I love major sports events and major sporting venues. Actually, I love rubbish sports events and rubbish sporting venues, too.
I remember dragging my wife to watch Austrian non-league side FC Eurotours Kitzbuhel in a pre-season friendly. We were on holiday; it was her special treat. We’ve also watched old men bowling in Malta and she’s been spoilt with visits to a bunch of empty football grounds across Europe.
Sometimes major sporting venues are more than the sum of their parts. Snooker at The Crucible in Sheffield really has to be experienced. It’s a pretty awful theatre that – somehow – comes alive during the snooker. I think it’s the quiet intensity of having to sit in silence, watching a couple of blokes in suits smacking balls round a table with polished sticks.
Cricket at your regular haunt – Edgbaston, in the case of my youth – is also great. Especially during mid-week county matches, when the only people there are you, your unemployed mate and pensioners. And watching football live is always wonderful, of course.
But Wimbledon is rubbish. Thanks to our overuse of aerosols and rack-mounted servers, it’s normally too hot – despite everyone saying it always rains. And it’s always too busy. Unless you queue for 17 days, you can’t get on the main courts – which means you spend hours trailing round the minor courts, watching amateur British players lose stinky mixed doubles matches.
Other venues have an aura and a sense of excitement. Wimbledon doesn’t; it’s just full of people in caps, who eat too many strawberries and drink too much Pimm’s. It’s like the Chelsea Flower Show, actually – boring, busy and over-rated.
Don’t bother going to Wimbledon. It’s one of those rare events that’s actually more enjoyable on television. Again, like the Chelsea Flower Show.