I’m alone in London for a few days and I would love to see the game tonight, but I feel like every pub is crammed with 300 drunk guys and the whole vibe shouts ‘sexual harassment’ more than ‘let’s enjoy athletic competences’. They’re everywhere around my studio and it is catcalling 101.
Where is a place I could enjoy some sport, maybe food, defo beer, and a bit less overwhelming testosterone? Right now my solution is just watching it in my Air BnB and I find that a bit sad.
Thank you! Lucie F
Dear sports lover Lucie,
This is a sacred space therefore I must be very honest with you. Until approximately 12 days ago I had never watched football. My sport of choice is Drag Race. My childhood was spent in a house where the only team discussion that raised any kind of heated debate was Lidl v. Big Asda. My affinity to any London team is based purely on the intersection between the cuteness of their mascot and whether a game is likely to delay my travel. A sporting connoisseur, I am not. But at the tender age of 28 I have discovered that football - or ‘the footie’ as I now call it - is actually quite fun and more importantly, an exquisite excuse for a Tuesday night sesh. The beautiful game, I’m sorry for what I said. I see you. I like you. It’s coming home, etc.
Now, the reasons I was arguably quite harsh on ‘the footie’ prior to my recent ‘sports, not so bad’ epiphany comes down to a heady combination of being ignored by exes when the match was on, my total inability to clap in time to any chant, and my pathological fear of accidentally running into a sweaty man’s naked chest. There’s a lot to unpack there Lucie, but really we all know that the worst thing about football season is the small proportion of drunk lads who will approach you in groups and sneer something along the lines of ’smile loveeee it might not ‘appen’. I for one will not be taking life advice from someone who I’ve just seen piss in the corner of a Burger King after threatening to kneecap ITV because the screen briefly froze during extra time, thank you very much. Jokes aside, these experiences range from fucking annoying to genuinely terrifying so let’s just go ahead and find you a nice safe sporting space that’ll work even when you’re riding solo.
Really, your options here are to either go very small or very big. Confused? This statement will make complete sense imminently. When I say go small, I mean dodge the chaos of the rowdy pubs and opt for a restaurant instead. The logic here is ‘if the stomach is lined, you’ll be fine’. An excellent option is Brigadiers, a City Boy and Indian barbecue playground which just so happens to have an oil portrait of Thierry Henry in their pool room, countless screens indoors and outdoors, and is the home ground of London’s best lamb chops. Alternatively, you could head to Turnpike Lane to check out Hungarian wine bar Turul Project and oh-so casually sip on a glass of crisp Juhfark or a couple craft beers, then nibble on some confit duck croquettes and charcuterie during half-time. If neither of those take your fancy, then might I suggest multi-screen and multi-plate tapas menu Portuguese spot, Estrela Bar, for steak sandwiches plus serious fans, or try OTT but chic Shoreditch restaurant, Mama Shelter. Think boujie cocktails, cold pints, plush sofas with views of their screens, and a karaoke room in case you need to warm up the old vocal chords in preparation for the national anthem.
Okay Lucie, so now that we’ve covered going small, let’s move on to going large. Peter Crouch large - see, football is my passion. London has got a lot of huge open-air spaces that are showing the football where you can be somewhat anonymous and still feel ‘part of the fun’, all without sitting under someone’s sweaty armpit. Introducing your ‘safety in numbers’ spots like Vauxhall Food & Beer Garden (cf. their delicious French tacos), Vinegar Yard and their monster anti-glare LED screen, or our personal favourite, foliage-heaven meets footie fanatics, Mare Street Market. Down south, you’ve also got urban paradise Peckham Riviera where we have accidentally watched the football on a couple of occasions and found it to be a proper laugh. Don’t believe me? Please see this renaissance painting of a photo from a recent game I’m lovingly going to call The Last Goal.
Finally, out of respect for the fact that there are still many, many Euro games to come, I’d like you to point you in the direction of our guide, Where To Watch The Football And Eat Good Food from our resident Football Expert, Jake Missing. Seriously, he probably even knows what a ‘hairdryer treatment’ is, whereas I am still 99% sure it relates to Paul Gascoigne’s 90s dye-job. I hope these help, and more than that, I hope you don’t run into any more catcalling nightmares. Good luck out there.
Football ’til I die, Heidi