Flick to the back pages, choose a team or player to support and make sure you’re in the stands when the action starts.
Given the saturation coverage, there’s no point trying to avoid football, so embrace the national obsession. Head to Wembley to watch England – be warned, though, the swing from unrealistic optimism to wrist-slashing pessimism may cause whiplash. Failing that, adopt one of London’s five Premier League teams.
The Gunners pride themselves on playing snazzy, entertaining football, but their fans have been frustrated by their long-running trophy drought. Back in the early years of this century, Arsenal were one of the powerhouses, but it’s been slim pickings of late. They’re based at Emirates Stadium. Tickets are hard to come by. Call 0844 277 3625 or see arsenal.com.
Roman Abramovich runs the club like he’s playing Fantasy Football Manager, splashing the cash on whichever players he fancies, and chopping and changing coaches on a whim. Chelsea have had a fair bit of success since Abramovich showed up in 2003, but many find his plutocratic approach unpalatable. Call 0870 300 2322 for tickets or check out chelseafc.co.uk.
An underdog side that is a natural favourite with antipodeans due to the inclusive nature of the club, ticket availability and their location in an Aussie and Kiwi heartland. Their home ground is the charming Craven Cottage, meaning the fans are known as the Cottagers. Unfortunate. Call 0870 442 1234 or see fulhamfc.com.
For years, Spurs were derided for their flakiness, but they’ve turned it around recently and they’re now in the mix for a top-four spot. Their fans still have a bit of a complex though, insisting they deserve more respect than they’re afforded. Call 0844 499 5000 or see tottenhamhotspur.com.
Queen’s Park Rangers
Of the London clubs in the Premier League, QPR are the newest addition, returning after winning the title in the second tier. They’re based in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, making their matches with Fulham and Chelsea local derbies, in which passions can run high. Call 08444 777 007 or see qpr.co.uk.
The tournament at the All England club begins on June 25 and runs for two weeks. If you can’t get tickets to centre court, it’s still worth cruising around the grounds and lying on the grass sipping Pimm’s. You can queue overnight or show up early. Alternatively, saunter down after work and catch a few hours of tennis before it gets dark.
ATP World Tour Finals
The end-of-year tournament pits the best eight players on the men’s tour against each other. Held at the O2 in Greenwich in November, it’s a far cry from the sedate atmosphere of Wimbledon but gives Londoners a second bite of the cherry to see some tennis without waiting two weeks for the pointy end of a tournament. See barclaysatpworldtourfinals.com.
End of your tours
The Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies generally tour the northern hemisphere every November, but if you can’t get to Twickenham for the internationals, there are other ways to get your rugby fix.
The London leg of the IRB Sevens World Series is played over a weekend in May at Twickenham. Fancy dress is encouraged, so put on your thinking cap and get colourful. There was a time when sevens was a bit of a lark, but with it now an Olympic sport and players increasingly graduating to the 15-a-side sides, it’s a great chance to see attacking rugby and some of the stars of the future. Check rfu.com.
The Premiership season runs from September to May, and the European competition, the Heineken Cup, is played concurrently. London is home to four sides, London Wasps, London Irish, Harlequins and Saracens. Wasps have traditionally been the strongest, winning the Premiership four times since 2002. That’s changed in recent times, with Saracens the reigning champions and Quins beginning the current season strongly. See premiershiprugby.com.