Here’s my idea of a perfect day at Wimbledon.
1. The day actually starts the day before. Finish work early, have your bags packed before work so you’re ready to go, then go straight there. Parkatmyhouse.com is a useful tool for getting parking close to the grounds for not ridiculous money. Get to the queue somewhere between 6 and 7pm. This should have you in the 500-1000 category (so within a shout of centre court). Put up tent, eat some grub, pour some beers and share them with your surrounding wimbledon enthusiasts, as you share tales of queuing experiences past.
SideBar: What to pack you say? All over waterproofs, smartphone (have wifi and mobile data turned off when not in use to preserve battery), headphones, car charger, a book, lots of munchies, big bottle of water or fruit juice, camping gear (obviously), toothbrush (aint nobody wants to smell that), about 5o quid if going to grounds, 100 if going to show court, small pillow (you will be surprised how glad you will be that you brought this), Hat, sunglasses, cheap frisbee (you will see why later).
2. Go to bed before 11pm, trust me! You will be virtually kicked out of bed between 5 and 6am by the stewards and if you want to have any hope of having your head move horizontally to actually watch tennis rather than doing the vertical dance trying to stay awake then you need this (also for safe driving later).
3. Once awake don’t procrastinate, get tent down asap and get washed. It means you are more likely to get your stuff into left luggage. I prefer to walk back up to my car parked at someones house and leave it there.
4. It’s a long wait so it’s a good idea to spread your activities out. First, I like to buy a stupidly priced bacon butty and double shot latte from one of the on site vans. Taste isn’t exactly amazing but it’s a tradition! Then I like to play a little frisbee while I have the space in the grass with friends (it needs to be cheap as they will take it off you at security). Once the queue starts to move it can be painstakingly slow, so that’s when I like to get the book out or occassionaly snooze. People will be walking up and down trying to give away lots of freebies. Take what you can get! Keep your eyes peeled because you can see some celebrities doing bits for the media in the queue and you may even be called on yourself one day as some of my fellow QUB teammates were for GMTV!
5. Once through security things move a lot faster going over the bridge. Won’t be long now before the turnstiles open at 9am and you can buy your grounds pass for £20 (unless your going for a show court). Once you are in you can see the glory of centre court, the excitement increases and then, guess what…. that’s right you guessed it, more queuing or more accurately, just waiting! There is a barricade surrounding the front of the grounds made up of security staff stopping people accessing the courts until HALF TEN. Can you believe it. Be prepared to be bored but Wimbledon radio can keep you occupied on your smartphone (don’t forget to download the app although you should get 4G signal there). TIP: Get straight to the front of the queue left of centre court. The tannoy will be announcing what’s going on and will appeal to you to not run when the barrier is dropped (nobody listens!). Then bomb straight for court three. If you are there fast enough you can get some of the unreserved seating (pretty good seats too, in the corner [corner is best for no side to side viewing] near the court). There is always a seed in the first week on this court and usually a very tasty match that they couldn’t fit on centre or one. You will also find the lesser british players here such as James Ward, Heather Watson and the late Elena Baltacha (who was a great watch).
6. Stay on Court 3 until the end of the first match. Maybe catch a set of the second match if time allows it then shortly after lunch (usually between 2 and 3 but sometimes earlier, forecast dependant), head straight to the resale queue. You will be here for at least an hour, so the earlier you get here the more chance of getting the court you want at a reasonable time and also being able to see the big screen on henman hill from where you are queued. If the weather forecast is changeable; go straight to here from opening to be the first in line to get centre tickets as it might be the only way to see some play.
7. Once you have your ticket (hopefully between 4 and 5) head to the strawbs and cream place where I will be claiming my free serving thanks to being a valued HSBC customer!
8. Sit down in centre court (or court one depending on what matches available). Eat your prepacked dinner, and have your strawbs and cream for desert – heaven. Watch what you would hope to be exhillerating tennis. First week Friday is the best day to go as you get descent outside court play and you should be watching two seeds play on the show court later.
9. Once last match on centre is done, depending on light there may well be some doubles happening on the outside courts. This is well worth checking out and you are so close you can virtually tie their shoe laces. The tennis incidentally, is amazing also!
10. Be sure you walk up the promenade from court 3 to henman hill as you should catch some stars and maybe even Sue Barker doing Today at Wimbledon on the balcony.
11. Finally, push, squeeze and generally walk like a mad man past the crowds to get back to your car (or tube station) to beat the traffic home. Remember, every person you overtake is one less person you will get stuck behind on the road so it is worth it to be mean! Should be on your way around half nine if the weather has held out. Have plenty of water, sugar, music and company for your travel home to keep you awake. Don’t take risks through, stop and take a break if tired, you don’t want to harm your friends, innocents on the road, and yourself!
Enjoy the day – you won’t regret it!