Guaranteed fun free zone

As the world cup starts to get interesting, I’ve started to ponder on places that making a point about not showing the football. I’m not talking about places that just don’t have a telly — I mean the places that actively boast about being a ‘World Cup Free Zone’. A lot of these are places which pride themselves on having good beer and perhaps it’s part of conforming to a narrow definition of a ‘proper pub’ — no TV, no food, no piped music and no World Cup?

Now,  just because I love the World Cup, I don’t think it should be shoved down everyone’s throats, and I’m usually very much put off by places whose only attraction is Sky Sports and big screens. But football and good beer can co-exist, particularly during a once-every-four-years international event. In Germany, even the snobbiest cafes dig out a telly for the duration, and the magic words “alle WM-spiele im Biergarten” magically appear on blackboards across the land.

Why be proud of being a kill joy?


14 replies on “Guaranteed fun free zone”

I do think pubs that try and make a virtue of not showing football are making a mistake, although equally I think people who’ve had televisions installed especially have wasted time and effort.

We have the best of both worlds here – no TVs in the bar, but an upstairs room with a 50 inch television that can accommodate about 20 (it was packed on Friday night as you’d expect).

Considering one of our everyday regulars is a former top flight and international coach I’d probably get a fat lip if I tried to ban football! 😉

Some people genuinely don’t like the World Cup or football in general – why should they be excluded from pubs for a month? My local has a sign “World Cup Free Zone” in one of its three rooms – sounds like a reasonable compromise to me.

I found the Curmudgeon’s attitude puzzling. Is the sight of 24 men in shorts so terrible it prevents people from going to pubs? Obviously he thinks so. And yet he’s quite happy for the pub to be full of smokers causing actual nuisance. World Cup, God forbid. Smoking, yes please. And if you don’t like it? You can always sling your hook!

Physician, heal thyself.

I wouldn’t begrudge anyone else their fun – i’m 98% allergic to sport and I do tend to avoid pubs on saturday afternoons if they have a TV. However, I do have fond memories of following Euro96 at the Hope in Tottenham Street.

Given how quiet Cask in Pimlico was on Friday night, I’m guessing it’s not exactly working for them – delightful though the beer was (and my party and I certainly made up for what seemed like otherwise fairly slow trade…)

I wholeheartedly agree that signs such as ‘Real pub…no food’ or ‘World Cup Free Zone’ have the air of the killjoy but I’m all in favour of plural provision. I can think of (admittedly few) wet-led pubs that tickle my fancy and pubs/bars – such as Cask – where I can’t really see the footie fitting in. It’s probably for the best that a pub/bar not showing the World Cup ought to advertise the fact to avoid any confusion for those turning up hoping for the match…but there is an unbearable smugness about such signs. Ah well.

I don’t like tellies in pubs either, and I can’t abide sport of any sort. Now if you had pubs showing concerts by beat combos then that might be enjoyable. As long as it wasn’t too loud of course.

Yes, it’s a conundrum. The Bootlegger in High Wycombe has a huge bottled beer range, and proudly boasts of being a football-free zone (at all times – not just during the World Cup). But they still have a 50″ telly, and I’ve seen it showing cricket, rugby, motorsport, darts and snooker in recent months. The pub works despite it, but I worry they’re trying to have their cake and eat it.

I’m not mad on football myself, but I think Jesus John has hit the nail on the head with his comment about smugness. Funnily enough, I think it was our beloved Cask that prompted Boak’s post!

Here in Ireland, which failed to qualify, many pubs have adopted a country with drinks promotions such as a free pint every time they scored.

Unsurprisingly not a single pub has adopted England – indeed, the other night I watched an Irishman screaming abuse at Wayne Rooney for being English whilst wearing a Manchester United shirt with Rooney’s name on the back !

Nearly as much venom is reserved for France, courtesy of the Henry Hand of Frog which denied Ireland their place in South Africa – however all the Irish people I have asked have confirmed that in the event of France and England meeting up they will support the French.

Finding a pub that doesn’t have a TV on at any time of the year is almost as impossible as finding anything other than bland stout or lager on offer.

Contrary to popular mythology most Irish pubs are shit.

As an Irishman, I’ll go on the record of saying I’d support England over the cheating, whining, striking French, and I think most would!

And you need to find pubs that stock Irish craft beer. Admittedly rare, there’s a growing list here. This will be turned into a proper directory in the next month or so.

Hi Barry,
Yes, I’m familiar with the ICB website and enthusiastically support as many of my local pubs that stock these beers as often as possible.
It’s a small oasis in a country starved of a decent beer selection.
As for supporting England I suspect you are part of a miniscule minority – even after many years here I’m still staggered by the rampant Anglophobia not just amongst ordinary people but in
the media which seems to accept a level of racism that would bring howls of protest from them if replicated against the Irish in the UK.
Mind you, the Irish soon change their tune when they have to go to the UK looking for work – and they seem quite taken by our beer as well !

In like to know which pubs discourage football hysteria. It’s been way over the top this time and it’s nice that some pubs are making a point about it.

It might well be bad for business, but every business has the ability to make its own choice and that apparent smugness is really just the pub letting the world know in my view.

I wished I lived in London during the world cup where I know there are a couple of pubs that take this stance.

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