Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pitch perfect! Heights bars support three different soccer teams

Soccer on Atlantic Avenue has reached a fever pitch.

On one small stretch in Brooklyn Heights, there’s not one, not two, but three soccer bars, merely doors apart, that all hold an allegiance to different British football clubs — or, as we like to say here across the pond, soccer teams.

“It wasn’t an intentional thing to have a strip of soccer bars right there, but it’s pretty cool,” said Jason Furlani (right), owner of the Roebling Inn, one of the avenue’s newer bars that will be showing games once the Premier League kicks off on Aug. 14. “I don’t really see that anywhere else.”

Most Americans only tune into soccer every four years for the World Cup, but Furlani’s been following British soccer for years — ever since a Liverpool pal got him into the team.

So with the season starting, it seemed like a no-brainer to show the games at his bar, especially since Atlantic Avenue favorites Chip Shop and Floyd have been giving Brooklyn’s British soccer fans — and even some from West Brooklyn, too — a homebase for the past few years.

“We’ve always shown the games, but it’s getting bigger,” said Chip Shop owner Chris Sell (left). “We’ve added a bunch of TVs two years ago, and even replaced the ones we had with larger screens.”

The restaurant is an official supporter of the Arsenal Football Club, based out of North London. When the games are on, you can enjoy some beer specials, as well as an English breakfast, which, given the early nature of these games here because of the time difference, is a big hit, said Sell.

“We’re the family venue,” he said. “It’s a safe environment where fathers can bring their s

ons in for games. You’re not going to hear drunken Liverpool supporters.”

That you can leave to the Roebling Inn, which is an official supporter of the Liverpool Club. Liverpool’s first game is against Chip Shop’s Arsenal on Aug. 15, and, given the two team’s long-seated rivalry, is going to be big. Just don’t expect as much drama between the two bars.

“I like the people at Chip Shop,” said Furlani. “I don’t predict any animosity.”

Floyd owner Sean Neill (right) also speaks highly of his neighbors.

“We import a lot of English tradition, but not any kind of hooliganism,” said Neill, whose bar is known primarily for its indoor bocce ball courts but also for its devotion to the Spurs — not the basketball team, but the London-based Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. “I convinced Spurs supporters to locate to Floyd a year after we opened, around 2004,” he said.

Testament to that, signed shirts, photographs and flags all belonging to the North London team can be found throughout the bar.

“Spurs fans in the UK send us things or bring them on a visit all the time,” said Neill. “We seem to be well-known across the water.”

Tottenham’s first game is on Aug. 14 against Manchester City, though you’ll want to mark your calendars for Nov. 21, when the Spurs play their most bitter rival: Chip Shop’s Arensal (man, this team gets around!).

“The Spurs-Arsenal animosity is one of the strongest in the Premier League. They hate each other deeply,” said Neill. “To Spurs fans, that’s the most important game of the year.”

Indeed, last year’s game against the two rivals drew out over 100 fans — a good mix of Americans and expats — to Floyd to watch the game. And when the Spurs won, they partied all day long, singing and shouting.

“There’s a lot of chanting, some of it pretty foul,” said Neill. “It’s not a good time for children to be in the bar.”

For that, it’s only a few feet to the tamer Chip Shop.

Roebling Inn [97 Atlantic Ave. between Henry and Hicks streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 488-0048]; Chip Shop [129 Atlantic Ave. between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 855-7775]; and Floyd [131 Atlantic Ave. between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 858-5810].

Photos by Bess Adler


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