World Cup fever brings new life to Petersham's Cafe Papa 1970

In a flaking terrace on an dreary stretch of road in Petersham, Cafe Papa 1970 is about to roar into life.

There is only one customer at 1:30pm but cafe manager Richie Papa is still busy, replying to enquiries from Channel 9 a day after he and his family appeared on the front page of the local paper.

The Crystal Street joint doesn't have exposed brick walls or a record player in the corner. It doesn't do cold press coffee or share plates served on little cutting boards.

But it does do football.

For four weeks every four years, Cafe Papa 1970 is bang on trend with memorabilia maximilism.

It has taken on a permanent World Cup theme over the past two decades, its ceiling a canopy of Australian and Italian flags, the walls crowded with glamour shots of 90s stars, the counter-top lined with footballs.

Half-half jerseys bearing Italy's blue and Australia's green and gold are on the way while the menu items have changed.

A biscotti is no longer a biscotti – it's a Bresciano. Want a hot chocolate? Ask for a Cahill. A piccolo with one sugar? A Totti.

Beyond the main room lies a "VIP area" roofed by a piece of corrugated iron. At one end a piece of white fabric has been nailed up to serve as a projection screen.

Asked how he fits up to 130 people into the narrow space for every game of the tournament, Richie replies: "It's chockas mate".

He remembers his father watching the 1982 World Cup on a tiny television set with his friends in the shop.

Twenty-four years later, thousands of fans gathered around projectors in Crystal Street to watch Australia take on Italy in the round of 16.

"It's getting bigger and bigger," Richie says.

"We love our soccer – World Cup and Euro Cup is something we live for."

But for 20-year customer Ted Michalak, the cafe is more about "real coffee and friendly people".

"This place is a bit of a legend, tucked away here," Ted says.

"If you didn't come up this way, you'd never know it existed."

This story World Cup fever brings new life to Petersham's Cafe Papa 1970 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.