London Sports Bars

Beyond The Sports Café - a guide for international sports junkies

It was early October. I was two weeks into my year of studying abroad in London. I was suffering acutely from American Sports Withdrawal Syndrome (ASWS). As I downed pints and watched rugby the NFL season was slipping past week by week.

The Major League Baseball playoffs were winding ever closer to a dramatic finish, which I feared I would only read about online. And I knew all too well that checking scores on is a meagre substitute for live action.

Finally, my friends and I heard about it. The Sports Café. A bar that showed American football, baseball, and any other sport imaginable. And it had pool tables. Like pilgrims journeying to the Promised Land we set out for Piccadilly on a rainy Sunday evening.

An ancient rivalry to match the fiercest in the Premier League, the Washington Redskins would face the Dallas Cowboys in a fitting inauguration of our NFL viewership in London.

We arrived to a bitterly disappointing scene. A horrifically misconceived hybrid of ESPNzone and Hooters (you Americans know what I'm talking about, and for those that don't, think scantily clad waitresses and grossly unchecked sports commercialism), the Sports Cafe uncannily manages to manifest the worst qualities of each.

On Sunday and Monday nights, prime American Football time, the place bulges to its seams with hordes of tourists shouting in New York accents.

Once I pushed, shouldered, and shoved my way through the masses to the bar, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that even the cheapest pint (Fosters) was nearly UKP3.00. One can save a few quid by opting for a pitcher (UKP10), as long as you don't mind holding it, because I can guarantee all the tables will be reserved.

In this swarming pit of overpriced sports-hype merely finding countertop space to place a pint glass requires divine intervention.

The atmosphere of the Sports Café was so frustratingly off-putting that I more than once considered leaving early. I actually considered walking out on my own Washington Redskins! "There has to be somewhere else to watch American sports," I thought.

The problem was, nobody knew of any other place. Tour books mentioned none. Timeout magazine mentioned none. The Sports Café could get away with charging exorbitant prices and still pack two floors solid because it seemed to have monopolized the international sports market.

But I refused to believe that the Sports Café could be the only one of its kind. I set out to scour London for venues that showed, not just American, but any international sport. Sadly, there aren't too many, but alternatives to the Sports Café do exist.


Obalende Suya Express
43 Peckham High Street, Peckham, London, SE15 5EB
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Australia, South Africa, New Zealand

Springbok Public House in Shepherd's Bush
51 South Africa Road, Shepherd's Bush, London, W12 7PA
2 Large screens, 3 TVs
Springbok Public House serve a variety of beers, wines and spirits and has pool tables, a dart board, fruit machines and a juke box.
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Canada, USA

Hard Rock Café
150 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1QZ
The Hard Rock Cafe serves light meals as well as a selection of sandwiches, snacks and beverages. The cafe also features the Hard Rock memorabilia collection of merchandise from legendary British and International artists as well as many local artists.
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The Maple Leaf
41 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7LJ
6 TVs
The Maple Leaf is a pub with a Canadian theme to it. With its maple wood furnishings, maple leaf flags and a traditional English and Canadian menu, you may be mistaken for thinking that you were in Canada. It boasts a multi-screen TV complex which more often than not shows coverage of sporting events from Toronto.
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Bar Estrela
113-115 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1UZ
Bar Estrela is a Portuguese bar with plenty of pavement tables. It serves a variety of Continental dishes. Catering for private parties of up to 40 guests is available upon request.
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Le Bouchon Bordelais in Clapham
5-9 Battersea Rise, Clapham, London, SW11 1HG
3 TVs
Le Bouchon Bordelais is a French restaurant serving popular French cuisine as well as a large selection of French wines. Catering for private parties of up to 30 guests is available upon request. Seating on the terrace is provided. They also have a bar on the premises called Le Bar de Magis. Crèche facilities are available.
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De Hems
11 Macclesfield Street, London Chinatown, London, W1D 5BW
De Hems specialises in Dutch and Belgian Beers and has a comedy night on Wednesdays. They can cater for private parties of up to 100 people and serve a variety of English and Dutch dishes. A Link cash machine is located within this pub.
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Polish White Eagles Club
211 Balham High Road, Tooting, London, SW17 7BQ
The Polish White Eagel Club serves good, inexpensive Polish food in a busy, friendly atmosphere.
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Vasco Da Gama in Vauxhall
150 Old South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1XX
1 Giant screen, 1 TV
Vasco Da Gama is a Portuguese bar and restaurant that serves a variety of native dishes. Catering for private parties of up to 100 guests is available upon request.
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