From Arsenal’s disappointing 3-1 loss to Aston Villa, to Manchester United’s dominant 4-1 win over Swansea City, soccer fans last weekend enjoyed the games with pints of beer, Full Monty’s or Scotch eggs.
Soccer bars in Las Vegas have benefited for years from tourists and locals turning out, but on opening day, the Crown & Anchor pub welcomed about 100 customers to celebrate the launch of the 2014 Premiership season.
“It was an OK turnout for the first week of games,” said Beth Steele, a bartender with Crown & Anchor. “I expect the crowds to get even bigger as the season progresses.”
Steele said the difference between fans of the Premier League and fans of the National Football League is that soccer fans follow the game a little more closely and like to “talk smack” but still respect one another after the game.
“Soccer fans hug and sing. NFL fans are not quite the same singers,” she said.
Crown & Anchor, on East Tropicana at Maryland Parkway, is one of the top soccer bars in Las Vegas, and fans have made it their headquarters since 1995.
To be among the top soccer bars requires a few key ingredients, including more than 30 beers on tap and an extensive menu of British favorites. But the most important is the fans who show up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday .
Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United were among the most popular teams last weekend, and for about 40 weeks, fans will make the weekly pilgrimage to the pub .
“I’ve been an Arsenal fan for 10 years,” said Roxanne Provence, who turned up Saturday wearing her Thomas Vermaelen jersey. “I liked the way they played. I started watching it and found Arsenal.”
Provence got hooked on the game at the Globe in Chicago but found Crown & Anchor online when she moved to Las Vegas a few weeks ago. She doesn’t mind the time change, because soccer to her is about a “sense of community.”
Jesmond Parke found Crown & Anchor online while planning a trip to Las Vegas.
“Every time I go away, I have to find a place to watch the game,” said Parke, a Toronto resident and Manchester United fan. “It’s nice to be around people who know the game and can have a conversation about the game.”
Parke said it’s better than watching the game in a hotel room.
With the crowd Saturday came a steady stream of pints of beer, as well as dozens of orders of chip butty, Scotch egg, and Full Monty’s, which at $9.95 is one of the most popular items at Crown & Anchor.
The Full Monty is a traditional English breakfast with two eggs, English bacon, a banger, grilled tomato, English Heinz baked beans and toast. A chip butty is a large portion of French fries, or chips, on a buttered roll.
A $4.95 Scotch egg, a hard-boiled egg wrapped in spiced sausage, and a $5.50 sausage roll, or spiced sausage wrapped in a crust, are also popular.
Steele said that how well the pub does can be determined by what teams are playing. On Saturday, the crowd doubled when Manchester United kicked off against Swansea City, she said.
Watching a Premier League game at home or in a Las Vegas sports book isn’t the same for most soccer fans.
“It’s not about getting up at 5 a.m.,” said Sunny Patria, an Everton fan from Victoria, British Columbia. “It’s about passion and following your club.”
Eric Schauwecker urged Las Vegans to pick a Premier League team and get into the world’s most popular sport.
“Find a team or even a player you can relate to. For me it was Steven Gerrard of Liverpool. I always wanted to play soccer like Steven Gerrard.”
Schauwecker cautioned new soccer fans that once you find your club, “you don’t change teams.” He said it’s not like rooting for the Dallas Cowboys for half a season, and then switching your allegiance to the San Diego Chargers.
“In the Premier League, it is about staying up and surviving,” he said.