New York pride reigns in local pubs

For Bryan Mei, Sunday was the best Super Bowl ever.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Categories: Schenectady County

For Bryan Mei, Sunday was the best Super Bowl ever.

The Stockade resident and bartender at Clinton’s Ditch watched his New York Giants score a remarkable upset against the undefeated New England Patriots. But even if they hadn’t, the game was bound to go down in the history books for what was almost the first undefeated season in the National Football League since 1972.

“Either way, it’s history in the making,” said the animated bartender as a gaggle of loyal customers watched the game intently on the bar’s television screens.

On the other side of the bar stood Dave Miller, the pub’s chef, who watched the game with pronounced interest even though his favorite team had been eliminated from bowl contention weeks earlier. Still, he said this year’s matchup was nothing short of epic.

“Do you know how many years we’ve been waiting for this?” he asked.

While tranquility enveloped the empty city streets Sunday, boisterous cheers filled Schenectady’s bars and taverns as football fanatics celebrated what has become an unofficial holiday for many. Even passing fans found themselves fixated on big-screen televisions as the great battle between the regional rivals played out.

“It’s big,” said Schenectady resident and Giants fan Keith Johnson at Clinton’s Ditch. “It’s huge.”

For many New Yorkers, the victory was especially poignant after watching the state’s other professional teams falter and the Boston-area teams succeed. After all, Beantown already celebrated a World Series victory by the Red Sox last fall and boasts the Celtics, the most competitive team in professional basketball.

“New York needs it,” Johnson said with a smile. “We need something to brag about.”

The Patriots’ loss was bittersweet for Boston-area transplants like Caileigh Warren, a Union College junior and diehard New England fan who counted down the days to the Super Bowl. She and friend Meg Capotosto caught the game at the Union Inn, along with a collection of classmates.

Warren spent much of the game nervously clutching red, blue and silver novelty football necklaces as she watched the lead change hands. And when the Giants went up, she decided to skip one of her classes to save face.

“One of my professors is a huge Giants fan,” she explained. “If the Patriots lose, I’m not going to class.”

Several blocks away, Boston native Ray Berglund was coaxing a group of his international co-workers from four continents into rooting on the Patriots. With an overnight stay at the Hampton Inn Sunday, he persuaded the contractors with GE to venture down to the Back Stage Pub & Grill for some wings, beer and a glimpse at an American pastime.

“We did a quick learning session in the rules of the game,” he said. “And there was some of the history between the New England and New York rivalry.”

Berglund found a convert in Vinay Prathy, a native of India who had never concerned himself with football before in his travels through the United States over the past seven years. However, one taste of the now-classic rivalry turned Prathy into a gridiron fan overnight.”

“It’s an awesome game,” he said.

Leave a Reply