Old friends hold court in queue for Wimbledon: As the tennis championships open, Charles Oulton finds out why it is fun to be part of the crowd

AS DAWN was breaking in Worcester yesterday, Chris James collected a group of students from the technical college where he teaches and set off for Wimbledon, a place he knows well. He played Junior Wimbledon in 1978, losing to the eventual winner, Jeremy Bates, after a close-fought match, but was happy yesterday just to be part of the crowd.

Even when it is raining or the tennis is dull, being part of the crowd is part of the fun of the championships, which opened yesterday under the grey skies traditionally reserved - although not last year - for the first few days.

Mr James may have been more of a tennis connoisseur than some fellow watchers, but prowess on court is not what Wimbledon crowds are about. It is more about resilience, endurance, the ability to sleep overnight on pavements to secure that centre-court seat. And good humour above all, particularly when you're number 501 in the queue and only the first 500 get in.

There was plenty of good humour, notably from a veteran watcher of 15 years from Egypt, Sayed Ali. It costs him pounds 3,000 to fly over for the championships, a price worth paying, he says, for the renewed acquaintances alone. 'Nothing but trouble, that one,' smiled a policeman, after bounding up to the Egyptian to say 'hello'.

A few hours earlier, Karen Davies had been in jocular mood, drinking champagne and Liebfraumilch with three former colleagues from a Rank Xerox factory in Buckinghamshire. It is an annual reunion and the laughter rang out, despite a distressing incident shortly after 6am when a motorcylist collided with a car only a few yards away from the women and was taken to hospital with a serious injury.

Richard Farnfield, sitting a few yards away in the picnicking area of Aorangi Park, was more concerned about his revision. He was preparing for his last Spanish examination tomorrow at Kingston University, and will then be able to concentrate on his duties as a cleaner at the championships.

The tennis provides thousands of temporary jobs over the fortnight, mostly taken by students - some so they can watch free tennis; but many others are content to earn money for summer holidays. Not all of them are students, however. Brenda Shew has been selling programmes for 25 years, working daily from 9.30 to 6.30. 'I watch the tennis on the telly when I get home,' she said.

A 36-year-old man appeared in court yesterday charged with making multiple applications for Wimbledon men's final day tickets. Eamonn Montague, of Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, was remanded by Wimbledon magistrates on unconditional bail until 11 July.

He was charged with three counts of deception relating to multiple applications for last year's championships and three counts of attempted deception in March this year.

The 107 pairs of tickets at pounds 98 per pair - allegedly at the centre of the case - would have been worth more than pounds 267,000 at black market prices.

Wimbledon, pages 35 & 36

(Photograph omitted)

News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Accountants, Cardiff, £250 p/day

£180 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountants - Key Banking...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

£18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices