1991:The seed of an idea for beer and football tourism

Sunday 27th October 1991

This week’s missive starts with an extract from Fiona’s diary for this week. I have cut out the days before and concentrate just on her notes for a week away in the North East. This was an example of us doing our early version of the Football and real ale thing.

north-east-trip-fi-diarynorth-east-trip-fi-diary2

There was no getting away from it the half term holidays were great for two teachers. We could get off and work the second half of the week on school stuff.

Rovers had two games in quick succession.

The holiday was squeezed between a 1-1 draw at Sunderland on the Saturday and a 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest on the Wednesday and the morning after the Rickley Park annual dinner. My photo collection suggests we stayed at the same hotel as the Rovers near Sunderland and that we visited my old school and University mate John Butler and his wife Kay near Nottingham.

According to this record we visited these pubs:-

Durham – Three Tuns, Shakespeare, Woodman, Half Moon, Ye Olde Elm Tree, Dun Cow

Barnard Castle – Three Horseshoes

Kimberley – Nelson (and Railway)

Matlock – Sycamore Inn

My diary is for Sunday the 27th where Fiona notes a trip to Beamish then back to Seaton Carew via chips on the seafront in Hartlepool before a swim in the hotel pool and a Gin and Tonic. Late night brandy was the sleep inducer of choice.

Sunday 27th October 1991

Time for a bit of historical culture. I hate Durham as a place so I am glad to get out and about rather than do any more in the tourist riddled student town. Beamish was a good choice. The day was pretty miserable weather wise and we had to walk the considerable distances between the various exhibits in classic north eastern drizzle. The best bit of course was to use the token money to sample what was a decent beer in the mock up pub. The steam train was as steam trains are, lost on me as something to get excited about. More interesting was the attempts to recreate conditions in the streets and houses through people in character. Fiona thought it would be good for her kids to visit. I felt it would be a bit simplistic and time consuming for one of my field trip groups.

I wanted to check out Seaton Carew seafront. There isn’t much there but it could be a stop before and / or after a visit to the nuclear power station some time. A better choice is Hartlepool where we went for a stroll around and had some fish and chips on the sea wall. When we got back to the hotel Fiona wanted a swim and we had a quick G and T before we went out to get some food in a local pub. Durham continues to disappoint for pubs and we left after a couple and pints and a decision to go back to the hotel. The hotel brandy in the bar was a good end to the day.

I am not really sure why I disliked Durham so much. I don’t like crowds so perhaps like Bath I tend to avoid them in peak holiday times. The pubs will have needed to offer decent beer and I cannot recall one pub that I have ever recommended in Durham.

 beamish

Beamish steam engine

 fi-at-beamish

Fiona on a grey Beamish day

rovers-coach

Fiona spotted the Rovers Team bus in a hotel car park and couldn’t resist the photo opportunity. This was on the Wednesday afternoon before the Nottingham game;

 rs-at-chatsworth

In a similar vein I am photographed here at Chatsworth tea room on the way to Nottingham.

What I do remember about Sunderland was the drive back to Durham after the match. Rovers drawing at Roker Park was not the done thing. The drive over the Wear Bridge was quite scary as large groups of youths were roaming around staring in to cars and banging on selected roofs. We jumped a set of lights in our red Nissan rather than risk one such Rovers memorabilia search.

We were always doing the tourist bits with one eye on the visit being a pre-trip check out of facilities. I will have dragged Fiona kicking and screaming to Hartlepool. Not so the later trips to High Force, Barnard Castle or Chatsworth. If there was a garden to walk around then our national Trust card and Fiona’s thirst for all things green would mean a long walk through the Ha-Has of the U.K. I could have written a tourist guide to the historic house tea rooms of the country.

We often spotted the Rovers bus at hotels up north. On some occasions we shared the same hotel. I thought Ray Kendall must have similar criteria for choosing hotels for the chaps to stay. In this case they would have needed a decent lunch time meal and a place to stretch their legs after a coach journey. I reckon more importance would be laid at the availability of a swimming pool and bar for an overnight stay. The Forest game was a Rumbelows (League) Cup 3rd round game. You will note we didn’t have a beer near the ground. We were still at the stage of wanting to get to grounds pretty early.

 forest-away-prog

Nottingham programme team sheet

I was asked in the last week which towns were best for weekend football and beer trips. So here goes my top 25 town list.

I will use a rating table of:-

  • Tourism score /5 Things to do on the non-match days
  • Number of really good pubs up to max of 5
  • Atmosphere in town /5 busy pubs and streets score well
  • Football Ground experience /5 Good views, noise and comfortable.
Rank Town Tourism score Number of really good pubs Atmosphere  Ground Total
1 Newcastle 4 5 5 4 18
2 Liverpool 3 5 4 4 16
3 Nottingham 3 5 4 4 16
4 York 5 5 5 1 16
5 Manchester 2 5 4 4 15
6 Bristol 4 5 4 1 14
7 Cardiff 4 3 3 2 13
8 Bradford 1 4 5 3 13
9 Norwich 4 4 4 4 12
10 Southampton 2 3 3 3 11
11 Portsmouth 3 3 3 2 11
12 Peterborough 2 4 3 2 11
13 Brighton 2 3 3 2 old ground 10
14 Exeter 3 2 3 1 9
15 Swansea 4 2 2 1 old ground 9
16 Bath 4 2 2 1 Twerton 9
17 Hull 1 2 2 3 8
18 Durham (Sunderland) 3 0 1 3 7
19 Blackpool 3 1 2 1 7
20 Ipswich 1 2 1 3 7
21 Preston 1 0 1 4 6
22 Hartlepool 3 1 1 1 6
23 Grimsby 2 2 1 1 6
24 Southend 2 0 1 2 5
25 Carlisle 1 1 1 2 5

 On This day:

1970       Birmingham H W 3-0

1979       Southampton V Leeds 1-2

1981       Northampton A L 1-3

1984       4ths Old Albanian A L 18-3

2006       Wrexham A L 0-2

2009       Leeds H L 0-4

2012       Accrington A L 0-1

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