How Manchester Bars Host The Big Games
Manchester has it proved itself to be the home of football in the modern Premier League era – first United, now City – it remains at the forefront of trends within the fast-moving bar and pub scene.
Manchester, so the saying goes, has so much to answer for. Not only has it proved itself to be the home of football in the modern Premier League era – first United, now City – it remains at the forefront of trends within the fast-moving bar and pub scene.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the UK’s first style bar – the infamous Dry Bar on Oldham Street – was established here in the late 80s by the team behind the Hacienda and Factory Records. Since then, bars, pubs and venues have helped regenerate great swathes of the city as derelict warehouses have been transformed into entertainment centres – see the Northern Quarter and Castlefield, and in the future, Ancoats.
The spirit of independence runs deep through the city and its citizens have always cast a glance across Europe – and further afield – to see what bars and pubs are doing and then adapting it for their own Mancunian uses.
We’ve spoken to six different bars and pubs (and even a hotel) to get each venue’s unique perspective on how they prepare for and show all the latest exciting football action.
The Central Bar
11-13 New Wakefield Street, M1 5NP
The second Black Dog Ballroom to open in Manchester, its NWS venue is modelled on a New York-style speakeasy. As such it’s popular with an energetic and up-for-it crowd. Its location – close to the city and the student village – also helps. A great spot to watch United then – either downstairs on its three screens or on the terrace with its massive screen.
Football specials: Handing out free pizza at half-time goes down a treat with fans. And there are plenty of drinks promotions to get the atmosphere moving along nicely. Its Euro 2016 specials include a McCoy steak crisps 14-inch pizza! Featuring rump steak, crispy onions, mustard and McCoy steak crisps. It should prove to be as popular as United striker Marcus Rashford.
What they say: “When it comes to the big games our tables are always booked. We’ll often have a full house. We welcome away fans on European nights too – it makes for a great atmosphere.”
See also: The Sawyers Arms
708 Chester Road M32 0SF
The Bishop Blaize is the United boozer – it’s certainly the closest to Old Trafford, situated just a two-minute walk from the stadium, and close to perennial pre-game favourite, the Lou Macari chippy. A proper no-frills establishment, this is the place to frequent if you want to be surrounded by hundreds of match-going reds. It is massive. United’s unofficial songwriter Pete Boyle can often be spotted in here holding court and regaling all with his latest terrace ditty.
Football specials: Pete Boyle and his arsenal of songs are special enough. Come to think of it, there’s probably some chants about Arsenal too.
What they say: “It will be busy. It will be loud. It will be full on.”
See also: The Tollgate
The City Local
11-13 Grey Mare Lane M11 3DQ
Mary D’s is the City boozer. A five-minute walk from City’s home ground, the Etihad, you can see the stadium from the pub. A proper no-frills establishment this is the place to frequent if you want to be surrounded by hundreds of match-going blues. It is massive. It’s no surprise to learn that it has three big screens and 15 other TVs dotted around the bar.
Football specials: Mary D’s has no need for specials to draw in the City fans (it is resolutely home fans only). City supporters come here before and after the games for the atmosphere, when a DJ whips the crowd into an exultant frenzy. Punters are allowed to bring in food from the chippy next door, or tuck into burgers and hot dogs from the café on site.
What they say: “The atmosphere is incredible. Our links to the club are well known – there’s a supporter’s club who are based in the pub, the Bluebells.
See also: The Corner Shop
The Smart One
99 Sir Matt Busby Way M16 0SZ
Given Hotel Football’s position – next to Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium – and its owners – Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs – it’s unsurprising that Manchester United games are big news for the venue. As sophisticated places go for watching the Cup Final (on one of its 13 large TV screens), this will take some beating. Their food is worth a visit alone. And if all gets a bit too much, book a room upstairs and sleep it off.
Football specials: Alongside its usual favourites – including its award-winning minced beef and Bovril pie and locally sourced beers – Hotel Football rolls out the welcome mat to all football fans.
What they say: “It’s set to be a really fun, inclusive atmosphere. It’s what makes Hotel Football such a great place to watch live sports.”
See also: The Club House
The Discerning Choice
106 Princess St, M1 6NG
Situated conveniently on the edge of the city centre and close to the student corridor of Oxford Road, Joshua Brooks has long been a favourite haunt of the football fan that wants a cut above a soggy burger and gassy lager while watching the big game.
Football specials: The bar extends its membership scheme prices to the whole pub on European nights, so everyone is be able to take advantage of a pint of cask ale from £2.80 and lager/cider from £2.90.
What they say: “Traditionally we’ve always been more of a United pub than a City one – although there are more City fans around these days. It’ll be packed therefore – we’re certainly expecting a busy one. As ever, we’ll be selling our popular pies. What’s better than a pie and a pint while watching the football?”
See also: The Bierkeller