Sunday 30 June 2013

Wimbledon 2013 - The art of queuing

I've been watching Wimbledon on telly every year since 1985. Earlier this week I finally decided to make my first ever visit to the All England Club.

I knew what to expect, if I wanted to gain entry with a ground pass, it would require patience and the ability to deal with queuing for more than 2 hours.

I left my home in East London just after 7:00 in the morning, met my friend outside Southfields tube station at 8:20 and was in the queue for 8:30.

I was mentally prepared to queue until early afternoon based on the advice of people who'd previously queued for tickets at Wimbledon.

On entering the queue we were given a card with a queue number. The stewards told us Wimbledon had a capacity of 7000 people. It wasn't a great start to the day to be given a queuing ticket number of 8224!

We were warned it would be a long wait - maybe 7 or 8 hours! Surely they were just saying this to manage our expectations? I was confident we'd be in by at least 1:00.

I was prepared, I'd made provisions by stocking up. In my bag I had newspapers to read, biscuits, bagels, hot cross buns and two bottles of water.

By midday I realised my optimistic 1:00 estimation was way off the mark. It took almost 8 hours of queuing before we made it in at just after 4:00!

Writing about it now, I'm amazed I could queue for so long. I don't know whether I should admire my own perseverance or question my own sanity!

I certainly related to this video on the Guardian.

When we finally got in, I have to admit I loved the feel of finally being at Wimbledon.

It's a mixture of being at a great sporting and social event. So much history and tradition surrounds the place.

Did I get to see any tennis? Well yes I did.

I saw a few matches on the outside courts, but I didn't see that much. After an hour or so the rain starting coming down. Not too hard but enough to put an end to any evening play.

The original plan was to try and buy some re-sale tickets for the show courts, but when we saw the queue for these tickets funnily enough that idea fell flat.

By 5:30 my friend decided he wanted to go home as he was so tired, I was having none of it. Now that I was here I wanted a drink, something to eat and a chance to take in the Wimbledon vibe.

By 6:30 with the rain coming down and the only tennis taking place under the roof on Center Court I decided to go home. Not exactly what I imagined from my first visit to Wimbledon, but it's only made me more determined to go next year.

I won't be making the same mistake of arriving so late as 8:30 in the morning. I need to be there by 7 in the morning, 7:30 latest! I'll get it right next time.

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