World Cup watchers set to wet their whistles
By DON PEAT, QMI Agency
It may be a World Cup away, but fans of the beautiful game in Toronto won’t have a shortage of places to watch the action from South Africa.
Thursday was the calm before Friday’s kickoff storm at several World Cup-watching hangouts.
Anthony Mair, partner and chef at the Harlem Underground on Queen St. W., was having four TVs installed Thursday for soccer fans.
Mair wants the Harlem Underground to be the place to go for World Cup games but especially those cheering on teams from Africa. He plans to serve traditional African breakfasts during the morning games.
The site of the tournament — the first time in Africa — is as important to Mair as the games that will be played over the next month.
“It’s such an important endeavour having the World Cup in South Africa,” Mair said. “A big part of that is uniting the world, uniting Africa ... uniting the nations, uniting the races.
“It’s a huge celebratory time and there is so much riding on the success of these games.”
Soccer was the first sport Mair played growing up in Jamaica.
“Our first soccer ball was newspapers wrapped up in tape,” he said. “This scar above my eye, I got this playing soccer, we didn’t have a ball so we used a can ... my face got in the way of the can, and the can actually stuck in right above my brow.”
Along the Danforth the patio at Cafe Frappe was readied.
Owner Christos Maras is hoping the Greek team will score big, but says business will be booming regardless. Greece plays Korea Saturday morning.
“If we win games, it’s going to be crazy (on the Danforth),” Maras said. “If we lose, you know, (fans will be) a little bit shy.”
At Scallywags on St. Clair Ave. W., manager Rick Thompson said the beer has been ordered, 27 TVs are ready and the flags for all the teams are waving outside the three-storey bar and restaurant.
“It’s going to be really busy (Friday),” he said. “Saturday (when England plays) will be off the wall.”
Toronto bars will be able to start serving alcohol at 10 a.m. during the World Cup.
“I don’t think that would be a determining factor for how busy you are going to be but it won’t hurt either,” Thompson said. “Sure your die-hards who are from overseas ... they’ll start earlier.”
If you’re looking for Peter Anthony during the World Cup, you might want to try College St. instead of his Bay St. business.
The Italian soccer fan will take time off from his business, Peter Anthony Salon, to coincide with Italy’s World Cup soccer schedule.
“I was born Catholic but soccer is my religion,” Anthony said. “I’m hoping there will be more cheers than tears (this year).”
Nancy Sierra, the lunch manager at Plaza Flamingo on College St. near Bathurst, is expecting fans cheering on Spain, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
She said fans are looking to have fun and “feel the passion.”
“And drinks,” she said with a laugh.