By Gabrielle Sander
One motorcycle helmet, a baseball cap, and too many flags to count, just some of the St George Cross-adorned items I spotted on my way to the second game of World Cup 2010, France vs Uruguay. The venue: Shoreditch pub the Horse and Groom. My Engeerrrrlllllllllaaaaaannnnddddd items? Still in the shops I’m afraid, but I did go along with a sturdy pair of shoes for jumping on that all important World Cup bandwagon.
I’m supporting France – it was the majority vote from my football-watching friends (apart from the ‘Hand of Gaul’ thingy that happened last year, involving that good looking guy from the Renault advert). I’m also not entirely sure of where Uruguay is, although a scene from the Simpsons springs to mind, ask Google it’s funny.
So here I am sitting on a chesterfield sofa in the Horse and Groom ten minutes into the game with my rugby-loving Welsh buddy, drinking a cool pint of Staropramen and munching on some of the bar’s homemade snacks – pizza slices and a sausage roll.
The game has gotten off to a great start….who am I kidding? I don’t know what’s going on. For the first 20 minutes I assumed France were the blue shirts, turned out they’re white. Now and again a cheer comes from the, actually rather scarce crisp-eating, crowd, so I know something good must’ve just gone down.
The other customers seem pretty happy, and I’m not surprised. There are two massive screens and a smaller TV in one corner showing the game, and about 30 people watching. I can imagine this place would get more rammed when England is playing, but for the other games, this is a good place to go if you actually want to be able to see the game. All the games are being shown here, and on Fridays and Saturdays a line-up of DJs roll in after for those wanting to stick around and ‘party’ until 4am. Looking around, I can’t imagine any of this lot being up for dancing tonight, I can only assume a bus load of neon-clad, whistle blowing party peeps turn up later on. The little mirror ball above one of the screens hints towards something special, teasing the old man pub objects – a gramophone and horsy farmyard painting - over the other side, with a youthful glint in its eye.
Roll on to the second half. No one has scored and the annoying horns are still being blown by the stadium crowd. My friend has just returned from a disturbing experience in the toilets; all I’ll say is only venture in there if you’re up to date on your tetanus jabs or absolutely desperate. Second pints finished off and we’re ready to make like trees. A quick Google the next day and we’re relieved to find we didn’t miss out on any excitement, the final score, nil nil.