Football has developed a sizeable following who now seek out Second Captains, Inverting The Pyramid and the @FootballCliches twitter account over UniLAD obnoxiousness and bantz. The only problem with this trend what you call it because as much as the term is, as Andy Townsend would say ‘Not for me, Clive’, there’s only one way to usefully describe it in shorthand: it’s the phenomenon of the football hipster.
Pelt me with tomatoes like an Italian team dumped out of a World Cup at the group stage if you must, but this name-calling is unavoidable when you hang SpVgg 07 Ludwigsburg scarves on your walls, affix a fixie to the wall in place of a butcher’s bike, and have a Championship Manager 97/98 box lodged behind the bar, along with some kind of Boy’s Own football annual with Matthias Sammer on the front. There’s no problem with any of those things, but for want of a useful substitute term, that’s what The Back Page will be referred to as, because the unfortunate sobriquet is now used to shame anyone who takes an in anyway unusual approach to any subject. But feck it, there’s actually not that many places that are specifically good for watching sport, rather just there for watching sport.
Inside, The Back Page has eschewed both the old-man style worthiness or the forced kookiness of mish-mash chic. It’s neat, with the front bar retaining a homely feel, while the back bar is ergonomically designed for sports gawkage. High tables protrude from the right-hand wall in the back bar, efficiently increasing surface area and each with their own telly. It’s a place you could potentially enjoyably spend a long winter weekend indulging in an Eoin McDevitt-style ‘Platinum Package’, hopping from whatever they call the Heineken Cup now to Premier League to that late kick-off Atlético game to an NFL play-off to round off your evening.
On the night we visit the bar is thronged, as Ireland play Scotland in their ultimately ignominious defeat. Despite the large numbers, the only inefficiency is that supply simply cannot meet demand for the Blue Bus style (read: delicious) pizzas, which are all named after footballers (naturally). It’s easy to access the bar and get served, where they have a small but decent variety of craft beers including the very drinkable Clonmel Lager for a fiver, and every has at least one if not two places to watch Ireland aimlessly punt the ball towards the Scotland’s box.
In the throng of the night that’s in it, we don’t have room to experience the foosball, table tennis or the snug that’s dedicated to playing FIFA on a PS (yes, you read that correctly), but on a less hectic night, they might all prove good inter-game diversions. The board’s giving this spot the (dreaded) vote of confidence.
The Back Page
199 Phibsboro Road, Dublin 7
Words: Ian Lamont / Photos: Killian Broderick