Or: Reasons to hate Sunday Football. A theme
Transport to game.
Reason No. 1 There is a bus service from my village on a Sunday. The first bus leaves at 10 in the morning. The last bus home arrives back home at 3 in the afternoon. For a 12.15 kick off that means I can just get there in time but can’t get back home after the game. For a 3 o’clock fixture I could be enjoying several hours pre match fun but have no way home. So thanks to Sky TV I have a beer less lunchtime as I drive, park up and enter a game with a cup of tea as liquid refreshment.
Reason No. 2 Car = The Welly, a coke and some sunshine. Frankly dull.
Bristol Rovers 1 Oxford 1 Attendance 7038 (633 United folk)
Reasons No. 3. Invariably the Sunday kick off will be televised. There are rarely other reasons to change to a Sunday. This will mean a big time opportunity for someone to become a T.V. star. In this game, like so many others televised, the Referee appeared to want to be the centre of attention and boy did he take centre stage. We can argue all day over the sending offs, missed penalties, rash bookings, arrogant attitude, lack of linesman support. As my refereeing ex-student says, it is one aspect of our game that makes it so good. What is not beautiful is that yet again a good game of football has been hijacked by a referee’s incompetence. He didn’t have a poor game, make a few poor decisions. He had a BAD game with a million exclamation marks to get some ungrammatical emphasis on top of capital letters.
Oxford won with a wonderful finish. Rovers played well but the same problem occurs week after week. The team, like all teams live and die by having regular goal scorers. One week this team will hit seven goals but for now they are failing to eke out the 1-0 trademark win.
Entertainment Value 4
Reason No. 5 No chance to get my anger on a post match pint so it stays and clouds my thinking. I would live to give all referees a copy of this game and ask them to commit the performance of this referee to memory. It should be the example of how not to do it. No doubt he will review his performance and comfort himself with the key decisions, in his opinion, being correct. It is a game of opinions.
Man of the Match: Chris Lines. He gave a TV performance of the right kind with a bit of showboating on top.
Reason No. 6 Only 633 away fans? They normally bring 800 plus. No doubt the game being on T.V. coupled with a lunchtime start meant that many decided to do the easy thing and watch it at home. They were colourful, occasional heard and equally as scathing of the referees performance. The dislike was by no means one of sour grapes. We all agree………
Reason No, 7 I can revel in my Sunday lunch being a pasty, curry pie and a cup of tea. Classy!
Reason No. 8 Other things happen on a Sunday. Home to listen to the mighty Gloucestershire beat Yorkshire in the cricket cup semi-final. On the way give Ronnie and Bob a lift to the dark side to watch Bristol Rugby lose to Bedford. I other years I would have watched myself but I find the game stultifying to watch. A month of World Cup Rugby will not appeal one jot. I loved playing Rugby to a decent club standard. That was a very different game to the one I watch now. Sitting in the garden enjoying a BBQ worked better for me.
This guide has to have some pub recommendations so today I give you the pubs of Saturday afternoon. Rose and myself were not going to the Rugby in London, or watching some non-league team in the local area. We decided to have our own stroll along the Gloucester Road accompanied by a Saturday bus timetable, a day rider and some garden sunshine. What came from this was a guide to the pubs to visit if walking in to town after the game.
I always advise walking for ten minutes or so just to get away from the mad rush at the bar. So in this case walk past the Royal Oak and Victoria Pubs. They will be rammed and in the case of the Victoria, in my mind, never to be visited; ever, full stop, never.
So Saturday 5th September. The day before the match.
This pub is big, the beer is o.k. if unspectacular. As a first and quick stop it is ideal. Slightly set back from the road it has the classic inter-war proportions, room for pool tables, big sofas as well as space to stand at the bar. It also has a garden. Yes that is a Doom Bar in the photo. It is that sort of national chain beer pub.
The Golden Lion
This pub has relatively new licensees and in an attempt to draw in a different crowd they want the real ale types and families to come and enjoy their pub. They do not have a garden but they do have an excellent pint of Purity Mad Goose. Live music is a very big thing. A stage dominates the back of the pub and may have a factor in drawing in / putting off the families. In my opinion there is an issue of pub layout that needs to be fixed to create something more traditional and homely. The pub will definitely be revisited before a game because of the beer quality.
When this was the Robin Hood it was in my original guides. That was a mistake then and to be honest I didn’t particularly like the pub now. You are met, on entry by a dominant waft of fish or chip fat. When we visited it was in full Bishopston mummy mode. Having weaved between push chairs and doting couples we escaped to the garden to drink our over-priced and frankly dull beers. At least the smell had gone when we left. Replacing the fish was the sweet fragrance of full nappies. This may be attractive to some but not me.
We passed on the Flyer and the Cider Press. Both were short on interesting beer and one had wall to wall Rugby on the screens.
The Foresters would have been next but sadly it is presently closed.
In contrast to the Grace the Hobgoblin had a very pleasant, bubbly and chatty set of yummy mummies, their partners and parents. It was a struggle to get somewhere to sit but sit we did for a very good half hour or so. The children here were canine and well behaved. The beer was spot on and from an interesting choice. No garden to enjoy but it is definitely on my recommended list. I try not to get other customers in my photos so I have a partial beer and dog snap rather than photograph the floor.
On to the Promenade, home of the serious Bristol people watching scene. I really like this bar / café / pub. There is always something different in the beer range. There will be couples of all ages, often sitting and chatting over coffee and cakes instead of beer. There are young children at times though today they appeared to come and quickly go quietly. The best seats are out on the patio but on an evening I guess the room up the stairs might be accessible.
Prince of Wales
This pub provoked me into a mini rant over graffiti in Bristol. It is everywhere and is downright rubbish. Banksy and his mates have a lot to answer for. I like modern art at times. I enjoy some of his work as it is a humorous way of making valid political statements. Most of what is found on the walls of Bristol is generic schoolboy, back of exercise book, dross. This is encapsulated in the courtyard of the Prince of Wales. On one wall is an interesting take on the theme of carrots. Simple and straightforward it will be a talking point for a new visitor for a minute or so then one should move on to other conversation. On another wall is a couple of fish, badly proportioned and curiously left hanging to as if someone is soon to come and add a bubble saying “Bob” No attention span needed here, just whitewash over and start again please. The pub is o.k. Nothing more to say. It is a simple Gloucester Road pub that will not make you rush back in a hurry but not offend either.
Now for a diversion. Rather than head on the next half mile of pub less road. Ignore the Cat and Wheel and head up past Montpelier station and through the arches in the houses to the Cadbury.
This was new to Rose and very different to what has come before. The “Chocolate factory” is a back street community local. By Community it means students, the Montpelier set and those who work in local green stuff. No one sat inside, almost all seats in the patio area were taken. Table football was being slammed. The locals were chewing the cud and spreading their gospels of the radical normality of green life. Another painted wall, another decent beer and a very relaxing spot for a late afternoon pint. It was good to remember this pub and we must make the diversion again.
We then walked down Picton Street and past some graffiti in action. Not good again but it was probably some funded opportunity to develop some sort of community skill.
This pub rarely fails. We settled for a guest food pizza and something cloudy from my favourite lazy brewer. It looked awful, tasted good and was reasonably priced for one of the new age breweries. Crossword finished, we were forced into conversation, always a tricky moment. Note the new additions to the pub. A dart board and more importantly, painted, plastered walls.
Rose had put up with me for a whole afternoon and was still smiling as we tested our new found route home that involved a bus to Cribbs Causeway and a last bus at 8.35. We danced around the rats at twilight and were home in time for Casualty. Result!
Pub of the Day: The Hobgoblin. For its atmosphere as much as anything else.
Beer of the day: Purity Mad Goose in the Golden Lion.