Tuesday, 29 June 2010

England V Germany: The Ultimate World Cup Pub (bar & restaurant) Crawl

By Kate Williams

Hot this weekend, wasn't it? I can't remember when it has been this sunny in London. Isn't Andy Murray doing well? Straight sets to Wimbledon's second round, get him. Oh and Thom Yorke's surprise Glastonbury set must have been pretty special, huh. Sorry I missed that.

Now, let me think, what else happened this weekend? Hmm. Oh yeah, England were knocked out of the World Cup. I watched this disappointing display from the comfortable upstairs dining room of Battersea's The Northcote. Here's the blow by blow:

Minus 15 mins: I leave the rowdy pub downstairs, and am seated in the more sedate and civilised dining room. Nervous customers prepare to line their stomachs with one eye on Gary Lineker's pre-game ramblings from the wall mounted flat screen. It's an unusually handsome venue to watch footie in, but I wholeheartedly approve and begin to peruse the wine list. Classy.

10 mins: Not long after kick off but from this non-football fan's point of view not much seems to be happening. 'Are we in the red or the white?' asks my friend. I was thinking the same thing. Out the open window I spot a very rare sight in South London, an almost empty Nando's. Either, only two girls in SW11 fancy Peri-Peri today or they're not showing the match.

20 mins: Oof. German goal. The waitress mentioned earlier that the chef was supporting Germany. At least we know now he won't be spitting in our food.

33 mins: Another German goal. I console myself thinking about my order. Traditional English fish and chips followed by traditional English Knickerbocker Glory will go along well with the traditional English under-performance.

38 mins: Spoke too soon. England score! The room, growing less sedate by the minute, is on it's feet. I check but the Nando's girls haven't even flinched.
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39 mins: No! Lampard's obviously-legitimate-even-to-me-and-as-you-can-tell-I-don't-know-what-I'm-talking-about goal is disallowed. This is why I don't much like football. It's only good when we win. 'Shit ref' says the vocal England supporting Aussie girl behind me. Over and over and over...

Half time. My fellow diners pick at the remains of their meals, to overwrought to eat. I'm having no such trouble with my meaty cod, chips and minty peas. Yum, England can do something right.

48 mins: And we're back. I love the waitresses here. Not only are they lovely, they're very good at their jobs, managing to resolutely transport plates of food and trays of pints through punters who are up and down like red and white Jack-in-the-boxes, limbs flailing. Very professional and poised performance. Capello's boys should take note.

56 mins: Football is still happening. So is a Knickerbocker glory, layered with cream, ice cream gooey chocolate and chunky bits. Which do you think I'm more interested in?

67 mins: Germany score. Again. Sigh.

70 mins: Another goal for Germany's Thomas Mueller, though sadly not scored from a corner, thus denying me the chance to make a crap joke about yoghurt. What's that they say about Germans not having a sense of humour? (What's that they say about the English being casually racist?)

82 mins: I notice that Nando's is looking pretty full now. Have Battersea given up on England and switched allegiance to Portugal? Who could blame them?

Full time: That's it then. Germany, 4, England, 1 (well, technically two for all the difference it would have made). The Northcote diners pile out pretty quickly, either downstairs to drown their sorrows or home to angrily curse God. We stick around though to polish off rest of the crisp Sauvignon Semillion and to see my favourite part of any World Cup: fans dressed up in 'wacky' costumes with their head in their hands, in tears. Fancy dress and sobbing, that's pathos my friends.

Geronimo Inns WERE giving a free pint to Geronimo club members in the event of an England win. This obviously won't happen now, but sign up to www.geronimo-inns.co.uk/club for future news and offers.

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