The Best Pub to Watch Your Team: Part 1 – Essendon, North Melbourne and South Melbourne

It’s been a long off-season but the footy is finally back. I for one am stupidly excited and as a result I’ve decided to do a series of articles about the best pubs in Melbourne for watching the footy.

Anyone who has ever planned to watch a big game at the pub knows how important it is to choose the right one. You want a pub that will definitely be showing the right game WITH the commentary turned up to an audible volume. It’s also important to find a place where you will be with other footy fans. On more than one occasion I’ve ended up being pretty much the only one watching the game and it’s been a little weird. You want somewhere where everyone is watching and where each goal, tackle and bad call by the ump draws a response from those gathered around.

What you really need to know is not just which pub will be showing the footy but which is the best pub to watch your specific team.

I’ve been doing research all summer. I’ve spoken to the supporters of all the Melbourne based teams, visited new pubs, spoken to a couple of owners, and now it’s time to tell you where you should be headed this season.

I’m going to focus on three teams each post, so without further ado, here are the first teams and pubs (in no particular order)…

Essendon

I’ve been to most pubs in Melbourne over the years, but when I try to think of one with heaps of Essendon gear on the walls I struggle to think of any. It’s a little strange because they are one of the biggest clubs in town and have such passionate supporters. I needed to talk to Essendon supporters to find out where they go. I tweeted @Essendon_FC on the off chance of getting a reply from whoever looks after their Twitter account, but they went one better and re-tweeted my question to their 21,000+ followers. It was great to get opinions straight from the fans.

I’m told The Royal Hotel in Essendon is the best place to go. It’s decked out with Bombers colours and when they play, especially interstate games, Essendon fans flock there. The game is always shown, the volume is loud, and as an added bonus the Essendon Social Club is just a stone’s throw away when the game finishes (I’m told players often head back there after games). The venue has a ton of plasmas for your viewing pleasure, including one in the beer garden that is the biggest I have ever seen. This thing is the size of a projector screen! If you want the best atmosphere and to be surrounded by Bombers fans this is the place to go.

The Royal Hotel Essendon

The Royal Hotel Essendon

Surprisingly a number of people also told me they head to The Elgin Inn in Hawthorn for Essendon games. There’s nothing about The Elgin that makes it a specifically Essendon pub…a lot of fans from other teams mention that they head to The Elgin to watch their games too. It’s good to know though that if you head there to watch The Bombers you’re likely to have a few others in black and red beside you.

The Elgin Inn

The Elgin Inn

Fox Footy at The Elgin

Fox Footy at The Elgin

A couple of other fans mentioned The Grand in Essendon as having a great atmosphere. I don’t know much about this pub. If anyone has experienced it on game day please let me know in the comments.

Finally, two people said The Precinct in Richmond goes off on ANZAC day. Lots of fans don’t end up with tickets to this match so they head just up the road to The Precinct instead. It’s a huge venue and I can see how it would have a great atmosphere on game day.

North Melbourne

If you’re a North Melbourne fan you have a great pub to go to when the Kangaroos play interstate, or when you can’t make it to the ground. The Leveson is a great pub and it’s owned by former North Melbourne player Corey McKernan. North games are shown on plasmas as well as through the projector. They also used to have one of the best parmas in Melbourne from memory. I’m not sure how much things have changed since then, but I’m pretty confident you can get a decent half time meal while there. There are other pubs in North Melbourne that show North games, but most true fans will tell you to head for The Leveson.

The Leveson North Melbourne

The Leveson North Melbourne

South Melbourne (Sydney)

I love South Melbourne supporters. The team may have re-located to Sydney but they still have a passionate group of supporters here in Melbourne. If you’re one of them then chances are you know about The Rising Sun in South Melbourne. It functions as an unofficial supporter base for Melbourne based fans and they wear the red and white on their sleeve. The pub is covered in old photos of past Swans legends and other South Melbourne memorabilia. When the Swans play they turn on the projector in their function room upstairs. It’s a big call, but I can’t think of another pub in Melbourne that is more dedicated to one team. Apart from all this it’s a great example of an old school local pub. Swans supporters in Melbourne are very lucky indeed.

The Rising Sun Hotel

The Rising Sun Hotel

Swans Wall

Swans Wall

That’s it for part 1. Next post: Collingwood, St Kilda and Fitzroy.

Did I get it right? Are there other pubs for these teams that I don’t know about? Let me (and other readers) know via the comments!

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