As mentioned in the last post, The Fan Embassy hit the road last weekend. We took in two different fan experiences in Toronto. Here is one of them.
As someone with a growing interest in English Premier League (EPL) soccer, I’ve been eager to take in a match at a pub or bar with a strong supporters’ presence. My beloved hometown of Buffalo, NY doesn’t have much interest in Premier League (or soccer in general, though that is changing), so I knew a road trip to a more cosmopolitan city would be in order. Nick and myself had already been planning on heading up to Toronto last Sunday (30 Oct) to check out the latest installment of the controversial “Buffalo Bills in Toronto Series”, so I naturally researched EPL supporters groups in the city. With only a single match that day between two clubs that were not very well-known to me (Tottenham Hotspur v. Queen’s Park Rangers), I thought that this plan might not work out, but as you’ll read, I was pleasantly surprised.
Through the magic of Google, I learned that there is an official Tottenham Hotspur club in Canada, with a chapter in Toronto. After some emails back and forth with club members, I learned that they would be enjoying the match at Scallywags Bar (11 St. Clair Ave West, Toronto M4V 1K6, 416-922-3737), so that became our destination.
Scallywags is located off of Yonge St., just north of the downtown core. As you can see in the photo, the St. Clair streetcar runs right by the bar, and the St. Clair subway station is about 1 block away. Additionally, there is metered street parking and several parking garages nearby. Due to border delays and traffic, we arrived during halftime, but still had a fine time and saw a strong supporters club doing the same.
Scallywags is a three-story establishment, with the main bar room on the ground floor, a private party space on the second, and a nice enclosed patio on the third. The main room has the classic pub look, with a medium length bar, low ceilings and the quintessential dark finished wooden coolers. Beyond the front room, there is larger back area, with booths lining one wall and tables in the middle. The tables were all pushed together in a line, in front of a large projector screen showing the match. I think that the screen, the freedom to move the tables around and the fact that the game audio was on throughout the bar really shows the commitment of Scallywags to the Spurs supporters, and should be commended.
The bar is well-stocked with spirits and bottled beer, as well as an impressive 20+ beers on draft. Additionally, they have a brunch menu with many tasty-sounding selections. Nick had eggs, bacon, home fries and toast, while I had the Monte Cristo sandwich, and we both enjoyed the food. Many other patrons were having a bite to eat along with their football and beer, so it seems that the menu is well-received. Personally, I think that beer, brunch and top-quality football is an excellent combination, and a great advantage to being 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
As expected, most everyone’s attention was on the multiple TVs throughout the bar, as well as the projector screen. The fans, most decked out in Spurs white and navy blue, were knowledgeable, and vocally involved the whole time. They roared in jubilation for the goals and even applauded some of the more subtle moments, such as substitutions and quality defensive plays. This was impressive to me, as it showed how engaged and intense fans can be, even when far away from the team’s home. It turned out to be a good day for the Spurs, as they beat QPR 3 – 1, leaving all the patrons in a jovial mood (well, except for the one guy cheering on the Hoops). It’s one thing when a group can come to a bar and perhaps stake out a section near a TV. It’s quite another when the group basically takes over and makes it their own. Cheers to Scallywags and Spurs Canada for creating a great fan experience!