By Joe Thompson

It was an experience I’ve never hosted before, but certainly one I will never forget.

In my previous jobs in the hospitality industry, the places I have worked have been a bit of a haven away from the football. No screens, no fans, no pints being thrown. But equally, very quiet and very boring. As a huge football fan myself, I found the whole experience frustrating. Although it was nice that there was a place open where people could go, have a nice meal and a pint without the crowd and the noise, I still wanted to be part of that crowd and noise.

When Mark mentioned that we were going to be advertising the football here at the distillery, I instantly thought “AMAZING! YES!”. But I did have my doubts. We are far from a sports bar or rowdy pub and in my short time at the distillery, it wasn’t apparent that we had a huge football following amongst the locals. We are also very proud of our distillery and we didn’t want to attract the wrong crowd. You know the ones; throwing pints in the air, jumping on furniture, fighting etc. And with COVID restrictions, the last thing we wanted was for us to be shut down because of one dodgy group.

But we went ahead with it. Packed the room out (COVID friendly, of course!) and my goodness, we had an amazing following. Group stages were fully booked way before the tournament had begun. As soon as we beat The Czechs, tables were desperate to re-book for the Germany game. And this was the theme for the rest of the tournament. As soon as we released tickets, they would sell within minutes. I said to Mark “This must be how the Beatles felt!”.

Game by game the atmosphere grew. Hearing the typical chants of “It’s coming home” and “Sweet Caroline” every game was amazing. I’ve never hosted an event quite like it. The atmosphere, the compliments of service and most importantly, the communal spirit, was amazing. Every game, we saw the same faces pretty much and each time they were so complimentary (it helped that England won most games).

One special mention to the staff as well. None of them had worked in such an environment and mixed with table service (another thing they’d never previously done) and they were exceptional. WELL DONE!

If there’s one thing I’ll take away from this experience is that no matter what the event is, we will have the locals backing. The communal spirit in this lovely village is immense. And to know that they are just as proud of this place as we are gives me a very warm feeling. I’m looking forward to seeing these familiar faces again, whether its for a coffee at our Coffee Stop or on one of our Nest Nights.

It is definitely something that we will look to do for Qatar 2022 and hopefully, without COVID restrictions, it’ll be bigger and better than ever. In the short term we are working hard on bringing more tourism to our distillery with our Tours, Workshops and Supper Clubs. We hope we can see you soon.