July at Silverstone. Daniel Ricciardo has a real chance of another podium finish and will be looking to improve on his 3rd in 2014 and last year’s 4th place.
Australian horse racing fans could be forgiven for not showing too much interest in the UK scene with the Melbourne Cup a highlight of the international racing calendar. The UK has a number of events that match up to Flemington, among them the Grand National (6th to 8th April), Derby (2nd and 3rd June), and Royal Ascot (20th to 24th June). Australian champion, Black Caviar won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2012. There are other events throughout the year with jumps racing prominent through the winter and the flats through the summer, for the most part.
With the amount of Aussies in London and around the UK, it’s no surprise that there are numerous AFL leagues. The largest is AFL London, which runs from April to July with the finals played throughout August. May will see the London Footy Carnival, which is a chance for teams from Britain, Ireland and Canada to prepare for the 2017 AFL International Cup to be held in Melbourne this August.
It’s evident that sport is a big part of British culture. With so many events happening throughout the year, Australian sports fans should get to as many different events as possible.