Goonerbear explains the lie of the land.


Okay folks. For those of you coming to the Arsenal tournament, I thought I'd offer up an Arsenal/London pub guide, which may be helpful to fans who won't be spending most of the weekend propping up the bar of FF-sponsored Drayton Arms.

Apologies in advance to London/SE-based Bears and those who go to Arsenal games as much of this will be familiar to you. However, hopefully this will be of some use to traveling Follow Followers.

As you know, the Emirates is just a Pat Jennings goal kick away from Highbury, and as such, Gunners fans continue to use the same pre-match pubs as they always have. Away fans can usually get into most places, but given the number of Rangers going to the tournament, that will not be a problem!

The Gunners: 204, Blackstock Rd. This would be the Arsenal equivalent of, say, The Louden Tavern, ie, it is essentially a shrine to the club that serves beer. Obviously popular on match days and with tourist visitors, it has a decent enough atmosphere with a beer garden out the back. Worth a pint and a look around. Distance to ground: 10 minutes

The Bank Of Friendship: 224 Blackstock Rd. A cracking, unpretentious wee bar. It is quite small and has a country pub appearance, but if you can get along here early you can get settled in for a great drinking session. It has a small beer garden at the rear, which was used in the filming of the movie Fever Pitch. Distance to ground: 10 minutes

Highbury Barn: 26, Highbury Park. Has lost it's allure of the past, and now tries too hard to be one of the growing number of annoying gastropubs in London. However, due to its proximity to the Emirates, it continues to remain popular. It's fairly spacious and comfortable and while it wouldn't be my first choice of match day pub these days, it's not bad for a pint. Distance to ground: 10 minutes

T-Bird: 132, Blackstock Rd. A hidden gem here. A cosy pub that has a 60s/70s type kitsch decor. Gooners who know the area well come here on match days. Friendly staff, it's very laid-back and it is not unknown to have a lock-in. I thoroughly recommend this bar as it is a real oasis amid the other slophouses as you near Finsbury Park. Distance to ground: 10-15 minutes

The Junction: 2a Corsica Street. A stones' throw from Highbury & Islington tube, this is another great spot for match day drinking. Spacious and modern, industrial-style decor, there is a small courtyard at the front of the bar, so lots of room for a big group of fans to congregate. Nice wood-fired, reasonably-priced pizzas too. Distance to ground: 15 minutes

The Hen and Chickens is a good traditional London pub directly opposite (it hosts comedy nights upstairs as well).

The Compton Arms: 4, Compton Avenue. A little tricky to find but well worth it. Dig this place out as it is tucked away in a residential lane just off Highbury Corner. It feels like you're drinking in a village pub away from the noise and bustle of just 200 yards away. Arsenal fans tend to come here and drink real ale and spill out into the lane on a warm day. Distance to ground: 15 minutes

The Famous Cock Tavern: 259 Upper St Islington. This will be fairly popular as it is right beside Highbury & Islington station. Nothing spectacular about the place, but a busy, clean and comfortable London-type pub. Quite popular and convenient for away fans who are using the station, particularly for a post-match pint (FYI, The Junction and Hen and Chickens pubs are at the opposite side of the roundabout). Distance to ground: 15 minutes

The Bailey: 81 Holloway Road. Continuing along Holloway Road, for those with deeper pockets this is a pretty stylish, slightly pretentious place, albeit in a fairly predictable style for moneyed Islingtonites. Although they do serve Thai dishes to accompany your expensive pint and the food is reasonably priced. Distance to ground: 12 minutes.

The Wig and Gown: 97-99, Holloway Rd. Named after Pete Doherty's second home, the neighbouring Highbury Magistrates Court, the Gown is a decent football-fan friendly place. Lots of big screens and Arsenal memorabilia on the walls, it's a spacious watering hole close to the ground. A better option, IMO, than the nearby Bailey. Distance to ground: 12 minutes

(Incidentally, Holloway Road/Highbury Park is crammed with cheap and cheerful cafes, so it would be very wise to tuck in at these establishments rather than the rip-off catering inside the Emirates. You've been warned!)

The Herbert Chapman: 274 Holloway Road. Yes, wouldn't it be great to have a pub named 'The Bill Struth' on Paisley Road West? An understandably popular pub for Gooners, again it is another spacious place. It should be pointed out that to get here you should alight at Highbury & Islington tube and walk (about 15 mins) as the nearby Holloway Road tube station is closed on match days. Definitely a worthwhile port of call. Distance to ground: 5 minutes

The Worlds End: 21-23, Stroud Green Rd. For those who choose to alight at Finsbury Park station, The Worlds End is the best option amid the pretty grotty drinking options around here. It is a little bit further afield so allow 20 minutes to walk to the stadium from here.

The Twelve Pins, 263, Seven Sisters Rd, is a fake Irish barn-type place, which is fine for a few jars, and popular with Gooners who alight at Finsbury Park station from the commuter towns. It is, unfortunately, quite popular, I understand, when the Unwashed's games are on TV. The Blackstock, opposite, is a kip, so please avoid, as it does attract Finsbury Park's more select soapdodger.


Central London

Well, the good news is that Goonerbear can exclusively reveal that it is eminently possible to sink a rake of pints without having to resort to the smelling salts, thanks to the fairly well-kept secret that is the Sam Smith's brewery chain. http://www.beerintheevening.com/brew...tml?brewery=16

Said brewery has a string of great, traditional pubs across central London, which do not, happily, attract any low-rent jakeys/soapdodgers.

Sam Smith's - which is a Yorkshire company - brew their own superb beer, so if you can drag yourself away from the Stella and Fosters pish you're in luck here. It is easy to enjoy a fine Sam Smith's pub crawl, which is what I'll be doing over the weekend. Price-wise, you are looking at a pint of Old Brewery bitter at 1.90 or Alpine lager at 2.16. Top drawer!

So, the pubs to look out for are The Princess Louise, 208-209 High Holborn - a lovely, restored Victorian gin palace which is great for supporters staying in and around Russell Square. A must-visit hostelry for a session, quite frankly.

For Trafalgar Square there is The Chandos, 29, St. Martins Lane - a spacious two-floored pub which is really comfortable (especially upstairs), and capable of housing plenty of thirsty Bears. A superb bolthole and one of my favourite pubs in London.

Just north of Oxford Street you have The Bricklayers, 31 Gresse Street, Fitzrovia and the Yorkshire Grey, 46 Langham Street, Fitzrovia (north of Oxford Circus)

For Soho, I would thoroughly recommend, in particular, the busy John Snow, 39, Broadwick St, The Red Lion, 14, Kingly St, and the quieter Glasshouse Stores, 55, Brewer St.

Well after all that I have a bit of a thirst, so if any Bears want to buy me a pint please feel free!

Enjoy your weekend!

Rangers & Arsenal Loyal

GOONERBEAR




For discussion of the pubs see this thread on FF - http://forum.followfollow.com/showthread.php?t=572030