Enjoy a beer in a spot with great atmosphere.
Having recently arrived in Melbourne, Australia with the English Premier League soccer season about to begin, and being an avid Liverpool FC supporter with limited television access, I was in dire need of a place to watch all the games. This is a problem I’m sure many sports fans have faced, especially when their favorite sport isn’t incredibly popular with the locals. In the past I have wandered into the first bar I find with a television and am content to sit alone with a beer and watch my team play – I did this in Spain for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and this past World Cup while traveling through Europe to support team USA.
However, this strategy is not nearly as satisfying as being surrounded by fellow fans, with cheap drinks, and lively conversation where you feel no shame screaming at the television in support of your favorite team. This vision inspired my journey to seek out the top soccer bars and pubs to watch a match in Melbourne.
I was initially directed by some locals (who were too busy watching Australian Rules Football to be able to fully realize the needs of a true soccer fan) to major multi story sports bars such as The Crown (8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006 Australia), which lies south of Melbourne’s Yarra River and is located within one of the countries largest casinos. Although these large establishments provide sports fans with ample amounts of televisions, almost guaranteeing to show any sports event you can think of, they frequently lack the passion and intimacy that I am used to at my favorite spots that I have found both back home and abroad. Additionally, I found that the majority of commercial sports bars close regardless of when your team is playing and with the time change setting a lot of games at 1AM or later, they did not work as the ideal soccer sanctuary that I had been searching for.
A Manchester United fan that has been living in Melbourne for two years told me that many teams have clubs of supporters in large cities that come together to watch games. Through a quick Google search, I was able to locate the bars, pubs, and taverns that the Manchester United, Manchester City, Newcastle, Leeds, and of course Liverpool supporters clubs meet in. The places that I have been to and have thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere so far here in Melbourne have been:
1. The Charles Dickens Tavern (Manchester United/Leeds)
The Charles Dickens Tavern offers the most nostalgia if you are looking for a classic English pub. Located underground, it is a great spot to hang around after the game, drinking beers with friends in a cozy environment. The beers are more expensive, but at the end of the day, most of the beers in a major city in Australia are going to be expensive.
2. The Portland Hotel (Manchester City)
3. The Sherlock Holmes (Newcastle)
The Portland Hotel and The Sherlock Holmes are both fine places to watch a match, but in my opinion they do not stick out as well as the other two or separate themselves with some unique quality that your typical faux pub does not possess.
4. The Imperial (Liverpool)
This is my favorite of the lot. Not only is the place packed when Liverpool plays, with dedicated fans singing their hearts out, but it has the cheapest (non happy hour) pints of beer I have found thus far in this overpriced country. It not only operates as a haven for Liverpool fans, but for other soccer fans they show every single premier league game, every weekend, with a huge projector and heaps of flat screen televisions surrounding the bar. It is also located right across the street from the Parliament House in the central business district, so if your team is lucky enough to have the early kickoff and you are still keen on going out, downtown Melbourne’s primary club scene is only a short walk away (I recommend checking out Curtin House, which is the rooftop of a building that has each floor as a series of bars in the downtown, offering chill vibes and solid late night views of the city).
All of the aforementioned locations provide this post match downtown access in relatively equal degrees and are all set up in a classic English style.
Beware: soccer fans around the world can be rowdy, but I find that this only leads to more beer and singing. Thus far I have not been turned away from any of these places as a result of it being too late to show a match. One night, I watched Leeds play at 10PM and stuck around to watch another game afterwards starting at 1AM.
Being a sports fan in a foreign country where they don’t properly appreciate your sport can be hard; however, especially in major cities, it is almost always possible to find other fans who want to meet up to drink, talk about, and watch the games with fellow supporters. Finding these supporters clubs is a great and easy way to watch games and their locations are likely only a quick Google search away.