“YAMD” – Northern Ireland football supporters, circa Denmark away 2006.
When I first backpacked in Ukraine in 2015, I raved about how incredible the bars in Lviv were. It came as no surprise to me of course, as countries such as Poland, Belarus, Ukrainę and Russia generally have the best bars in the world, in my opinion. Lviv has such a diverse range of bars and I simply loved the Masoch Bar, Kriyivka and Pravda/ Beer Theatre, on that first visit. For the memory…
By 2016 though, I had relocated to Poland. I first lived in the glorious seaside city of Gdańsk, before settling in Warszawa, The country’s capital. As a nomadic Northern Irish football fan, I often set up new Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs in lands abroad, including the SOENISC (South of England Northern Ireland Supporters Club) in 2005, the TasmaNIan WilderNISC in 2010 and the Hong Kong NISC in 2012. I was aware of a fellow GAWA member, Kyle, living in Lviv Ukraine. So since moving to Poland, Kyle and I had been in touch about forming another Northern Ireland Supporters Club. As crazy at that sounds, it would be the fifth Northern Ireland Supporters Club I would be in, and in five different countries across a continent hat-trick.
I had watched a few Northern Ireland football matches on my own in the bars of Warszawa and Gdańsk as there just didn’t seem to be any other Northern Ireland fans about. So Kyle and I decided on a joint meeting to watch a match together in a pub. It was an easy choice to hold it in Lviv, but this was in 2019, yes it took a while to organise. I love an adventure, I had longed to visit Ukraine again and there was an easy overnight train from Warszawa to Lviv, with a stop over in Rzeszów.
I booked my train for the Friday night sleeper train, and Kyle and I agreed to do a pub crawl on the Saturday before watching the Northern Ireland v. Belarus European Championships qualifier on the Sunday night in a pub. During the weekend we would also form the first Northern Ireland Supporters Club in either Poland or Ukraine. We decided to call ourselfs [sic] The Transcarpathian Northern Ireland Supporters Club.
For the Saturday launch, we decided on a themed pub crawl dedicated to the current Northern Ireland football captain, Steven Davis, veteran of over 110 Northern Ireland caps. Not only did we have to drink in a bar beginning with each letter of STEVEN DAVIS, but we also had to have a drink with each letter of STEVEN DAVIS! It was to be an epic day out 11bars, 11drinks and a themed night out. Lunacy but standard order resumed. I didn’t even tell Steven Davis about it – I’ll probably Tweet this post to him now but at the time, Steve needed to concentrate on results on the pitch. Kyle, myself, local Ukrainian Oleh were part of the crawl, and whoever else wanted to join our party…
This was to be another crazy night on the journey as we started the crawl in earnest with two Irish coffees in Svit Kawy. Here is how the Steven Davis pub crawl panned out.
STEVEN DAVIS Pub Crawl
Pubs spelling STEVEN DAVIS…(11)
Vyshnya (Drunk Cherry)
Iron Hat (Zalizna Czapka)
Stan Lee or Stargorod
We had an Irish coffee each in here, Kyle and I. It started the day off. We even tried to do the pub crawl in order.
I brung Kyle some Northern Irish cheese till thon bar so I did.
We went home to Kyle’s place to change clothes and chat all day which meant Oleh would meet us in Pravda later and have to catch up a letter “S” (Stargorod – which is the same Ukrainian meaning as a Polish city I love – Starogard).
Next up, the legendary Pravda bar in the main square in Lviv served as the T in Stevie…Kyle and I actually had 2 beers in here on the day…and I had also been in this bar in 2015, on Kyle’s recommendation.
I was surprised to learn that the word “elephant” in Ukrainian is slon, as it’s basically the same in Polish, where it is słoń. We headed to “E” (Słoń) for an “S” (Sangria). I must mention that on the pub crawl, it was each to their own. If someone really didn’t tick off an E or an S, the other two would have to verify it, or they would have to go to another bar later and prove it (as Oleh later did, while I was drunk!). But Elephant could be used as S or E, depending on your understanding of it. I used Elephant and Edison as my E’s, and Svit Kavy and Stan Lee as my S’s.
Varka came in rightly, as it was a Craft Beer Pub and it sounded like Warka in Polish (same letter to replace a V for a W). It was in here that we danced, sang and met more people for the pub crawl, including Rostyslav who would also watch the match with us on the Sunday.
When we arrived in Edison there was a running joke – EDISON Narantes Do Nascimento (or whatever) – it’s Pele’s real name. Yet, George Best is George Best. He didn’t need pseudonyms or monikers and even Pele said George was the Best. In Edison we had two drinks each to get 2 letters in on the drinks list, and we also had a burger each.
Again, the name of this bar was in English which caused concern but of course, fitted perfectly intill the pub crawl. Steven Davis never wore 44, nor did Northern Ireland ever draw 4-4 (we once lost 4-3 to Bulgaria and Germany) but a good choice from Kyle…
The opposite of being “dim”, the “Dim Legend” exceeded all expectations as it was a rooftop bar with a view over Lviv. As we were on a brisk and swift pub crawl there was no need to hang around a while so a quick vodka and then good to go…but a class bar and worthy of the D in YAMD.
A bar called Amsterdam says all it needs to say. No photos…but we were all there…
Vyshnya (Drunk Cherry)
It was quite apt that we all dandered to “drunk Cherry” as I’m an AFC Bournemouth fan and was already drunk by this point. In drunk Cherry, there was one choice of drink – a cherry shot and a hot one, as it was still cauld and winter in Ukraine!
Iron Hat (Zaliszya Zabka)
Jokes about Scunthorpe and West Ham United did circulate amongst us as Kyle and Oleh are Arsenal FC fans and I’m a big AFC Bournemouth fan but the Iron Hat was a cool pub.
Stan Lee / Starogard (Old Town)
If my memory serves me right, this was the bar we finished the crawl in, fitting that it ended the S of Steve Davis. Oleh had missed Svit Kavy Irish Coffees though and was still missing one of the “S”s so he went into Stargorod on his own and took a selfie to prove it. We had all completed the epic STEVEN DAVIS PUB CRAWL.
We all had different drinks on the crawl to spell STEVEN DAVIS. Here were the drinks that I used, some are cocktail and brand names:
American Red Ale
The magic completed surviving piece of paper:
All three of us completed the pub crawl with aplomb and the next day despite a huge hangover, I made it to the bar to watch Northern Ireland v. Belarus live. We watched it in an even different bar from the pub crawl venues and all my previous bar visits in Lviv – Fun Club.
Here are some videos from our epic STEVEN DAVIS Pub crawl in Lviv, Ukraine: