A Pub's Guide to: The World Cup

Stand-out World Cup memories from pubs and bars

By MA Editorial

- Last updated on GMT

World Cup memories: The Morning Advertiser asked publicans for their most vivid World Cup memories
World Cup memories: The Morning Advertiser asked publicans for their most vivid World Cup memories

Related tags: Sport, Football, Alcoholic beverage, Beer, Public house, World cup

Whether it's the "Hand of God", Gazza's tears, the Zidane head-butt, Beckham's red card or Archie Gemmill sending the entire Dutch defence for a hot dog in 1978, the World Cup never fails to deliver vivid memories that etch themselves into our memories. The Morning Advertiser asked sports bars and pubs across the country to relive the stand-out moments from showing World Cup football at their venue.

Liz Reece, brand manager, Cafe Football, Stratford, East London

As expected, England put in a brief appearance. We had sponsorship for England games in conjunction with Vauxhall, with Brazilian dancers, themed cocktails and food – but my clearest memory was the final between Germany and Argentina in 2014.

I was running Cafe Football in Westfield Stratford. It was a crazy, crazy time.

The atmosphere that evening was electric. The café was packed with fans from both countries squeezed up alongside each other with only winning on their mind.

Gary Neville was in the house and as wired up as the rest of us with anticipation. He gave a pre-match synopsis with his views on how the game would transpire – you could have heard a pin drop.

We also had a mariachi band playing that evening to add to the atmosphere. When the game started, all eyes were glued to our 16 TVs in anticipation of a fraught and close-run game.

As it transpired, the game was frustrating and, to be honest, a little tedious. You could feel the guests’ tempers fray as neither team played to the best of their ability.

But by half time, the drinks and food had the desired effect and everybody was getting along with each other as if it was a family reunion. People had swapped tables and were sharing beers and chatting – Gary’s half time synopsis was so funny I remember the laughing and cheering alongside his words.

By now the mariachi band had taken the evening to another level and when the second half whistle blew, people were still dancing in the aisles and had to be ushered back to their seats.

The atmosphere was total fiesta. The camaraderie of the evening was overshadowing the actual game – which, in some ways, was fading in to the background and no longer playing such an integral role in the night’s proceedings.

It still makes me laugh when I remember how we rushed the mariachi band back to the stage when extra time was called and they burst in to frantic gypsy tunes for 10 minutes while the teams readied themselves.

The whole café was on its feet dancing, clapping and singing, so much so that we almost missed the whistle blowing when the game recommenced.

By the time the winning German goal was scored, we were in the throes of a full-flung party. We threw extra money at the band to stay on longer and keep the party going.

Argentinians were dancing with German fans as if they had known each other for years. The party finally wound up at about 1am.

It was nothing like we had expected. It was more about fans of all nations coming together and celebrating the joy of the game in such a non-confrontational way and with such mutual passion.

It is a night I will never forget. In many ways, to me, that is what the World Cup is all about.

David Hancocks, Walkabout Birmingham

My best memory working during the last World Cup was the atmosphere in the venue 10 minutes before kick off for the England v Italy game.

The venue was at capacity and you could feel the excitement surging through the crowd as they waited for England to get their World Cup campaign under way. Being an Aussie, my highlight of the tournament was watching Australia play the Netherlands in the group stages.

The Australian team were massive underdogs but they played with an unrivalled passion.

Watching Tim Cahill smash in his long range volley against the Dutch really summed things up and I still reckon it should have been the goal of the tournament.


Lee Price, the Royal Pier, Aberystwyth 

Given that Wales made its only World Cup finals tournament appearance in the 1958 FIFA World Cup, domestic interest of the average Taff tends to centre around England’s fate.

South Africa 2010 was a particularly entertaining tournament.

I can remember the barrage of abuse that our bar staff received as confused customers thought we’d switched channels when ITV accidentally cut to an ad break and missed Steven Gerrard’s opener. And Frank Lampard’s ghost goal was probably one of the bigger pieces of touch paper that has been lit in the pub: the temperamental mix of laughter and dirty language was deafening.

On the bright side, at least the yelling momentarily drowned out the irritating tone of those bloody vuvuzelas.

Simon Delaney, the Firbank pub and kitchen, Wythenshawe, Manchester

The one that stands out is Japan and Korea in 2002 where we had 6am kick-offs.

I don’t think England did very well, but I remember opening for breakfast and thinking ‘this isn’t going to work’.

We rustled up a load of bacon butties and it was unbelievable. Hundreds came. People came in before work and watched the games. It was packed.

Toby Brett, MD of Banwell House

My best memory of the World Cup was South Africa 2010.

I had just left Greene King and purchased my first freehold, the Duke of Cumberland, Holcombe, Somerset.

A month after we opened, the skittle alley was set up as a theatre packed with locals cheering England on the big screen, drinking rough cider and local ale.

I can’t honestly remember how England did, but the experience of the day is often better that the game!

Jonathan Masterson, Walkabout Birmingham

My stand-out memory from World Cup 2014 was Colombia and the amazing tournament they had getting through to the quarter final.

Their fans filled the venue with a carnival party bringing in drums and instruments to add to the atmosphere.

As the tournament went on, word got out about the Colombian support in the venue and by the time they got to the knockout stage we had a full venue of Colombian fans as well as football fans who adopted Colombia as their team, everyone got immersed in the atmosphere.


Danny Grayson, Champs sports bar and grill, Sheffield

One of my clearest memories was Germany knocking England out of the World Cup in South African in 2010, shortly after I’d come into the trade.

I’d spent lots on flags and materials to promote the tournament and ended up losing money!

Getting kicked out of the Euro’s by Iceland also springs to mind!

However, overall the World Cup events have been good for business and we always get a great atmosphere in the pubs during the tournament.

Phil Cutter, the Gardeners Arms, Norwich, Norfolk

The 1990 World Cup, where England got through to the semi-finals, was electric, it really was.

The build-up to the semi-final against Germany culminated in such an atmosphere. The abject disappointment right at the very end was heartbreaking when they lost on penalties – obviously seeing grown men crying was really disappointing.

I think that, looking back, that tournament was one where nobody really expected England to do a great deal.

The start wasn’t great, but it built up and built up to the semi-final. It was just a fantastic atmosphere.

At the time penalties were quite new for England. They’d played so well throughout the whole game and it was really disappointing that we lost.

In hindsight, everyone was really upbeat; they thought they’d done really well.

The further we got in a tournament the more national pride there was, and it really brought people out together.

Paul Eastwood, Famous Three Kings, Hammersmith, London

One of my favourite moments was in World Cup 2014, we had Iran v Argentina.

You normally see football as a male-dominated arena, especially western males. We had a group of about 30 Iranian women – that says everything about what the World Cup means to fans.

It was 30 people at a game I was expecting nobody to come and watch.

Unfortunately, Argentina scored a winner in the 91st minute to break their hearts, but for me it was fantastic to see a group of people I wouldn’t have expected to be in the pub – and they were as passionate as anybody else.

Joanne Bond, general manager, the Ball, Sheffield

My favourite memory working at the Ball was the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

England got knocked out so we decided to support Germany because we had a regular who was from Germany working on business in Sheffield.

The customer, called Thomas, had adopted the Ball as his local for his stay in Sheffield so we thought it would be appropriate to support his team. For the final, Thomas came straight from work to get the best spot to watch his beloved team.

Ninety minutes of regular play had been played and extra time had been added. In the 113th minute, Germany’s Mario Gotze scored. Thomas went wild but the rest of the extra time still had to be played. Until that final whistle, it was nail biting.

Even though it wasn’t my team I wanted them to win for him as he was willing them on.

When the final whistle was blown, Thomas went mad. We had a replica World Cup trophy, so as the team were presented with the trophy we presented our trophy to Thomas. It was one of the happiest days of his life and Germany were declared the champions of the world.

I will never forget that day, seeing one of our regulars so happy.


Tony Grierson, the Reiver, Carlisle, Cumbria 

My highlight was watching Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley when we got to the semi-finals in 1990 – when we drew and then got knocked out on penalties.

The Lineker goal that made it one each against Germany – that one definitely was a standout.

England have been doing really poorly recently – I can’t think of a recent moment. People were scribbling out ‘Eng’ and writing ‘Ice’ on their shirts during the European Championships. They were that disappointed but it’s all done in good banter.

Martin Whelan, the Tollington, North London

Being Irish I’d have to say my favourite World Cup memory would be Jackie’s Army representing Ireland in our first ever World Cup, 1990.

USA 94 is also fresh in my memory, 25 Irishmen struggling in the Orlando heat but a nation of four million backing them for every minute of the tournament.

More recent memories include the Zinedine Zidane head butt – watching one of the best players to ever grace a football pitch bow out in such a controversial manner.

France 98, watching Arsenal win the World Cup, Vieira and Petit manning the midfield and all of us back home hoping they could replicate their form when they returned to Highbury. 

Kevin McDermott, the White Barn, Cuddington, Buckinghamshire

World Cup memories involve many highs and lows, but they always bring to mind a special occasion whether or not it was 6am in Japan or 7pm in Mexico. There’s always a carnival atmosphere at the start, full of banter and high spirits.

The problem lies in the fact that we all know where it leads.

But as we are English, we back our boys all the way, through the pain and suffering they have continually delivered to us.

But you can bet your life we will all be there again this year – faces painted, armed with flags, whistles and the compulsory few beers.

Good luck lads I feel we may need it, again.

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