The bar was 17 stools long and the lead was 20 points wide. With such an impregnable barrier bartender Seamus Coyle stood between Jim Beam and Jack Daniel and smiled.
This was his kingdom. His, that is, and the San Francisco 49ers'.
"I missed Dwight Clark's catch last week because my head was in the ice. I was working all day," said the native of Ireland with the green tie and greener cup where patrons of the Washington Square Bar & Grill made the bartender rich while their 49ers got richer. "I won't miss this one."
Neither would nearly 300 other partisans who crowded into this bar by the Bay that comfortably crams 60 to enjoy the special of the day, "Eggs Montana," and the real special of the day: San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21.
"Stupendous. Great. Of course," said Terri Hoye, a 25-year-old Bay-area native, who wore red and gold and a button that read "WIN" that she swore had nothing to do with Gerald Ford.
"I was in a place a few weeks ago where the 49ers hang out and Joe Montana bought me lunch. That was great, but I would have preferred Dwight Clark," said Tanya Knoth, a 23-year-old legal assistant.
By the time it was 20-0 at halftime there was a loud confidence that the 16th Super Bowl would become the 49ers' 16th win. Most of these 49er fans were among the newly convinced, fans who like a winner as much as a fine California wine.
Jane Ayers stood to the side of Coyle's Bar, watching the television above make a San Francisco dream come true. Ayers, in her 30s, works at the San Francisco Ballet and interrupted an ongoing performance last week to watch backstage as Clark's ballyhooed catch took front stage. "That was the greatest 30 seconds of my life." She added, "It's great to be a 49er fan."
"It's still too cold to be a 49er fan. I guess it's getting better," said Kathy Maquire, 25, as she objected in between sips of beer. "If we get a dome, though . . . "
Indeed, after so many years of whine and whimper, now, at last, 49er fans could wine and dine. As Joe Montana, perhaps the most popular San Francisco Joe since DiMaggio played for the Pacific Coast League Seals, led San Francisco on one final scoring drive, all but guaranteeing a win, the crowded room was a mass of extended index fingers.
No. 1. It was a familiar sign in a town unaccustomed to flashing it.
At the bar, 23-year-old Rob Miller, a worker for Lockheed who hails from Wilmington, Del., was glum. He wanted the Bengals to win. Here, he was in the minority. "I'm a Philadelphia fan, anyway," said Miller as he flipped his quarter tip and scrutinized a sheet of paper that showed none of his picks in the betting pool had won.
Finally, when Montana fell on the ball and the title was San Francisco's, Seamus Coyle, in his early 50s and in his 20th year in San Francisco, poured himself a drink here in the bar that is only four blocks from Fisherman's Wharf, and right in the middle of the parade path the new world champions will take Monday.
It was an Irish whiskey, of course. As the horns honked outside, as the local television cameramen hopped on top of his bar to get the crowd reaction inside, and as a picture of former San Francisco Giant Willie McCovey hung high above the bar smiling down at it all, Coyle poured a free round for the house, too.
"All we have to look forward to now are the Warriors and they play in Oakland and the Giants and they never win. Amen for the 49ers," he said with a gulp.