The Best Pub to Watch Your Team: Part 3 – Western Bulldogs, Carlton & Melbourne

Welcome to Part 3 in our footy pubs series. Click here if you missed Part 1 or Part 2.

 

Western Bulldogs

Bulldogs supporters have a heap of great pubs to choose from to watch their games.

The first one that comes to mind is The Prince Albert Hotel in Williamstown. I happened to be there late in the 2011 season when the Bulldogs were playing. The traditional front bar was mostly full and pretty much everyone there was watching the game. What’s more, it became clear from everyone’s cheers and moans that every single one of them were behind the Bulldogs. The pub is clearly marked as a Western suburbs pub by the blue, red and white guernsey that has pride of place on the wall. It was my first time at The Prince Albert but I really dig the place. It’s got all the things I love about Melbourne pubs. It’s a grand old building with lots of character. The light filled front bar has that traditional pub feel that is lost so often these days to slick redevelopments. The food looked amazing (I regret I didn’t try any) and they stock a pretty decent range of craft beer (which I did try and I’m happy to report is excellent). If you’re looking for a cosy local to watch the Doggies you can’t go past The Prince Albert.

The Prince Albert Hotel, Williamstown

Watching the Footy

Video courtesy of The Prince Albert Hotel.

Next up is The Plough Hotel in Footscray. The Plough has gone out of its way to mark itself as Bulldogs territory. As you come in through the main entrance the first thing you see is a Bulldogs poster. To your left is a nice little room that serves as a restaurant. There are no footy colours in here, which is probably appropriate. After all, there’s far more to pubs than just footy. To the right, however, is the front bar where everything that can be decked out in Bulldogs colours has been. The lampshades, the cushions on the couches, the backs of chairs…they’re all blue, red and white. Well, not all of them. There are a couple of things that are decorated with other teams’ colours, but the Western suburbs stuff clearly dominates, including framed guernseys and team photos. The room itself is a decent size. It has three plasma screens on the walls and you can choose to sit at one of the tables spread around the place, on a few scattered couches and lounge chairs, or there are a couple of stools on the far side of the bar. Finally, and I really like this, the pub’s web site clearly states “Please Note; Western Bulldog games shown live on Fox Sports will receive priority.”

The Braybrook Hotel also deserves a mention, though I have to admit I’ve never been there myself. What I do know about they place is that it has two large statues just outside; one of EJ Whitten, the other of Doug Hawkins. I’m sure there is a story behind these statues. The original building, a small but beautiful blue stone hotel, has had a much bigger and more modern extension added. If anyone knows more, particularly if you’ve watch a Bulldogs game there, please comment!

The Mona Castle in Seddon has lots of Bulldogs gear around, though when I spoke to them they told me they no longer have Fox Sports. I don’t know if they still show the free-to-air games or if the pub has had a change in direction. Best to call beforehand if you’re thinking of heading there to watch a game.

I’m also told the Blarney Stone Hotel in Yarraville gets a good Western suburbs crowd to games. An Irish pub isn’t the first place I’d go looking for a footy game, but I haven’t been there so I’ll withhold my judgement.

Finally, I need to mention the former Rising Sun Hotel in Footscray. It burnt down in November 2009 and last I heard the surviving carcass is being turned into apartments. I did a pub crawl through Footscray only a couple of weekends after the fire so I never got to drink there, however, I think this photo shows that it was a pretty significant Bulldogs pub.

The Rising Sun Hotel (now closed)

 Image courtesy of Tim Best

 

Carlton

This is an easy one. With some teams there are a few pubs that supporters can go to, for the Blue Boys, there is one – The Great Northern Hotel on Rathdowne Street in Carlton North. If Carlton are playing interstate, chances are this is where Brooke and I will be. So what makes it “the” place to watch the Blues?

The Great Northern Hotel, Carlton North

#1 – It wears its navy blue colours on its sleeve

From the “I Am Carlton” sticker on the entrance door to the framed, signed guernseys in the front bar, this pub establishes itself firmly as a base for Carlton fans. There’s even a classic oil painting of “that” Jezza mark overlooking the bar. The Blues theme isn’t over the top though and it’s a great pub to watch any game, regardless of your team. However, when Carlton is playing (particularly interstate) it will be standing room only and almost everyone will be wearing navy blue.

Jezza - Melbourne Pub Culture

#2 – Great set up

The front bar is divided into two sections, both with decent sized plasma screens. I’d recommend the smaller area at the northern end though as you can see and hear the TV better. There’s also a restaurant on the other side of the bar…when the Blues are playing a projector beams the game onto a screen on the back wall and the volume’s turned up. As well, there’s a TV in the beer garden out the back. This usually shows games but with no sound (there may be for big games and finals). Usually the footy fans stay indoors and the beer garden attracts those wanting to socialise.

The Blues on the Projector

#3 – Great pub food and awesome beer

The food at The Great Northern is solid pub food. Think parmas, steaks, some form of potpie. It could just be me but this food goes perfectly with a footy game. As for beer, TGN prides itself on its microbrew range; both bottles and on tap. Sure beats watery mid-strength beer out of a plastic cup!

#4 – It’s just a great pub in its own right

Some footy pubs are great for watching a game, but when it’s over there isn’t really much else going on to keep you there. TGN on the other hand has so much character. It’s a beautiful old building, the food is great, the beer is awesome and the beer garden is the perfect place for a Sunday session with friends. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been, regardless of there being any footy on.

Punters watching the game

When the Blues play interstate I’d recommend booking a table to avoid disappointment. If you’re watching a different game just check with the bar when you arrive as to which TV will be showing the one you want to watch. You may need to ask for volume.

A quick mention of other pubs with Navy Blue ties. It’s closed now but Naughtons Hotel in Parkville, just down the road from Princes Park, has some great links to the club. The video below shows the infamous moment when Sticks sang Stand By Your Man outside the pub after winning the 1987 VFL premiership. I went along to last drinks at Naughtons in 2010. We saw the old girl out in fine style, drinking the place dry. It was a great, yet very sad night.

The former Naughton's Hotel

A very sad day indeed

 

Oh, and former Carlton ruck/forward “Percy” Jones owns Percy’s on the corner of Lygon and Elgin Streets. Not sure they show the footy there. Not sure they even have a TV actually. It’s a real old school pub though and has a lot of character.

 

Melbourne

I’m sorry Melbourne, but I haven’t been able to find much in the way of Dee-centric pubs. I’m determined to send no supporter away empty handed though so here is what little I was able to uncover.

It’s not really a pub, but The Dees own (or have some kind of partnership at least) with The Bentleigh Club. They’ve been encouraging members and fans to head there to watch interstate games and a couple of weeks ago they had between thirty and forty people there to cheer them on.

I was told The Cricketers Arms in Richmond can pull a good crowd to watch a Melbourne game. It’s definitely a Tigers pub first though.

The club also own The Leighoak Hotel in Oakleigh. The pub has Melbourne memorabilia on the walls but the TVs are small and it’s not the greatest footy watching experience.

Finally, The Wharf Hotel on the Yarra supports the Dees. Card-carrying members even get discounts off drinks, food and parking. Has anyone watched a game here? Please let people know what it’s like via the comments.

The Wharf Hotel supports the Dees

 Image couresy of WTC Melbourne and The Wharf Hotel

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