Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in England, and has been played for hundreds of years. In the English Football League there are 92 professional clubs. These are semi-professional, so most players have other full-time jobs. Hundreds of thousands of people also play football in parks and playgrounds just for fun. The highlight of the English football year is the FA [Football Association] Cup Final each May. Some of Englandís football teams are world famous, the most famous being Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Cricket is a popular summer sport in Britain. There are many cricket clubs in the country. Cricket players wear a certain uniform ó white boots, a white T-shirt and white trousers. One cricket game takes a terribly long time. There are two teams of 11 players each and test matches between national teams can last up to 5 days. The spectators have to be very patient. The game is played on a pitch with a wicket at each end. The rules of the game have changed over the years. It is a game which is associated with long sunny summer afternoons, the smell of new-mown grass and the sound of leather ball beating the willow cricket bat. Cricket is more popular among men, but it is also played by women and girls.
The worldís most famous tennis tournament is Wimbledon. It started at a small club in south London in the nineteenth century. It begins on the nearest Monday to June 22, at a time when English often have the finest weather. Now people all over the world know Wimbledon as the centre of lawn tennis. The Wimbledon championship, in which the leading rackets of the world compete, is held annually in the southern suburb of London. Millions of people watch the Championships on TV live. It is traditional for visitors to eat strawberries and cream whilst they watch the tennis.
Horseracing, the sport of Kings, is a very popular sport. Horse racing and greyhound racing are popular spectator sports. People can place bets on the races at legal off-track betting shops. Some of the best-known horse races are held at Ascot, Newmarket, Goodwood and Epsom. Ascot, a small town in the south of England, becomes the centre of horse-racing world for one week in June. Itís called Royal Ascot because the Queen always goes to Ascot. She has a lot of racehorses and likes to watch racing.
University Boat Race
In the nineteenth century, students at Oxford and Cambridge, Britainís two oldest universities, were huge fans of rowing. In 1829, the two schools agreed to hold a race against each other for the first time on the Thames River. The Oxford boat won and a tradition was born. Today, the University Boat Race is held every spring in either late March or early April.
Table tennis was invented in England in 1880. It began with Cambridge University students using cigar boxes and champagne corks. Although the game originated in England, British players donít have much luck in international championships.