Monday, 21 June 2010

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


By Christian Rose-Day.

I was recommended this pub by our Becs following her glowing review of The Ship recently. I’m mildly astonished I haven’t ventured here before because (a) I live in borough, (b) I positively LOVE Young’s pub, and (c) it’s bloody ace!

It is a behemoth of a venue, even in the winter months, with it’s ‘old man’ front bar, conservatory main bar, and large new restaurant section. But really - and, by really, I mean most definitely, no word of a lie, stick me in the eye if I’m lying, really - The Ship is all about the al fresco.

This place is MASSIVE. It’s so big that police helicopters often circle over head, curious to know what the hell is going on down there (the only pub that can be seen from outer space maybe?). It has it’s own outdoor bar, and the outdoor kitchen needs a Tannoy system to inform the hungry folk that their orders are ready (the chirpy Irish barman chooses to forgo calling out any number in the 30s, and the number 3, to avoid any confusion).

We’re here for the game between Portugal (the world’s 3rd best team, apparently) and North Korea (the lowest ranked in the World Cup). There’s only about 15 people watching, but this is a Monday, and it’s the early game. There’s space out here for at least 500 sun worshippers to congregate and most evenings that’s exactly what happens. If it’s a bank holiday and Ra has got his hat, watch out. I imagine it to be a lot like the Notting Hill Carnival, with people taking up every square foot of space. Sure, the World Cup is a big draw, but the lure of sunshine and the sound of the River Thames smashing against the adjacent walls are too much for the punters to resist. That said, when England play, it’ll have a great atmosphere (it is a Young’s pub after all, and Young’s recently won the Fluid World Cup for England).

There are four screens in total, the two main ones being the 60-inchers outside. A few of the tables are bookable, but I’m in favour of the first-come-first-served policy that is predominantly used throughout. Before kick off we complete the weekly football quiz that’s happening just during the World Cup. Maybe we’ll get lucky and win a prize.

The raining is lashing down in Cape Town. It certainly isn’t at The Ship. It’s a beautiful day out. Perfect for watching footie with a pint of locally brewed, Battersea Sambrooks.

6th minute - Carvalho hits the post.

10th minute - Jong Hyon with a decent strike from WAAAAY out for North Korea. Considering they’ve had no ball possession, it’s not a bad effort. A Mexican wave ensues. In the stadium, that is, not at The Ship.

12th minute - Ronaldo’s first piece of showboating.

17th minute - This game is wide open. North Korea are really giving it a go. They’ve tested the goalie with a stinging shot.

28th minute - A well timed run by Meireles and BAM, 1-0 to Portugal.

Half time - it should be about 4-0 by now. The Koreans are really flapping at the back. Perhaps the rain is at fault. Alan Hansen admits “the conditions are atroooooocious.” I’ve noticed Alan Shearer is wearing yet another dark edged shirt; his favoured style for this World Cup, it seems. If England don’t make it out Group C, I’m blaming Shearer’s shirt choice.

We order a whole grilled rainbow trout and a double burger with Emmental cheese for lunch from the outside kitchen. My guest is delighted with the former, as am I with the latter (although I’m unable to finish, my optimism gets the better of me).

The second starts and it’s all Portugal.

53rd minute - A beautiful bit of passing and Simao slots home.

55th minute - Almeida heads home Portugal’s 3rd.

60th minute - Tiago has scored now. This turning into a massacre.

72nd minute - We’re offered the dessert menu. Surely I cant. But it is a decent selection, with five accompanying dessert wines to choose from. How fancy. I cave and opt for the blueberry cheesecake.

80th minute - Liedson couldn’t miss from there. This is almost getting boring now. It’s all about the goal difference from now on. Ivory Coast and Portugal are vying for the 2nd spot, remember.

87th minute - a comically good goal by the world’s most expensive player, Ronaldo, who manages to play it off his own neck. Can Portugal go for seven?

88th minute - Yep, they can. Tiago, header.

90th minute - We celebrate with a sticky toffee pudding, an orange panacotta, and a blueberry cheesecake. They can certainly do their desserts at The Ship.

As Hansen would say: “absolutely sensaaaaational”. Portugal AND The Ship both.

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