Or alternatively: Back to the good old days.
Transport to game.
My Breakfast view of the earlier train leaving
The 7.54 from Severn Beach was as busy as ever. For my £2 single I had the company of Little Choke, a fellow Gashead and long-time friend from school days. As usual the chat was of family and friends and catching up on who had recently died. On a more positive note were tales of Big Choke (elder brother) and Oakhill family gatherings. Those Pilningites will know that a gathering of the clan is quite an event. The message was that the boys were meeting at Wetherspons, a nasty little ruse that determined I would breakfast alone on platform 3. Imagine my surprise as then I went to go into the station cafe for some warmth only to find them chomping away at their very much non-Wetherspoons full Englishes. Apparently the Knights Templar had the City fan, off to Reading, in residence and they wisely left their boy to his 8 o’clock ciders. The 9.30 train sped us onwards to a 12 o’clock arrival in the town of the crooked “spiral”. The team for the trip was myself, Lord Powell, Mumbles, Rocket Ronnie, Coventry Bob, Tangent Tim and a rare appearance of Keith Bloody Davies. Keith entertained us with his own quiz questions. For example, name in order, the last ten US Presidents? Come back soon Geoff, it’s only a heart attack you know. We miss you already. Peter de Meteor had left somewhat earlier and others had surprisingly made a weekend of it with trips up north.
What is not to like here?
As declared in last week’s account I was having no one lead me the way so I followed the gang up the hill and swerved left to the first pub. We lost half the group of train travellers in this neat side step but the usual crowd were up to my expansive dummy. This is an excellent starting pub and the wide range of Raw beers makes for a splendid choice. Disappointingly three opted for the same beer as me but I didn’t really care. It was good, very good and all was right with the world as we gathered around a couple of tables and talked nonsense. KBD tucked into some food, he is well unversed in the normal routines, and The Real Lord Powell got down to asking about availability for away cricket matches in July. My only decision was to decide on the next pub.
Beer: Raw Chadrock Unights Stout 7
A rare meeting of minds near the women’s toilets.
We walked around the church with the crooked spire and into the side door of the Rutland. It was heaving with Gasheads. The number included the Northern Tourists of Malton Clive, Sheffield Rich, Turbo and, on his weekend away, Phil the Lion. It was standing room only and inevitably the topic got round to when Roger Right Hand and Paul Davis would join us. Cue a chorus of Paul Davis mimicry and a pile of “Stedders” in a wide Leeds brogue. Turbo had caught the Lord Powell bug and was sorting out minibuses to the ground for our trip to Shrewsbury in a few light years from now. It was soon time to move on. I was flexible, I declared and was open to deviation from my original plan. Catch a taxi at 1? Surely not? Nah, off to the micro pub it was then. FIVE MINUTE WARNING!
Beer: Pica Porter 7
Chesterfield Ale House
Bristolian CAMRA gas
This Pied Piper led them through a shopping centre and out to the West end of the town centre. Ronnie spotted the door first and declared himself as pub spotter in chief. We settled to take up the rest of the lower half of the pub. We had been beaten to the window seats by the Bristolian CAMRA Gas. Andy Gray and his clan were in best beer ticking form, Ronnie was frantic to check if he could tick this pub off in his GBBG 2017 book. I settled to the company of two elderly folk from Mansfield who were out Christmas Shopping. Asked when they would actually do some shopping they were somewhat unclear. They had apparently done the same a week before in Nottingham. Name the shops visited I asked? Vat and Fiddle, Gatehouse, Old Trip to Jerusalem came the reply. We all agreed, that’s our kind of shopping .
This is an excellent example of a micro pub and at prices we all saw as perfect. A five pint round for under £12. The Lord caught up with us in time to catch the agreed taxi time of 2.
Beer: Brightside Porter 7
A £6 taxi to:-
Now that’s a beer board.
The second, more original Micro pub of the day was my pub of choice near the ground. It may have a bouncer on the door but he lacked conviction as a deterrent, sporting a large black eye and a story of “Chesterfield being the fifth most violent town in the country, you know.” One would suggest he really did get his periorbital haematoma from walking in to a door. It certainly wouldn’t have been fending of the ravaging Spirites in this friendliest of back street bars.
The final arrivees were Paul Davis and Tim from Leeds. No Roger? Cue a chorus of “Where’s Stedders?” “I’m stood here you muppets.” There was only time for a quick catch up before the game and a resolution to meet here after it. The only room was available in the small entrance porch to the pub. We talked to the company of coats, hats, umbrellas, bags and plastic glasses.
Beer: Hamelsworse Boss Stout 8
Just under a thousand Gasheads Roger, before you ask..
Yes, we are sitting apart from the others. For the third straight game I climbed the steps with the groups split into two very separate camps. On this occasion I decided to endure the moaning of Ron (plus Mumbles and Bob) rather than KBD (and the others).
Chesterfield 3 Bristol Rovers 2 Attendance 6330 (934 Gas)
I am writing this on Monday lunchtime. I’ve had plenty of time to think about it. I really am flummoxed as to how we didn’t win this game. Not just get a point, but win and win comfortably. To lose we had to make glaring errors or be subject to match fixing. Surely not? British football? Must be a mistake then? I am getting a bit of a reputation for stating how poor Rory Gaffney is but he certainly is a liability in our defence. Not for the first time in recent weeks he lost the attacking centre back and in his dithering they scored. For the record he won 5 out of 23 headers, one of which set up a goal. Now there is an area of his game for Rovers to work on in training. I must add that Ellis did little better against a monolithic centre back. Add in someone losing a midfield runner yet again and that partly explains how a 2-1 win becomes a 3-2 defeat. Then there is the referee. It has been a long time since the question of a referee’s performance has entered this column. He should be made to sit down in front of a panel of his peers, watch a video of the match, and explain his decision making. It was breathtakingly bad, to the point of being oh so not funny. The video would help him because he was usually so far from the action he had to blow his whistle, run a considerable distance, pause for breath, think again and then make a decision. Note to football teams. Play the game more slowly, the ref can’t keep up. While he does, kick the full back as much as you like because that action is far too difficult for his decision making skills to manage.
Kelle Roos 6, Daniel Leadbitter 6 , Peter Hartley 5, Tom Lockyer 6, Lee Brown 5 , Chris Lines 5 , Stuart Sinclair 5, Ollie Clarke 8, Jermaine Easter 6 , Rory Gaffney 4, Matty Taylor 5. Subs Billy Bodin 6, Cristian Montano 5, Ellis Harrison 5
Entertainment Value 3
Man of the Match: Ollie Clarke. Yes I know you think I am mad but he was the best Rovers player by a country mile.
Filling up. The Derby Tup
Did you register the above arrangement? Bob did and arrived late at the Derby Tup. He went off on his own again, just like at Millwall, and ended up in the Beer Parlour wondering where everyone was. A classic schoolboy error from the Coventrian.
We were always going to the Derby Tup. Weren’t we? You can’t come to Chesterfield without a visit here. We had a table to ourselves. Cheese, the loveable karaoke singing Gashead, found us and decided to become a member of our club for an hour or so. This involved banging out a tune on the untuned pub piano. Our own team Stevie Wonder, Paul, then showed him a note or two by tinkling out Goodnight Irene. It was too raw to really chat about the game but we all agreed that Chesterfield were incredibly poor and yet we somehow lost. The beer was as good as always but time was moving on and we had a few more places to revisit.
Beer: Castle Rock Harvest Pale 7
RANT ALERT! Stedders on the subject of rubbish beer. It looked good. It tasted awful. It had a metallic, slightly sickly sweetness that usually indicated a beer past its best. As I say it looked good but I took it back with the provisional question of “Is this how it is supposed to taste?” The staff behind the bar assured me it was and in this case I always accept their word. N.B. Note to the Old Mill Brewery. You have a really duff Porter on sale. It would stand up well in comparison to many a sour beer in a trendy keg bar. By now you will know what I think on that sort of hoodwinking guff. The pub was friendly enough, the Rugby above my head was attracting mild attention. As always this place was offering good hospitality. Nevertheless, a taxi was on its way.
Beer: Old Mill Porter 1
It was intended as a photo of the beer board but Andy decided his mug would please you better.
Normality was re-found in a good selection of beers. Having paid the taxi I shimmied across the road to top up my wallet. In the time taken to do so Ronnie had ordered a Damson Porter. Nice thought Ron and thank you.
This pub is always dimly lit in the evening. It is always very busy as well. Again we only had standing space at the bar. The Northern crew had abandoned us to get their trains home. Fortunately they had taken the Cheese with them to the station and an earlier Bristol bound trip. So now we were able to start dissecting the game. The conclusion? Things are just not happening at the moment and someone is going to get a tonking sometime soon. Don’t panic is the general thought. To clean the now damsoned palate I ventured for a Gin and Tonic round, the others joined in to a final short spiritual excess before our walk to the station and train home.
Beer: Mystery brewer Damson Porter 6
The Journey home
Turbo at the Station
Luke canvassing for a job as a Rolls Royce Engineer. “You draw it Dad, I’ll make it.”
I don’t often talk about train journeys home. On the platform we were joined by Turbo, Luke and Luke’s as yet un-named mate. What followed was a superb example of how to create space in a crowed train. We started by cramming into a few seats allocated to our ticket reservations. Then the so called singing started. Not the normal Football stuff but that proffered by Luke’s play list. Ronnie and the chaps were going through West Life and Oasis with a bit of Pulp, back catalogues. One by one the residents of nearby seats got up to go to imaginary restaurant cars, never to return. Even our chaps slipped off to find distant vacant seats. I wasn’t going to move. Luke was; at one time, into the luggage rack above our head. Eventually they got around to Ronnie’s option of seeing a mouse on a stair but his choir had already gone to Amsterdam. By the time we arrived at Parkway even the Boy Racer had decided to get some zeds and peace was restored. Apparently our sometime pal Doughnut Boy is appearing on Come Dine With Me. This tickled old Ronnie and the young Luke. Chicken and chips, followed by cheesy chips and a Tesco Doughnut for Dessert? Only time, and a lot of imagination, will tell.
Pub of the Day: Chesterfield Tap 12
Beer of the Day: Hamelsworse Boss Stout 8 in the Beer Parlour
This writing is somewhat later than usual because on Sunday Rose and I decided to take up an invitation to watch the London Gay Men’s Choir at the Southbank Centre. A four hour drive to London, a two hour jaunt home. The concert was very entertaining. Our fun was spoiled at times by some selfish chatter from some folk sat in front of us. Why go and support your friends and then talk all over their hard rehearsed performance? If only we could have taken Ronnie as well. this was singing to listen to.
Train, then Three Fishes for 12. A bit of wandering in the town centre, ending up at the Armoury for a taxi (Turbo Minibus?) to the ground.