Finally! I can cross “watching a football match at an European pub” off my list! As a football fan, there is just something about watching the unparalleled sport on this side of the world. Football is so widely respected and, most especially in England, regarded as their primary sport. Due to that culture, the atmosphere in an English pub is vastly different from an American bar.
One obvious difference is the drinking age. Therefore, the crowd may be younger, right? Correct. Significantly younger. At Builder’s Arms, I saw a boy who looked like he was ten! He was nonchalantly watching the match with the rest of the fans. He even had his team’s jersey on. Way to represent, kid! Being the youngest in the family, my cousins and brothers always struggled to try to get me into casual lounges and bars just so I can sit with them. In my tiny hometown in New Jersey, we could get lucky every once in a while. New York: forget about it. Las Vegas: yeah right! Only if it was a restaurant. London: sure why not? Bring the whole family! Life as the only minor in the family, for nearly 15 years, would have been so much easier in London.
Another fascinating thing about English pub culture is the way people watch the sporting event. To football fans, the Euro2012 Final is a big deal. I watched the Stanley Cup Finals at San Diego’s one and only Effin’s, and the crowd reacted so differently from the English. At Effin’s, there are some people who are drunk already, probably from the rounds of shots that go all around for each point scored. Contrastingly, people were gathered so closely together and paying attention to the match the whole time in Pembroke’s. It was packed- for the match, and not necessarily the social scene. When the teams scored, I didn’t notice a toast nor drinks all around, just a common cheer, “Olay, Olay, Olay, Olay” to effectively show their support. Also, I thought the English drank a handful of pints of beer, but they still kept composed. I say so, because they didn’t seem as loud as Americans or negatively comment when their team let them down- they just appear genuinely upset.
Since turning 21 a few months ago, I’ve definitely had my fair share of trips to the American bars. Until recently, going to the bar means “let’s drink, dance, and meet new friends”. Not in England. It’s more of a “let’s catch up over some drinks (cider or beer)”. It seems like more of a mature and casual concept compared to the American experience, but I fancy it!