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Popular British summer sports

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

by Stephen Andrews (単語・表現リスト by Shigeri Nishide)

Summer’s a sporty time in the UK. Popular major events like Wimbledon and cricket start and, this year, we’ve seen the Euro Football tournament kicking off, one of the first big events to happen post-Covid lockdown.

Football is England’s passion, and, as you’ve seen if you’ve been watching it, whenever the England team wins, the whole nation goes completely nuts! Everyone was overjoyed to see them in the final, and heartbroken to see them lose to Italy. Since I’m Scottish, I was supporting Scotland, England’s old enemy. But, as usual, they didn’t last very long … they’re not very good!

Football, tennis and cricket are the big, popular games, but there are lots of others being played during the summer months that are just as interesting. You won’t see them on TV, but you can find them being played in lots of towns and villages throughout Britain.


Although the game is played all year-round, July brings the UK tennis highlight, Wimbledon. This year is its 140th birthday and it’s been really exciting, with quite a few surprises. The British favourite Andy Murray, coming back for his first games since recovering from injury, was knocked out, along with the always-popular Roger Federer. Now, I’m a supporter of Federer, so I was pretty disappointed, but Shigeri supports Novak Djokovic, a pretty good bet, since he’s probably the best player in the world.

Emma Raducanu seemed to emerge from nowhere and was lauded as England’s new great tennis hope. Like everyone, I felt very sorry for her when she had to retire early from her game, but she’s only 18, so hopefully she’ll be back at Wimbledon again, better than ever.

Although very commercial, Wimbledon still keeps many traditions alive. For example, players are required to wear white and, if you’re a spectator or visitor, tucking into Pimm’s and strawberries and cream while watching a game is obligatory and also very delicious.

Despite Covid, this year’s Wimbledon was pretty much back to normal, and that included the usual downpours of summer rain!


Perhaps the most quintessential English game, cricket was introduced across the world into lots of former countries of the British Empire like India, Pakistan and Australia. All of them have great teams who now often beat England! The rules of cricket are very complicated and I won’t attempt to explain them here, er, because I don’t really understand them. Cricket has some really weird phrases to describe certain aspects of the game, like: “Silly mid-off”; “Leg before wicket”: “Dibbly-dobbly”; “Cow Corner”; “Finger-spinner”; “Googly”; “Howzat”. Look them up, if you fancy finding out what they mean!

The players wear all-white trousers and shirts, known as cricket whites; it’s very English to enjoy eating cucumber sandwiches while spectating, perhaps sitting near a creaking old wooden pavilion, (a clubhouse for players overlooking the cricket ground).

And you don’t have to go to the main cricket grounds like Lord’s in London or Edgebaston in Warwickshire to see a match. In summer, you’ll find it being played across the country in village and town parks. Just find yourself a deckchair and sit and watch, or simply nod off in the sunshine.


Polo is a horseback ball game, played by two opposing teams with the objective of scoring using a long-handled wooden mallet to hit a small hard ball through the opposing team's goal.

Originating in ancient Persia, the British people found polo in India and did what they love to do, which was tell the world they invented it! The British military took the sport to the rest of the globe, setting up polo clubs and drawing up some formal rules. It became massively popular in Argentina, where the best polo players and horses exist today, but its association with the British aristocracy remains stronger than ever. When he was younger, Prince Charles was an enthusiastic player.

Spectators should wear smart-casual, chinos and blazers, while players are expected to wear riding boots, white trousers and a polo shirt, obviously.


A bit like polo but without the horses and a little bit more sedate. On a pristine, manicured lawn, players knock a ball through hoops using a wooden mallet. Games with balls and mallets in some form or another have existed for hundreds of years, but what people think of as croquet today swept across Britain in the mid to late 19th century. Because it’s made for the garden it lends itself to being played at summer parties and weddings. Try playing it with a mallet in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other!


In bowls, the objective is to roll balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a "jack" or "kitty". It’s played on a bowling green, which is a very flat, well-trimmed lawn. It’s normally played outdoors (although there are some indoor venues).

In 1588 Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls in Plymouth just before he led his British fleet to victory over the Spanish Armada. True or not, it’s a lovely story. Green lawns, white uniforms and with a somewhat relaxed tempo, it has a reputation as a game for the elderly and retired, but younger players are beginning to see the appeal.


A bat and ball game played between two teams, it involves hitting a small, hard, leather ball with a rounded end wooden, plastic, or metal bat. The players score by running around the four bases on the field. It’s a bit like baseball, but on a smaller scale.

First played in Tudor England, the game these days is mostly played in schools. But it’s a popular choice as a fun sport for company “team days” and you can often see it played in places like London’s Hyde Park during the summer.

Crazy Golf

Now, if you fancy doing something that’s lots of fun, a little bit sporty, but not too energetic, then why not try some Crazy Golf? It’s great for children and parents and you can usually find a Crazy Golf course in most cities. Basically, you putt a golf ball around an obstacle course of tunnels, tubes, ramps, moving obstacles such as windmills, and walls of concrete. First one to the end wins! In London, try Putt in the Park in Battersea; or Swingers Crazy Golf, just off Oxford Street. The best Crazy Golf course Shigeri and I ever played was at St Ives in Cornwall, with a magnificent view over St Ives beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Who won? She did. But I think the seagulls distracted me …

Whatever you’re watching or playing this summer, have a great game!



kick off : start。Footballだけではなく、meetingやdiscussion、イベントなどを始める時にも使える。

nuts : crazy。Crazyと同じく、動詞はgoやdrive、be動詞を使う場合が多い。

knock out :  この場合のknock outはCompetitionで試合などに負けて、そのCompetitionでもう次の試合はできなくなるという意味。

along with : together with という意味。

laud : praiseというような意味。称賛する。

retire : retireは定年や引退のように、この先もうしない時にも使いますが、試合中にケガなどで試合からリタイアする時にも使う。日本語にもなっているのでしょうか?

tuck into : intoの後に来る食べ物を「食べる」。これは、別のブログにも出てきた表現。

quintessential : typicalのような意味。私の辞書には、’being a perfect example of a particular type of person or thing’とあります。

nod off :  居眠りする。

mallet :   木でできたハンマーのような形をしたもの。

aristocracy :  上流/階級階級の人たち。

sedate :   落ち着いてゆっくりした感じ。

pristine :  とてもFresh/clean。

manicured :  芝生や庭が、とてもtidyで手入れがいきとどいている。

sweep across :  一気に人気になる、いきわたる。

lend itself to : toの後に来るものとして使われるのにsuitable。

fleet : a group of ships。a fleet of taxisのように同じ会社の乗り物の場合にも使える。

Tudor :  イギリスの歴史で1485年から1603年の期間の名前。

obstacle :  障害物。

“Silly mid-off”; “Leg before wicket”などのクリケット用語は、クリケットのルールなどを知らないとわかりにくいものも多いので、ここではご紹介していません。私自身、クリケットのルールはほとんど知りません。本文にもあるように、興味がある方はぜひ調べてみてください。





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