he goalposts may have constantly shifted for the 2020 Euros, but this Friday, things finally kick-off for a hazy beer-soaked, sun-stroked month of hope and heartbreak. Italy take on Turkey in the opening match, with the England side tackling Croatia – and taking the knee – at Wembley on Sunday, with their matches against Scotland (June 18) and the Czech Republic (June 22) also set to see the stadium come alive once more. For those without tickets, London is set for mass sing-alongs of Vindaloo and collective anguish – and maybe, just maybe, a few snatched moments of glory – at pubs, bars and teeming terraces across the city. Never has the beautiful game looked more appealing.
When it looked like, for a moment, 2018’s world cup might not be a wash out, even the most ardent rugby fan decided they’d scream for the boys with the round ball. The city’s biggest operators took notice and this summer, football madness is get to be similarly heady for those looking for the next best thing to being in a stadium itself. The gang behind Costa Del Tottenham have opened the aptly-named Euros Warehouse (N17, costadeltottenham.co.uk) down the road, promising two enormous screens, plenty of street food, room for 300 and, organisers say, “all the hallmarks of a 1989 warehouse party.” There’ll be similar celebratory scenes over at Bethnal Green’s Oval Space, where the Fanpark Euro 2021 (E2, feverup.com) kicks things off 90 minutes before each match with pints, pies and live DJs for a party mood; Tony Cottee and Paul Merson are two of the footballing greats set to host some of the big games.
Going big is very much the theme of summer 2021: up in Kentish Town, brand-new spot The Garden (NW5, cometothegarden.co.uk) promises more than 15,000 square foot of space, two 12-metre bars and two giant LED screens for the matches. The only snag is that it won’t open till June 24, but they’re showing plenty of other sport later in the year, including boxing, and host everything from karaoke to drag brunches. Borough Market’s much-loved Flat Iron Square (SE1, flatironsquare.co.uk) on the other hand, will show every big game from this Friday onwards, and are hoping the Prime Minister confirms on June 14 the next stage of lockdown easing, to pack out their always joyfully unruly terrace from June 21 onwards.
There are kindred vibes at nearby Vinegar Yard (SE1, vinegaryard.london), where the screen is one of the biggest in town, at 6 x 3.5 metres – so no-one should miss a single tormented minute of play. Every game is being shown and while only the England fixtures are ticketed, a minimum spend applies to every table of up to eight. Meanwhile, the lively Hackney Bridge (E15, hackneybridge.org), has some serious pedigree – it was founded by the team behind Pop Brixton and Peckham Levels – and while the England games are mostly sold out, most of the other group stage games have space, and tables can be booked for up to 30 at a time.
Further east and Truman’s Social Club (E17, trumanssocialclub.co.uk) will screen things on its two screens and, with more than 20 draft beers on tap, is one to settle in for a session. Speaking of which, the Boxpark sites (E1, CR0, HA9, boxpark.co.uk) are all known for their boisterous moods – they’re a go-to for those after a good time. They’ve also launched a free service offering football-themed haircuts. Anyone for a 2002 Ronaldo? Appointments can be made here. Somewhat ironically, the Wembley site won’t be able to show fixtures when the nearby stadium is in full flow, but the Croydon and Shoreditch sites will stay unaffected. Keep July 8 in your diary as that’s when tickets for the final go on sale.
If Boxpark is booked, Shoreditch fans should try Cargo (EC2A, cargo-london.com). Cocktails and beers will be being banged out both inside and out with 20ft TVs showing all the games and DJs keeping the mood up before and after. Finally, don’t overlook the official offerings: there’s the Football Village in Potter’s Field park by Tower Bridge and the Fan Zone in Trafalgar Square (both london.gov.uk) which, like most on this list, offer free entry. Beware Potter’s Field isn’t showing any home games – the mood is decidedly low-key, gentle fun-in-the-sun, while Trafalgar Square is avoiding trouble by keeping the group stage home games for key workers only.
Casual fans caught up in the summer frenzy – and there’s no shame in wondering if Gareth Southgate losing the waistcoat means he’s gearing up for a return to the pitch – make want to shy from the heaving crowds and look a little more low-key. On last count, more than 60 pubs across town will be showing matches, but the true figure is likely somewhere around four times that; ring up your local, in other words. Those looking for a destination might want to try the overhauled Jolly Gardeners in Vauxhall (SE11, @thejollygardeners), which is strictly walk-ins only for its four screens – including one in a secret garden – or head out into the big old beer garden at Lewisham’s Perry Hill Pub (SE6, perryhillpub.co.uk), which can seat a whopping 250. Food should be good, too; the kitchen’s top man is Jamie Younger, better known for Peckham’s popular Begging Bowl.
Should this summer be swept up in a downpour, stay warm and dry in a heated garden hut at Brixton’s ever-busy Hope & Anchor (SW2, hopeandanchorbrixton.co.uk). Each of the 12 weatherproof huts will have two teles showing the matches, and there’ll be a projected screen in the pub for those not outdoors. Close by, those on the terrace at the fun-loving Only Food and Courses (SW9, onlyfoodandcourses.co.uk) will be able to watch the enormous screen at Pop Brixton (SW9, popbrixton.org). In Acton, the Aeronaut (W3, aeronaut.pub) has screens up for every match – come for a game, but come back for one of their ever-entertaining circus nights and drag shows. Those set on really tucking themselves away, meanwhile, should head downstairs below Daffodil Mulligan to Gibney’s (EC1, gibneyslondon.com), which is half Irish bar, half Irish pub; in its agreeable, wood-panelled snugs, which each sit eight, TV screens will be screening the games and there’ll be mini kegs of lager to pass around the table. Richard Corrigan looks after the food, so it’s somewhere for a proper snack, too; the cheese toasties are some of the best in town.
There’s more first-rate food over at the excellent Brigade Bar + Kitchen (SE1, thebrigade.co.uk), where live-fire cooking is the thing. The likes of the oxtail burger are particularly glorious – head chef Marcilio Da Silva is very much a meat man – but they’re also offering a pizza and a pint for a tenner.
Cocktails more your speed? At all four of the fun-loving Latin-inspired Barrio Bars (N1, E1, SW2, W1, barriobars.com), all the England, Spain and Portugese games will be on, with free entry to their technicolour spaces; they’re somewhere to head for a late bottomless brunch before woozily sitting back for kick-off. Meanwhile, Drake & Morgan’s serious-sounding (but actually a bit of a laugh) spot on West India Quay, The Sipping Room (E14, drakeandmorgan.co.uk) has a terrace to catch the sun on before heading indoors to their screens; besides the footy, Wimbledon will be served up too.
Otherwise, take it upstairs and onto the roof of Skylight at Tobacco Dock (E1, tobaccodocklondon.com), which is set to show the games on its giant screen, and with room for 600, is setting up a few extra spots so no goal goes unseen. Like many spots, tickets will need to be booked from the games up until June 20 – from then, with a little luck, individual seats will be ticketed, and will include a beer.
For some, the game is only half the fun – or not even that much. Fortunately, there are a host of places built for big kids to get their kicks when the thought of penalties isn’t quite enough to get the blood pumping. Go west to Stratford, where Westfield-based bar The Bat and Ball (E20, thebatandball.com) is screening – if Jordan Henderson isn’t raising quite enough hell on the pitch, settle into a game of table tennis, or better yet, beer (and prosecco) bong. There’s also pool and karaoke for those who’ve been unwillingly dragged along. There’s more ping pong at the Bounce bars (both EC1, bouncepingpong.com), as well as shuffleboard; for those stuck to the big screen, bottomless pizza and beer will be on tap.
Unlimited pizza is also the order of the day at the West India Quay Pizza Pilgrims (E14, pizzapilgrims.co.uk) where pitchers are on offer – beer for £20, Aperol spritz for £25 – and anyone with serious pitch envy can get out their inner Rashford on the table football table. Meanwhile, the brand new Arcade Monkeyz in Southwark (SE1, arcademonkeyz.com) will have the games on once it opens on June 18; when half time is called, shake off the stress with a game on one of their vintage arcade machines. If lockdown has given you your fill of video games and all you want to do is dance, try the live-music dens Piano Works (EC1, WC2, pianoworks.bar), which both have the games; better still, it’ll always be happy hour before kickoff and bottomless beer and fizz are both on hand. Predict a winner and they’ll give you a drink on the house; be sure to put in a request for house band to play Three Lions for a boozy singalong. At the end of the day, the guys will give it everything they have – you should too.