Or: Two down, 21 to go
An 8.30 start from B.T.M. sounds easy. Indeed should I have tickets in hand then stress free travel would be guaranteed. This was not the case as Rose dropped me off at the pre-arranged meeting time of 8 at the ticket barrier. By arranged I mean I made the error of assuming Ronnie only needed to be told once. I should have known when on Wednesday he had already declared no knowledge of my tickets in his own wallet because The Lord and then Coventry Bob hadn’t penetrated the miasma of the Ballinger brain and told him the extra thick wedge of tickets included those meant for me. For me there was no leisurely stroll to get a breakfast bap and spending cash before the train. No, they had gone for their Weatherspoon’s monster mash and I was left hungry, grumpy and cash light waiting for them to turn up sheepishly at 8.25 with my tickets in hand. Now, as you know, I am not one to bear a grudge, and I did get a cup of tea and some cash, but It was not the start to the day I had envisaged. Then again, I appear to have told similar tales at the start of my trips before now.
I should also add that missives for this season will concentrate on away trips. To be honest you know the home routine. Meet somewhere in Bristol, go vis taxi to the Drapers Arms and crawl somewhere on the Gloucester Road after the game before Rose takes me home to either watch or take part in Casualty.
The Lord with pad
The journey took us via Paddington, the London Underground (Bakerloo, then change at Oxford Street for the District Line) to Liverpool Street. In the past we have dawdled around the station but today we were on a mission. The Lord had a new notebook. He was in keen tickers mode and Rochford in Essex was to be our first proper beer visit of the year. Can you feel the anticipation in my description? No, neither can I, we had done this so many times before.
Pre match Pubs
It was 10 to 12. In my mind the lord had failed to factor in the arrival at Rochford rather than Southend. So Ron, Bob, Mumbles and the Lord were left wandering the streets of this once busy market town. Mileys wouldn’t open till 12, we dawdled deliberately until at 12 we entered the already busy first pub.
Golden Lion 9.5
The list that bears no relation to what is on offer.
Bellhaven 80 Shilling 3
Bank Top Old Slapper 2
The locals are always friendly in this pub. It is one of its strongest selling points. The chap at the bar was happy to tell us the much needed updated info on real ale pubs in Rochford. I knew the Horse and Groom had changed hands and he confirmed it wasn’t worth the walk to try it this year, He said of course that the Golden Lion was the best but he would also go to Mileys or at a push, the Marlborough Head. I don’t think the Landlord bought him a pint for his loyalty but the choice of the pub was seriously let down by a less than average Bank Top beer. In my opinion he had just been in too much of a hurry to get another beer on and could well have left it a few hours before exposing it to our critical eyes. We settled to the back of the room and other, generally older Southend fans came in for their pre match pints. We were quizzed at one point by the oft wondered question. In what County is Bristol? This prompted an also often stated Ronnyism to do with cities that have Lord Mayors and the demise of Avon and all it represented. I of course had flash backs to school days and punching teachers over the City and County of Bristol Conundrum. I recovered in good time to heed the five minute warning and we plodded on to Mileys.
A team photo
Brentwood Blonde 3
Brentwood Bobby 4
Mileys was good. We settled outside to the windy embraces of a smiling Andy, so much better than having said smile inside a confined space. The juke box was encouraging Ronnie into song. This was far too early in my thoughts but we were apparently happy. Pints were blown over in the stiff breeze. The barmaid smiled contentedly to herself as we chuckled over rubbish chat of nothing in particular. I fancied a game of table tennis but it would have been nigh on impossible in the Essex Fohn blowing up the Roch Valley, Not that that was stopping Mumbles creating his own version of wiff waff.
Southend United 1 Bristol Rovers 1 Attendance: 6084 (approx. 500 Gasheads) It appears they are not bothering with match reports on the Rovers web site any more so I am left to guess.
Rovers Ratings: /10 New for this season. Players with more than 7 or less than 5 will get a comment as to why.
Mildenhall 6, Leadbitter 5, Lockyer 6, J. Clarke 6, Hartley 6, Brown 5, O. Clarke 6, Lines 6, Sinclair 6, Harrison 6, Taylor 5. Subs Gaffney 5, Easter 6
It looks a bit like I am copping out of this one but they were truly average against a truly average Southend side. If they hadn’t played three games in ten days then perhaps they might have found the extra yard to get a second. The penalty against us was very harsh and should he ever see the video again I guess Mr Ward would probably admit to a cock up. It was a guess on his part. I am not sure he was even looking in the direction of the offence when it happened. We have become accustomed to winning games like this over the last few years. Today we didn’t and we left somewhat resigned to a flat result for once. It has been a long time coming.
Entertainment Value 2
Left and right under the magnificent barrelled roof.
Rovers fans were generally in good spirits. Some were very disgruntled at the manner of the Chelsea ticket allocation. It did seem somewhat lacking in intelligence to put a limited number on at two different locations when history of Rovers fans buying tickets would suggest they would sell within a few hours. The Hartley Jam song brought a chuckle from our group. The crass “I want to go home” song brought only our thoughts of We’re one nil up (at the time) why would we want to go home? We had to explain the words of the Matty Taylor version to our harder of hearing friends at half time. Where did Gashead originality go as we now have to do versions of every other clubs droning dirges?
Man of the Match: Peter Hartley. Just because he barged Adam Barratt out of the way to score the goal.
They were a long way from the game. The train took us via Liverpool Street towards a plan of going to the Mitre at Lancaster Gate. By now the boys were getting a little fractious. We were joined by Darren who was subjected to serious coercing to sign the Lords Powell travel pledge. Ronnie was getting in to bickering mode and the Good Lord was dithering over where we were headed. I decided not to get involved and sold the team a dummy at Oxford Circus. The chaps were already in two different and both crowded carriages so it was simplicity itself to wave goodbye from the platform in the style of an escaping spy in some B movie thriller. I left them to the Swan and the Mitre (Two different pubs). My choice was the….
Mad Bishop and Bear 9
Aaaaaaaah: Peace at last
Fullers ESB 4
I wanted and got some peace and quiet along with cod and chips and a single guaranteed good pint. It was good to watch the world go by and read the programme in some simple solitude. I was being selfish and enjoyed being so
We managed to catch the 8.00 train. Normal service was resumed. I got the full range of comments over my apparent desertion. They all settled to chomp in my ears for the first ten minutes and then turned their attention to fully recruiting our new convert. .He appears to have fallen of the romance of the spreadsheet and will be appearing again on our trips soon. All that is left is to get the nickname sorted for the newbie to earn full membership. This tale to be continued no doubt very soon.They also reminded me that I only had 21 more games to endure to the end of the season.
Best Pub: Mileys 10.5
As Best Pub for the day it scored
Beer choice 5 (out of 5) 3
Beer Quality 3.5 (average score of beers chosen, out of 5)
Staff and service 4 (Out of 5)
Total 10.5 out of 15
It did not beat the leading Pub of the year so far which is the Sheffield Tap, Sheffield with 11.5 but was the best of the day.
Best Beer: Fullers ESB at the Mad Bishop and Bear
Next up: Chelsea Away Tuesday 23rd September. Picking up Ronnie and Bob at 1 at Rolls Royce. Parking up near Ealing and catching the tube with oyster card to the game. If you are reading this Ronnie you might want to remember your Oyster Card and 1 O’clock meeting time.