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‘What a great lady. What a great reign’: English sport halts as nation mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II

Sport has joined the British nation in mourning after the death of the Queen was announced by Buckingham Palace.

Sporting events scheduled for Friday have been cancelled as a mark of respect following her death on Thursday at the age of 96.

Tributes poured in from sports governing bodies and personalities, and the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the second day’s play in the men’s Test match on Friday between England and South Africa would be cancelled.

The ECB tweeted: “Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Friday’s play between England and South Africa men at The Oval, along with all scheduled matches in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, will not take place.”

Play at the PGA Championship golf at Wentworth was suspended on Thursday evening when the news broke, and it was later also confirmed that there would also be no play on Friday.

“Out of respect for Her Majesty and the Royal Family, play has been suspended at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club for the remainder of Thursday and flags at Wentworth Club will be lowered to half-mast,” a European Tour statement said.

“Furthermore, no play will take place at the BMW PGA Championship on Friday and the golf course and practice facilities will be closed.

“Further updates on the resumption of play will be provided in due course.”

Manchester United’s home clash in the Europa League with Real Sociedad went ahead, with the club saying in a statement: “Following direction from the FA and UEFA, tonight’s UEFA Europa League fixture against Real Sociedad will take place as planned at Old Trafford.

“A minute’s silence will be held before kick-off which will allow the teams, match officials and everyone in attendance to pay their respects to Her Majesty, The Queen. 

“Both teams will wear black armbands and the flags at Old Trafford will fly at half-mast as a sign of our utmost respect.”

The raucous visiting fans went silent and United supporters’ anti-Glazer chants stopped before kick-off as Old Trafford held a minute’s silence in memory of Her Majesty.

There had been no pre-match music and the digital advertising hoardings were switched off following the news that arrived as turnstiles opened to the ground. 

Both sets of players donned black armbands, with United manager Erik ten Hag wearing one over his suit.

The English Football League said consideration would be made regarding its fixtures at the earliest opportunity after discussions with the Government and the wider sport sector.

In Arsenal’s Europa League game at FC Zurich, both sets of players emerged for the second half and gathered around the centre circle for a minute’s silence.

Sporting greats paid their own tributes, with former star England striker Gary Lineker tweeting: “Such a terribly sad day. A truly remarkable woman who served her country with dignity, loyalty and grace. A comforting ever present in the lives of most of us. Rest In Peace, Your Majesty.”

Beyond Britain, the greatest footballer of all-time Pele tweeted: “I have been a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth II since the first time I saw her in person, in 1968, when she came to Brazil to witness our love for football and experienced the magic of a packed Maracana.

“Her deeds have marked generations. This legacy will last forever.”

Ex-England batter David Gower noted: “What a great lady. What a great reign. May Elizabeth II rest in peace after a lifetime of wholly admirable service.”

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