South London World Cup of Pubs

Which pub emerged victorious in the inaugural South London World Cup of Pubs?

Here in the glorious South we are blessed with some fabulous boozers. Many keep their beer perfectly; some have wonderfully characterful premises; some have charming staff or a welcoming crowd of regulars; some offer live music or do great deals on price; some even open at lunchtime, like the old days, before ‘24 hour’ licensing ruined everything.

Then there are the ones you keep going back to, the ones that you go out of your way for, the ones that you talk about in hushed reverential tones…

Still gleaming

But, you know, after all the talk which one is the best – scientifically?

Think about that for a bit.

Yeah, hard, isn’t it? There really are no mugs at the top level.

The Final 16

So we thought, why not pick 16 of the best pubs to have featured on these very pages and put them to the public vote via a knockout tournament? Easy, right? Except that, no, it wasn’t easy. Picking the 16 was possibly the toughest thing we’d done all year. (To be fair, it wasn’t a terribly demanding year).

As well as using the criteria above we decided that we should not include more than one pub from a chain – whether big (like Wetherspoon) or small (like Beer Rebellion). We then promptly undermined our own rules by including two Late Knights’ bars and two from Antic. We’re nothing if not inconsistent.

We also ruled out places that were as much shops as pubs (sorry, Hop, Burns & Black) and brewery tap rooms which we love, of course, but are simply not open enough.

Even then there were still dozens of cracking boozers for which we couldn’t find room. Ones that you may prefer, perhaps. Indeed, ones that on another day we might have preferred, too. Next time we might have to introduce play-offs.

The Tournament

Each ‘match’ in the tournament was a knock-out 24 hour Twitter poll. The 15 games were held on Twitter between December 15th 2015 and January 5th 2016.

The prize for the winning pub was a pair of Deserter stickers – that’s right, two of ’em – to attach to their toilet cisterns, as well as the right to call themselves Winner, South London World Cup of Pubs, 2016.

Plus, we hardly need add, we proposed to pitch up there for a celebratory pint.

Here’s how the tournament went:

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 13.10.13

And the Winner, South London World Cup of Pubs 2016 is…

The Ivy House, Nunhead

The Ivy House
Photo by @Save_Ivy_House

Runner-up: Blythe Hill Tavern, Catford, the current South East London CAMRA Pub of the Year

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who voted and joined in – and in particular all the pubs involved for being such great sports.

Of course, ultimately, what makes a ‘best pub’ is mostly subjective. People voted for plenty of reasons, including our favourite: ‘Because it’s crawling distance home’. But what came through loud and clear is just how much the pubs were loved. We are blessed to have such a fine selection of boozers on our doorsteps (and many more besides).

As for our finalists, we decided to pay them both a visit them on the day of the big match.

At the Blythe Hill Tavern, Con the landlord gave us a warm welcome and a healthy and convivial crowd was watching a re-run of the 1966 World Cup Final, following their progress in the Deserter World Cup on a tablet passed around the bar. While over at The Ivy House there was a triple-header of Chess Night, Knit Club and, in the music room, a meeting of the Gramophone Appreciation Society hosted by Tim sporting a Brazil shirt and a Carlos Valderrama wig.

This was on a Monday. On the 4th January.

That’s why we love pubs.

Here are some photos from the day:




Photo by Duncan Palmer


Photo by Duncan Palmer


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Hat tip: We are indebted to @GlennyRodge, whose ‘World Cup of Crisps’ inspired this scientific experiment.