Or alternatively: Early resolutions and promises to be kept
Transport to game.
Rose was still on South African time so what we thought might be a respectable 7 a.m. rise for an 8.30 train left me listening to the test match on the radio, wide awake, at 5 in the morning. We met at the station around 8 for the 8.30 connection via Birmingham. It ran to time so at 11.20 operation “avoid the police misdirection” was in full operation. You would think we were serious hooligans if the looks of the watching constabulary were to be believed. We reconvened as a group as loosely arranged, in our first pub .
The register, if taken, would show me, Coventry Bob, Rocket Ronnie, Mumbles, KBD, South of the river John, Marcus, Lord Powell, Don’t tell him your name Pike and Phil the Lion. We were to be soon joined by Sheffield Richard, Turbo, Leeds Paul and even later Craig. Peter was there via an earlier train.
Salopian Bar 8
Beer: Oakham Shot in the Dark 5
From Stedders Guides
This is a pub which has had several changes of name in its history. It was first recorded in 1861 as the Globe, then in 1916 it became the Smithfield. In 1959 it was changed to the Proud Salopian. This was to commemorate the achievement of Thomas Southam in becoming mayor of Shrewsbury on four separate occasions. The latest name change reflects its current image. It’s a single-roomed pub that is popular with all age groups and has a modern, albeit sometimes noisy, atmosphere. Consider it a Sports bar with 5 screens always on, showing football/rugby/racing. The dedicated management continually strives to increase the beer, cider and Perry range to satisfy public demand. Regular cider and Perry is provided by Weston’s and Thatcher’s, and an ever increasing range of Belgian and American bottled beer is also available. The local Branch of CAMRA’s Pub of the Year for 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 and Shrewsbury Town for 2013 and 2014. Also Branch Cider Pub of the Year in 2016. Supports the CAMRA Discount Scheme for CAMRA members, and has a Real Ale Loyalty Card. Holds numerous beer and cider festivals during the year. Oh yes, and e-cigs are allowed!
The pub was busy. Rovers fans were gathering from far and wide and we were lucky to get a place to sit for a while. This pub has been the local pub of the year and was new to many of us. To find it some had to call advice central, i.e. Ronnie who gave directions using the nearby hotel as a landmark. The more obvious river landmark seemed a bit difficult for others to locate. Obviously the idea of searching for a river, i.e. to head downhill, hadn’t met some of our crew. The pub gained high marks in our informal rating system but as others arrived we moved on. One of those arriving was Turbo’ who, as he was the relatively local was charged with sorting out taxis for the day .
Note re beer tasting.
I am so used to staff knowing something about their beers that I made a bit of an error here. Yes I know it is rare but this is how it was. The beer on offer is accurately reported above so I asked whether the reference to having a shot might refer to whisky being part of the Oakham recipe. I took the bar man at his word when he said no. I should have asked to sample it myself because this beer did indeed have a whisky note that made a decent stout one to remember but not repeat.
The next choice was just along the road, i.e. past the police who were, I guess, hanging about on street corners looking for feckless youths smoking cigarettes or vagrants looking for a home for the day. We gave them a cheery smile and wished them a good day and entered this excellent overly gastronomic pub by the river.
Beer: Salopian Oracle 6
Back in the day someone described it thus:-
Expanding the guide to five pubs gives me the opportunity to overcome the disappointment of not writing about the Armoury last year. I really like Brunning and Price pubs, and this one is a classic. It has a riverside location, is designed in the massive library style and has that essential morphing element that allows their pubs to suit a wide range of clientele. By this I mean that the balance between drinking and eating is constantly changing. So too is the move between regular suppers ticking away merrily as they sample rare ales, to seriously sophisticated clubbers using the Armoury as the quality option for their pre – partying beer. The food is very good, the ale even better, but it’s the overall atmosphere that grabs the casual visitor. There is no intrusive music just an echoing rumble of good conversation punctured by group laughter.
As a warehouse conversion this is an excellent example of what is possible. In a hundred years’ time it will no doubt be a classic of our generation and that is no bad thing if real ale is also remembered as something our generation helped to preserve.
Note to Fishermen:
Lord Powell arrived a minute or so later with a tale of hundreds of fishes being caught by some chap on the riverbank outside the pub. Yes, o.k. Martin we believe you. One every thirty seconds for the last five minutes explains why you were late. When we left we went to see the sight for ourselves and true to his word the angler was reeling them in (small, apparently Dace) by the bucket load. I timed 6 in two minutes, and he had been here for at least an hour. He must have a hole in his keep net and they are team fish hired for the day to entertain the passing public.
Note of kindness
For this comment I will now address Turbo as Paul. It was his birthday and in an act of real kindness to celebrate the fact Phil the Lion had baked him a fruit cake to mark the occasion. So it was that the gastro credentials of the pub were tested and we tucked in to an excellent fruity and moist birthday cake. It was proper good of Phil to do this, top man.
Turbo had ordered taxis for 15 from the Coach and Horses at 10 to 2. All we had to do was find the pub and be there. It was herding cats time. Messages were given and I led the way uphill around a few corners and in to the
Admiral Benbow 7
Beer: Ludlow Gold 6
Before you ask the Admiral Benbow and the Coach and Horses are next to each other in the same street.
From that tired old guide I found that:-
The Admiral is the most local of my Shrewsbury selection. This is a two – bar “traditional” pub specialising in local brews finding the smaller brewers and giving them a great outlet in town., It has an over 25’s policy that sets it apart and helps to create an atmosphere all of its own, described as relaxed yet bubbly. If on a crawl I would start and finish here because the range and quality stands out. On my visit the afternoon office party crowd were ending an all – afternoon session. It is a good location for this as they were able to find a back area of the pub totally to their self, leaving the regulars and serious ale heads to do the usual supping and chatting in the cosy front bar. It was a great place for both groups to treat the pub as their own.
We found a table to gather around, met fellow Gasheads doing their alternative tour of the town. We continued our chat as others arrived. We did move on although on another day we might well have stayed longer.
Coach and Horses 8
Salopian Gold 8
He went on:-
Set in a quiet street off the main shopping area, the Coach & Horses provides a peaceful haven. In summer the frontage is ablaze with its magnificent floral displays. Victorian in style, the pub has a wood-panelled bar, a small side snug area and a large restaurant/lounge. A classic pub, unsurprisingly perhaps it has been a constant presence in the GBG for over 20 years now.
It was standing room only by now. The locals were helpful in pointing out the need to get taxis sorted early. One group of friends in an appropriate panic left to get the so called park and ride connection to the ground. We smugly announced we were sorted by Turbo’s taxis.
Four cabs arrived on time and by 2 we had the option of a final beer in the Brooklands hotel or, as I chose, the final ten minute walk to the ground. In classic modern football habit Shrewsbury has joined the list of out of town stadia that leave the away fans with limited options to get to the ground.
Not at all unhappy, me
This is where the day goes downhill. Readers of this who were not there might have thought I was in quite a good mood before the game. This is an example of creative thinking by omission. I have not mentioned my mini tantrum at the station when KDB made one sarcastic reference too many when we were trying to discuss pub visits and plans. I haven’t discussed my grump when the party following me decided that it might be good to walk a different way to the pub. I am trying to be kinder in what I write but in all honesty the game is perhaps a part of this account where I might bury, Tory Government style, the bad news.
Shrewsbury Town 2 Bristol Rovers 0 Attendance 6,139 (1500 Gas)
Puddy 2, J Clarke 4, Lockyer 5, Hartley 5, Brown 6, Boetang 4, Colkett 4, Sinclair 4, O Clarke 6, Gaffney 4, Taylor 4. Subs Lines 6, Harrison 6, Bodin 4
You see by these marking my attempt to be kind. This was probably the worst performance by a Rovers team in the last three years. It started really brightly and the noise of 1500 Gasheads was truly impressive. It ended with the pocket of Shrewsbury fans taking the mick and my silent applause being drowned by the pseudo shithead style booing from those fans who have very short attention spans and even shorter memories.
In an attempt to find something positive I could say that it could easily have been a 0-0 draw if our keeper hadn’t saved a corner by delivering the ball, question of sport style, to the feet of the unchallenging and happy Salopian forward. Add in a penalty and you would think Shrewsbury were magnificent in victory. They were not, The Rovers were truly dreadful in almost every aspect. You might think that some were likely to be leaving in January and they know that as a fact. So it is perhaps goodbye to Matty Taylor, Hirem Boetang and Charlie Colkett. It might explain the effort put in by Ellis Harrison, his final attempt to get the attention of a possible new club perhaps? It was like a return to the bad old days before relegation to the conference where some players appeared to be going through the motions of caring.
Entertainment Value 1
Man of the Match: Harrison for at least looking like he was keen to change things.
It was a bleak ten minute walk to the pub where we had arranged to sort out our way back to town. The news was that taxi waiting time was anything up to two hours. The constabulary were anything but helpful having zero local knowledge. They appeared to be on a day trip from their usual beat in Aberystwyth. The gang were gathered, rather corralled, in the separate function room as if waiting for the doctor to hold an emergency surgery. There was only one answer. Find the bus that apparently ran every ten minutes to town. By 5.30 we were emptied on to the streets of the town centre and guess what the group eyes fell upon me to find a pub. I wasn’t hanging around and we went via square and alley to the pub of my choice.
Three Fishes 7
Beer: Phoenix Arizona 7
Will the comments ever end I hear you ask?
This award – winning pub is in an historic street near to the High Street where the landlord has created a pub for a wide range of drinkers. The Three Fishes is an instant recommendation whenever I talk to fans about pubs in this town. It is a small, one – bar pub, beautifully kept real ales and with a long established no – smoking policy. The beams and hanging hops add to the bucolic feel. The choice of guest ales offers some great surprises and is evidently popular with the regulars. During the day it is quite a tourist and office workers haunt; in the evening the locals take over. The regulars were very keen to give me advice on what makes a good pub and a good pint. If a beer isn’t quite to your liking, don’t panic, another one will be on soon, talk to David and you might even get to choose. Every time I go there I find something better to tell my friends, usually related to the dry humour that pervades in every conversation in the pub.
In times now long gone some landlords stood out. Dave was still there running the show and I was able to get a celebratory shake of the good man’s hands before we settled to a table at the back of the room. One thing stands about about the locals. They do like to talk about the game in terms that suggest away fans are a friendly interruption to their daily routine.
Pub of the Day: Coach and Horses
Beer of the Day: Salopian Gold in the Coach and Horses
It was a ten minute walk back to the station. On the way back the team sort of subdivided when an option was to change at either Wolverhampton for the Great Western or Birmingham for the Wellington. I, as usual, gave up on the final pint and opted for the Marks and Spencer sandwich and fruit juice.
I have to exercise my resolution number one below in making no rude or negative comment regarding the trip home. All I will say is that I departed happy to be getting off at Parkway and sitting as far away as possible from the rest of the gang.
My end of year resolutions:-
- To not make negative comments that reflect my frustrations with my friends.
- To make my own way to games next season. No more Powell tours for me. I have trips booked up to the end of season and will of course honour my commitment to the team and friends.
- To spend more time on weekend away trips that coincide with football.
- To not moan
- To not fret at others who ask my help
- To offer help willingly and with a smile.
Yeh, like that will last.
Charlton Away Monday 2nd January.
The Southern Rail situation will test my resolve at the earliest opportunity.