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Soccer Tue Mar 17 2009

Watching Soccer in Bars: Small Bar

The Bar: Small Bar has been building its reputation as a soccer friendly bar. They started running buses to Fire games a couple of years ago. And recently, US National Team Coach Bob Bradley had nice things to say about it via an online video.

Still, I had never visited Small Bar. Its location in Wicker Park isn't too convenient for me, but doing this series has given me the excuse to correct that.

The Game: Manchester United vs. Fulham FC. FA Cup.

The Food/Drinks: The food is a notch above any of the other bars I've visited. Word to the wise, though - if you order the biscuits and gravy, be prepared to not need to eat anything for the rest of the day.

And the drink list is phenomenal. I know last week I complained about how Ginger's had decent food, but the atmosphere was so lacking that it wasn't worth it. Well, Small bar's beer list is enough of a reason to go to the bar on its own. The fact that they show soccer on TV is just a bonus.

The Atmosphere: That said, the atmosphere at the bar wasn't anything to write home about. There were maybe six people there on a Saturday morning at around eleven. The most notable thing about the crowd was none of them seemed to be English and none of them wore replica soccer jerseys. Between that and the fashionable location of the bar, it reinforced my increasing impression that being a soccer fan isn't such a fringe, weirdo thing to be anymore.

The Smacktalk: Given that nobody was wearing the colors of their team, there wasn't a great deal of smacktalk to report. Also the game was a total blow out so most people chatted amongst themselves, occasionally looking up to note another Manchester United goal (it ended 4-0). Topics included:

  • How hard it is to just find a space to play a game of pickup soccer on the weekends now that groups like Player's Sports have all the fields reserved for their leagues

  • How demanding baseball and college basketball fans can be about getting their game on the TV. When you have people there watching a soccer game and you're mad because you can't get it changed to the pre-game for another sport, maybe you should just check out one of the other 400 bars in the city that show those sports.

  • That Bell's Two Hearted Ale is finally back in the city in limited quantities

  • Also, one of the bartenders told a pretty funny story about getting drunk and falling asleep with a frozen pizza in the oven and waking up to a lot of smoke, commotion and the fire department. Overall, it was a nice place to hang out and casually watch a game, but not the kind of place that's going to give you that big game atmosphere.

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    Phil McFarland / April 2, 2009 10:39 AM

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I encourage you to stop into SmallBar for a US MNT match (standing room only for US v T&T), Fire game or just about anything else other than EPL and there is a big time vibe.

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