Real Ale and the Beautiful Game

With the football season getting back into full swing, we take a trip around Sheffield to look at some of the real ale available around the grounds of each of the city’s clubs. Obviously there are too many pubs to list them all, so to avoid any possible accusations of favouritism we will be visiting the three closest hostelries to each ground that serve real ale according to our records (if you know differently, please let us know!). These places are not all necessarily frequented by football fans but can get very busy on matchdays, so if you want a quieter pint you may be better off visiting during the week.

Sheffield United – Bramall Lane

sheaf houserailway hotelcricketers arms

The closest of Sheffield’s clubs to the city centre, Bramall Lane has been in use as a sporting venue for more than 150 years. Its central location means there is a plethora of choices for discerning drinkers in the local area.

Cricketers Arms: Situated directly opposite the the away fans’ turnstiles, the pub’s name references Bramall Lane’s history as a cricket ground, with cricket matches first being hosted there in 1855. The pub usually offers two real ales from local brewers such as Bradfield, Abbeydale and Stancill. Buses 18 and 252.

Railway Hotel: Just 200 metres further down the road is the Railway Hotel, which has been run by Jack Cater since late 2015. Previously a “football pub” focused on lager, the change of ownership saw the introduction of real ale and cider, along with craft keg lines and a large bottle range. The Railway offers five real ales, many from local breweries, plus a real cider, and there is a very generous discount of 30p per pint available to CAMRA members. Buses 18 and 252.

Sheaf House: Named after the football ground, Sheffield Wednesday’s home between 1877 and 1880, that was located on the site where the pub stands today, the Sheaf House of 2017 is a pub focused on games, with darts, pool and snooker all available. One real ale is on offer in the shape of Bradfield Farmer’s Blonde. Buses 18 and 252.

Also within half a mile: Cremorne, Albion, Old Crown Inn, Clubhouse, Beer Engine, Sentinel Brewery, Royal Standard, Lord Nelson

Sheffield Wednesday – Hillsborough Stadium

old crownpark hillsboroughriverside cafe

Wednesday moved to their current location in 1899 having previously played in the Lowfield area of the city but being forced to find a new ground following the extension of the railways. Being a little further out, there aren’t quite as many pubs, but still plenty of choice for fans of real ale.

Riverside Cafe: Just around the corner from Hillsborough Stadium, this is a modern, community-run cafe and pub offering four real ales from breweries such as Acorn, Bradfield and Great Heck alongside excellent food and an outdoor seating area overlooking, as its name suggests, the River Don. Buses 35, 38, 85, 97 and 98 or tram to Leppings Lane.

Park: Another pub focused on food following its takeover by Sizzling Pubs in 2008, the Park is located about 250 metres from the football stadium, overlooking Hillsborough Park. One real ale is available, which at the time of CAMRA’s last visit was Wells’ Bombardier. Buses 35, 38, 85, 97 and 98 or tram to Leppings Lane.

Old Crown: Very popular with Wednesday supporters on matchdays, the Old Crown can be found about 500m down Penistone Road from the stadium, near Owlerton greyhound track. The pub offers two changing real ales from guest breweries. Buses 7, 8 and 86.

Also within half a mile: Railway, Castle Inn, Horse & Jockey

Hallam FC – Sandygate

bull's headcrosspool tavernsportsman

Almost 250 metres above sea level on the western edge of Sheffield lies Sandygate, the home of Hallam FC since 1860, making it the oldest football ground in continuous use in the world. The plight of the Plough across the road from the stadium has been well documented, but real ale connoisseurs still have a number of options in the local area.

Sportsman: A gastropub with a dedicated bar area, the Sportsman offers at least five real ales including Ember Inns’ own Pale Ale brewed by Black Sheep, plus rotating guests. Pub quizzes are hosted on Wednesdays and Sundays, while CAMRA members can also enjoy a discount of 20p per pint. Bus 51.

Crosspool Tavern: Probably better known for its carvery than its real ale selection, the Crosspool Tavern nevertheless does offer cask beers, most recently Sharp’s Doom Bar and Black Sheep Best Bitter. A range of bottled beer is also available. Bus 51.

Bull’s Head: A 10-minute walk down the hill in Ranmoor, the Bull’s Head is popular with real ale drinkers, offering regular beers from Abbeydale, Bradfield and Kelham Island breweries plus two changing guest beers. Entertainment includes live music on Saturday nights and a general knowledge quiz on Sundays. Bus 120.

Also within half a mile: Ranmoor Inn, Florentine

Sheffield FC – Coach and Horses Ground

OK, so they might not play in Sheffield these days, but no article about the city’s football clubs would be complete without mentioning the oldest football club in the world still in existence. The club played at several grounds around Sheffield for almost 150 years before moving down the road to Dronfield in 2001. There are two pubs serving real ale within half a mile of the ground.

Coach & Horses: This Thornbridge pub is located at the ground, so you can enjoy your pint while watching the football. One of the venues of the annual 3 Valleys Beer Festival, the pub offers five Thornbridge cask ales plus one guest cask, along with a range of keg and bottled beers. There is also a 20p per pint discount for CAMRA members.

Victoria: This pub in Dronfield town centre was awarded Dronfield & District CAMRA’s “Most Improved Pub” award in 2013. There are up to six cask ales available, with all pints offered at a very reasonable £2.50 per pint on Mondays.

Dominic Nelson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *