So it is official, The George is shutting down. Its last home match day will be the Burnley fixture.
For a few years now, The George has been my match day pub. It was, in my eyes, the best match day pub – although saying that makes me think of the Arsene Wenger quote of “everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home”.
It had it all. Decent beer, quick service, quality staff, TV screens and a jukebox.
Post game in The George was always an event. Once the one pinters had drunk up and left, the atmosphere in their was cracking.
Get the right tunes on the jukebox and it would go off. I remember a game recently we stuck on Gold followed by Sweet Caroline. It was electric.
Going back a few years, the late night Chinese delivery was always a bonus.
Over the years, The George have supported this site. Whether that be through Peter giving GC help and advice with the She Wore Shop or being the place where Keenos wrote many of the post-game blogs. We owe a huge thank you to them.
There is no debate, Arsenal is losing one of its best pubs. And it continues a worrying trend of Holloway Road losing its decent boozers.
A few years back now, we lost the Herbet Chapman. I remember when that pub went down hill. It was taken over by new management. Some youngster student-types. They clearly had it in their mind what they wanted a pub to be. And that did not include football fans. Unfortunately they had bought the wrong pub in the wrong area.
They did not want fans to be there. Not even on a game day. And made it clear to us we were not wanted. I remember one game, it would have been a 3 o’clock kick off, and they decided to bleach the floors clean at about 6pm. It was their way of saying “we are shutting, please leave”. The pub died not too long after.
Then you had the Phibbers and Metro Bar.
We lost the Metro to the housing developers. The student accommodation is nearly build. The Phibbers has recently reopened as the Victoria Tavern. It advertises itself as “craft beer and awesome pizza”. It has a table football table and neon mini-golf course. It does not look like a proper football pub.
Most recently the Wig and Gown shut down and was then rebranded.
It shut down due to noise complaints. The neighbours who moved in above complained about the live music and bands that used to play. This was a big part of its Monday – Friday business. No longer being able to play live music drove away the clientele.
The Wig and Gown has since reopened as the House of Hammerton. Another craft beer pub.
And finally we have The Bailey.
I am sure many of you will remember when The Bailey ran out of beer. It seemed to happen often. And they went to the Tesco up the road, bought cans of beer and still had the cheek to sell them for a fiver!
The Bailey was a decent boozer, although the landlady certainly had her favourites when it came to serving people. It has now reopened as an upmarket chicken shop that also sells craft beer.
And now we have The George going. The best of the lot. Decent service, decent beer. The memories the stories.
So where does it leave Arsenal fans to drink in on a match day?
Holloway Road is becoming like Upper Street. Filled with craft beer pubs that sell over priced food. There really are not too many options left for the fan who just wants to have a beer and get away from the Barmies.
You still have the likes of the Tollington, Che Guevara, The Eaglet, The Horatio and The Lamb. Add in a few of the cafes and restaurants that have recently become popular with football fans. There are still places to drink, but they are not perfect for the likes of me.
They already have their atmosphere, their clientele. And if the displaced from The George began drinking there, it would be like when two schools merge into one. A recipe for disaster.
So what now? Perhaps a move further into the Cally? Or head back Finsbury Park way. The Twelve Pins, the Blackstock. Of even those old haunts up Blackstock Road. The Gunners, Bank of Friendship, Woodbine, T-Bird.
What is for sure, The George shutting is a sad day for football boozers down Holloway Road.