Finding Your Home…When You’re An Ex-Pat

This is a guest piece by frequent contributor John Nyen

My weekend home...

At 6:30 in the morning on a Sunday you should be asleep. Sleep is a very serious matter that is not interrupted without the requisite jolts and pangs of natural disasters, political strife or burst water pipes.

Certainly you shouldn’t be walking down the side of a snow-covered street heading towards a small building that appears closed. These are the things that average, common folk will tell you.

This building in particular has a single car parked in the front. The speakers outside play a bit of what sounds like a news cast, but with the cold it is time to hurry up inside.

The door barely opens and someone almost spills out, the building is packed and inside the droning chants of opposing fans yell abuses at each other from across the floor.

This is how it is to be a English football fan in America.

The bar is so full of people that upon opening the door, the heat steams out into the cold air, the vapor spinning away. It would be impossible to know that this place existed from the outside, packed with swaying and chanting fans.

The fact is that in order to truly enjoy sports it is necessary to watch them live, and (barring being in the stadium) the best place to watch soccer live is your local pub. Forget what comfortable fans tell you about enjoying the spectacle from home in your comfortable chair, in your comfortable bath robe. This particular event must be done right, after all you woke up early. The thing that many American footy fans don’t always think about is that there probably is a pub very close to you right now, and at 6:30 in the morning it will be full. Pints will be passed, English breakfast eaten, and all the while the various tribes of soccer fans will gather together in some sort of less violent version of Fight Club.

The first rule of watching at a pub is “DO talk about this”.

To Anyone.

Bring your friends, and educate them on the finer points of the Free Beer Movement. Buy them a pint and tell them the historical differences of these teams. Tell them of the matches old and new, by doing this you indoctrinate them into a broader spectrum of sports.

The British Bulldog is one such place in Denver, Colorado.

A snippet of camaraderie...

I stood there, before Saint Patrick’s Day, two years ago to watch a resurgent Liverpool team play Manchester United. The fans were split down the length of the bar with chants and songs ringing back and forth with the swings in the match. Pints were passed around with food and during the tense portions fans grasped, in pure anguish, the scarves that swung around their necks

When goals were scored, perfect strangers were hugging and embracing each other in absolute joy over something that happened 2000 miles away.

It was the same at Rush Bar on 32 Rue Saint-Sébastien in Paris. From the outside they all look the same, serene and peaceful places of business located on a corner street. However, upon opening the door you hear accents and languages consisting of French, English, Irish, Scouse, Australian, and German. So many nationalities are presented at once but the basic scene remains the same. Sitting close to the bar with a Guinness in hand, I hear at the same time, a Frenchman and a Scouser yell in two different languages at the television screen.

At half time the commodities of cigarettes are exchanged outside and small conversation ensues about tactics, your day and the requisite news of the team that you follow. I think back to sitting at the Bulldog, and remember the same scenario of whistles blowing and people crowding around together shielding lighters from the wind.

Towards the end of the half time period those same people shudder back inside and group back together with their friends and new allies. The common bond is formed here, shoulder to shoulder, as the ball is kicked off again, half way around the country.

This is the way it was on Sunday February 6th when fans of both Chelsea and Liverpool gathered at the Bulldog. The Chelsea fans banged away on their drum with songs floating as the Liverpool fans sang songs over the top of the Chelsea people. Both supporters groups attempted to outdo each other as the game played on over the multitude of TV screens. With the final whistle the masses dispersed out into the cold, ready to start the day.

The commonality of soccer takes place in many countries the world over. However, right next to you there is probably a place, like the British Bulldog in Denver where you can share in the true experience that is the global game.”

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21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nelson on 2011/02/11 at 2:08 AM

    FADÓ

    Reply

  2. Posted by over there on 2011/02/11 at 5:06 AM

    New England Revs supporter in…Sarajevo! Sh!t just ain’t happening here. Though I may in fact get my head bashed in if I wear blue on Saturday in my neighborhood.

    Reply

    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2011/02/11 at 9:18 AM

      Getting MLS there might be tough, But I caught up on all my english footie at several of the pubs in town. I can’t remember the name, but it was in a basement.

      I enjoyed Sarajevo for the very brief time I was there. Please contact Matt or I if you would like to post a piece on soccer in Bosnia or if you go to a local game.

      Reply

      • Posted by over there on 2011/02/12 at 4:53 AM

        Once they come back from winter break I’m planning on attending a FK Sarajevo game. I’ll definitely put something together on that!

        I’ve found that the Bundesliga is a lot easier to catch here, but I’ll keep my eyes open for that pub. Thanks!

        Reply

  3. Ginger’s Ale House on the Northside of Chicago.
    The Highbury and The Nomad in Milwaukee.
    MacMahon’s was the place in Minneapolis until it unfortunately burned down.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Damon on 2011/02/11 at 7:04 AM

    In Atlanta its Fado or Brewhouse.

    I’ve always thought that bars need to take advantage of the end of football season by pushing the EPL. Take 4 bars that support Soccer in the mornings and make it the home of one of the big 4 teams in the EPL. But then when Chelsea plays at Manchester United, the fans also “go on the road” and everyone goes to the bar where the home team is playing and it would just be a huge fun day of watching.

    Fans in the US like the world cup because of the atmosphere- if you can create that same atmosphere for the EPL then you will be able to convert more fans. Its just a matter of figuring out the best way to take assorted soccer fans and putting them all into the same place to make it an event.

    Reply

  5. Posted by John on 2011/02/11 at 8:37 AM

    Bitter End in Portland for Timbers Away games.
    Kells sometimes (but you probably won’t have a game atmosphere)
    Rogue Ales
    Marathon Taverna
    Rose and Thistle

    Most of these you have to check in advance, there are some great websites out there that detail Portland, OR Soccer bars.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Erik the Orange on 2011/02/11 at 8:52 AM

    Personal post here…REALLY excited to read about a good pub in Denver as I’m moving there next month!! See ya there, John.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Craig Hawkins on 2011/02/11 at 10:17 AM

    Glad to see a great write up for one of my favorite places in Denver. If you’re into the MLS and the Rapids, make sure to hang out with the supporters, the “BSG” or Bulldog Supporters Group. Great gang of people!

    Reply

  8. Memories of how I grew up watching the matches. This was especially popular back when the games were only Pay Per View, and not available to the bulk of society.

    Britannia Arms in Cupertino, CA is where I grew up, every Saturday and Sunday with my father, packed to the brim, beer being passed, terrible British breakfasts consumed.

    Thank you for bringing back good memories.

    Reply

  9. Nevada Smiths – NYC. Truly incredible. Any game, any time.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/14 at 11:33 AM

      Always a great atmosphere at Nevada Smiths – but a little impersonal (never see the same people twice). Which is why I prefer Baker St (63rd & 1st), have got to know the bar staff and the football (& rugby!) regulars. Have started to go to The Blackhorse Pub in Park Slope a little more since moving to Brooklyn – great pub to watch the game, need to get their early** to get a seat!

      **Mrs Cross never understands why I insist on getting to the pub at least 30 minutes prior to kick-off…

      Reply

  10. Posted by JOchoa on 2011/02/11 at 2:26 PM

    The Bulldog in Denver is a brilliant place to spend the weekend mornings watching Premier League action and as a Manchester United supporter, they really do cater to all fans of all teams. The Bulldog is also an official Rapids bar, and as Craig mentioned, the BSG is a fantastic group of people, who become more than just friends, but more like family. BSG! Rapids! Red Devils! Check out the Bulldog people.

    Reply

  11. Posted by eric on 2011/02/11 at 4:52 PM

    Any thoughts on bars in DC? I’ve been to Lucky Bar but it doesn’t see rowdy enough aka people werent drunk enough!

    Thoughts and suggestions much appreciated!

    Reply

  12. Posted by Brandon on 2011/02/11 at 5:51 PM

    Any good suggestions in the Dallas or Ft Worth areas? Would love to find a spot like this!

    Reply

    • Posted by John on 2011/02/12 at 9:05 AM

      So, I haven’t been to any of these, but a quick search reveals a couple of possibilities. Of course as with anything you should go there at the early hours to see what it is like…

      first…

      The Londoner in Addison.

      and

      Trinity Hall, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane

      (but I have one major problem with Tinity Hall… #1 No place that you go watch a game should charge you a cover. Maybe go for a EPL game and see if there are actually fans there or call ahead to see if they charge for the EPL games or just the six nations. Either way their website put me off.)

      That said your other bet as well is to find out where FC Dallas fans watch their team and see if that works for you.

      Reply

  13. Posted by BW on 2011/02/11 at 7:18 PM

    was at the british bulldog for the US v Honduras qualifier. got there an hour early and had to stand outside in line until midway through the first half. once inside i stood up in a booth to watch the match. best game experience ever!

    Reply

  14. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/02/14 at 8:31 AM

    The Dark Horse in Philly used to truly rock for big games. Still a good time and the US-England match reminded me of the late 90’s when it was packed for any and all intl matches.
    Fado in Philly is also a good watching spot.

    Reply

  15. Posted by freddie on 2011/02/14 at 3:37 PM

    there are no ex-pats frequenting the bulldog in denver anymore, now that its overran with drunken frat boy soccer fans. oh, and the $7 pints didnt help either

    Reply

    • Posted by overlandandsea&leicester on 2011/02/18 at 10:55 PM

      Freddie, don’t know what you are going about. I’m an ex-pat as are at least 4 others for the RMB that still go to watch the footie matches. Bulldog does offer drink specials during the EPL games as well as breakfast specials.

      Reply

  16. [...] A Liverpool fan, a Timbers fan, and from what we’ve heard, personally responsible for keeping Denver’s British Bulldog Footie Pub in business. His contributions are always valued around TSG as [...]

    Reply

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