The Best Pub to Watch Your Team: Part 4 – Geelong, Richmond and Hawthorn

Welcome to Part 4 in the Melbourne Pub Culture series looking at the best pubs in Melbourne for watching your team. In this post I’ll be looking at the pubs that support Geelong, Hawthorn and Richmond. If you’ve missed previous posts you can click these links to read Part 1 (Essendon, North Melbourne and South Melbourne), Part 2 (Collingwood, St Kilda and Fitzroy) and Part 3 (Western Bulldogs, Carlton and Melbourne). So without further ado…

 

Geelong

I wasn’t sure if there would be any dedicated Geelong pubs in Melbourne. On one hand, the team is based in Geelong; they have a whole town of pubs for their supporters to watch games at. On the other hand, a lot of people from Geelong end up in Melbourne. I know a heap of Geelong supporters that live here…they all must go somewhere to watch their games. Then again, some of the Melbourne based teams don’t seem to have a pub to call their own so I wasn’t sure what I would find.

My research brought to light one pub that’s dedicated itself to Cats’ fans, The Arcadia Hotel in South Yarra. As soon as someone mentioned this I remembered driving past The Arcadia in September when the façade of the pub was painted blue and white. It turns out that in 2007, when the Cats’ current amazing run first began, the owner told a few of his regulars that if Geelong made the Grand Final he’d do something big. As we now know, they did make the Final that year, and the owner delivered on his word by painting the pub in Cats’ colours.

 I’m sure the paint job was good for business too. Grand Final tickets are hard to come by, leaving many fans looking for somewhere with a good atmosphere to watch the game. It would have been pretty clear to all Cats’ fans passing The Arcadia that this pub would be full of fellow supporters on the big day.

The club also seems to have endorsed The Arcadia to some extent. A message on the Cats’ members’ website last year encouraged fans to head there to watch the finals. The post proclaimed: “The Arcadia supports one team and one team only, The Cats.” Members even received a free drink on Grand Final Day when they presented their membership card. I’d be happy with that!

The Arcadia - Melbourne Pub Culture

The Arcadia

Oh, and Metro Cats, a Geelong supporters’ group, also talks up The Arcadia as their “home away from home”. A post on their site shows that the owner is actively trying to build a culture of Geelong fans heading to the pub to watch their games. What more could a Geelong fan want? (Other than the 2008 Premiership…too soon?)

The pub itself is a beautiful old building on the corner of Punt and Toorak Roads in South Yarra. Inside the joint there are plenty of plasmas so getting a view of the game isn’t going to be a problem. Not much else to tell. The beer is cold and there is a rooftop bar that gets a fair bit of use. There is also an awesome collection of champagne to buy, so you can celebrate your team winning in style.

 

Richmond

There are a lot of pubs about that support Richmond.

Let’s start with the obvious one – The London Tavern. I used to think of The London as an every team pub. I’m a Carlton supporter and love nothing more than to have a couple of drinks at The London before heading to a game at the MCG. Last year I decided to head there before the Carlton vs Richmond Round One clash to soak up the atmosphere. The place was wall-to-wall yellow and black. My navy blue guernsey and I got a fair few looks and a couple of light hearted comments…it was then I realized that while all footy fans can go there before the game, The London is definitely still a Richmond pub first and foremost.

The London Tavern Richmond - Melbourne Pub Culture

The London Tavern in Richmond

Most people who go to The London sit out in the beer garden. This is partly because that’s where 90% of the seats are, and partly because it’s one of Melbourne’s best beer gardens. The problem with heading straight for the beer garden though is that you miss all the old framed Richmond photos in the bar. Some of these photos are really iconic and every Richmond fan should check them out if they haven’t already.

Tigers Photos in The London Tavern - Melbourne Pub Culture

Tigers Photos in The London Tavern

It strikes me now that I’ve never actually watched a game at The London. I know they have the projector out in the beer garden, but can you hear the commentary? I remember there are TVs inside, but how many? How easy is it to get close to one? What are the chances of getting a seat? If you have watched a game at The London, especially a Tigers game, please let me know what it’s like via the comments below.

Tigers Premiership Posters - Melbourne Pub Culture

Tigers Premiership Posters

Another pub for Richmond fans is The All Nations Hotel. It’s on Lennox Street, same as The London, but right down the other end near Victoria Street. I love this place. It’s a gorgeous, warm, old-school local hidden away in a quiet corner of Richmond. The front bar is a little cosy, but it oozes class, warmth and character. They have three or four plasmas in the front bar (though I think it would be standing room only for big games) and a couple in a little dining area between the front bar and the beer garden. If you head there to watch a game you are definitely going to be able to see a TV.

 One of the awesome things about The All Nations is their beer garden. It’s not on the same size scale as the The London, but I’ve spent many arvos/nights there and I highly recommend it. The garden has a whole bunch of screens strewn from one end to the other. It can be pretty cold out there in the middle of winter, but if you have a spoonful of cement, harden the fuck up, and put on a decent jacket, you’ll be fine. Plus they have those outdoor gas heaters around the place to take the edge off. In fact I was there a couple of weeks back and they now have heaters hanging from struts that cover most of the outdoor space. These struts also support a retractable rain cover, so you’ll have no problem keeping warm and dry when outside, regardless of the weather. Isn’t technology wonderful?

Possibly the coolest thing about The All Nations is that they run a shuttle bus to and from the MCG before and after all games. Those poor fans down at the London have to walk to the G, but not those drinking at The All Nations. I’ve never taken advantage of this service, but it’s one of the things on my pub bucket list to do one day. I’ll post about it when I do!

Finally, I have to mention The Rose Hotel in Fitzroy…again. The Rose has become one of Melbourne’s premiere pubs for watching the footy. In this series I’ve already talked about The Rose as a key place for Fitzroy supporters and Collingwood supporters. Well, when I asked Richmond fans where they watched their games the number one response was, again, The Rose. Above the bar a Richmond poster has pride of place, and it seems there are a number of regular Richmond fans that choose The Rose to watch their games. I should maybe say characters rather than fans as I’ve heard they provide their own colorful commentary.

 

Hawthorn

With Hawthorn playing some of their home games each year in Tassie it’s important that Melbourne based supporters have a pub to meet up at to watch their games. That’s why I was surprised when so many Hawthorn fans I spoke to didn’t really have any good tips for me. Making things harder still, Hawthorn is one suburb I haven’t pub-crawled yet, so there are a lot of pubs there that I’ve never been to.

The Elgin Inn - Melbourne Pub Culture

The Elgin Inn

However, I did eventually get one tip off about The Elgin Inn. I’d been there once before but couldn’t remember enough about it to really write this post, so I went back last weekend when Hawthorn were playing Freo at Aurora Stadium. It was a pretty shitty day in Melbourne but it was nice and warm inside the packed out Elgin. There were a couple of TVs in the dining room at the Northern end of the pub, but people there were mainly eating lunch and not paying much attention. However, at the Burwood Road end every eye was watching the footy.

Watching Footy at The Elgin - Melbourne Pub Culture

Fans in the front bar of The Elgin Inn watching the Hawks game

The Elgin also does something I wish every footy pub in Melbourne would do. They have a piece of paper under each TV detailing which game will be shown and at what time. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’d say there have been at least 10 occasions over the last few years where I’ve gotten to a pub early, scouted out a prime spot, then discovered that the pub wasn’t showing the game I wanted or that they weren’t showing it on that TV. This wouldn’t be an issue if pubs followed The Elgin’s example. As well as a TV in the front bar showing the Hawthorn game, there was a screen showing Port Adelaide vs North. Everyone was happy ‘cos they knew in advance which TV to sit in front of to watch their game of choice. Great work Elgin! Now, if only I can convince pubs to put this info on their websites then watching sport at the pub will be a hell of a lot easier. Little things can make a big difference.

There are TAB facilities in the bar as well so you can place some bets at half time and maybe win some cash to cover your beers. I’d already eaten when I was there but the food looked and smelt awesome. Good, hearty, winter pub grub. Perfect for watching the footy on a cold Melbourne day.

If you know of anywhere else that features Hawthorn games let me know. I’ll check it out and amend this article if I find other venues, but I’m pretty sure you Hawks fans will be pretty happy with The Elgin.

So that’s it, the end of my four part footy pubs series. As you can tell I’m pretty passionate about finding the right pub to watch your team at and I hope this series will become a resource for all fans for years to come. I’ll revisit these posts at the start of each season to make sure the info is current and accurate. Hope you’ve enjoyed the series and thanks for reading.

Cheers,

Brian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Mark
    Sep 29, 2013

    Watched the GF yesterday at Elgin thanks to your recommendation. Fantastic atmosphere and very friendly crowd. Provided a couple of Sydney expats with a great day. Thanks for suggesting the Elgin.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>