A great man once said: "Football is not about life and death: it's much more important than that." Truer words were never spoken, and with the dramatic finishes to all the domestic European football leagues, and the European Football Championship just around the corner, you're going to need a good pub to watch the all action in.
Add to that the ongoing NBA and NHL playoffs, and a slew of other sporting events large and small, and you're in for an action-packed summer. Here's a run-down of the main sports bars in town, and their essential stats:
These guys are deadly serious about their sport. Not only do they sponsor various sports teams around the city, they also have three of the best sports bars in town, with their flagship venue located on Nan Yang road -- just a stones throw from Tong Ren road. With wall-to-wall football -- even obscure Japanese teams get an airing here -- football fans treat this bar as a home from home. The place has more of a European edge to it (compared to Malone's) with a darker and dingier feel that serious sports fans will appreciate. Unlike the other bars that close by 2am, or claim to stay open past their bedtime, Big Bamboo has promised to show ALL the remaining Champions League games, and, EVERY single Euro match. Not sure you can really ask for more than that.
Also expect Big Bamboo to host the NHL finals. Ever seen a drunken bar fight at 9am that spills out into the street where locals are biking to work? There is nary a more beautiful thing.
Stats: 16 TVs and a large projector, 2 pool tables (Monday league), 4 dartboards (Wednesday and Thursday nights), 1 foosball table, and an air hockey table.
Match-day attire: Manchester United football strip
Malone's has been around since time immemorial. There are two in town (soon to be three), but the daddy still remains the three-floor beast on Tongren Lu. The mounted moose head that greats you on entry -- along with a gaggle of friendly and attentive waitresses -- sets the tone for the bar, a favorite of American visitors and expats. However, be warned, they close at 2am, so they might not screen some of the really late events. They also have live music most nights, but lets not kid ourselves, no one's going for the music...
Malone's in Pudong recently opened their doors. Scroll down in the SmSh Wire for more on that.
Stats:13 TVs, 1 pool table (pool nights are on Mondays – individual -- and Thursdays -- team only --, 4 dartboards (Tuesday darts leagues).
Match-day Attire:Baseball Cap
The Spot is a different kettle of fish. Wisely it has decided to opt out of the power struggle between the streets to the big bullies, and is looking to pick up the alternative sports fans. Think tailored-shit rather than football shirt. While the food at the other two can be described as good, no-nonsense pub grub, the spot will cater to those with a finer, more international palate. What's more, with only six big screens it discourages big, rowdy crowds from gathering in their comfy and relaxed, open-plan bar. What SmartShanghai really likes though, is their Sunday, Monday and Thursday events – Texas Hold' Em nights. They provide the tables, chip and selection of selected cheep booze, and you provide the drama. Add to that a pool tournament held every Tuesday and Wednesday and you have the perfect spot for any high-rollers in town. Again, double check with the managerial staff that they will be showing late night events, as they make no promises that they will be staying up into the wee hours of the morning.
Also watch for their "Men's Nights" on Thursdays -- drink deals for men, if you can imagine such a thing.
Stats:9 TVs, 1 dartboard, 1 pool table (Tuesday and Wednesday tournaments), 2 foosball tables
Match-day Attire:Poker face and sunglasses
And off Tongren Lu we have...
Oscar's bar takes a different approach when it comes to the screening of live events. While many of the main players on the Shanghai arena are content with putting up banks of TV screens and knocking out average bar food, Oscar's takes a different tack -- a classier tack. The bar, in a renovated brick house, is all wooden floors and large widows which creates a light and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The food is excellent and, with a good Sunday roast on offer (beef, chicken, or lamb with all the trimmings) proves popular with the expats from the nearby diplomatic area. There is a wide selection of foreign beer, and Oscar himself has a keen eye for Whiskey -- reflected in the range of good single malt whiskeys on offer.
Oh, and there are 6 TV screens, 4 dartboards and 1 pool table. As a staple in the British expat community, look to get your football fix here.
**Champions Sports Bar
With half the televisions in the whole of China located in this one bar (36 and counting), you're bound to get your sporting fix here. In fact, if you cant find something on to entertain you then Ladies' Night at Sugar might be more up your street. Located in the Marriott Hotel, the Bar has a good selection of bar food (burgers, pizzas, and finger food). If you ever get bored of watching the screens then there is a pool table and foosball table for you to get in some quick exercise... until the second half begins, of course! Again, the only problem is its 2am closing time.
**The Oval Sports Bar
Well, it's a sports bar. And it's shaped in an oval. So we're thinking the people over at the Oval Sports Bar were a little short on inspiration when it came to picking a name. However, step inside and it's a fan's dream. It's big and it has lots of screens (16 in total), but the stand-out features have to be one, the TV in the men's loos, and two, the private flat screen TVs for the individual booths. Fancy stuff indeed!
O'Malley's isn't just a pub. It's actually the unofficial Irish consulate. Step inside the estate -- the bar consists of an old, quirky colonial mansion and its immediate grounds -- and you are greeted to an immaculate manicured lawn, including real Irish signpost et al. The bar/house has two large outdoor seating areas: one large, covered porch with rows on tables placed in front of a huge TV screen; the second is a roof terrace (including its own mini bar) overlooking the garden. Inside the house there are five TVs and a large projection screen, along with the compulsory pool table. All major sporting events are shown here, but the bar does close at 1am.
Mark these in... Here's a quick rundown of sports events for the next month or so.
May 8-11:Golf The Players Ch'ship (Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida).
May 9-11:Rowing World Cup, Munich
May 10-11:June Cycling Giro d'Italia
May 11:Football Premier League final matches
May 17-18:Football Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga final matches
May 12-17:Tennis ATP Masters, Hamburg
May 14:Football Uefa Cup final, City of Manchester Stadium
May 15-19:Cricket England v New Zealand, 1st Test, Lord's
May 17:Football FA Cup final, Wembley
May 21:Football Champions League final, Moscow
May 22-26:Cricket West Indies v Australia (1st Test, Kingston).
May 24:Rugby union Heineken Cup final, Millennium Stadium
May 25:Motor racing Monaco F1 GP
May 25-8:June Tennis French Open, Paris!
(smartshanghai.com May 5, 2008)