Or alternatively: Gloucester Road after a defeat can soothe even the most fevered brow.
Transport to game.
A lift to Cribbs Causeway, No. I bus to the Triangle, a gentle stroll along Park Row and a five minute wait for the Ship to open at 12. Total travel time 1 hour and 20 minutes. Distance covered approximately 7 miles as the crow flies. I was, for a while, living the Bristol public transport dream.
Ronnie Bob and I, we all arrived before opening time. The Ship has undergone something of a renaissance in recent months. It has several real ales, often from Adnams or other larger regional breweries. It has become a better lit, more airy place to meet with several well planned sections to divide up the space on several levels. Ronnie was diverted by the pinball machine, located en route to, though more likely from, the gents in the basement. That’s what he said although my thoughts were related to the curry he had last night as a cause of round avoidance. We had a tentative plan to go on to Zerodegrees or the Colston Yard. I was in cantankerous mood and was itching to ask about the whereabouts of Matt and Karen. My mistake was to mention this to the other two and their suggestion was that it would be better for all concerned to stay and sample more at the Ship. It was tipping down outside so the final decision was made. The Marston’s Old Peculier was on good form and a taxi booked for the 2 o’clock trek to the Mem. The Ship is also to be featured later in the day as the location for the team Christmas meal.
The Memorial Stadium Supporters Club bar.
It was heaving but we managed to squeeze in a Butcombe Bitter. I managed to drink most of it between several bouts of mistimed gap filling by late arrivers pushing to get to the bar.
Bristol Rovers 0 Newport County 0 Attendance 7442 (518 Exiles)
Entertainment Value 3
Sometimes it is really difficult to write about the game. This is one such occasion. Rovers were in self-destruct mode. In the first half hour we played at a high tempo, created plenty of chances and worryingly, as we have come to realise, struggled again to score. Tom Parkes made the first of three mistakes, perfectly heading past our own keeper. Never mind. We were soon back on level terms and still playing well. It would only be a matter of time before the chances (22 apparently) would be converted. Then the keeper played happy Hallowe’en with their striker to end his barren scoring record. Tom Parkes decided to be equally generous so that he might get a second and the defence collectively parted for Newport to smash home a fourth goal from their 6 chances.
Away fans: 518 made the trip. In all honesty that is pretty pathetic for a 20 minute train journey (£11 return) to Bristol Parkway and a £4 bus rider to the game. The understandable hesitancy is because the match itself costs £20. For this cost you get a view from an open terrace with the prospect of getting soaked.
The Real Lord Powell was in full travel agent mode. For my latest £20 investment I received tickets to Crawley via Southampton. This now completes a pocketful of tickets to Cambridge (Grrrrr!), Exeter and Dagenham. Also in discussion were plans for next weekend. How to use the now defunct Cambridge ticket given there was no prospect of a refund. Off to London it will be with ideas for something educational / cultural among visits to new pubs never visited before.
The only free seats were in the wet garden. This isn’t quite true as a third of the pubs seats and tables were laid up for food with waitresses desperate to tempt you to dine. Incredibly, the tables remained empty. We had a brief chat with a couple of county fans who were understandably a bit buoyant. They ventured off down the Gloucester Road with best wishes and messages to avoid the Victoria at all costs. The Barnsey was excellent.
Bus to the bottom of Gloucester Road
The Bristol Flyer
I have to say this is probably the least favourite of the choices near Montpelier Station. We were joined by the second crew that included Radio Star Paul, the Good Lord, Nigel C and Mumbles. The Ilkley Rosa Ostara made an interesting choice and it must be said it didn’t meet everyone’s idea of a good beer. I thought the Rose Petal thing sort of worked and the alternatives were from the normal boring Bristol range. We didn’t stay long moving on to:-
It was standing room only in this vastly improved version of the Hobgoblin named pubs. Rose joined us after a walk up the Gloucester Road and the conversations re the game were replaced by others about things cultural in Bristol and London. Who would believe it but our merry crowd contemplated the Crucible performance coming to the Old Vic, the merits of the British Museum and the relative worth of the RAF Museum in Hendon. St Austell Tribute here was good but we have all had it before.
The Prince of Wales
The atmosphere here was cracking. We found a table to sit around. There was no music to distract other than Ronnie’s desperate attempts at something popular. The pub had that buzz you get when the conversation at each table is muted enough as to be confined to that table. The wood panelling helps to deaden that sound and the beer was as good as anything sampled today.
Cat and Wheel
I total contrast this pub makes any conversation difficult. It was standing room only at the bar, We found a table to gather round in the back while the juke box was pumping out and the band for the evening was tuning up. The blues would eventually take over but not until the noise had split our merry band into standers and sitters, shouters and chatters. Eventually Paul and Maaaaaaart arrived to take the second shift at our table, just as the blues harmonica was being vented for the first song of the night.
We now had an hour to get some food and get the 10.26 train home. The food was of the seriously average Thai restaurant nearby. The Crossword got a good hammering on the way home and for the first time this winter we went by torchlight down Whitehouse Lane and home.
Pub of the Day: Prince of Wales
Beer of the Day: Bath Ales Barnsey in the Wellington
Cambridge United away on Friday. We are planning to travel via the Engineers Arms in Henlow and the Cock at Broom. There is no point in trying to find somewhere on a Friday evening before the game at Cambridge. Why this game was moved is something of a customer / business interface malfunction of the highest order. If the decision makers at Cambridge and Rovers get to read this then thanks mates, for nothing.