Games 41 and 42 Cambridge H and Carlisle A

Game 41: Bristol Rovers V Cambridge United 25th March 2016

Or: Getting back into the groove

It was a while since I had missed a match. I couldn’t go to the Newport Game so the Saturday trip to town was refreshing and much anticipated. We had to go to Max’s funeral. Max was a good friend to, and of, Rose. There was no question whatsoever that she would be there and that I would be there to support her at such a difficult time. The Newport game was played out to our flights back home from Sanday to Kirkwall, on to Glasgow and then on to Heathrow. My personal best thought came after we equalised and I was sure we would go on to win. The taxi driver was assured of a win but we would be amazed to find a 4-1 message when next we signed in to the internet.

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Rose gave me a lift to the pub at 10 before opening. The tardy twosome gave up on their Wetherspoon’s breakfast to ensure they were on time at 2 to time.

Pre-Match Pubs

Volunteer Tavern

We knew they were having a beer festival. It has just won the local CAMRA Pub of the Year. The beers are set up in the garden. This was chilly but bright and the beers, direct from the barrel, were affected by the overnight cold. Nevertheless we were in for a good lunchtime, no moving on, just go through the list a bit with a wish to return later to polish off the others. I had to utilise my full six foot five height to help remove the canvas and open up the yard to the sun.  For the record my choices were pints of Good Chemistry Jimmy Porter, Bad Co Bounty Hunter and Piddle Mad Hare. The three present were Ronnie, Bob and myself.

Taxi at 2 to:-

Drapers Arms

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Straight to the bar for a R.C.H. Pitchfork. This must have been their busiest day of the season. The ground was receiving a capacity home crowd and many have now found this none too hidden secret. We chatted briefly with Andy Gray and Larry, they were planning their weekend away for Carlisle. The other talk of future trips were of the CAMRA weekend in Liverpool the week after the Easter weekend. We would be blazing our own trail one week early.

Bristol Rovers 3 Cambridge United 0; Attendance 10,262 (443 U’s)

The hardest bit was deciding who might be man of the match. Rovers won comfortably in the end but individually many of the side had off days. Cambridge looked a decent side at times but they didn’t really threaten any other result.  Short bursts of good possession and playing at pace meant that there was always a comfortable feeling that this side is on a roll and 6 wins in a row are no fluke. Eventually my man of the match came down to the one player who was better than I have seen him before.

Entertainment Value (Out of 5): 3

Man of the Match: Cristian Montano

There was no Lord Powell in the bar after the game. His presence was felt in discussions of future birthday plans at the club.

Drapers Arms

A pint of Abbey Crafty Friar was my choice as we sat to digest the result. Results had gone our way again and third in the league felt so much better than the tenth of so few weeks ago. The group was growing as Geoff and Phil the Lion popped in and then we popped out to get the 71 bus to town,

Crofters Rights

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The mobile pitch

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Ronnie on the Naughty / Losers Step

Ron made a foolish choice of issuing a challenge re table football. The machine was rather mobile and had a clear bias to one side over the other. It took me a while to spot the advantage and after three, yes three own goals I was 7 goals to 2 down. We swopped sides and agreed the game would be first to ten. Playing downhill and with the wind I swept to victory 10-7 but resisted the temptation to run around the pub with my shirt over my head. Ron was banished to the naughty step of the stage seating while I enjoyed the now sweeter pint of Siren Proteus.

Bell

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Rose was on her way to pick me up but we had time to nip around the corner for a quick pint of Fullers London Pride. I left the boys to continue their shortened evening as we had a long few days away to prepare for.

Pub of the day: Volunteer Tavern

Beer of the day: Bad Co Bounty Hunter in the Volunteer Tavern

Next up: Carlisle Away Monday 28th March 2016

Game 42: Carlisle V Bristol Rovers Monday 28th March 2016

Or: Gasheads on tour

Rose and I decided that we should have a four day trip around the Monday game. Easter Saturday and Sunday in Liverpool, Monday and Tuesday in Ambleside. A quick trawl of the Facebook Gashead mates found groups doing similar via other Lake District towns (The Hughes family), Carlisle itself overnight (Geoff, Ronnie, Bob and the Lord), via planes to Edinburgh (Wilcoxes) and the mad ones on the supporters club coach (Damon and Carol). And then there was Pete, on Powell chartered train and rail replacement service on the day He may, or may not, be getting home the same day. Roger and Paul came via scheduled train from Leeds

Our trip.

We were diverted due to M6 hassle and arrived via Shrewsbury, Chester, Runcorn Bridge and then to the Suites Inn at Knowsley. Booked in, we were soon heading to town by taxi

Dispensary

Our first stop was as cosy as ever. The Titanic First Class lived up to its name and we spent a good ten minutes speculating at the nature and intentions of our fellow drinkers. Were they starting their own crawl up the hill to Gods? Were they regular locals having a quick pint before heading home to Casualty in the T.V.? Some were dressed up as if off to the theatre. There was no football in town today so there was no beer heavy shouting or cheering of blokey antics. What there was were several groups of men on mature stag night starter pints. It appears that Liverpool is such a town for older groups.

Roscoe Head

We were now in little pub mode. This visit prompted our usual discussion about community ownership of pubs and football teams. It was equally busy with several of the groups spotted in the Dispensary. The George Wright Hop Fusion No 7 wouldn’t be my normal choice but the options were somewhat limited for new beers to try. It scored highly on atmosphere and interest.

Fly in the Loaf

By contrast this pub had many of the difficult aspects for people like me. It was suffering from loud music syndrome, noisy man shouting of larger groups and poor spatial management of tables and chairs. Groups manoeuvred themselves into various spaces and shouted in supposed conversation over loops of apparently popular Liverpop. The barman misheard my order so we ended up with two halves of Liverpool Organic Harbour and Five Points Railway Porter and table in the depths of a back raised area. The beers were fine but I would prefer a quieter lunchtime visit here.

Ye Crack

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This was also very busy but it did the same in better moderation. We settled to the war room at the back with college artwork of the Beatles tribute style for wall adornment. Ye Crack is cosy and manages the tourist elements very well. We amused our self with overhearing the various pretentious groups of Lennon and Harrison talkalikes. Earnest thoughts of life and art were shared for all to hear. Were we ever like that as students? I hope not. Quote of the day from one Lennonite went “ I don’t believe that art has any function in changing society as only those that create the art can understand the meaning and as individuals it is impossible to represent the thoughts of any real or imagined society” Really? It wasn’t the Salopian Shropshire Gold doing the talking.

Philharmonic

Box Tunnel Vision was the most unusual beer on the national chain list. You don’t go here for the beer choice or service. We settled to join the others in the grand dining room. Three groups from the Dispensary were also here so knowing smiles were exchanged. The fourth version of the evening of Yesterday hit our ears prompting our departure to find some food in the nearby Bistro Jacques.

Sunday

Our tourist day took in the Tate Liverpool and their excellent display of modern art prompted by the Matisse connections. It took three hours to do the place justice and it was time well spent and valued.

Ferry across the Mersey with customary sing-a-long to Birkenhead.

Gallagher’s Pub and Barber

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This is fast becoming a must visit pub. All screens were focused on T 20 cricket. We escaped this by sitting under the T.V. with my Brimstone Trappers Hat. The pub is excellent with good quality beers and plenty to occupy the beer tourist. I do have my doubts about the Sport on T.V. though as for the second time it rather dominated the conversation (or lack of it) in the bar.

After the train ride back to town we walked down Mathew Street. It appears to have a recent phenomenon that isn’t altogether necessary or welcome. We were harassed to enter the various bars to experience the real Beatles thing with various Costa style offers. I was searching for a bit of quality at the White Star. To my horror they too had a karaoke Beatle crooner shouting his way to stardom so it lost our trade.

Ship and Mitre

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Peace was found at last in the ever good Ship and Mitre. It was busy, chatty and very comfortable. Our table was shared with a young student keen to, and happy to, read her book on this Saturday afternoon. We were ready to settle to a full beer festival as advertised on the poster on the wall. I headed to the bar for what appeared an elusive list, perhaps it would be in the cellar rather than on the bar. To their amusement and my embarrassment there was indeed a Ship and Mitre festival, a satellite one in the not very nearby Port Sunlight. I would have to settle for one from twelve at the bar. We had a George Wright Roman Black and a Stamps Cascade.

After a visit to Buffalo Jacks for a burger we retired to the hotel and a final whisky nightcap.

Monday

The two hour trip took us to the ground, park up and walk to the Carlisle Rugby Club. The Warwick Road houses are still being renovated after the recent floods and it was no surprise to see the unfortunate closure of the bar. It must be so depressing for the locals and I can only wish them well in getting things back to some form of normality.

Pre-Match Pubs

Beehive

It is now the only open pub in the area and as a result was heaving. We were lucky to arrive early enough to get a seat and watch the numbers envelope the tables in the main areas. Greene King had re-badged a beer as After the Flood that had to be sampled if for the charity donation alone. The Hawkshead Bitter was a better second beer. We caught up briefly with Dave Lippiatt, a long-time friend from home, now exiled up north. The boys in town were staying put in the apparently excellent Moo bar. I would leave that to another day.

Carlisle 3 Bristol Rovers 2 0; Attendance 4,718 (651 Gasheads)

It was a first time of meeting for Rose and the Stubbs family. Damon, Carol and Jonny plus David Maddy joined us as if recreating our West Stand gang in the stand. Behind us were Geoff, Peter de Meteor, Roger Right Hand, Lord Powell and Leeds Paul. Ronnie and Bob, surprise, surprise, arrived too late to fit in the seats by us and exiled themselves as if being sent to Coventry. I was almost recreating the days when the usual gang first met up. In days gone by my sole company was Fiona. We went to all games home and away and were aware of, but not company to, the Railway traveling gang. I was sat in very similar seats to today when I was aware of droning and moaning from a miserable fan behind me. He was going on and on about something obvious and getting seriously on my wick. I always carry a few pens so i conveniently put them in both ears to block out the sound. I was severely reprimanded by Fiona but it made a point as the person I now know as The Lord Powell, observed my protest and challenged the moaner as to the consequences of his comments. Ronnie came over and apologised and a new friendship was formed when at the next away game I was known as the bloke with pens in his ears.

Today’s game was far too open for an away game. We played better as individuals but poorly as a team defensively. In my opinion our wide midfielders were pressing too high up the field for a back four who played very deep. It took a brave substitution to rectify and fill the large holes in midfield and get us in the game. By 4 .30 I could only see us winning and commented that Carlisle were out on their feet. They then scored a break away winner and our great run of wins was over. We were the better team over the 90 minutes but the space given to their breaking forwards eventually cost us. Jermaine Easter had a good game in doing the chasing of midfielders allowing the older piano players of Lines and Lawrence to sit deeper and give token protection to our centre backs.

Entertainment Value (Out of 5): 4

Man of the Match: Jermaine Easter

Post-match

We drove to Ambleside

Churchill’s

Thwaites Wainwright was available in this town centre pub. The name of the beer was the only good thing about this monstrous excuse of a sports bar. It couldn’t be finished despite looking good. We sat near the door, tried in vain to ignore the televisions and left as soon as was practical.

Priest Hole

This small restaurant was excellent and very enjoyable.

Queens Hotel

We stumbled across this typical hotel bar and its impressive list of handpumps. In a change from our usual practice we had halves of them all and settled to our newly appointed crossword corner to sample them all. They were Coniston Bluebird 7, Cumbrian Loweswater Gold 6, Beckton Black Dog Freddy 7, Cumbrian Five Hop 6 Hawkshead Pale 6 and Yates Bitter 8. The numbers represent my scores out of 10. The Guardian Monday Crossword set a themed challenge that deserved beer of this quality.

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Pub of the day: Queens Hotel in Ambleside

Beer of the day: Yates Bitter in the Queens

Tuesday

We fancied a touristy and fieldworky type of day. So in teacher mode we ventured to easy walking country with old time field trip connections. Loughrigg Terrace overlooks Grasmere and is close to my old teaching haunt of Langdale Youth Hostel. It as the scene of my playing games with sixth formers by leaving them to find their own way back to Ambleside. We strolled along the terrace and back to the car for a drive up Wrynose and Hardknott Passes. More memories were recalled of screeching passengers as we tackled the hairpin bends in a council yellow minibus. We dropped around to Coniston and coffee in the shadow of the Campbell Bluebird. Then on to Tarn Hows for a circumnavigation of the Lake.

Back to Ambleside and to the Queens and another hour or so on Yates Bitter.

Wednesday

Time to hit the M6 and home listening to the cricket on the radio.

Next up: Crawley H Saturday 2nd April 2016

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