Your team is playing. Your person is boxing. Your horse is running. Your country is... swimming? We all love a bit of The Sports. But are there actually any decent sports bars in London? You know, ones that don't charge you a fortune to watch the Europa Cup quarter-final, or try to dissolve your taste buds with exorbitant Danish p**s lager? As you may have guessed from the title of this article, the answer is yes. Let the reading commence!
Football. NFL. Boxing. Rugby. You name it, Greenwood probably screens it. After all, it does have about twelve billion screens (not to mention a couple of stuffed zebra heads). This being Victoria, there is an urbane, gentlemen's club thing going on; the space age lighting and mid-century sideboards make it feel like the kind of establishment in which Don Draper would sip an old fashioned, while watching the Mets. Book a table, and get in some sharing platters (pizza, croquettes, buffalo wings). They're named Get the Ball Rolling, The Gloves are Off and The Whole Nine Yards. Sports references, don'tcha know.
Greenwood, 170 Victoria Street, Westminster, SW1E 5LB
Remember that Channel 4 football show from the 90s, Football Italia? The founders of Golazio certainly did — they created this modish Walworth bar around their obsession, plastering it with retro Italy kits, and playing Serie A games (current and vintage) on a projector. They screen Premier League footie, as well. Far from being a novelty bar, Golazio serves up piping hot pizza by the slice (beats a packet of salt and vinegar), and you can get your gob around a 12-strong Italian craft beer selection. Some of it is punchier than a bout of Calcio fiorentino. For some reason when we were last there, they switched over the football to the rugby though. Referee!
Golazio, 59 Camberwell Road, SE5 0EZ
Radicals & Victuallers, Angel
One of our biggest beefs with the common-or-garden sports bar, is that the beer offering is often *that* Danish lager or *that* Irish stout, and not much in between. Radicals & Victualler doesn't suffer from such a problem — partly because it's a bar that screens sport, rather than a full-time sports bar. A range of tasty brews from the likes of Tiny Rebel, Thornbridge and Brewdog plays out well with anyone who appreciates a decent pint. We find that watching your team lose 4-0 while supping a Welsh tropical pale ale, is marginally more palatable.
Radicals & Victuallers, 59 Upper Street, N1 0NY
Bar Kick, Shoreditch
Footy gets a dose of Continental class at Bar Kick — a hangout scattered with Formica tables, and draped in international football scarves. The drinks are not your usual fare — we have literally ordered a Sidecar here during a Man U match, and the barman didn't batter an eyelid. When there isn't a match on, give your wrist a workout on the fussball tables (spinning's cheating by the way). Sister bar, Cafe Kick, on Exmouth Market, is an equally good hipster-footy haven.
Bar Kick, 127 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE
The Porterhouse, Covent Garden
12 levels of beer, live music — plus a van-load of TVs — make The Porterhouse a veritable Fun House of booze. When World Cups, the Six Nations, Wimbledon et al are on, the beer flows (it's their own beer, too — try the oyster stout, with real oyster juice in it), and the good times roll. After the sport's done and dusted, the real party sparks into action: live bands, perched on the mezzanine, belt out feel-good hits, and everything is right with the world. If England (or Ireland — it's an Irish pub) are victorious, start concocting those excuses for not making it into work tomorrow.
The Porterhouse, 21-22, Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA
Hamlet Bar, East Dulwich
An afternoon at Dulwich Hamlet is a must for anyone — football fan or no. The locals' self-aware middle class chants (including the only ones, to our knowledge, to contain the word 'Plantagenet') should frankly be released as an album. Now, happily relocated to their former East Dulwich ground, Hamlet have opened the club bar, seven days a week. Here, you can shoot pool, while ogling sports on the TV. Order an Edgar Kail Pale Ale, named after their legendary forward, and brewed exclusively for the club.
Another bar-in-a-stadium that has our seal of approval: Leyton Orient Supporters Club. It's good for pre-match raffles, real ale and homemade butties. Actually, it's one of the friendliest bars we've been in, period. We've heard promising things about Spurs' new bar too — which has its own brewery, boasts the 'longest bar in Europe' and magically serves pints from the bottom up. At least, it will do when the stadium eventually opens.
Hamlet Bar, Champion Hill Stadium, Edgar Kail Way, SE22 8BD
Sydney Arms, Chelsea
Racing commentator John McCririck was no stranger to the Sydney Arms, an upmarket boozer which brands itself 'London's Racing Pub'. Five screens blare out all the important gee gee races, plus a healthy mix of rugby and football. They do a roaring trade in fizz here (these are horse people. In CHELSEA), and the wine list is more accomplished than pretty much any sports bar in London. On big race days, prepare to be fascinated by the array of fascinators. There'll be no shortage of tips flying around too. If you win big, celebrate with the £95 bottle of Laurent Perrier rose.
The Sydney Arms, 70 Sydney Street, Chelsea, SW3 6NJ
The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury
It may have bicycles dangling from the ceiling, but The Faltering Fullback's sport of choice is rugby. You'll have to turn up early for a chance of bagging a seat in this cosy, gimcrack-festooned boozer. But for those who value character over comfort, crowding around the horseshoe bar and craning your neck up at the TVs is all part of the experience. Sink a pint of the Black Stuff, and soak it up with a Thai curry (no Irish stew on the menu here). The pub garden feels more like a mini rainforest, and tends to be inhabited with half of north London, whether the sun's out or not.
The Faltering Fullback, 19 Perth Road, Finsbury Park, N4 3HB
Look Mum, No Hands!, Old Street
Right. Here's another establishment with cycles hanging from the ceiling — and this one IS bike related. A coffee shop/repair workshop/merch boutique, Look Mum, No Hands! is one of many cycle cafes peddling — or should that be pedalling — their wares in London. And though this isn't a sports bar per se, you can watch major cycling events — not least the Tour de France — unfold on a big screen here. They also show cycling documentaries, followed by Q&As. Our first question would be: "Sorry, how do you fix a puncture again?"
Look Mum, No Hands!, 49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX
They do like their sport at this opulent, erstwhile music hall: crowds throng the stalls and balconies for the footie and rugby, and it's not unusual for a sporting name like Teddy Sheringham or Tyson Fury to rock up for a Q&A.
Clapham Grand, The Grand, 21-25 St John's Hill, London SW11 1TT