Or: Not every win makes you happy.
Today the Rovers believed they made a decision that would make things easier for the fans to get tickets. They made the hottest tickets of the season so far, those for Northampton away, available from 9 o’clock on the Saturday of a match. People could pick them up on the way to the match. At 9 o’clock? On the way to the game? This is the Rovers ticket sales that often sell out in an hour for games such as this. The 934 tickets on sale to voucher wielding season ticket holders might well be sold out by 10 so I made my way to the Mem for a 9 opening. They had another trick up their sleeve. The website announcement for these tickets was rightly put on the tickets section. It had to be searched for and I guess the message hadn’t got out as the anticipated long queue was only 3 persons long. By 9.15 I was home with my ticket. I would not be going straight to the pub at 9.30 on a match day. Even for me that is a bit early in the morning. I need not have worried. The Rovers were right. People would be able to get them on the way to the match. I could have had a lie in.
The 10.25 bus turned up on time. I ran, no waddled, to a no wait connection with the No.2 at 10.43. I would be in town by 11.30 and gain many watch tapping early points. As the bus arrived at Southmead Road it hit a Police Diversion. At 11.20 I was passing the Mem for a second time today before the driver found a route back to its original. Late buses, like late trains just get later and later. Like I would do, every new passenger who has been waiting for too long wanted to have their two pennyworth as to the consequences of its unwitting tardiness. At 5 to 12 I had the choice of running the last half mile to the pub or arriving ten minutes late. My compromise was a less than brisk walk that would see me arrive somewhere between the two.
The three of us arrived together at 2 minutes past 12. Mutual taps were shared and we got on with the rest of the day.
As always there is plenty of choice and the beer quality is always good. We sat to recount last week’s adventures. We being Bob Ronnie and myself. Then Bob remarked on some fine chap passing the pub window. Is that Malton Clive? Malton is in Yorkshire, so why would it be Clive? Then in he walked and it was indeed the long tripping Yorkshire Gashead who by some miracle had happened upon the pub as one we might be drinking in this Saturday. We had a fourth play mate for the day. The Fernandes Wakefield was good, clean and simple. He could have brought it with him.
We moved on around the corner to find the usual full range of good beers. Continuing the Northern theme I went for a Saltaire American Nut Brown. Messages were left with Mumbles as we sorted out a tentative plan and Ronnie went all political. Back in the real world we mulled over the choice of Ronnie’s local, the Volunteer Tavern, as local CAMRA Pub of the year. The consensus suggested this was a good choice and in the true spirit of CAMRA selections that would encourage real ale in pubs.
Purity UBU in the Bridge. No contest, beer was downed and a message sent to Ray of its drinking. This is something of a ritual of drinking in MK circles. UBU sightings must, just must, be texted to the others. Mumbles had beaten us to the pub and was sat, pint in place, waiting. Being Andy there was no watch tapping, just the familiar chortling of the now contented one. I was left to book the taxi again.
Taxi at 2 to:-
I had a strop. Unusual I know, but it was a strop. We described the decision to go to the Drapers as having a quickie. By that I mean a beer that is bought quickly, drunk quickly and then normal routines can be resumed. With that in mind Andy and I went to the bar, ordered our beer and looked round for the others to put in theirs. Barmen rightly became impatient as we waited for the others to join us. Andy and I decided to sort ourselves out because the quickie was now turning into an extreme slowie. Eventually the others reached the bar and wondered why I had a strop on. They had been happily chatting away, nothing wrong in that of course, but by no definition of a quickie should one ignore the first principle of getting the beers in first then the chat in second. Ammunition was provided for mickey taking for the rest of the day but it is basic pub crawl etiquette. Similar to “get to the bar if it is your round”, it is “drinks first, chat later” chaps. For the record I think I had a Combined Old Sodbury Mild but I was too grumpy to record it properly.
Bristol Rovers 1 Mansfield Town 0; Attendance 7,847 (241 Stags)
It wasn’t that Mansfield were ultra-defensive, or that Rovers had a run of the mill win but it was a dull game that never really got going. Rovers never looked like losing it. They had several good chances to win it by half time but we know that doesn’t often happen. My next gripe surfaced throughout this game and it is something I haven’t associated with Rovers players until today. We appeared to have an awful lot of players going down with stricken heads today. It was theatrical and honestly naively executed falling to the ground, clutching of heads. Messrs Brown, Lockyer and Taylor all joined the apparent auditions for Casualty. Perhaps it was a case of getting in your theatricals in first because both sides had players book for simulation as the referee struggled to maintain control of this one.
We will need to get used to games like this for the rest of the season. If we are to bridge the 3 point gap to automatic promotion we will have to win these more nervous games. I do, however, want Rovers to be promoted from the moral high ground rather than from the depths of playing others at their own game.
Entertainment Value (Out of 5): 1
Man of the Match: Tom Lockyer
The Match Club Bar
The other results went our way. Lord Powell talked of our summer trip to Southampton and getting train tickets sorted. Travel to Newport next week is very loosely arranged. Thanks to a 12 kick off the usual day will not be possible.
The team reassembled in the bar at 5.10. We joined the Bristol Beer Festival refugees at their table and waited for the others to join us. To be perfectly honest I was out of the mood and energy required for an evening session but I couldn’t escape quite yet. The 6 0’clock bus was taken to town and Mumbles led the way to the next choice.
Gloucester Road Ale House
A concerted opinion was determined by this visit. It is not our type of pub. The Beer is OK. A Burton Bridge Love is Ale made for a good guest beer. It is the design and atmosphere that doesn’t suit me. They have wasted so much space in the refurbishment that the only option was to stand at the bar. Thus will not suit the image they wish as it is very much a young couples of Bishopston rather than of Montpelier sort of place. Neither me, nor the staff, were particularly at ease with our presence. I was feeling tired, irritable and irritated so I made my apologies and went home.
So it was that at 7.40, almost 10 hours later than my first Cribbs Causeway visit, I was waiting for an 8.02 bus home to Pilning. A quick call home and Rose came to put my transport misery behind me.
Pub of the day: Cornubia
Beer of the day: Purity UBU at the Bridge
Next up: Newport County A Saturday 19th March 2016