It’s been a while since I typed up a thirsty Thursdays and yet I’ve a load of these to get on here, been on a few excellent nights out (and Tequila tastings) in Central America, but today it’s all about my mates and good old London town…
It was yet another quick and fast reunion this year as I headed to London in England for just over a day. Having worked for Apple in London back in 2006 – 2007 and with a lot of English friends that I hadn’t seen in years, it was a good excuse to get together, organise a pub crawl and watch the World Cup matches live in bars with a theme.
I organised the day out so that we would all have a good laugh and some kind of organisation to it. I organised the plan, posted it on Facebook, wrote a preview of the day out, got my accommodation booked on Hotel Direct and booked my flights with British Airways. We were all sorted for early June 2014. I left Hong Kong at night on a direct flight to London, I met Tom Li on the flight and we chatted about Hong Kong, UK, work and the football.
At 5am I was back in London ready for the adventure! One thing to note though was that I was going to be pretty tired!! I hadn’t slept the night before either as was planning my trip, teaching English and watching the World Cup Opening ceremony.
Where to Meet?
We headed to the Dover Castle bar and hostel to check our bags in. Lock in Lee (remember our Nicky Barmby story?) was there to meet me, after I grabbed a 2 pound tea and toast at Wetherspoons Victoria on route off the tube from Heathrow. Gradually everyone was arriving – Richard “richboy” Ingram, James Condron, Gary King, Neil Macey, Austin Sheppard…added to myself and Lock in Lee, and we headed to bar 1.
Pub Crawl Theme
OK so I better explain before this gets confusing. The theme for the pub crawl was related to World Cup matches taking place that day. Basically the following matches were on that day and this was the plan:
Date – SATURDAY 14TH JUNE 2014
Location – London, ENGLAND
Event – Lads World Cup Pub Crawl
Start time – 10.30 am onwards
Dress Code – You have to wear SOMETHING related to football (doesn’t have to be a football shirt)
** You MUST bring one item on the day related to the WORLD CUP. Failure to do this and you’ll have to BUY one item during the crawl of forfeit your right to a sticker album.
Matches that day:
5pm – Colombia v. Greece
8pm – Uruguay v. Costa Rica
11pm – England v. Italy
2am – Ivory Coast v. Japan
So I personally hand wrote a passport and printed out flags for all countries playing that day. I even brought pritt stick and pens so everyone could stick their flags in once they completed that country. The way to complete a country was simple, either one of these:
1. Drink one drink in a venue that is deemed to represent that country.
2. Drink one drink/eat one food type that is deemed to represent that country (in any venue).
1. COSTA RICA – Costa Coffee, Borough
We started with a coffee at Costa Coffee in Borough and I handed out the “albums”. Everyone was off to a good start. A random item was to be revealed in each bar so Millwall Neil brings out stickers with ME on them – Jonny Blair of dontstopliving.net has a World Cup sticker. We all get one and stick them on the back page.
2. IVORY COAST – Charlie Chaplin Pub, Elephant and Castle
We headed to an old haunt of mine – the Charlie Chaplin pub at Elephant and Castle where we started drinking. This counted for Ivory Coast sticker due to the elephant link. In here was a mega reunion, as Sandra joined me (my uni buddy and the lady who gave me a piggyback in Loughborough back in 2005). Then my old flat mate Jody Casey turned up. It had been 5 years since I’d seen him.
3. COLOMBIA – Castle Brasserie, Elephant and Castle
While in the Charlie Chaplin, we find out the area has a few Colombians living in it, with Colombia another of our countries and stickers to tick off. We head in and ask the staff in this small restaurant if we can all just have a beer there to get our stickers. It’s cans of Fosters but we lap them up and watch re-runs of the Chile v. Australia match on the TV.
4. NORTHERN IRELAND – Dover Castle Pub, Borough
I threw two other stickers and countries into the mix – two that weren’t playing that day. One was Northern Ireland, the other was Brazil. The Dover Castle Pub has Caffrey’s on tap so getting a Northern Ireland sticker was easy in here.
5. Penalty Shoot Out, BOROUGH
It started to rain a bit and with time running out now until the Colombia v. Greece match we gave the intended crazy golf at Wandsworth Park a miss and opted for a pelanty shoot out in the concrete area opposite the pub. Simple rules applied – score more goals and you’ll win. After some sudden death play offs, confusion over whose turn it was, Gary King from England emerged as the outright winner. His prize was the packet of Panini stickers that he himself brought as his mystery item on the day. Thanks to Dover Castle for providing the ball for the shoot out. After that we all ticked off ITALY in the Dover Castle by having a Peroni. Then it was off in search of Greece, Uruguay, Japan etc…
6. ITALY – Ruse Pub, BOROUGH
This was the pub when everyone was still sober and we watched the whole match. Colombia beat Greece 3-0 comfortably and the chat was good and Neil and I enjoyed the Raspberry Cider on tap. Sandra also acted as a legend for the football loving lads as she ordered pizzas for us from Domino’s. They were snapped up in no time and everyone had their Italy sticker for sure now. A few people chose random drinks just for the sake of stickers.
7. URUGUAY – Zoo Bar, LESI’s Q
We found out that the Zoo Bar in Lesi’s Q (Leicester Square) is the venue for Uruguay fans to watch their team. This was also the cue for another reunion – with my ship buddy Chris Bilsland. Chris and I worked on Condor Ferries together back in 2009 and this was a reunion we waited almost 5 years for!! Chris turned up with his brother Paul and regrettably I messed up the timings by not being online to tell Chris we weren’t in Wandsworth any more, nor were we ever. Forgiven on arrival as we clanked our glasses (non- unstoppable) and were ready for a hat trick of matches. Thanks to Sandra for sorting it all out incidentally. Smart Phones are useful, after all. So we queued up and all got inside Zoo Bar with the five pound entrance fee including one beer. We all had our Uruguay stickers now and watched as Uruguay expectedly went 1-0 up against Costa Rica.
At this point if you had told me that Costa Rica would be unlucky not to get to the semi finals, I would have have believed you. While in Zoo Bar, a few of my old university friends were outside – Alex McKee and girlfriend Chris plus Eric Johnson, a TV presenter. But obviously they would have to all pay the cover charge to get in, so we decided to find another bar just up the road and all go in there for a beer.
8. ENGLAND – Verve Bar, PICADILLY
As we arrived into this bar in Picadilly, we unbelievably saw that Costa Rica were now 2-1 up on Uruguay. We got a decent pint of bitter in there, some of us still needing our England sticker. It was amazing that Eric, Sandra, Alex and Eric and I were all having a drink together – it had been 9 years since those crazy times at the NASTA awards in Loughborough.
9. Back to Ruse Bar, Borough
Time was getting on though and we didn’t have long until the big event for most of the gang – England v. Italy. After a huge dispute, we decided to get the tube back south of the Thames to Borough, so we’d be near our hostel. We ended up watching the England v. Italy match back in Ruse Pub with a few of the group watching it in the pub nearby. I was knackered and fell asleep while England lost 2-1 to Italy. A few of the lads stayed awake for the Japan v. Ivory Coast match, but I grabbed some sleep.
Next day was a hungover one, but by early afternoon, James and I decided to complete our sticker albums and we only had 3 stickers left to fill – Brazil, Greece, Japan. We had said goodbye to the other members of the gang on various trains and buses and now it was just James and I.
10. BRAZIL and GREECE – Wetherspoons, Victoria
We killed two birds with one stone in Wetherspoons Victoria. They had Maracana Brazilian beer and Greek Yoghurt. One of each and we were sorted ready for Japan. The thing was I had a flight to Brazil in 4 hours so could the last two survivors on the crawl make it?
11. Heathrow Airport Terminal 1
I got checked in for my World Cup flight to Rio de Janeiro while James waited in the bar. We watched the whole of Switzerland 2-1 Ecuador, finding Japanese beer and I even munched on a packet of sushi. We had both completed the album and it had been a fast and furious day and a half!!
It was all over quickly though – great to see you all again. I boarded to Brazil for the World Cup…
Thanks to everyone for attending – great times. Let’s do it all again in Birmingham next month!!
On a crazy note, it’s good to see FIFA finally being exposed as corrupt, FIFA stole my World Cup tickets last year.
Here are my videos from the pub crawl: