On the face of it, the question of where to watch the Euros seems academic. It’ll be available everywhere free-to-air like, well, air.
So when Nilesy tweeted last week, ‘We owe it to our premier league match showing pubs to stick by them during the euros. Swerve pubs showing euros like they think it’s a thing’, it did strike a chord here at Deserter.
The establishments of which he speaks are those that keep us going during the dark days, days when there is no ‘festival of football’, just a walk in the November drizzle with a few quid in your pocket and the promise of a pint, a bag of peanuts and a couple of hours of shared oohs and aahs.
And these places are getting harder to find. Ten years ago in Herne Hill, for example, all pubs showed the football. Now, none do. This is not merely down to an influx of people who don’t care for the game, or about pubs discouraging a certain type of clientele, it’s also down to the cost of showing it.
UK landlords pay on average £1400 per month (£400 a month for BT Sport and £1000 for Sky) to show Premier League football (and other sports), but as this cost is based on a pub’s rateable value, it can be a lot more.
So Nilesy has a point, and we support the idea of frequenting your old favourites during the tournament.
However, at Deserter we also like nothing more than chasing the party – some may even say crashing it – and the Euros offers a chance to sample the delights of other football-loving cultures, of which, in London, we are fortunate to have many. You see, unlike much of the rest of the country, we actually appreciate foreigners. We like the way they come over here, open their bars and restaurants and insist on serving us their booze and borscht.
So given the amount of games coming up, we’re confident we can maintain a balance between supporting our local and treating ourselves to a few games soaking up the big match atmosphere in various Euro-appropriate establishments. But where?
We convened in Camberwell to harvest our thoughts on such venues over some continental lagers. (Actually, I had Hophead and Dirty South had a Kent Brewery Pale, but these are mere facts).
‘Where’s your book?’ said Half-life when he arrived, an hour late.
‘What book?’ I said.
‘This book,’ he said, dropping his Euro 2016 Panini sticker album onto the table, a tome not only packed with info about the tournament but also offering the chance to, you know, play with stickers.
‘Oh,’ I said. I’m not used to Half-life having good ideas.
‘Don’t worry, I got you one as a present,’ he said producing another from his bag.
‘Oh, mate,’ I said, overcome. ‘That’s really very good of you.’
‘No bother. Just get me a few of pints in.’
‘Of course,’ I said.
It turns out the Panini albums are free from any newsagent. But hey, it’s the thought that counts, possibly.
Anyway, dust off the manbag, tie a sweater loosely round your shoulders and get ready to put the party into partizan: Welcome to Euro-London 2016.
From Stockwell and up the South Lambeth Road to Vauxhall there are more Portuguese bars and cafes than in high season Albufeira, fact. And Casa Madeira, on the Albert Embankment, offers a tremendous football-crazed atmos, inside and out.
But this year we’ll be trying Carlos’s, the little place we discovered on our Tulse Hill walkabout recently. Head downstairs from the cafe area up top and you’ll discover not only a little garden, but a little garden with the game on. Al Fresco is a sure-fire winner, even if he hasn’t made the Portuguese squad this time.
Word of warning: If you see a lanky dude in a funny hat hanging round the matraquilhos (foosball) table, it’s liable to be Half-life. Decline all offers of a game – you will lose 10-0 and be buying him bottles of Superbock all bleedin’ day.
Popular Polish bar/restaurant, Mamuśka!, moved out of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre last year, which put the kibosh on a spirit and massage night out, but they haven’t moved far and will be showing all the Poland (and England) games, which can be accompanied by platters of fried eggs and sautéed spuds, washed down with glasses of iced vodka. It will also be a chance to see the new semi-pedestrianised Elephant with its four saplings, some blades of grass and, erm, traffic.
We will also be dropping in to the Polish Tavern in Lee which will be serving up all Poland games alongside the bigos and pierogi.
Why The French House(es) in East Dulwich and Crystal Palace aren’t showing the France games is anyone’s guess, les crazy fous. But their loss is Kennington’s gain as we’ll be allez-ing to Toulouse Lautrec where they will be showing the France games in their upstairs bar (except night games if they clash with music).
Mention Deserter and you’ll be given a free ‘bof’.
Staying in Kennington, Zeitgeist (at the Jolly Gardeners pub) is a place we recommended watching Germany for the 2014 World Cup. This time they are charging £10 entry for Germany games, but as this includes currywurst and chips plus a vodka Brause (usually £11, total) it’s a chance to watch the game and make a pound. Fantastisch!
And we’ll be heading to Katzenjammersat Borough. The draw here, apart from the beer, the lederhosen and the oompah, is their fabulous new 200-seater bierhall which will be open for every Germany (and England) game.
For an Austria match, Roxy is sorting us out a visit to the Austria Club, SW1 (at the Austrian Embassy) where we are promised Austrian wine, Austrian beer and Austrian snacks, which she is hoping includes Ferrero Rocher served by the Ambassador himself, in lederhosen.
Irish pubs aren’t hard to find in London and we’ll be dropping in to favourites like Hardy’s (Greenwich) and the Blythe Hill Tavern (Catford) for Republic of Ireland games.
We’ll be joining Half-life at some stage, too, in one of his faves, the Pyrotechnists Arms in Nunhead, where food is usually laid on and the atmosphere craicing. The ale choice leaves a bit to be desired but it is right opposite The Beer Shop micropub, which has nothing to do with Ireland, but does have a lot to do with beer, which kind of makes sense when you think about it.
For Sweden games, Zlatan’s Euro 2016 Pop Up sounds too good to miss, even if it is £8 to get in. Hosted at Clapham’s Infernos club, it promises trumpets, sing-alongs and stadium atmosphere. If it’s as perfect as Zlatan himself, it should be a ball.
Reporter: Who will win the World Cup play-off?
Zlatan: Only God knows.
Reporter: Well, it’s kind of hard to ask him.
Zlatan: Why? You’re looking at him now.
The ever-dependable Barcelona tapas bar and restaurant on Lordship Lane will be showing Spain games and hefty discounts are available for groups of 10 or more eating a set menu. Unfortunately for us, 24 hours notice is required for such a booking, which is never going to happen. Do we look like project managers? Not to mention we don’t know 10 people.
We’ll be on the little table in the corner.
Bear with us on this one, the Italians aren’t big boozers. To be honest they’re as likely to watch the game in a gelateria as a pub.
Amerigo Vespucci lies just across the water in Canary Wharf and offers an outside bar with screens and an afternoon waterside experience to enjoy while all the suits are hard at it in the gleaming towers. Might work.
You can get a ferry over from Rotherhithe (free, if you say you’re staying at the nearby Hilton) and nip back before knocking off time.
But if that sounds a step too far, there is also Bunga Bunga on Battersea Bridge Road which will be showing all Italy (and England) games. Amusingly, they have got into a spot of bother with the local council after trying to get into the party spirit by painting their building in the colours of the Italian flag. Or is it just clever marketing? We don’t know any more.
This is more like it. The plan is to loiter outside the Iceland store on Brixton Road and watch Iceland games on our phones, with a lovely big bag of tinnies. Hats off to Half-life for this idea. Hope to see you there.