We admit we’re not the most ardent footy fans, but a good international tournament lends summer a special collective vibe that’s hard to beat. So with England’s first game of Euro 2012 easing us into the right frame of mind last night, here are 5 of the very best places in K-Town to enjoy the agony and the ecstasy of the coming days’ action.
5. Annie’s Bar
The décor might not be to everybody’s taste when it comes to a quiet drink, but when a big match is on, the many tribal factions of Kentish Town rub shoulders here to gasp and groan, fleetingly unified by the big screen action. Pints of stalwart larger Fosters are only £2 during England and Ireland games, so expect an increasingly rowdy, classic pub experience here. Then the mini grand piano is on hand to oil the celebrations further, should a post-match singsong be in order.
4. Sir Robert Peel
Take reader Nick Harding’s tip and check out this often overlooked, proudly traditional boozer. No fancy seats and the screens are not particularly big, but they are positioned high enough that someone in a comedy foam hat isn’t going to block your view. The traders from Queen’s Crescent Market will provide exactly the sort of colourful terrace language required – and passionate vocal support required if/when England find themselves in a penalty shootout. St George flag waving is encouraged.
3. Boston Arms
No prizes for guessing where the party is at in the hood when Ireland are playing. The Boston has a grand history of footy craic, and will naturally be showing all Euro matches on their screens. The venue is big on football year round so the combination of regulars who know their stuff and face-painted, flag waving loons mean a cast iron party atmosphere (although Ireland will need to do a bit better soon for the place to go truly nuts.) If the result is a good one, there’s the potential of heading downstairs to carry on the party at one of the regular Rockabilly, Bhangra, Brazilian or other fabulous resident club nights too.
The Kentish Canteen have come up trumps with a more civilized alternative to the rowdy boozer experience in their subterranean dive bar. A temporary screen for the tournament and plenty of soft lounge seating make this more akin to being in a big living room, but with cocktails to die for being served while you recline and cheer the teams on. The charismatic Mr. Vestal Vodka will dish out free shots of his vintage spirit to everyone in the bar each time England win a match too.
1. Assembly House
A truly massive main screen that’s clear and bright even in daylight (unlike some of the more blurry local projection experiences) plus enough room for loads of fans to enjoy the big game without things getting unbearably squashed. Plenty of tables that can be booked right in front of the action too and no wait at the large bar. Almost the perfect experience for England v France last night, if you don’t include the technology fail that knocked the picture off the main projector for England’s goal. Mega oops.