NEWBURYPORT — If you followed the U.S. men’s soccer team at the 2010 World Cup, you remember where you were when you heard the call: “Dempsey is denied again. And Donovan has scored! Oh, can you believe this? Goal, goal USA! Certainly through! It’s incredible! You could not write a script like this!”
The goal was Landon Donovan’s in extra time of the 1-0 win over Algeria. The win catapulted the U.S. into the knockout stage and, unexpectedly, to the top of its group. The call was by the magnificent Ian Darke, and coming over the speakers and nine high-definition monitors at the Port Tavern, it was akin to being in a pub in Dublin, Glasgow or London.
The U.S.-Algeria match was on a Wednesday afternoon at 4 and the Port Tavern was standing room only. That atmosphere will be back this weekend and thereafter as the World Cup opens today.
“We’ve already fielded calls for large bookings for Monday night (when the U.S. meets Ghana),” said Dermot Bolger, co-owner of the Port Tavern. “The phone has been actively ringing.”
Based on the 2010 World Cup and 2012 UEFA Championship, the Port Tavern has become the local venue to watch World Cup, the Euro and even UEFA Champions League matches.
Ask Bolger who he’s pulling for in the World Cup and he is quick to say the U.S. Bolger is a native of Bray, Ireland, who immigrated in 1994 and became an American citizen in 1999.
Throughout Europe, The Pub is where you watch The Match. It’s no accident that ethos has carried over to the Port Tavern when it was purchased in 2008 by Bolger and partners/compatriots Phillip Wynne and David Buckley, and Portland, Maine, native Zeke Janas.
It’s an element to pub ownership Bolger and his partners welcome. “There is always an expectation that we’ll have international sports on, especially since we’re Irish,” Bolger explained. “I can remember five or 10 years ago you had to go somewhere to watch (soccer), such as Boston.”