Sport in the Midlands
Sport in The Midlands has always been popular, especially when the region became the heart of the industrial revolution. The resulting in migration of working class people meant that a large population were looking to be entertained by either watching sport or participating in it.
The location of the region in the centre of the country has been important, as its accessibility has led to the construction of many facilities that can be reached by people from all over the country. A good example is the Arena Birmingham which can hold up to 15,800 spectators.
In the past, the arena has been home to Davis Cup tennis matches, international judo competitions, international indoor athletics competitions and the 19995 Netball World Cup. The multi-purpose venue has resulted many people coming into the region to watch these events.
The nearby Alexandra Palace Athletics Stadium is going to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games athletics events. Currently the capacity is 12,700 but the plans are to increase it to 50,000 with 25,000 permanent seats.
The St Georges Park National Football Centre is located just outside of Burton-on-Trent in Derbyshire. The 350-acre site provides the football association with the facilities to prepare the 28 national sides for their forthcoming fixtures.
The facilities include 12 full sized grass and artificial pitches, a full size indoor pitch and a state of the art medical and sports science facilities. The centre is often hired out to clubs from all over the country and even overseas sides such as Galatasaray have used the facility.
Football is the most popular sport in the midlands with each city having at least one major club. When the football league was founded in 1888, six of the twelve founder clubs hailed from the midlands. One of these were Notts County who are the oldest association football club in the world having been formed in 1862.
They are not however, the most successful club in Nottingham. That honour goes to Nottingham Forest who are one of the two Midlands clubs to have won the European Cup. Under the management of Brian Clough, they won it twice in both 1979 and 1980 and they also won the league championship once, the FA cup twice and the League Cup four times.
Aston Villa play their home games at Villa Park, which is the largest football stadium in the midlands with a capacity of 50,000. Then side have won the league championship seven times, the European Cup once, the FA cup seven times and the league cup five times. Villa Park has hosted sixteen international matches plus Fifty five FA cup semi-finals.
The only other sides to have won the top tier of English football from the region are Derby County, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and most recently Leicester City, who did so in the 2015-2016 season.
While the region’s football has been suffering in recent years the rugby union teams have been experiencing great success. Leicester Tigers in particular have proved to one of the premier club sides in England.
With their home ground at Walford Road acting like a fortress, the side has won 10 Premiership Titles out of the 30 titles on offer since the competition was in 1987. It has also won the European Cup twice and produces an abundance of England international players. The winning world cup side in 2002 was captained by Leicester second row forward Martin Johnson and coached by the ex-Leicester centre three quarter Clive Woodward.
Their fierce local rivals play just down the road at Franklin’s Gardens, the Northampton Saints. They have suffered over the years playing second fiddle to the Tigers but in 2014 they won their own Premiership Title. They currently have in their squad of players Dylan Harley the England captain.
Also, in Northamptonshire is Silverstone racetrack, which is the home of British motor racing. Every year since 1987 the venue gas been the home of the formula 1 Grand Prix. The race attracts crowds of 150,000 to the area causing traffic chaos.
International cricket is played each year at Edgbaston which is the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club. The county team have one of the most successful records in the country.