Indianapolis pub serving up early morning enthusiasm for soccer downtown

Each weekend, dozens of fans pack Chatham Tap on Mass Ave to watch their favorite Premier League teams play five time zones away (Josh Blankenship/WTHR photo)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Beer was flowing at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at a downtown hotspot.

It was the season opener for 18 of the Premier League's 20 teams, drawing local fans to Chatham Tap on Mass Ave to watch all the action unfolding 4,000 miles away.

"If it's a good game with teams that have a big following, we'll be full no matter what time or how early it is," said co-owner Daniel Jones.

Just don't call it "soccer."

"No not here, not there, nowhere. Football. You use your foot and kick the ball," said Philip Bond.

Bond moved here from Liverpool, England 17 years ago. He's found a home at Chatham Tap.

"And this is the best place to watch football, so might as well, right?" he said.

Each weekend, dozens of fans pack the place to watch their favorite teams five time zones away. When a game kicks off at 1:30 in the afternoon in England, it's 8:30am here.

Much like the weather in England, it's a rainy day here. But rain or shine, for the past nine years, English Premier League fans have been coming here to share their common interest no matter how early the hour.

The earliest Chatham Tap will open is 7 a.m.

Jones says he's thrilled by growing interest, which has only been helped by the success of Indianapolis' NASL team the Indy Eleven.

"Indy Eleven has been huge for us," says Jones. "It's a nice thing to go out on a weekend. Saturday, you can get up early to come down here watch your Premier League games in the morning, take a little rest and go to the Indy Eleven game at night."

But could the growing enthusiasm here help Indianapolis to someday launch a team at the highest level - Major League Soccer?

"Who knows?" said Doug Starnes, an Indy Eleven supporter who enjoys watching the games at Chatham Tap. "At some point, NASL or Indy Eleven might be recognized as an official first division team, but even if they're not, they'll continue to grow in their support and continue to grow in profile in the region, for sure."

While the Indy Eleven season has about three months left, these fans are looking forward to the next nine months of English Football, happy there's an early morning spot to watch.