Traveling local in the UK is on trend at the moment with people keen to reduce their carbon footprint and discover their surrounding area rather than jetting off to far flung places for safaris or cruises. No more so is this true than with sports fans, who instead of hopping to Barcelona to catch a game of Messi, or to the US for a dose of gridiron, are staying put in good old blighty.
Luckily, the UK is one of the most culturally rich countries on the planet when it comes to sport, with everything from football to rowing having its roots somewhere on this weather ravaged isle. Museums up and down the land lend a hand to those sports historians and everyday fans who want all their information collated within the confines of four walls.
Here are some of the very best to go and pay homage to, be they north of the border in Scotland or all the way down in London town.
Scottish Football Museum, Glasgow
Scotland has always been a hotbed of sporting history, with everything from the highland games to mountaineering pursuits finding a home among the heather and ferns. While there are plenty of footballing cities within the UK there are few that play host to a rivalry as fierce as the one contested by Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers.
You can explore that rivalry and so much more at the Scottish Football Museum, which also houses the planet’s oldest footy trophy, the Scottish Challenge Cup. Learn all about the history that made Glasgow’s footballing superpowers what they are today
National Horse Racing Museum, Newmarket
Horse racing has always been at the centre of the UK sporting psyche, with everyone from royalty to the average man or woman on the street having an affinity for the long noses, whether you are placing a bet on them or not.
The National Horse racing Museum is housed right alongside the famous Newmarket racecourse, meaning it has soaked up all that knowledge and atmosphere and distilled it into some truly eye opening exhibitions.
There is even a racing simulator, so you can harness your inner Frankie Dettori and tear towards the winning post at lightning speed.
Museum of London
While most sports museums on the UK tend to focus on those athletic pursuits that are traditional to the British Isles, there are some which are keen to branch out, especially if there is a British athlete who can be given the spotlight in the process. That was exactly what the Museum of London did with the English capital’s very own Super Bowl winning hero Jay Ajayi, who after his triumph with the Philadelphia Eagles was treated to an exhibition all about his personal journey to the top. While he currently isn’t featuring on NFL moneylines this season due to being a free agent, his memory will live on forever with those who visited the museum’s carefully curated exhibits. The Museum of London often highlights the exploits of black British athletes who have triumphed at home and abroad.
Real Tennis Court, Hampton Court Palace
If horse racing or American football are sports open to everyone, then tennis is anything but, with the royal box at Wimbledon being so close to the action for good reason. This is brought into even sharper focus at the Real Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace, which can be toured by general members of the public.
What you will notice immediately is that the court resembles nothing like those graced by Roger Federer or Andy Murray, because real tennis is an altogether different beast, perhaps best described as a cross between modern tennis and squash. If you can, it is worth going along when the real tennis world championships are on, so you can see some top-level games play out in real time.
There are also some fascinating exhibits that describe how the game of tennis morphed from being a street game played by the poor, into one that was adopted by royal courts around Europe.