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June 30, 2009

I have no idea who these guys are. But you get the gist.

Sorry Martin but Wimbledon is weird. Good weird. As in… I lined up for four and a half hours just to get into the thing and still had a great time weird.

Here is my schedule of play.

7.30am – Met up with an Aussie workmate and his two Aussie flatmates including one overly proud Queenslander who lived up to the stereotype of what it means to come from the Sunshine State.

7.45am – Turned down a £2.50 taxi and walked to the back of The Queue (a very organised line of people that have the chance of buying tickets to the tournament for the day). We were politely welcomed by volunteer officials. I assume they were volunteers as they were extremely optimistic and extroverted. We were given Queue cards – I was lucky number 4031 and, as they hand out 8000 general admission tickets, pretty much assured of entry. Relieved I took my place and purchased a very ordinary £3.50 cheeseburger. A decent food stand would make an absolute killing.

The Queue formed a massive snake throughout Wimbledon park. We took a seat and read the paper. 90p got you a Guardian, Easter-Show-like binoculars and two packets of crisps. We had an English girl in front of us who slept most of the way and a mum with two hyperactive  kids behind us. The little nippers threw a tennis ball to one another. They were absolute rubbish and kept throwing it into people.

One thing that immediately struck me about the makeup of The Queue were the:

a) number of Australians,

b) number of Australians wearing AFL guenseys including one kid in full Richmond kit – shorts, socks and guensey, and

c) lack of chavs.

Most sporting events attract a variety of punters, however, Wimbledon lived up to its classy and prestigious status with a clear chav ban. Where are the larger drinking lads that communicate with expletives? Where are the Primark sponsored fifteen year old mums? It was a very strange feeling. I was obviously not in Feltham anymore.

11.15am – The Queue got moving. First commercial pitstop of the day was a stand by EA Sports. They had two teenagers pepped up on Red Bull battling it out at Wii Tennis. Lots of elderly people struggled to comprehend exactly what they were doing.

11.20am – The first charity asking for my pennies. Was still partially asleep. I remember it had something to do with Greyhounds.

11.30am – Security. Without revealing too many top secret security details which would blow open Wimbledon’s anti-terrorist measures, it is basically like catching a plane except you don’t have to take your shoes off. Interestingly, you are not able to take any magazines or newspapers into the event as it is ‘free advertising’. I thought that was a bit much but threw away this month’s edition of ‘Horse & Hound’.

11.35am – Second commercial thing – the Evian stand – Wimbledon’s official water. You had to sit in a pink deck chair (forfeiting your place in The Quene) to get…wait for it…a free bottle of water. A guy sat in a fake tennis referee chair wearing a stupid visor.  We couldn’t believe he was getting paid to sit in the chair and talk crap to people all day.

11.36am – Another commercial thing – Robinson’s flavoured water. They had a guy with a backpack full of the stuff and a liquid gun. He looked a bit like he was a Ghostbuster. I had some Barley Water. Not bad and was it good timing as I was getting a little parched. Would never buy the stuff though.

11.40am – The Queue is forced to wind through an interactive Rolf Harris teaching kids how to paint their favourite Wimbledon champion stand. It seemed a little contrived but it was fun to see Rolf. My Queenslander comrade had no idea who he was.

11.45am – We are in. After walking over a pedestrian bridge you descend into the leafy tournament. It was all very green and purple. A bit like entering a gay Jurassic Park. Lots of old dinosaur ladies and little kids in shorts running around throwing creamy strawberries at officials.

12pm – Play begins. We have the £20 ground pass so we could only see matches in the small courts. We got to see some good tennis, including some doubles matches, which doesn’t get the broadcast exposure it deserves in Week 1. I met Mark Woodforde which was fun. He has red hair and I thought the photo would look cool on Facebook.

Mark Woodforde and Me at Wimbledon

Mark Woodforde and Me at Wimbledon

12pm to 6pm – I watch tennis and drink beer, too much beer and get a little drunk. I disagree with a few decisions made by the referee at court 50 and get a polite tap on the shoulder. ‘Excuse me sir, can you and your drunk Australian friends please leave the country.’ No it wasn’t that bad. I’m very conscious of the drunk Australians at sporting events stereotype so it didn’t get that bad.

I left Wimbledon very satisfied. It was a really well run, friendly and efficient event. Bodes well for the Olympics!

Some links for you: The Wimbledon Blog, The Official Wimbledon Site and my post about AFL coverage in the UK.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim Dalton permalink
    June 30, 2009 8:31 pm

    Mate, I must have been very close to you in the line, I was no 4209 on day one… it was a bloody long wait but definitely worth it and good to tick off the list… One thing I thought was weird was that there were some very young promo girls walking around offering half tea spoons of sugar….? What were we meant to do with that whilst sitting in the que for 4 hours?

  2. July 2, 2009 5:04 pm

    Ha, what are the odds. I missed the very young sugar girls. No idea what they were about.

  3. Marlaina permalink
    July 22, 2009 12:02 am

    Ha ha Horse and Hound – v.Nottinghill

    Nice Wimbledon wrap up Pete


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