Football fans have only just begun to be allowed back into grounds in England, with reduced attendances allowed at the FA Cup final and the last week of Premier League fixtures. But there is lots more to come.
Apart from those whose teams who are in the promotion play-offs, fans will now have their eyes fixed on Europe, where our football teams are rather more likely to turn in strong performances than our singers.
Last night had millions watching the Europa League final between Manchester United and Villareal, which went to extra time and penalties before finally ending in a win for the Spanish side. This weekend will definitely bring an English winner, however, as it features an all-English final of the Champions League between Manchester City and Chelsea.
This is just the start of the Europe-themed extravaganza coming up over the next month or more. With limited crowds in stadiums, the millions watching may want to get a few friends round for a European football-themed and buy some cheap food online to feed them.
When the European club trophies have been handed out, it is the national sides that will take centre stage. Excitement is growing across the UK as England will be joined by Wales and Scotland. Indeed, the occasion is especially exciting for the Scots as they have qualified for a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup and were drawn in England’s group.
The big clash will take place at Wembley on Friday 18th June, with a 21:00 kick off, so it should be a night to remember.
Indeed, the game will bring back memories of the time the two sides met at the old Wembley in the same tournament back in 1996, a match famous for England goalkeeper David Seaman saving a penalty moments before Paul Gascoigne scored one of the tournament’s greatest ever goals.
Gazza celebrated that goal in style, by mimicking an incident on England’s pre-tournament tour of the Far East when players would recline in a ‘dentist’s chair’ in a nightclub to have various cocktails poured down their throats, an incident that drew the ire of the tabloids. Whether you want to celebrate goals like this at your party is, of course, up to you.
Of course, the England v Scotland match is just one of the great occasions in the tournament. The group also features Croatia and the Czech Republic. England face the Croats, who denied them a place in the 2018 World Cup final, on Sunday June 13th, and the Czechs on Tuesday June 22nd.
Scotland face the Czechs on Monday 14th and the Croats at the same time England play against the Czech Republic.
Wales are in Group A and will play Switzerland on June 12th in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. They also take on Turkey at the same venue on June 16th and Italy in Rome on Sunday June 20th, hopefully one European competition in which the Italian performance will not be a total contrast with the British one.
However, these are just the group fixtures for the home nations. The tournament as a whole starts on June 11th with Turkey against Italy, while the knock-out stages run from June 26th until the final at Wembley on June 11th. That means lots more football to watch, with even more excitement if England or one of the home nations can get through to the final.
June will bring plenty more excitement as well with some of the other sporting action. The grass court tennis season means Wimbledon, and some great days spent watching tennis, days that can morph into evenings when rain delays mean matches being played under the retractable Centre Court and Number 1 Court roofs.
Of course, it is unlikely that Andy Murray with his metal hip can roll back the clock and win a third title, but with Djokovic and Nadal still playing great tennis, Federer not finished yet and rising stars like Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas around, plus the veteran Serena Williams against a host of rising stars in the womens’ game, the first Wimbledon in two years should be a treat.
Nor should anyone forget the cricket, with England playing two Test matches against New Zealand, five against India plus one-day series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. With the new Hundred tournament coming up to, there will be loads of leather on willow action this summer.
So get ready to have some superb sporting gatherings this summer, with great food and hopefully many memorable moments.