Walsall V Bristol Rovers 14.1.17
The theme for today was influenced by my anger at the hijacking of democracy by people who think winning one vote on one aspect of Government means they have the right to criticise anyone who might disagree with them as anti-democratic. I was going to exercise a version of democracy wherever possible and hope we had a great day out that was good for the majority rather than the few.
Wherever possible I would encourage debate and sharing of thoughts on where we might go and when we might move on. Instrumental in my subversion was giving Bob the leading role. With that power came the responsibility of holding the kitty. While Ronnie was away skiing in Vail / Breckenridge these mice were going to play. The mice in question were myself, Bob, Mumbles, Paul and Tangent Tim. Bizarrely Lord Powell was going by car courtesy of Peter de Meteor with DTHYN Pike.
Of course I had a plan. Of course, if all went wrong, we would go where I wanted to go. This was it.
|Birmingham 11.25 leave 11.42 platform 4b|
|Walsall 12.05||Walsall Station 12.05||Walsall Station12.05|
|12.12 Black Country Arms 12 .45||12.12 Black Country Arms 12.45||12.12 Black Country Arms 12.45|
|12.50 Lyndon House Hotel 1.20||12.57 Pretty Bricks 1.30||12.50 Lyndon House Hotel 1.20|
|1.25 Walsall Arms 1.55||1.40 Fountain 2.10||1.25 Victoria. 1.55|
|2.00 Victoria 2.25||2.05 Fountain 2.30|
|Taxi to ground 2,30||2.25 Walsall Station 2.31||Taxi to station|
|Bescot Stadium 2.17||2.31 Bescot 2.41||2.31 Bescot 2.41|
|Birmingham 5.29||THE USUAL||Or THE NEWER Bobs choice|
|5.35 Wellington 6.30||5.35 Victoria 6.00|
|6.40 Old Joint Stock 7.40||6.10 Post Office 6.45|
|7.45 Shakespeare 8.30||6.50 Pure Bar 7.30|
|7.35 Wellington 8.20|
So BTM it was. Via a replacement bus and train from Severn Beach we met up in coach D. We were wary of dire warnings of mayhem as both Rovers and City fans were likely to be on the same train. They were off to Nottingham Forest. Our speculation was that coming home at New Street might be more problematic. As it was there was no evidence of any Dark Shadows on Platform 3. Could it be true that there are no away fans for the “Big Club?” I did let out a grump at the group of six young girls who wanted to get tickets to Cardiff from the conductor. No problem, yet instead of paying on one card, each paid individually by credit card and the poor chap had to open doors in between revisits. 20 or so people got on and off the train in the time he started and finished the transaction. All this between three “station stops.” With this in mind there was no way were we going to separately buy the necessary extension to our travel buying tickets to Walsall. My credit card bore the brunt and the boys paid up in the first pub.
Black Country Arms (14)
This was a minor coup but it can be explained by Ronnie’s absence. This sister pub to the Wellington is always good and was the destination for most of the Gas getting off the train and wandering through the market stalls of the town centre. Paul put out the call to the car travellers who parked up at Bescot and caught the next train to join us. Unusually, therefore, we had the brief and always pleasurable company of Peter in a pub. No. 8, a Peerless Oatmeal Stout (7) was a breakfast beer for me. Martyn arrived just as we were intending to move on. Bob had correctly chosen the nearby next pub.
Lyndon House Hotel. (12)
I am always wary of Google maps and in this case a road on the map was in fact a gated back yard drive way to the pub. We settled to a good list of national brew beers, myself a mild day was starting as the Burton Bridge version was available and in good nick. (7) Martin arrived at this HOTEL and was immediately asked to remove his hat. Now this is something of BRFC legend and mystery because no one was quite sure what lay beneath his woolly beanie and glasses. This missive will not reveal his secret other than to say it is not where he keeps his mobile phone.
Beer: Church End Grave Diggers Mild (7)
I took a careless detour that cost us a minute of valuable drinking time. The Victoria was its quirky and comfortable usual self. The fire was burning, the company was good and a local gave us advice on the best pubs in town. High on the list was the Fountain. We now had to make a decision and this was to prove critical.
In true spirit of democratic decision making I offered the electorate three options. Note this referendum had three alternatives with careful explained consequences upon which the masses might make their decision. We didn’t all have to choose the same option and the result was not binding, merely advisory. There would be no recriminations should anyone end up making the wrong decision.
Option one. Have another pint in the Victoria and catch the train to Bescot. There was some debate as to the time of trains and Geoff suggested this option might catch the 2.15. I had my doubts about this option as trains regularly ran at 2.01 and 2.31 and the intermediate might not actually exist.
Option Two. High tail it to the Fountain and have a quick pint and catch the 2.31 train. Not my favourite as the speed of walking might leave me desperate for another pint before the game.
Option 3: Go to the Fountain and have a leisurely drink and order a 2.30 taxi to the ground.
The Result: Three wanted to exercise option one. Three wanted to do option three. I was sat on the fence and decided in the interests of value for money re the taxi ride, I would go on option three.
The Fountain (13)
Beer Holden’s Mild
This was an excellent choice. It is the backyard Brewhouse and had their beers alongside some regional and local favourites. We were able to sit in comfort and watch Gasheads and Saddlers leave for their train and chat about the team and curious mid-season retained list announcements. It was time to wind up Ronnie with some texts to wake him in the middle of his Colorado night. The pub has two comfortable rooms and is simply and traditionally furnished. It would definitely be a return next year sort of place.
The 2.30 taxi arrived on time. The in car Satnav said we would arrive at 2.41 and we duly arrived bang on time. The stand was full but we were able to locate Peter at the far end. We didn’t ask of the others, assuming they would be lost in the other seats. At 3.25 the option one crew arrived. The Midland train was posted to arrive at Bescot but no one apparently told the driver. The 2.15 train sailed past both Bescot and Wilton, and Aston, leaving Villa, Preston and Rovers fans with a frantic return journey to their respective grounds. They arrived late and very unhappy. I did not gloat, didn’t tell them to suck it up, and get on with it. I sympathised, giggled inwardly to myself and got on with watching the game. It was their choice to follow their own plan. I didn’t join them but in my version of democracy it wasn’t my job to say I told you so, I will defend the right of those on that train to complain vehemently, even protest, and seek recompense for the lack of advertised service.
Rovers lost again away from home. Yet again three glaring errors gifted them three goals. We were hoping for a 0-0 at half time and with a minute to go we were wondering just how we were not winning by a couple of goals. In the second half we had plenty of the play, created yet more chances and gave away two more goals. A deserved 0-0 or even a 1-0 away win became another depressing 3-1 defeat. I hate criticising individual players so I won’t go on about just how bad Rory Gaffney played.
Walsall 3 Bristol Rovers 1 Attendance 6,029 (1,991 Gas)
Joe Lumley 6 Lee Brown 5 Tom Lockyer 4 James Clarke 6 Chris Lines 6 Ollie Clarke 7 Stuart Sinclair 5 Billy Bodin 5 Matty Taylor 4 Rory Gaffney 3 Subs Luke James 5 Byron Moore 4 Ryan Broom 5
Entertainment Value 4
Man of the Match: Ollie Clarke
It was now over to Bob to decide the choices. We had far too much time on our hands and there was a temptation just to go to the Wellington as usual. Bob had other ideas. We turned left out of the station, even looked for a while at the Brew Dog and he suggested the pub by the theatre.
Beer: Purity Mad Goose (8)
This pub is always quite dimly lit and busy. It has an inner city local feel, a place for those who work rather than play in town. We surrounded some poor chap at a table who turned out to be a real ale loving Walsall fan who had watched the match. In his opinion he thought they were excellent but we resisted the temptation to get into a longer argument. He did give us some useful information regarding the goings on at the Craven Arms. The landlord and lady has moved on to York and the Black Country Ales owners haven’t recreated their enthusiasm for a wider real ale selection. With this information we decided against climbing the hill for the next pub.
The Post Office (11)
Beer: Hobsons Mild (8)
The pub was full and we had to stand and chat. Firstly we met and compared notes with Clive and his family. They had their corresponding Birmingham list and it was pretty similar to ours. Then I got into conversation with a group of Preston chaps who had been to watch their draw at the Villa. We talked in glowing terms of favourite pubs and the best of Preston pubs to visit. Life in the championship isn’t so different to ours in division one and yes, they too were late to their game in the afternoon
The Pure Bar (12)
Beer: Purity UBU (8)
This was the most expensive and modern of the pubs of the day but five pints for £19 was still good in comparison to Bristol prices. We found a table down stairs and continued our long conversations about the game and odd blokey things. It was becoming a very good day out. Mumbles couldn’t recall that we had visited this pub on our summer trip a few years ago. Tim had managed to stay with us and not get lost.
Beer: Oakham Citra (9)
The best beer was saved for last. There were 18 beers on the list and the pub was as usual full. We were lucky that the Preston chaps were at a table and as they were about to leave we managed to fill their vacuum. We looked around and played a bit of spot the Shithead. Surely their fans will be changing at New Street and seeking a quick beer before joining us on the train home. The pub had plenty of the regular Rovers CAMRA crew. Should push come to shove we could definitely win an impromptu beer race.
Pub of the Day: The Fountain
Beer of the Day: Oakham Citra in the Wellington
The Journey home
The tweets were coming in from those not on the train commenting at just how mad it would now be at New Street. We settled to our seats and looked around the empty carriage. No City fans, not many Gasheads. A couple of Liverpool fans were welcome to take our reserved seats as the carriage was virtually empty. There was no Ronnie to sing us to sleep so I slept with the effort of reading the programme and catching up with news on the ever depressing Gas fan forums. I left the boys to negotiate Temple Meads and left to the lift from the ever welcome Ford of Rose.
Rochdale Away 4.2.17