GBPA 2022

Meet the GBPA finalists for Best Pub to Watch Sport sponsored by Sky

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Sporting chance: (clockwise from top left) the Admiral Nelson, Anlaby Park, the Denbigh Castle, the Railway, The Gardeners Arms and Famous Three Kings
Sporting chance: (clockwise from top left) the Admiral Nelson, Anlaby Park, the Denbigh Castle, the Railway, The Gardeners Arms and Famous Three Kings

Related tags Sport Branding + marketing Beer Food Multi-site pub operators Pubco + head office Tenanted + leased

Many pubs make screening sport one of their main revenue streams and with the football World Cup approaching, there's no excuse for any site not to cash in on the tournament or any other sport that is currently taking place. Here are the finalists in this year's Great British Pub Awards Best Pub to Watch Sport category.

The Admiral Nelson, Twickenham, south-west London

This pub sits in the heart of rugby land and is a classic detached building that typifies Fuller’s pubs.

Licensee Tony Race is keen on the upkeep of his site and if not painting the window frames, he can be found upcycling the pub’s old benches into planting areas to increase the attractiveness of the garden and shows a dedication to sustainability.

An excellent kitchen offers a menu that can be adapted quickly to suit whatever sport is being displayed on the television screens, which includes a new laser projector as its main viewing point for sports lovers.

The interior houses three distinct areas, which includes a main sports viewing section that is adorned with framed rugby shirts on the walls. The pub is capable of whipping up a great atmosphere and that’s for all sports, not just rugby union.

As the football World Cup approaches, the garden area is set for new gating, an improved roofing area and two big weatherproof screens.

Anlaby Park, Hull, East Yorkshire

When Craig Garner and wife Claire took on the Anlaby Park pub in 2019, it was in dire need of physical restoration and a change in clientele.

It had a single TV screen that didn’t work but the couple built this number up as well as banning troublemakers and now have an amazing venue that has three areas – a welcoming large front room decorating with flowers, a dog-friendly snug and a sports area with a view of a TV screen no matter where you sit, stand, play pool or throw darts. Its front garden is eye pleasing too with an array of flowers across the front of the pub.

The pub can show four different sports at the same time on its screens that number almost 20 – and Craig is keen to increase that number.

It runs a multitude of sports teams from pool and darts teams to a walking football team and will drive more business as its kitchen opens and through dedicated FIFA games nights on the PS5.

It’s a site for locals and has become an employer of people from the area that has seen staff numbers rise from three pre-Covid to 16 now.

The Denbigh Castle, Liverpool

The Denbigh Castle is a little walk away from the famed venue the Cavern Club in Liverpool but is a sports fan’s ideal pub – particularly if you are an Everton supporter.

Of course, there’s no issues with fans of any football team visiting and why wouldn’t you with screens showing all sporting action in its three areas, which includes a basement floor that has its own bar, sports memorabilia on the walls and seating pointing at a big screen that creates an incredible atmosphere.

On entry, a big screen and a deer head tower over the downwards stairs while a bar that has some real cracking choices welcomes customers, which includes a huge German selection alongside craft and cask lines from local and national breweries.

Affordable pints starting at £3.70 are just one of the draws to include all members of the local community to visit.

The site has history that dates back centuries and was also the first lesbian bar in the city that was open for 20 years until 2019 when owners Fiona and Dominic Hornsby took the reins.

Sporting events include a chance to meet the former footballers is naturally a great opportunity for Evertonians to seek out the likes of Graeme Sharp, Peter Reid and Neville Southall.

Famous Three Kings, West Kensington, London

A multiple winner of this category in previous Great British Pub Awards finals, the Famous Three Kings is a huge, detached site in central London that attracts residents and visiting foreign tourists in big numbers.

Several bars sit in the centre of the venue with customers able to enjoy a circular walk around the pub that has 26 screens and six different sound zones allowing the same number of sports to be screened at any one time – which includes the use of foreign digital boxes that have native commentary for when Scandinavian ice hockey is shown for example.

This Stonegate-managed pub has a mouth-watering menu and an array of drinks including a six-strong wall of craft beer from across the world, offering pints from breweries not seen in many, if any, UK pubs.

Licensee Paul Eastwood is the brains behind the operation and is looking to increase the number of streaming devices it owns to further expand its sports offering in the future.

The Gardeners Arms/The Murderers, Norwich, Norfolk

This quirky yet amazing pub has bags of history and a plethora of traditional attributes that combine wonderfully with the technicalities involved with offering a great place to watch sport.

An impressive beer range that includes 10 cask ales and nine keg lines makes this a pub for beer lovers and sports fans will also delight in more than a dozen screens that are capable of showing five different sports at any one time. The system’s cabling is futureproofed, meaning higher grade HD screens can be plugged in with no extra work needed in the future.

Licensee Philip Cutter is ahead of the game when it comes to competing with competition in Norwich and is also a co-founder of the City of Ale initiative that champions cask ale and the city’s pubs.

The pub was three separate units with an alleyway through the centre in years gone by but is now one big site with interesting stairs, booths and the site’s historic murder story on display for all to read about.

The main sports viewing area has a conservatory roof that can be covered externally to avoid light spoiling the views and atmosphere. It also doubles as an area for live bands to play.

The Railway, Yatton, Somerset

The Railway pub provides a welcome site to those arriving at the train station in Yatton, 10 miles south-west of Bristol.

The large, detached venue is split into several areas including a front sit-down area with the main bar that has three TVs and a dartboard, a snug with one TV, a pool room with two pool tables and 1 large TV and a huge function room with five dartboards, four pool tables and three TVs. The pub can screen three sports with individual commentary at any time.

With a super food menu cooked by licensee and chef Merran Lawrence, the Railway’s manager Shannon Lambert is the face who greets everyone and is very knowledgeable.

Sustainability is clearly big for the pub, which makes full use of its SmartDispense beer delivery method from the cellar and insect houses attract ladybirds that act as a natural pesticide.

Remaining popular within the community is important to the venue and air conditioning units are set to be installed in the future so allow windows and doors to be closed and reduce noise to surrounding properties.

Outdoors, a gazebo area has a screen for sports viewing that covers customers from rain has plenty of seating while a trampoline and a climbing frame and slide keeps children entertained while parents can have a drink.

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