If you’ve ever seen a bunch of football enthusiasts at a pub watching a match, you’d have witnessed first-hand what an intensely passionate setting that is.
We wouldn’t even blame you for believing that’s what perfect love, the most perfect coupling looked like. Beer and football. Sigh!
Funnily enough though, like all classic love stories, it wasn’t a smooth road to romance.
When football was first popularised, it was primarily introduced as a method to get the working class out of pubs, and involved in physical activity.
(Association Football actually, but that’s a whole different history lesson. We’re just going to focus on the beer side of things.)
Basically, back in the day, people would work half a day on Saturdays and then piss the rest of their weekend away at pubs. And the clergy decided (yeah, the clergy!) that this was all too unproductive and not the right way to be spending weekends, and that the best way to get them out of there was by organising football matches over the weekend.
…like all classic love stories, it wasn’t a smooth road to romance.
The sport, which had started off as a recreational sport for the elite, had already become wildly popular with the masses. And so, their plan worked like a charm.
So well, that pub owners started to see their pubs suddenly empty out over the weekends. (Heartbreaking, we know! But there’s a happy ending, so read on!) During a football match, crowds would rather go support teams than drink, and so the pubs and bars ended up deserted.
But the amazing, enterprising business fellows that all brewers are genetically predisposed to be, they came up with a counter-strategy. Businessmen, yes, but also referred to as ‘Bringers of Salvation’. ( By now, it must be pretty clear who the heroes of this story are.)
During a football match, crowds would rather go support teams than drink
The only places apart from Church halls that were big enough to host football teams were the pub houses.
Pub owners went on some heavy marketing drives to establish close relations with Football clubs, offering them changing rooms and playing fields, and other different amenities, to play and practice in, for a certain fee.
This renting offer became so hotly contested and debated, that it even led to the moving and forming of football teams, based on offers and relations with pub owners. (Read, Liverpool FC. Another history lesson for another time.)
The pubs needed the teams and their fans around, and they knew it. Apart from rent, they offered another rather useful service—match updates. They did this by using the then cutting-edge telegraphic technology. They also got footballers to run their pubs, so that they would bring the loyal fans in, and that a sense of belonging would also be associated with the pub.
…pub owners went on some heavy marketing drives to establish close relations with Football clubs
Around this time, in 1888, the Football Association and FA Cup were also founded, and needless to say, the popularity of the sport soared to an all new high. And brewers weren’t going to miss out on a chance to capitalise on this too.
In order to continue the hold they’d established on the masses, they started funding the setting up of bigger stadiums and fields to aid football clubs.
Two huge clubs, Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC, were controlled by brewers, with the maximum funding being provided by them. We already know breweries spend millions on football clubs today, but this practice has its roots in age-old business strategies, born as a result of an out and out PR and Marketing war.
The Game Play
While this strategy of getting people out of pubs and involved in physical activity was hugely successful, it didn’t quite get the love for a good brew out of the working-class.
…the middle-class’s love for the drink made the two inextricably intertwined.
The amount of effort brewers and pub owners put into associating beer with the game paid off though, and even though football became the new craze, one that would last for a long time, the middle-class’s love for the drink made the two inextricable.
Photo credit: fanchi.se
The Curious (but glorious) End Result
Today, many centuries and pub screenings on large TVs later, the bond between the beautiful game and the equally beautiful brew is stronger than ever. And we couldn’t imagine a world where the two weren’t together.
Because that’s the kind of ending every fairytale romance ought to have, no?
Come on by and celebrate the triumph of eternal love against all odds, by grabbing a pint and watching the matches with us.