PLENTY of pubs trade enthusiastically on our appetite for sport, football in particular.
They each pay a heavy premium for a contract to show Sky and BT Sport, but – judging by the number of pubs and bars which advertise the live matches – for some it must be paying off. For those supporters who can’t get to the game, a packed pub cheering on their team and the opportunity to down a few pints while doing so, is surely the next best thing to a stadium atmosphere.
The Hyde Park, The Eldon, the Brotherhood and the Templar are just four examples of pubs which have put the live sport right at the heart of their business. There are plenty more, particularly around the suburbs.
This is not to everyone’s taste, of course. There are quite a few traditionalists who would bar televisions from pubs altogether given half a chance, and clearly if you fancy a quiet night out with a meal, or somewhere to relax with a pint and the crossword, you’d steer clear. But if you’re looking for somewhere which has wall-to-wall TV screens showing every inch of the action, then you’d probably head to Shooters.
Regular readers (oh yes, they do exist) will know of my affection for Oxford United, and Shooters kindly reserved a table for Leeds-based members of the team’s fan club to watch our recent Johnstone Paints Trophy semi final. All right, so there were only seven of us, but the fact that the opposition was Millwall ensured that most of the neutrals who happened to be in there ended up cheering on the Yellows too.
Shooters is on the first floor and you enter via the Around The World in 80 Beers bar, whose entrance is directly opposite Leeds Art Gallery. You’d be wise to choose your drinks down here, where there are three real ales – Charles Wells Bombardier, Sharp’s Doom Bar and Thwaite’s Wainwright on this visit – and an amazing selection of bottled beers from around the world. Upstairs, the choice is practically non-existent, unless you fancy a big brand lager.
But the reason you come here is for the sport, and with a choice of three giant screens, and about two dozen smaller ones, you are guaranteed a great view. The regular TV sports offering is augmented by occasional special events, the next seeing the visit of darts legend Eric Bristow who will be taking on all-comers at the oche on February 4. Around the walls, sportrs memorabilia and signed shirts play to the sporting theme.
So while pool balls and ping pong balls clattered around the tables beside us, a noisy bunch of Oxford fans took our places in front of a screen the size of a snooker table.
Food soon arrived too. Shooters serves a menu tailored for the sports fan, with staples like pizzas, burgers and hotdogs, but – echoing the cosmopolitan theme of the Around the World bar, there are “global classics” like Caribbean Red Snapper, Louisiana Gumbo and Namibian Springbok Tagine.
It proved a winning combination – much food and drink was consumed and a 2-0 win set Oxford well on the way to a trip to Wembley.
If you fancy setting up your own microbrewery, you might want to enter a charity raffle which is giving would-be brewers the chance to win £3,000 worth of kit.
The fully-functioning 100-litre kit, complete with stainless steel mash tun, boiling copper and hot liquor tank, has been donated by Elite Stainless Fabrications to the charity Swindon Women’s Aid, which runs a refuge in the Wiltshire town. So by buying a ticket for £5 you will not only be giving yourself a chance to be the next Joshua Tetley, but also helping a really worthy cause.
Address: Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5RD
Beers: Choice of three handpulled beers at around £3 a pint, plus amazing choice of bottled beers from the Around The World bar downstairs. Also Carling (£3.55), Carlsberg (£3.55), Coors (£3.80), Heineken (£4.20), Budweiser (£3.95), John Sm ith’s Smooth (£3.30), Guinness (£3.95), Strongbow (£3.60)
Wine: Decent choice
Cocktails: Small selection of sharing cocktails from £8.95 and football-themed shots (£3)
Food: Good selection
Children: Not especially suitable
Disabled: Lift access
Entertainment: Big screen sports TVs, plus games machines, table tennis and pool tables, occasional themed events
Beer Garden: None
Parking: City centre car parks nearby
Telephone: 08455 333 000
Reviewer: Simon Jenkins