Sunday 20 November is only a few days away now, which means one thing, the much-anticipated FIFA World Cup 2022 is nearly here. A little different to other years as the tournament is taking place in the winter compared to summer but football fans around the world are not fazed by this, as they prepare to get behind their countries.
Whether you are watching the matches at the stadiums in Qatar, from the comfort of your home or going to your local pub, venues around the world are preparing to welcome fans in their masses looking for somewhere to watch all the sporting action. One venue that is gearing up for the tournament is The Freemasons Arms in Covent Garden, London.
(Credit: Shepherd Neame)
The Freemasons Arms is a historic venue in the football world as it is where The Football Association held six meetings to establish rules for the regulation of football. On Monday 26 October 1863, The Football Association was formed following a letter by Ebenezer Morley to Bell’s Life about football having its own set of rules, this led to the governing body meeting at the formally known Freemasons Tavern, creating a set of rules for the game, which were approved on 8 December 1863.
The pub sees visitors from around the world wanting to experience the football atmosphere. In the Freemasons Arms there is a cabinet containing football memorabilia, such as information about the rules being founded, press articles about the first World Cup final, The FA plaque and football boots. Individuals not only visit the pub for history but to watch football matches, including tournaments such as the World Cup.
Lucien Cavendish, General Manager of The Freemasons Arms and the pub team are taking these last few days before the tournament starts to prepare for the occasion. The pub will be showing games during their normal opening hours on their six TVs in the downstairs bar area and on the projector in the function room. Tables are already being booked, with England’s first two group games fully booked at the pub. To add to the occasion, Lucien and the team have also decorated the pub with flags, bunting and posters. Throughout the tournament, there will also be a new ale available, named ‘It’s Coming Home’, especially created for the World Cup. The cask ale pairs perfectly with the three limited-edition burgers on offer – Three Lions steak burger, Chick Off chicken burger and Plant That Goalvegetarian burger.
Lucien said: “It is great working at the Freemasons Arms with such a link to the origins of The FA, the team and I are such football fans and enjoy the game, so it is lovely to work in a pub surrounded by football. We get many visitors from all over the world coming to see the history at the pub, and it is nice to have interactions with these individuals and hear about what football means to them. We cannot wait to welcome everybody in for the World Cup and share the tournament with you.”
Whilst The Freemasons Arms regularly operates to local customers living and working in the area, tourists in London and those going to nearby theatre shows, these trading days are largely different to those of football days, especially when large tournaments are on. Lucien makes sure he has as lots of team members working match days to help with the level of demand, serving the large crowds as quickly as possible. He also keeps the exhilarating atmosphere going in the pub from doors opening to closing, to make sure everyone has an enjoyable time.
Lucien added: “England games always bring in large and energetic crowds, and we are excited to share the upcoming World Cup moments with all the fans. We want all our guest to be happy and enjoy themselves, so myself and the team work as hard as we can to make the experience the best it can be.”
Lucien has worked at The Freemasons Arms for four years, working his way up from Assistant Manager to General Manager. He first began his career in hospitality working as a bartender at Dunston Hall Hotel in Norfolk. Then going to study at university, Lucien got a job in a Shepherd Neame pub in London, and valued his time there, providing him with the experience of working in hospitality in the hustle and bustle of the city, which is very different to the tranquillity of the countryside he was used to. After finishing his studies and carrying out various stock control roles, Lucien was missing the daily interaction with customers and individuals from all walks of life and realised working in a pub was what he wanted to venture into.
Lucien concluded: “I am lucky to have experienced different roles within hospitality in different locations too. Along my journey I have picked up many transferable skills which help me in my current role as General Manager. The best part about my job is meeting so many different people and being able to make their time in our hospitality pleasurable. The Freemasons Arms guests are very important to me, and I have some great memories shared with individuals at this pub.”
If you have not planned where you will be watching the World Cup fixtures, then why not visit The Freemasons Arms and experience all it has to offer. Even England Manager, Gareth Southgate paid a visit to the pub a few years ago, and let’s hope next time he visits the Freemasons Arms he brings the World Cup with him!
(Credit: Shepherd Neame)