England’s quarter-final triumph against Sweden stole the spotlight from the tennis on middle Saturday at Wimbledon.
A steady stream of fans left the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) in London in the early afternoon to catch the game, including many who had queued for hours and some with prime seats on the tournament’s show courts.
Pubs in Wimbledon were rammed with spectators from SW19 – easily identifiable with their pink and blue re-entry wristbands – while those who chose to stay on site gathered around iPads and phones to live stream the game.
Sir Bobby Charlton, who was part of the winning squad in 1966, was among those invited to the royal box on Saturday, along with sporting stars Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, former cricketer Andrew Strauss and boxer David Haye.
“I’ll try, I dunno how,” he said ahead of the game. “We’re going to do it, we’re going to do it.”
Chris Yates, 30, and Craig Pett, 27, both from Portsmouth, left Wimbledon at around 2pm to watch the football, despite having queued for ground tickets at 7am.
They went to collect a “pass-out” wristband which allows re-entry from security staff soon after arriving on site.
Mr Yates, wearing a red England shirt, said: “The woman at the gate, she called it the football band rather than a pass-out band.”
Charlie Smith, 26, from south London, and Danny Miller, 29, from Kent, both sporting England football shirts said Wimbledon organisers should have put the match on a big screen.
“It’s a bit gutting,” Mr Smith said.
“But I understand it. If I was the manager of a Wimbledon I would do the same thing.”
Clive McCabe, from Twickenham, who swapped his seats on Court One for the electric atmosphere of the pub said: “It’s the most people who have left Wimbledon on middle Saturday between 1pm and 2pm.”
He added: “There’s more people leaving than going in.”
Beer was lobbed around the sweaty marquee as England secure two goals against Sweden – a world away from the sedentary atmosphere of the tennis, just under a mile away.
As the final whistle drew closer, there were chants of “put the tennis on, put the tennis on”, with Kyle Edmund, the last Brit standing in the competition, due to play on Centre Court.
Fans flocked back soon after the game, with queues forming outside the gates
The 23-year-old will be hoping to emulate England’s success when he takes on Novak Djokovic.
There had been fears that the game would clash with England’s quarter-final, while Edmund himself had said he wanted to watch it.
However the decision to put his match third on Centre Court paid off, with his match starting after England secured victory.
Earlier, Spaniard Rafael Nadal beat Australian Alex De Minaur in three straight sets.