From an American reporter's anthropological perspective on attending Premiership football matches in England (including this Newcastle v Liverpool match), here's her view of the culinary side of things:
The food is cruddy and no one really cares about it, but the alcohol is essential.
Alcohol is allowed to be consumed in stadiums’ snack areas, but not in the stands. To temper the annoyance this causes, hard-core fans tend to drink heavily beforehand — carrying plastic bags full of beer onto the train, spending hours in nearby pubs — and at halftime. They are not supposed to arrive at the stadium obviously drunk, but many have ways of getting around this.
Meanwhile, very little eating goes on in the stands; nobody is walking around wearing a friendly hat and asking if you want to purchase yummy seat-side treats. No cotton candy; no Dippin’ Dots. Inside, the snack bar menus tend to be basic, offering things like French fries with curry sauce; chicken pie; and Bovril, a hot beef-flavored bouillon masquerading as soup.
At St. James’ Park, the Newcastle stadium, the menu in the away-fans’ snack area consisted of one type of entree — meat pies in various flavors — and eight types of alcoholic beverage. “Three-course meal: 7.80 pounds!” advertised a sign. Course one: meat pie. Course two: flavored vodka drink. Course three: Twix bar.
At the Aston Villa game in Birmingham, Steve James, 47, took time out from chanting obscene remarks at the visiting Chelsea players to observe that because the game started early in the afternoon, the fans had had less drinking time than they might have liked.
“I have only had 11 beers so far,” he said. “I met my mates at a bar at 8 in the morning and had a bacon and egg sandwich and four pints of cider,” cider being an alcoholic drink here. “On the train, I had a few more. Then I had six in a bar when I got here, and a couple at halftime.”
Except for his addition problems, James did not seem drunk at all. “I don’t like to be uncontrollable or not know what I’m doing,” he said. “I have my limit.”
What is that?
“I have no idea,” he said.
- Sarah Lyall, 'Game Hunting in England', New York Times, 20 May 2013
[Via Kris. If I have the right game, Newcastle lost the match at home 6-nil]