Sydney has long been dominated by the NRL in the winter time, and while rugby league is still the favoured sport of Australia’s biggest city, the AFL is increasingly growing in popularity. There has been some Premiership success, there are now two teams – and the AFL 2021 Premiership odds imply that both the in-form Swans and the brave but bruised Giants are at the least genuine finals chances this year, priced at 50/1 and 66/1 with Betway. Despite that, the infatuation with the NRL means it can at times be difficult to find a good place to watch it, but we’ve got you covered with a handful of the best bars in Sydney to watch the AFL.
1. York 75
Regardless of which sport you want to watch, York 75 will likely have you covered, which means that for AFL fans in the Harbour City it’s something of a haven. Located on the corner of York Street and King Street, this place is teeming with sports, with 20 TVs showing plenty of different action. Sport aside, it’s a classic pub with quality pub meals and cheap beers on tap, and if you have a group of up to eight you can book out your own private booth which comes complete with a screen of your own to watch the big game on.
2. Coogee Bay Hotel
The famous and ever-developing Coogee Bay Hotel is known not just in Sydney, but all through Australia, and watching the AFL is just one of many things that you can do there. Located right on Coogee Beach with views over the water, the Coogee Bay Hotel is decked out with over 15 screens throughout the establishment, so you can be confident at least one of them will be showing the footy. A couple of those screens are absolute monsters as well, so if you’re lucky you’ll get to watch the game on a cinema-sized TV.
3. Bankstown Sports
If the name isn’t enough of a giveaway, Bankstown Sports is an absolute sports lovers’ dream. There are a handful of different rooms here and obviously which one you hit up is contingent on where the footy is playing, but most likely your best bet is going to be – unsurprisingly – the Sports Lounge. The piece de resistance of this bar is an astonishing 92-inch screen, so hopefully you can get the AFL action on that, but if there are too many rugby fans around then you’ll still be well looked after by one of the six other screens around the room, or one of the screens in either the downstairs Basement Brewhouse or the Outdoor Terrace – which, you may have guessed, is outside.
4. East Village
The East Village in Darlinghurst is separated into three storeys – the ground houses the Public Bar, the next one up is the Athletic Club, while on the top is the Terrace Rooftop. You’ll want the Athletic Club. Self-proclaimed as one of the best places to watch sport in Sydney, this is a great sports bar with good food, a wide range of drinks including cold beers, rosé or whatever it is that tickles your fancy, and a number of different screens on which you can watch all kinds of different sport. Once the game wraps up you don’t have to go far either, with the bars immediately above the Athletic Club also great places to pass a few hours.
5. Hotel CBD
Hotel CBD is located smack bang in the middle of Sydney, and is a huge, five-storey bar with a different atmosphere on each level. The second floor is likely where you’ll want to be to watch the footy. This is where the dedicated sports bar is located, with numerous screens around the room showing all kinds of sport. An added bonus is the quality food that is on offer here, so if you get hungry during the game then you will be well-catered for by Hotel CBD, whatever your diet may be.
It may not quite have the popularity of the rugby league in Sydney, and perhaps it never will, but the AFL has seen major growth in Australia’s biggest city in the past few years - and this should come as no surprise, given the country’s obsession with fitness and sport. As a result, there are more and more people looking for a quality place to watch the footy in the Harbour City. The bar scene is adapting to this increased demand and there are now plenty of quality establishments to watch the big game around the city, and the above five are some of the best of them.