Or: A good day out in Northampton? Is it possible?
8.30 Train from B.T.M. The team this time was the usual suspects of the Boy Racer, Coventry Bob and myself plus The Lord Powell, Mumbles, Phil the Lion and Peter de Meteor. As was the case of last year we had multiple single tickets via Cheltenham, Birmingham, and Coventry, then on to Northampton for an 11.20 arrival. We stopped the banter for a while in Coventry for Bob to recall days of past with a sideways glance at the signs for the town. Ghost town rang out yet again and plans were made for an easier trudge through town as heavy rain was forecast in the beer drinking hours.
No more fighting on the dance floor.
By now I was contacting my old pals from MK days as to whether they might join us for a beer. These loyal Cobblers are now of the parenting age so priorities are rightly given to indoctrinating their children with the claret kit. These fans had no change of loyalties when Wimbledon came to town. There is a bit of a revolution going on at Sixways and children seem to be getting a central position in shifting the image of the club off the field. I have to say that is very noticeable that youth is being given its appropriate central place in the afternoon’s entertainment. Gareth (Soon to be a linesman at an Eastleigh match) was off refereeing at a decent level and obviously not here. And Craig? Well he just didn’t reply.
Pre match Pubs
It was a 20 minute stroll to the pub. En route we took in Phil the Lion’s potted history trail. He likes a good castle and Guild Hall so was lucky enough to find the remnants of one and an example of the other among the streets of the town centre.
Mail Coach (3)
Is this a Wetherspoons? Is this a Wetherspoons? ………
It was chosen because it opens at 10 and is new to the CAMRA guide. Lord Powell could get a token tick and we would have a choice from 6 beers. The first part was correct but sadly of the second, we had not a hope. Five pumps had clips turned around. One beer, a Slaters Haka (6), at 5.5% was on offer but not pulling through. Worryingly the barman said the beer should have been pulled last night and that the gas needed changing! One hopes the gas was for assisting the pumps rather than it being pretend real ale. The beer was fine, the pub quiet but looking good. Our kitty was gathered and used to set us all on the way. As we chatted, calls came through including one from Wrexham Paul to ask where we were. In Northampton we helpfully replied. Which pub? The mail Coach. Where’s that? In Northampton. Conversation was not working well here but Paul got the drift and arrived just as we were leaving.
It was raining heavily but we had to get going. Paul had little choice to get even wetter
The King Billy Rock Bar (11)
The beer here is always very good. It was celebrating Real Ale week and 6 beers were on offer. The Gog of Two Head Quo Premium ale (6) attracted my attention. Phil the Lion was more enamoured with the motor bike parked outside. He turned into a rocker for twenty minutes or so and was lost in conversation with a fellow bald headed biker. The Landlord offered to turn the music down. A Heavy Metal version of Tainted Love was playing at Concert levels. “No way” came the reply. Keep it loud, Ronnie is still going on about twin carbs and double exhausts on his car. In a bikers bar? There was football on the T.V. The beer was good. This pub had done well again.
The Albion Bar. (Phipps Brewery Bar) (11)
We had promised our self some extra time here after it had made such a good impression last year. We had plenty of room to settle around a couple of tables. A full range of NBC beers were on offer but disappointingly nothing dark. My two for the day were NBC IPA (7) and a Gold Star (6) The Northamptonshire Skittles table was spotted and cheeses were soon carelessly tossed somewhere near the pins. Mumbles had some problems finding the table, Ronnie of course claimed a nine while no one was watching.
Phil notes Ronnie’s 9?
We had seven folk for a taxi and the staff helpfully gave me a number that promised a minibus for 2 o’clock. I have just re-read last year’s notes. I should have known better, especially as there was a taxi office virtually opposite the pub. The booked taxi went to the wrong brewery. The company promised he would phone me back because I had apparently already used the cab booked as arranged. By 2.25 we had sorted out an alternative cab and a none too polite conversation was had with the original company office. Our £3 each was well spent but the offer to pick us up after the game was treated with as much contempt that memory can best dredge up.
Ronnie’s car abandoned in a Northampton back street?
Northampton Town 2 Bristol Rovers 3 Attendance: 6,642 (997 Gasheads)
I was expecting a very tough game. The Teyn, as my friends like to call themselves, were on a very long home undefeated streak. Not now they aren’t. I have to try and stay impartial when writing this. Don’t I? Honestly? I can gloat? Really? O.k. then.
Sid’s picture of us at 10 to 3. Cheers Sid. Where were the missing 3?
We stuffed them from start to finish and deservedly won. It was never in doubt from the first minute to the last and they were lucky to get away with our only scoring three. We gifted them two goals along the way. We always go one down nowadays, it is written in stone that by half time we will not be ahead. Tom Lockyer of all people watched a ball sail over his head when normally he would adjust and get a decisive head on a long punt up field. Lines set up their second with a superb square ball to them, in space and with space to run forward and set up Revell for a second. The referee somehow missed three stonewall penalties for hand ball (2) and fouls) (1). Northampton played well first half but in the second reverted to the old days of falling over as if felled by mysterious invisible knee capping machines. The referee eventually had enough of his own ineptitude and substituted himself. The new boy, a mini Gareth lookalike (No such thing as a mini Viccars, I know) then went Rovers mad. He gave us free kicks for fun. Matty Taylor fell over with the slightest of contact and they had a player sent off. Their keeper made three world class saves at the end to keep the score down and in the six minutes of injury time Charlie popped one between the keeper’s legs for a long loved and party inducing winner.
Quick reread of what I have just written.
Yep, that’s about right. Could have been 6-1 one but 3-2 will do.
O.K. there was a period in the first half when Northampton were the better team but they were at home and one would expect that at some stage. The sending off was a tad harsh but by then the tide was set for a late winner and unlike last season there was no stopping it. Good referee, good referee, good referee, good referee, good referee we chuckled at the end. The bus stop queue was very muted this year. There was no chatting with this plucky, not so little, Gashead unlike last season.
Rovers Rating /10
Roos 7, Roberts 6, Lockyer 5, Hartley 7, Brown 6, Sinclair 6, O. Clarke 7, Lines 7, Colkett 7, Harrison 7, Gaffney 8. Subs Bodin 6, Taylor 7, Moore 7
Man of the Match: Gaffney
The bus got me to town well ahead of the others who did the 40 minute walk.
The Old Black Lion (6)
I’ll wait for you Ron.
I had a pint of St Austell Tribute (5), the only option available. The pub has had yet another change of style. It has found a lounge settee and large television life. On one T.V. was the practice rounds of the latest Motor racing Bore fest. The other screen showed the next sky match on muted sound. We gathered to do a very brief recap of the goals and glories and resolved to catch the earliest opportunity to get to Birmingham for a pint or two between connecting trains.
Peaceful in the most. While the others went to sample the beers of the Shakespeare and Wellington I sat in the concourse of the Grand Central, had some food and answered a customer survey about the station. As you well know I am not short of an opinion or two so it was most pleasurable to let him know of my like of the station architecture and design but contempt and confusion over the need for two separate concourse and delays in changing trains when confronted by poor signage between platform concourses that appear totally unnecessary.
The chaps returned from their pints in the middle of a little boys tiff. They had a beer ordering spat and were not playing nicely. I am long past conflict resolution techniques for naughty boys and left them to sort it out for themselves. The upshot was we had a very quiet trip home.
Best Beer: NBC IPA in the Albion Bar (7)
Best Pub: Albion Bar
Beer choice 4 (out of 5) 4
Beer Quality 3 (average score of beers chosen, out of 5) 4
Staff and service 5 (Out of 5) 3
Total 11 out of 15
Next up: Yeovil Home Tuesday 4th October