Sunday, April 22, 2007

A slightly odd couple of days in London

The teams competing in the two semi finals of the World Cup are what people have been expecting for the last several weeks, and the matchups are what has been expected since the Bangladesh victory over South Africa on Easter Saturday. Second plays third, Sri Lanka versus New Zealand, on Tuesday, and first plays fourth, Australia versus South Africa, on Wednesday.

Trying to find public places in which one can watch the second halves of these matches in London this week is going to be a bit of a challenge, as both matches class with Champions League soccer matches. On Tuesday Liverpool play Chelsea and on Wednesday Manchester United play AC Milan. While I have occasionally pretended to be a Manchester United supporter, the thought that I would watch a Manchester United game (nomatter how important) over a World Cup cricket semi-final involving Australia is just ludicrous. (In truth I would watch just about any international cricket match ahead of just about any soccer match).

Finding venues that will be showing the cricket but not the football is going to be difficult. Some sports venues will have multiple events going on on different televisions, and in such venues I might be able to watch cricket in a corner, but in truth I do not want to watch the game in a pub full of braying, drunk, soccer fans. What I want is a venue that will be showing the cricket, and the cricket only. I don't really know any authentic Australian bars in London. There is a chain of "Walkabout", supposedly Australian bars, but these are much more Australian theme bars than actual Australian venues. Just try getting the management to switch the TV from soccer to cricket on a Sunday afternoon. No chane. They know where the money is, and it is certainly not Australians. (Okay, the one in Shepherd's Bush tends to fill with actual Australians and there will be plenty there on Wednesday night, but it is a big soulless place and there will be far too much contamination from football supporters. I am sure there is somewhere in the capital where Sri Lankans will be hanging out and watching the games, but I know not where. It may well be a restaurant rather than a bar, also. (Certainly in Brick Lane in the heart of Bangladeshi district, there have been many curry houses advertising "We have Sky Sports" during this tournament).

I think I am most likely to choose the same option I chose when this problem came up earlier in the tournament. When Australia played South Africa in the first round, there was an England European Championship qualifying match against Israel the same evening. All London's pubs were full of ghastly thuggish football supporters and had enormous bouncers on the door. On that occasion I made my way to the Springbok Bar, which exists in a long narrow basement close to Covent Garden. The venue was packed, but there was no security and no bouncers on the door, South African cricket fans apparently being unlikely to riot. (This is an authentic South African bar - a place where South Africans hang out). There was no football. Everyone was watching cricket. I was an Australian, and although I was cheering the opposition I was perfectly welcome to do so. I made a couple of good natured jokes with some nearby South Africans, and their response was to tell me their names and invite me to join them at their table. At the end of the game we all shook hands and they wished me a good evening. Some of them got a bit annoyed when their team fell behind and lost, but none of it was directed at any of the Australians present. There has been a certain amount of bad blood at times between Australian and South African sporting teams at times, but you don't see it between individual fans. The South Africans certainly do have the best central London venue for watching this cricket World Cup, and I shall be there on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I clicked the "next blog" at the top of your page, I came to a blog titled "boonie". I thought I was extremely fortunate to land on a blog about an Australian cricketing God.

Unfortunately, it was not a blog worshipping Sir. D. Boon but, instead, a blog about some non-existant God:

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