Football! It's a religion of it's own. True fans most probably have a whole different set of chemicals that flow in their brains which are no where to be found in anyone who is not a fan of football. Like they say, "Every four years, a ball does the impossible." The bar had an energy that was (proportionally) equal to that of a packed stadium. Chants of Ole, Ole, Ole! and Ar-GEN-TINA! were defeaning but very amusing to sing along with. Not being from Argentina, I can NEVER connect with these people emotionally but I can semi-understand their super-hyper-excitement as I'm the same way watching my countrymen play cricket. The end of the quarter, semi or full Final games will make these fans cry regardless of what the outcome is, they could be happy or sad tears... Most of the more-exciting emotive frames were captured on my 35mm film camera, so you'll have to wait till I develop the rolls on Monday. Stand by... Photos taken at www.bistronovecento.com
What has Swiss neutrality given us? A cheese whose main ingredient is holes and a device that tells us we are late. Both indicate a flawed worldview. We say, fuck the neutrals and embrace the partisan. Give us the 2014 World Cup surrounded by celebrators; passionate people with interesting accents.
Thanks to That London, you can share the joy with most matches. Nearly every country on the globe is here and, even better, many have opened bars. Here’s a selection of some of South London’s international gems, where you might end up hugging a stranger.
ECUADOR – Costa Azul
What do we know about Ecuador? It’s something to do with the Equator, which we understand is some sort of menagerie lion that runs round the world. No wonder they weren’t scared of the Elephant & Castle after what they’ve been through.
Tucked away in a railway arch, Costa Azul is a gift to the urban adventurer. The food is hearty, tasty and cheap (£7 for the 3-course set lunch! £7! In London! In 2014!) and the service warm. Come Sunday 15th June at 5pm it will be packed full of Ecuadorians shouting, singing and crying their way through their opening game against Switzerland, whose countrymen will be supporting neither one side nor the other.
One of the most joyous places to watch a World Cup game. This long-standing African boozer will be chock-a with Ghanaians celebrating from the first minute to the last and beyond. There will be constant music, noise and dancing so don’t bother if you prefer your football with a flask and blanket. If Ghana win, the crowd will spill out and dance in the streets. Never mind the neutrals, the cars can get fucked too.
Gold Coast, 224 Portland Road, SE25 London Overground: Norwood Junction
GERMANY – Zeitgeist
Should you feel any hesitation about watching Germany in a German pub, consider this: Not only will you have good German lager, cheap eats and hot tipsy blondes, you are also likely to be the funniest person in the room. Huge screens, banquettes and a nice, traditional central bar make it an excellent venue for enjoying an entertaining football team in a good crowd.
Who doesn’t want their dining and entertainment in a shopping centre next to a massive roundabout? Especially when it’s full of Colombians cheering on their compatriots while stuffing down Bandeja Paisa (pork belly, kidney beans, mince, sausage, fried egg, plantain, and avocado) in a restaurant bar that’s open till 4am. ‘What World Cup games will you show, mate?’ ‘All of them’, we were told. They are literally speaking our language.
La Bodeguita, Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, SE1 6TE Tube: Elephant & Castle
BRAZIL – Cocobananas
I have to admit I haven’t made it to Cocobananas Beach Shack and Casa Nocturna, as it’s only open Friday and Saturday nights from 10.30, which is outside the conditions of my probation. They’re open for all Brazil and England games though and a quick look at their cocktails confirms that, along with the possibility of Brazilian girls, this is the perfect place to watch the host nation give it some.
Cocobananas, 101 Howie Street, SW11 Train: Battersea Park, Clapham Junction
PORTUGAL – Casa Madeira
You’ve got to love Stockwell’s Little Portugal. They even do the ‘driving around beeping’ thing, so popular in Southern Europe, yet slightly mystifying to us ‘think of the neighbours’ types. However our favourite place for watching footy among the Portuguese is Casa Madeira, down the road in Vauxhall, which, like Little Portugal, affords you the luxury of al fresco screens, should the sun show up. A local institution, with genuine Portuguese food and boozes, you can almost hear the fado dragging you into a suicidal slough.
Casa Madeira, 46A Albert Embankment, Lambeth, London SE1 7TL Tube: Vauxhall
CAMEROON – Maestro Bar
Eating a pie with the footy is all very well but at Maestro Bar you can enjoy some spicy grilled goat and cassava while watching the Lions getting all indomitable on yo’ ass. The food is traditional Cameroonian cuisine, the lager is Kronenbourg. A lively African music venue as well as a restaurant, there’s likely to be more than polite applause should Cameroon triumph over Mexico, Croatia or Brazil.
There are almost unlimited options for watching England but it’s hard to look past the opportunity to watch the game in an alley. The Old King’s Head is an old skool boozer that turns one of its tellies outwards to the cobbled King’s Head Yard where you can sit, enjoy a pint and endure England. Perfect for when it’s too sunny to be inside a pub, yet you’re too thirsty not to be closely involved with one.
The Old King’s Head, King’s Head Yard, 45-49 Borough High Street, SE1 1NA Train/Tube: London Bridge