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26-09-2011, 19:34
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I walk past a pub and it’s got an enormous blue and red canapéflapping in the wind. The banner announces that this pub shows Sky Sports live.Outside the pub across the street they’ve got an A-board chalked to tell methat they show all major sporting events live. A board beside it says NottsCounty vs Hartlepool 12.45 LIVE (‘all major sporting events’). Through thewindows of both I see bright green squares glowing over the blank stares of thepub-goers.


Seeing a ‘Football shown here’ sign is one of the best waysfor me to know whether or not to avoid a pub; if it’s there then I don’t wantto go in. For me, that sign says it’s going to be filled with people shoutingat the screen while throwing lager down their throats. They will also probablyhave karaoke on in the evening. And they won’t serve any decent beer. Two pubsnear me are exactly like this. In two years I’ve drunk the total volume of twopints between the two pubs (admittedly this was watching the first half of anEngland World Cup game (http://www.pencilandspoon.com/2010/06/white-and-red-hope-and-expectation.html) – we left at half time to watch it in Wetherspoonsbecause it had a better atmosphere).


I like live sport in pubs, especially if it’s a major eventand England are playing. What I don’t like are pubs where the football is theonly draw. And these pubs are often the ones with the big banners hangingoutside. These banners might as well read ‘Drink somewhere else’.


Sport adds to the social lubricant ofthe beer – the banter that comes and goes, the way every drinker knows betterthan the team’s manager, the collective cheers or groans – but for me the TV ispart of the background, not the foreground, where you can watch if you want butavoid it if you don’t.


Where do you stand on football in pubs? Do many really greatpubs show games or do you have to go off-piste to see sport?
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