Sunday, 27 June 2010

Brazil V Portugal: The Ultimate World Cup Pub (bar & restaurant) Crawl

By Claire Williams

Most people who enjoy going out on the pub and bar circuit in London know of the Walkabout chain. They’re big, brash, proudly Australian establishments with a huge number of plasma-screen TVs showing sport of every kind. And if you’ve ever been to one, you’ve been to them all.

Walkabout tend to attract a certain crowd – the clientele consists mostly of Australians, people who’ve been to Australia (gap year travellers, look no further), university students and the people who wish they were back enjoying the beer-sodden, sweaty hangover haze of student life. It’s not particularly cheap for drinks (£8.45 for a Bulmers and a bottle of Fosters! What are these students thinking?!), the floors are sticky with spilt beer, and if you’ve escaped without an elbow to the face when venturing to the bar then you are one of only a very lucky few.

But regardless of the sticky floors, expensive drinks and the injury inducing bar visits, the Walkabout in Covent Garden proved an interesting (if not entirely comfortable) place to watch the Brazil vs Portugal football game on Friday afternoon.

For an Aussie bar, it was surprising to see an abundance of Brazilians, all dressed in yellow and green and eager to see Brazil beat Portugal by a huge goal difference. Both teams had almost certainly got through to the second round (it would have taken a 0-0 draw from Brazil and Portugal and a 10-0 win from the Ivory Coast against North Korea to change anything – crazier things have happened in the World Cup), so the promises of a good, multiple goal game were slim. And I was right in my prediction – neither side wanted to concede a defeat, so a goalless draw it was.

It wasn’t a particularly exciting game, but what made it better was the fact that downstairs you had the opportunity to watch the game in 3D. And it really did add another dimension to the match (see what I did there?!). For a mere £5 (you get £3 back at the end of the match if you remember to hand your glasses in), it feels like you are almost on the sidelines of the pitch, watching the ball hit the post (sometimes again and again). I have to say, watching the match in 3D made up for the rather miserable surroundings.

Upstairs the Brazilians were out in force, singing and dancing the early afternoon away. And they had a guaranteed place in the second round! For all the flaws of Walkabout (and there are many), this pub is geared around the football. Wherever you choose to stand you have a good view of the game on a reasonable sized if not large TV, and people from every nationality are welcome.

The Walkabout ethos is sport and drinking. And around the time of the World Cup the ethos is more specifically football and drinking. Be prepared to get sticky hair, leave with bruises on your bruises and a huge smile on your face if you venture to Walkabout for the next match. Because football is a beautiful game, and we love it wherever in the world we come from.

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