BE A GOOD SPORT

Tennis, rugby, football, cricket… whatever your group’s favourite sport, we’ve got it covered! Let Naomi Mackay be your guide.

Artefacts in the Wimbledon Museum.

Artefacts in the
Wimbledon Museum.

It’s summer – time for Pimm’s, strawberries and cream, and Wimbledon. The tournament may now be over but tennis fans will still relish a chance to take a look behind the scenes at this most iconic of sports venues. Wimbledon is the type of sports shrine that will appeal to both tennis nuts and the casual fan. ANYONE FOR TENNIS? Set in the leafy London suburb, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum gives visitors the chance to find out more about both the modern sport and the history of the game.

Walk in the footsteps of such players as the Williams sisters, Andy Murray and Roger Federer as you explore the famous Centre Court and No 1 Court, sites of some of the most epic battles. Once inside you can admire some of the silverware and see where the big names are interviewed after their matches. Step out onto Aorangi Terrace, also known as ‘Henman Hill’ or more recently, ‘Murray Mound’.

A group enjoying a guided tour at Wimbledon.

A group enjoying a guided tour at Wimbledon.

There are interactive features, audio guides and films, including a 3D theatre where you can watch The Walk of Champions. www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/museum_ and_tours

WEMBLEY WONDER For many old-school fans, Wembley Stadium is not the same since the twin towers were knocked down, but the arch has quickly become
as iconic as those two structures, and of course you still get to do one of the most exciting things about a Wembley tour – have your photo taken with the FA Cup! Footie aficionados also get the chance to see the England changing rooms, take the manager’s hot seat in the Press Room and take photos from some of the best views in the stadium.

Then follow in the footsteps of your heroes through the players’ tunnel, and up the 107 steps to receive that magnificent trophy. 33 ●July 2016 www.grouptravelworld.com Artefacts in the Wimbledon Museum. A group Tours can be tailored to your group’s needs. Groups of 25-plus can have an exclusive tour with your own guide, and a 15 per cent discount. Trade rates are also available – call the Groups Hotline on 0800 169 7711. Tours will last around 75 minutes. www.wembleystadium.com/Wembley- Tours.aspx

Follow in the footsteps of football heroes on a tour of Wembley.

Follow in the footsteps of football
heroes on a tour of Wembley.

A HOLE IN ONE Off to the other end of the UK for a trip to the British Golf Museum in St Andrews. The re-modelled museum galleries help to bring the history of the game to life, chronicling the history of golf from the 17th century until today. And with more than 16,000 items including clubs, balls, trophies, films and photos, it’s lucky that tickets cover two days of entry. There’s a shop stocking official Open merchandise and it’s a good place for a pitstop as the new café is said to offer the best views and the best scones in town! Five minutes walk from the town centre, there’s a large car park and coach drop-off point behind the museum. Discounts for groups of 10-plus and free admission for tour leaders. Guided tours are available along with translation aids for six languages. Call 01334 460 046 or emailenquiries@randa.org www.britishgolfmuseum.co.uk

RUGBY RULES!
From dimpled balls to the oval variety now – and Twickenham Stadium, the world’s biggest stadium devoted to rugby. A tour takes you behind the scenes, including the royal box, players’ tunnel and a pitchside walk – so you can find out how it feels to play in this cathedral for the sport. Visitors even get the chance to go into the England dressing room and discover all about the match-day preparations and routines of international rugby players. The tour ticket includes admission to the World Rugby Museum, where you can discover a whole world of rugby and re-live some of the greatest rugby moments on interactive screens. Email museum@rfu.com or call 020 8892 8877. www.englandrugby.com/twickenham/ stadium-tours/

CRICKET APPEAL
Not everyone is a football fan however, and if your group would rather watch a more sedate game, a trip to the MCC Museum at Lord’s in London will enable them to visit one of the oldest sporting museums in the world – opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953. However, the collection dates back much further than that – right back to 1864. The most famous exhibit is the original Ashes urn – a tiny fragile object that rarely leaves Lord’s. When it was taken to Australia for the 2006/07 MCC Travelex Ashes Exhibition in Australia, more than 100,000 people went to see it. Other popular attractions include the stuffed sparrow that was ‘bowled out’ by Jehangir Khan in 1936, and cricket kit used by some of the greatest players of all time – such as Victor Trumper, Jack Hobbs, Don Bradman and Shane Warne.

Remember to visit the Brian Johnston Memorial Theatre, which shows footage of some of the greatest performances in cricket. Unless you have a match ticket, the museum can only be visited as part of a Lord’s tour, where you can see legends past and present on the famous Honours Boards, sit in their seats in the dressing rooms and follow in their footsteps through the Long Room. Private tours are available and groups of 15 or more receive a 10 per cent discount (£18 adults), groups of 26 or more a 20 per cent discount (£16). Call the Tours office on 020 7616 8595 or email tours@ mcc.org.uk. Ticket holders also receive a discount on food at the famous Lord’s Tavern pub, or how about afternoon tea in the Lord’s Long Room? www.lords.org/history/mcc-museumlibrary- and-collections/mcc-museum

ROW YOUR BOAT Head to Oxfordshire for another quintessential British sport – this time the River & Rowing Museum at Henley. A short walk from the centre of town, there’s much more than just boats and oars on offer. There are three galleries dedicated to Rowing, Rivers and the history of Henley-on-Thames plus an immersive The Wind in the Willows exhibition, which brings to life the muchloved story with 3D models, lighting and music. It is also home to temporary art and photography exhibitions, nature trails, craft workshops and family days. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Ratty’s Refuge, a water vole friendly garden in the museum’s grounds. The garden, opened by Alan Titchmarsh, is based on the medal-winning garden exhibited at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2008. There’s coach-parking, plus free admission and coffee for coach drivers. Boat trips can also be arranged from the museum’s own landing stage for groups of 30 or more. Why not combine with a cream tea or lunch in the terrace café? Group museum rate £9.50/£7.50 or with boat trip £18.50/£16.50. Call 01491 415 631 or email groups@rrm.co.uk http://rrm.co.uk

SADDLE UP!
From the back of a boat to the back of a horse – for those interested in sport of kings, a trip to the National Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket is a must. The museum is set to move to the new National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art this autumn where it will celebrate the history and science of the sport. On show are the silks worn by Frankie Dettori at Ascot on Saturday September 28, 1996 when he achieved his Magnificent Seven.

Then get hands-on in the Practical Gallery, where you can try on racing silks, get weighed in and then ride on the horse simulator before posing in front of the winner’s blanket. All the staff here are retired jockeys, trainers or stable staff so can offer first hand experience to visitors. Illustrated talks are available for specialist interest groups. www.nhrm.co.uk/ And you could combine this with a tour of the nearby National Stud the only commercial stud farm in the UK that allows the public to see behind the scenes of a working Thoroughbred stud farm. Tours of the National Stud, last approximately 90 minutes by coach and on foot. Tours start from £10, with catering options at the National Stud Wavertree Coffee shop. Call 0344 748 9200, opt 2, or email admin@discovernewmarket.co.uk www.discovernewmarket.co.uk/

A Thoroughbred mare and foal at The National Stud in Newmarket.

A Thoroughbred mare
and foal at The National
Stud in Newmarket.

A RACING START If you prefer four wheels to four legs, a trip to the birthplace of British Motorsports will be in order. Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey is the site of the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit. Exhibits include racing cars, motorcycles and bicycles, plus the only Concorde with public access in South East England. The museum is host to many events, including car club visits and The Brooklands Double Twelve Motorsport Festival, celebrating motoring history. New for this year is the Brooklands Aircraft Factory, the only such exhibition in the world where visitors can see inside an original World War II aircraft hangar and learn how aircraft were manufactured before the war. There’s a chance to ‘clock in’ and try a rivet gun, apply fabric to wings or test their own designs inside a wind tunnel. Plus, try a supersonic virtual ‘flight’ and guided tour on board Concorde or race around the track in the 4D zone. Price for groups of 15-plus are £10/£9/£5. Or for an extra £1 add a free trail guide and 20 minute introduction. Another £3 includes tea or coffee and cake in the Sunbeam café. Guided tours are available, and coach parking is free. * Read a full-length feature on Brooklands in our April 2016 issue. www.brooklandsmuseum.com

 

RUGBY RULES! For Welsh sports fans, a visit to the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff is a must. (It’s currently named the Principality Stadium for sponsorship purposes.) Built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, it replaced Wales’ previous national stadium, Cardiff Arms Park, and is now the home of Wales’ national rugby union team. Take a stadium tour and see where Wales’ most capped winger, Shane Williams, laced his boots, visit the Dragons’ Lair, (the team dressing room) and hear the roar of 74,500 fans as you walk down the players’ tunnel! Look out over the pitch from the VIP hospitality suite and lift a trophy in the President’s Box. There are discounts for group bookings of 20 or more people, and if the group consists of 10 or more children, one adult is admitted free. To book call 029 2082 2432 or email customercare@wru.wales www.principalitystadium.wales

Find out about the history of motor racing at Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

Find out about the history of motor racing at Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

SURF’S UP If your group is visiting North Devon, it’s worth paying a visit to the Museum of British Surfing at Broughton. It is believed to be the largest and most comprehensive public collection of its kind in Europe. The museum is right next to the cycling and walking path The Tarka Trail. A new exhibition each year looks at different themes in surfing culture and history, and you can find out about the early history of surfing, while children can try their hand at the surfboard art competition, or the spotter’s trail. Visits are short – between 30 minutes and an hour, and entry is £2/£1.50. Coaches can stop at the bus parking area at Tesco, a 10-minute walk away just along the trail. www.museumofbritishsurfing.org.uk

 

OLYMPIC PARK

Groups can take a boat trip around the Olympic Park.

Groups can take a boat trip around the Olympic Park.

Finally, no feature about sport could fail to mention the major event in the UK’s recent sporting history – the 2012 Olympics. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park offers a number of different experiences at the venue, which was at the heart of the competition. There are four self-guided trails, or take a boat tour through beautifully landscaped parklands and past the Stadium, ArcelorMittal Orbit, London Aquatics Centre and Lee Valley VeloPark. Tours are 45 minutes and cost £8/£4. Or take a guided walking tour and hear how the area was transformed to host the game. Explore the beautiful parklands, fountains and waterways with knowledgeable Blue Badge Tourist Guides. To visit the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the tallest sculpture in the UK – and if you’re brave, whizz down its new slide, contact andrea.larotella@engie.com For guided tours, contact Stan Medland (MITG) – s.medland@ntlworld.com, for boat trips Mark Sillitoe mark@leeandstortboats.co.uk http://queenelizabetholympicpark. Groups can take a boat trip around the Olympic Park.

FOOTBALL TOURS

There are quite a few football grounds up and down the country that offer tours, and we’ve selected three footy-themed venues: Head to Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC for a fully guided one-hour tour that takes you behind the scenes to areas usually reserved for the players and officials.Expect to see the press room, home and away dressing rooms, the tunnel and dug-out areas. The tours also include entry to the museum, where you can find out how Chelsea has evolved on and off the pitch. There are a number of packages available, including a tour and lunch package, which includes lunch at Chelsea’s very own American-style sports bar, with 12 big screens and American favourites including pizza, burgers and New York cheesecake. Or how about taking a tour with a Chelsea legend, and hearing about their own experiences from the horse’s mouth? Get an autograph and photo, and ask them what it’s really like to be a footballer at a world-famous club! Private Tours are available for groups of 20 or more (£19 for adults/£13 children) Groups of 30 plus will receive a 15 per cent discount. Groups of 50-plus will receive a 20 per cent discount.

http://www.chelseafc.com/the-club/stadium-tours-museum.html Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium is in the midst of redevelopment at the moment, and until Monday August 22, no full tours are available, although you can still combine a visit to the interactive museum, The Liverpool FC Story, with a meal at the Boot Room Sports Café. Between August 22 and January 2017 an interim tour will be open, where you will be able to see the new Main Stand, director’s box and dugout. The new tour will start from January and will include improved Anfield and Ultimate Anfield experiences. New this year for the Liverpool FC Story interactive museum is the Steven Gerrard Collection. Liverpool’s former captain has donated his personal collection of footballing memorabilia including his match-worn LFC and England shirts, signed opposition shirts, medals, trophies and awards, England caps and match items from Istanbul 2005. There’s plenty more to see in the museum, including five European trophies. Children can enjoy low-level exhibits and fun facts from LFC’s official mascot, Mighty Red and there are plenty of interactive games and activities. A stadium tour lasts around one hour and includes entry to the museum.

Inside the National Football Museum in Manchester.

Inside the National Football Museum in Manchester.

Group menus are available in the Boot Room Café, with coach drivers catered for free of charge. It’s free for group leaders and coach parking is free too. Email GroupTours@liverpoolfc.com or call 0151 906 1817. http://stadiumtours.liverpoolfc.com/ To please fans of all footie teams, head to the National Football Museum in the centre of Manchester to see iconic exhibits such as the 1966 World Cup ball and the first ever England international shirt. Entry to the museum is free, however the Football Plus+ exhibits, which give you seven chances to test your own skills in the beautiful game, do come at a price. They offer up the chance to take part in a Wembley Penalty Shootout, dazzle defenders in On The Ball or see if you have what it takes to be a Match Of The Day commentator. Back at home you can see your scores and certificates, share them online or print off at home. Combine a visit to the museum with a stadium tour at Manchester City or Manchester United, or for anyone who’s had enough of the beautiful game, take advantage of the great shopping, with Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and the Arndale Centre a two-minute walk away. Free meet and greet service and familiarisation tour; group discount on Football Plus-plus; guided tours, group meal deal in the café or afternoon tea; coach drop off outside museum. Call 0161 871 8145 or email groups@nationalfootballmuseum.com. www.nationalfootballmuseum.com