Pandemnonium reigned inside The Banshee Pub on Dorchester Avenue on Sunday evening as the United States defeated Ghana, 2-1, in World Cup tournament play. Strangers hugged, women were hoisted onto shoulders, and splashes of beer sprayed the room.
A small contingent of Ghana supporters on site were offered heartfelt handshakes and conciliatory embraces as images of their vanquished countrymen flashed on the bar’s ten flatscreens.
“We want to be a football pub for everybody. That is what we have been from Day One,” said Banshee manager and co-owner Ray Butler. When he and partner Michael Vaughan re-invented the old Vaughn’s bar 17 years ago, they envisioned a classic Irish pub, with few or even no TVs. But that quickly changed because of the lure of sports.
“I love football myself,” said Butler. “When we got started here we saw a lot small kids playing football in the park. We realized there was a niche here of people who would want to watch football so we started showing all the games from the club to the international level.”
Thus began a tradition that made the Banshee the “go to” place for soccer fans well before the 2010 World Cup frenzy took hold. That attention to the soccer community has paid off now that interest in the US national team has broadened. On Monday, an article in USA Today heralded the Banshee as one of the best places in the United States to watch the World Cup games.
“If the US wasn’t in this tournament right now we would still be busy with all the other teams. But without a doubt with the US doing well, the Americans blow everyone else out of the water when it come to attendance for us,” said Butler. “We host the Boston chapter of the American Outlaws US national support team who are great people to be involved.”
Said American Outlaws founding member Garrett Quinn, a Boston-based political reporter, “The Banshee has been ground zero for us because it was one of a few bars that would show the US games with the sound up. Now bars all over are knocking down our door to get us to hang out at their place.”
Quinn says that the American Outlaws — whose signature logo is now emblazoned on the front window of The Banshee— aren’t going anywhere.
“We have been going to The Banshee for several years now. They took us in when others wouldn’t. They would accommodate us for the smaller matches when others wouldn’t.”
The Banshee is also home base for many supporters who don’t sport the red, white and blue. Over the din of Monday’s raucous crowd, one of the Ghana fans shouted about having cheered on the team at The Banshee for months. “Been here all the time every part of the English Premier league here! We come here every Saturday and Sunday for all the weekend games. This is a family bar!”
Another American soccer fan, a member of the Outlaws, credits The Banshee with being the driving force behind his fiancee’s decision to move in with him. “I’m a Dorchester resident. I teach at an unnamed Catholic school on Morrissey Boulevard. I have been here for over 40 US games and countless other sporting events. My fiancee only moved in with me because The Banshee is so close by,” he said.
It was all hands on deck on Sunday for the Banshee’s wait staff and doormen as the crowd swelled for the US match. They were prompt and friendly despite the rush as lifelong soccer fans mingled with first- timers and Ghana supporters without animosity. When the US scored its winning goal late in the second half, the two-story building seemed to shake. As the final seconds ticked away, the roof shook to the sounds of leaping, hugging and high-fiving fans.
Quinn summed it up neatly: “If you are looking to get into the game and be with a group of passionate fans, you should join us at The Banshee. We are there to help explain the nuances of the game, and you’re just going to have a good time.”
In fact, the Banshee is a good time year-round, long after the soccer lights in Brazil. It’s a home-away-from-home for Green Bay Packers fans and a choice venue for fans of Irish sporting matches of all stripes. It’s also become a favored stop for fans of pub trivia, as Savin Hill native Joe O’Malley runs a popular Wednesday night event.
The US will take the pitch again this Sunday at 6 p.m. for their second Cup game, against Portugal. The Americans will face Germany in the third match of first-round action next Thursday (June 26) at 12 noon . The Banshee, which offers an excellent, full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner, is located at 934 Dorchester Avenue, just south of Columbia Road.