Let us not lose sight of what the World Cup is all about.
It is not a time to blindly support your own team. It is a time to blind-drunkenly support whoever happens to be playing, in the company of those countries’ supporters. To experience other cultures, to meet people of different races and creeds, to put your arm around their shoulders and keep telling them you love them and how you’re sorry about Brexit, until they move to another table.
London is an ethnic melting-pot, heaving with the peoples of disparate nations, ideal for the football-loving party-chaser. Living here during the World Cup is payback for giving over half your salary to sleep in the same room as your washing up. If you don’t work it, then you might as well be living in Arselington.
Here’s our pick of where we’re going:
For big match crowds it’s hard to look past Casa Madeira, Vauxhall, or Estrela Bar on South Lambeth Road. At both, flags will be waved, horns tooted and Superbock drunk. But for something a little more intimate, try Carlos’s, next to Tulse Hill Station. (Free nibbles and Superbock £2 a bottle – bons tempos).
We were in Casa Madeira at the last World Cup, when Portugal went two down to Germany in half an hour. No bother. We just went round the corner to Zeitgeist and became German. Zeitgeist will be showing all the World Cup games, but this time for Germany games you need to book ahead. £20 gets you entry, 1.5 litres of Bitburger and some eats.
Unfortunately, booking ahead is not our forte so we’ll end up at Katzenjammers, Borough’s own bierhalle, where nine screens are being erected with what would be typical German efficiency if the boss wasn’t from Redcar.
This is likely to be the last chance to experience the World Cup in the classic Le Bodeguita at the Elephant and Castle, at least in its current form – in the wonderful shopping centre. The centre is due to be demolished in 2019 and we are prepared to wager one empty luxury flat that there will be nowhere to watch the World Cup in what replaces it.
A superb venue for Colombia games, it is in fact a popular one-stop spot for all games featuring South American teams.
Across the road from Le Bodeguita lies Mamuśka, where you can settle down with a gulash and a glass of vodka to watch Lewandowski bang a few in. Again, best to book here for Poland games. On Sunday 24th June, Poland actually play Colombia, so it could get gloriously messy round the Elephant. Why not do a half in each?
Alternatively, try the Polish Tavern in Lee Green: Wonderful food, XL portions and a free post-match vodka shot if you’re lucky.
Even bloody Hercule Poirot couldn’t find a southern venue in which to watch one of the pre-tournament favourites, so it’s north of the river for this one, as London’s Belgians converge on Covent Garden’s Lowlander. Moules, meatballs and malty booze is served in ‘Grand Cafe’ surroundings with the sound up, as you watch Hazard and co tonk the rest of the world.
Republic of Korea
Head to the UK’s own republic of Korea, New Malden, for matches involving South Korea’s Reds. Han Bar, right by the station, is the place to be, offering Korean BBQ to have with the game and some karaoke for afters.
But if Han is banged out, a local pub will do the job. The Fountain closed last weekend so we recommend sister boozer, The Royal Oak (download the Greene King app for a free pint and discounted drinks). Or try the sports clubhouse feel of the legendary Woodies on the edge of Green Lane Rec.
Moored on the Thames outside Temple Station is a boat known, for some reason, as Bar&Co. During the football season it’s the home of Penya Blaugrana London – London-based FC Barcelona fans – and is a brilliant place to watch Barça, unless they’re playing Arsenal, when it’s fucking awful.
During the World Cup, though, the Spanish national team gets a look in and for a fiver a head you get partisan big match atmosphere on a boat, with five screens to choose from, including up on deck, with views across to the Glorious South.
South Norwood’s Gold Coast bar will be showing every game, but it’s the Nigeria games that are likely to provide the biggest party vibe in this corking Ghanaian and West African bar restaurant.
Load up on goat stew and jollof rice and if the Super Eagles get a win, prepare for street dancing with your new friends.
Suddenly everywhere is showing the bleedin’ football, isn’t it?
We can see you, with your brand new A-board and big screen that hasn’t been switched on since the Six Nations. We prefer to stay loyal to the places that show the football all year round, the pubs that perform on a wet Wednesday in January. Like these ones. (Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this map).
Alternatively, get creative to avoid the herd. Your local Spoons, for example, may only be showing England games, but they do have free wifi. All the games are being shown live on the BBC iPlayer and something called ITV Hub, so bag an outside table, fire up the iPad, keep the ale coming via the Spoons app and settle in a for three-match binge.
Prost! Twoje zdrowie! ¡Salud! 건배! Etc.
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Image credits: Main image and South Korea pic by Adrian Murphy, used under this licence; Katzenjammers pic from Katzenjammers website (permission sought), Bar&co pic from The PB London website (permission sought)