With spring finally here, there’s a trio of great British sporting occasions to look forward to that will both thrill and intrigue the nation’s sports fans. Forerunners to what promises to be a great summer of sport, they are amongst the most popular events on the British sporting calendar.
14 April: Horse Racing – Grand National, Aintree
The Grand National takes place at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool and its 4-mile, 514-yard course, is believed by many to be the ultimate challenge for both horse and jockey. The national hunt race is Europe’s most financially lucrative race over the jumps and is renowned for the size of its fences.
It has been run since way back in 1839, and its first winner was the aptly-named Lottery who was the 5/1 favourite. Over the years the race has seen many outsiders first past the post and in 2013, Auroras Encore triumphed at long odds of 66/1.
The race is well renowned for being the one occasion each year when those not known to gamble, will have a flutter. Offices and work places across the UK run sweepstake competitions for a race that is still one of the most watched televised sporting events in the country.
21 April – 7 May: Snooker – World Championship, Crucible Theatre
The world snooker championships have been a major part of the British sporting calendar for over four decades. When the event moved to Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 1977, the BBC decided to give it hours of daily coverage – something the competition still enjoys today. This in turn launched the sport towards incredible levels of popularity in the following years.
With a large cast of colourful characters playing out hours of sporting drama in the living rooms of the nation, for several years during the 1980s snooker coverage would often better the viewing figures captured by football – long considered to be the national game.
Although time has seen those heady days make way for a steadier following in this country, the popularity of the game globally has grown considerably in recent years. Snooker fans from all over the world will gather for another colourful, and undoubtedly dramatic, fortnight of green baize action.
19 May: Football – FA Cup final, Wembley Stadium
A week after the end of the domestic league season, comes the final of the oldest national football competition in the world – the FA Cup. First played for in 1871-72 season, Wanderers defeated Royal Engineers at the Kennington Oval by a single goal, to lift the trophy.
As football developed over time and grew in popularity, the FA Cup became one of the most famous competitions in the game, with the final being watched by television audiences all over the world.
Played at Wembley Stadium since 1923, the only exception – apart from the war years – was a replay played at Old Trafford in 1970 and a six-year period between 2001-2006 when the old home of football was rebuilt for a new century.
The emergence and riches of the Premier League have contributed to some seeing the competition as being devalued in recent years but try saying that to the clubs – large and small – that go on to lift the trophy, and they’ll tell you something quite different.
It may not be the most famous domestic match in the world any longer, but there’s sure to be action, excitement and no shortage of emotion, as the two teams battle it out for glory on FA Cup final day.
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog.
Please feel free to share it, and let us know your thoughts.