Last Saturday, The Brace Phoenix team was at Tim Finnegan’s Irish Pub watching the Champions League Final between Juventus and Real Madrid. We know this match is old news, but we’d like to share our remarkable viewing experience.
We walked into Tim Finnegan’s at around 11:15 AM. If you haven’t been, it’s a Manchester City bar, a massive and cavernous place that’s dimly lit and has kits and banners hung all around. It really is made for watching matches all day. You, alone or with friends, can enter and lose track of time as you create a home base at a booth, high top, or table, and enjoy match after match on one of the many creatively placed TVs or the projector.
For the Champions League Final, this atmosphere was multiplied: the event was a special one. Tim Finnegan’s, the Phoenix MCFC Desert Blues (the local Man City supporters group), and the Phoenix Red Devils (the local Man United supporters group), who all co-hosted the event, decided to invite any and all soccer fans in the Valley to join them for a fundraiser viewing party to raise money for the victims of the recent bombing in Manchester.
The supporters of the Valley did not disappoint and came from all over town. It was like a very happy “meeting of the families” in a mobster movie or a very happy version of the scene from the Warriors when all the gangs of NYC come together… sorry we know we’re getting a little carried away. From downtown came the Liverpool crew including the owner, Donny, of their home bar the Rose and Crown. From the Yucca Taproom in Tempe came a few Arizona Gooners (Arsenal). From the Woodshed in Mesa came the Red Devils (Manchester United, who were one of the co-hosts of the event as well). And, when we did a lap of the place we found all of the following jerseys and shirts as well: Arsenal, Barcelona, Chapecoense, Juventus, Liverpool, Man City, Man United, NYCFC, Phoenix Rising, Real Madrid, and the USA National Team.
Tim Finnegan’s is made for this type of event. Friends from the Liverpool crew found a long table near the projector. Some of the Arizona Gooners found a table in the main area and a high top near the bar. A rowdy group from Real Madrid occupied a booth near the pass to the kitchen, and other groups of friends found their spots as well. As around 200 people ultimately filed in, tables were shared by strangers and the place was buzzing. As the game started, it was clear there were more people supporting Juventus, however, no matter which team you liked there was a loud contingent cheering and going wild with each play. If your team scored there was someone around to high five, likely someone you might not know too well but immediately connected with because of the happy moment.
Before the match, the owner of the bar, Jimmy Culleton, who was wearing a neon colored Man City jersey stood up in front of the projector with a microphone and thanked everyone for coming out. He talked about how nice it was to get everyone together and how he wanted to make sure everyone felt welcome. However, he couldn’t resist making a lighthearted jab at Donny of the Rose and Crown and then praising him. He explained that there was a 50/50 raffle going, that there were some epic items to bid for in a silent auction (including an autographed Cristiano Ronaldo ball), and that 20% of proceeds were going to the Manchester Red Cross, so the more we all drank, the more we helped.
At half-time, the winner of the 50/50 raffle was announced and one of our own at The Brace Phoenix ended up winning and then donating the money back and being rewarded with loud applause and massive bear hugs (go David)! The leader of the MCFC Desert Blues also stood up and delivered heartfelt remarks about how he was from Manchester and how meaningful the event was to him.
When the game ended, quite a few people left, but many stuck around to talk to supporters of other clubs and anyone who was around them. A group picture was taken, during which many clubs shouted out their teams’ name, including a lone QPR fan, and then supporter groups split apart to take their own group photos.
The Brace Phoenix team was awestruck by the event. The community that came together to watch the match is exactly the type of community our team at The Brace Phoenix wants to support and grow. All in all, it was an amazing day for the soccer supporters’ community of Phoenix, and a huge shoutout goes out to thePhoenix MCFC Desert Blues, the Phoenix Red Devils, Tim Finnegan’s Irish Pub.
Thanks for reading!