Mansfield: A town with pleasant surprises.
Transport to game.
Lord Powell served up a tour that had 14 tickets or reservations for our 130 mile or 4 hour trip by rail. Eight of us met at Bristol Temple Meads, changed trains at Birmingham and Nottingham and crucially arrived at Mansfield just before 12. Today’s role call included The Lord Himself, Coventry Bob, Reading Ronnie, Peter de Meteor, Geoff the Pike, Mumbles and Random Tim.
Mansfield is a town that has not created much of a stir among our real ale hunters until today. We decided to forego the usual walk uphill to the Bold Foresters and also avoid the Railway and search out something new. We were well rewarded for our relative adventure.
The Brown Cow
It is an eight minute walk from the station to pub door. We happened to find the first Saturday beers of a beer festival being served. This is a great looking pub. The festival spread over two storeys. The room next door is the little Brown Cow and home to Raw Brewery stuff. The beer list had around 50 beers or ciders, both keg and real. Calls came in and went out and others joined the party. First in were Clive and Roger Right Hand. Roger was in full excitement mode coming with fascinating news of a miraculous conversion occurring in Mansfield beer culture. Real ale and football muppetry rarely go together but apparently the M.S.C. has had a spiritual experience and, seeing the light perhaps, had set stall in the garden of the Railway. M.S.C, in this context is not an academic qualification and is best avoided. In any case we had two other new pubs to find?
Roger and his lucky Leeds gas socks
The Olde White Lion
Find the pub? Just follow Roger! We did. After a lap of the town centre we doubled back to an alley next to a butchers shop, appropriately and tellingly called White Lion Yard. Numbers were growing further. In came Andy Gray and pals, the best space for us was to group in the alleyway. The bar is literally a cellar carved into the walls of a cave. It is dark inside the bar and the beer comes direct from the wood (metal cask actually, but you know what I mean). The top tip here is to check out the butcher at the alley entrance. In orderly procession the team trooped of for Mansfield Pasties, pies and rolls, all recommended as of good value and quality.
Ashamedly we had walked past the Beer Shack when searching out the Lion. We left promises to return and of course we keep those, don’t we? The Beer Shack falls in to the shop conversion micro bar style so our party of 12 or so filled it quickly. The locals stopped to chat and a good final pre-match pint was downed. This is exactly the sort of pub that Mansfield has needed. The town centre has never been short of pubs but it now has three excellent homes to real ale, all offering 5 plus beers on a rotating basis. Four pints for a tenner, all different and all good quality. This has to be the find out the season so far.
Mansfield Town 1 Bristol Rovers 2 Attendance 4196 (847 Gas)
This game still manages to throw up surprises. Rovers did not play particularly well. They never do after ten days off. I am not going to complain about the referee. He was equally incompetent for both sides, As Accrington did to us earlier in the season, we walked away with a win by being the better organised and tactically aware side. At one time we were speculating whether we had seen the first ever sending off for diving. Easter will be appealing that one. Looking at the highlights, he dived, was hauled on to his feet by the shirt collar and somewhat understandably, objected to that action. What baffled me most was the tactics of Mansfield. They were back in the game with ten minutes to go and then appeared to try and defend that draw. Eight minutes into the 11 added on we scored and it was four away wins on the trot. Mansfield should feel fortunate to only have two sent off. For the first half hour they looked a tidy and effective side. For the last hour a mixture of wrestling and Kung-Fu took over.
It felt as if the fans were being subjected to a Nottinghamshire police training exercise. They were everywhere near the ground and nowhere to be seen near the station or town centre when needed. I must also have a bit of a moan at our muppets who appeared to want nothing more than to wind up fellow fans and stewards by standing in the front rows and barely watching the game as they revelled in their tiny worlds. 800 fans in a space for over a thousand meant there was plenty of room for them to find a corner to play in if they so wished.
Entertainment Value 5
Man of the Match: I know it is a bit repetitive but Tom Lockyer is really something special at the moment.
Post-Match: The extra time meant we could only wave to our train leaving the station as we arrived. We lost valuable drinking time in Nottingham so for me it was a dry ride home.
Pub of the Day: Old Brown Cow
Beer of the Day: Shefford Plum Mild at the Beer Shack
Pasty 0 I should have bought one in the butchers.
Curry Pie 0 What?
Tea / Bovril 0 Powdered tea with powdered milk, stewed for a good hour and cold.
Take-offs -1 pie, pies or sausage roll. Mmmmmmmm.
Add-ons 2 The alternative mince pie was good
Notts County at home tomorrow evening