While our sports playing nowadays is mainly limited to kicking a football around the park and still feeling traumatised at the memories of secondary school PE, we still enjoy a lot of things associated with sport in Britain. As we all know, the Olympics are being held in London in 2012, so it seems like a good time to celebrate British sport and take a look at what to see and do sportswise around the city. Here’s our Six of the Best: Sports Museums and Tours in London.
Wembley Stadium Tour: Any sports tour itinerary in London has to start off with Wembley Stadium, the biggest sports venue in London and host to FA Cup finals, European Cup finals, the 1948 Olympics, the 1966 World Cup Final, the final of Euro 1996 and the 1985 Live Aid concert among many others. The 90 minute tour takes in the VIP Club Wembley Tier, England’s changing room and the England Manager’s Press Conference Room, and you can also get your hands on the FA Cup.
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum: Another must see for sports fans in London, who might not know that when Wimbledon was founded in 1870 it was as a croquet club, with ‘lawn tennis’ not introduced until five years later. These and other facts can be found out at the Wimbledon museum, which uses interactive exhibits and touchscreens to tell the story of the Wimbledon tennis courts and championships. Tours are also available covering No. 1 Court, the water gardens, the Millennium Building, the press interview room and the BBC Television Studio.
Lord’s Tour: Lord’s cricket ground, also known as the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum at Lord's, dates back to 1787 and is known as the home of cricket. The museum here is the oldest sporting museum in the world, with paintings, photos, artefacts and memorabilia including the Ashes urn, displays on WG Grace, and the Brian Johnston Memorial Theatre with historic footage from some of cricket’s greatest moments.
World Rugby Museum and Twickenham Stadium Tours: Learn about the history of English rugby and take a peek inside the England changing room at this multimedia museum dedicated to the sport from its origins to the present. There are paintings, archive match footage from around the globe and even a scrummaging machine where you can test your strength, before taking a watery-legged tour to the the players’ tunnel, pitch, royal box, hospitality suites, and medical room.
Chelsea FC Stadium Tour and Museum: Chelsea’s been going strong since 1905, winning its first league championship in 1955 and the league and FA Cup double in 2010. Visit the museum at their Stamford Bridge stadium to see exhibits and displays on the history of the club and some of its most famous players. You can also take a Stamford Bridge tour, where you can see all the behind the scenes and hallowed spots of the stadium, including the press room, television interview room, visitors' dressing room, Chelsea's dressing room, players' tunnel, pitchside and the dugouts.
Arsenal Museum: Arsenal was the first club from the south of England to join the Football League (in 1886), and is still the only club to have played a Premier League season without any defeats (2003 – 2004). The Arsenal Museum looks at the history of the club, with interactive exhibitions and exhibits including Charlie George's FA Final Cup shirt from 1971. As always, there’s also a tour, with the Highbury one including the changing rooms, directors' box and players' tunnel.