Rochdale V Bristol Rovers 5.2.17

I had a plan, this was it.

Train from BTM 8.00
Arrive Manchester Piccadilly 10.59
Line G Victoria BURY LINE 11.16
Northern Line towards Leeds 11.26
Rochdale  11.47
Flying Horse 12
Baum 1
Leave for ground 2
468 Bus to station 5.07 to interchange 5.22
Train from Rochdale 5.42
Arrive Victoria 6.05
Line 6 Etihad 6.08
Piccadilly 6.19
Piccadilly Tap 6.25
Manchester Piccadilly 19.07
Bristol Parkway 21.59
BTM 22.12  

The thing you will notice is that the journey is quite restrictive on drinking time and prone to public transport malfunctions. I would normally have included the Cemetery but it had to be dropped due to dodgy bus services and fully booked taxis.


The Lord has his spreadsheet out before Cheltenham

It was a very different grouping for the journey. No Ronnie, Bob or Andy. The loud one was still flying down slopes in Colorado. Bob and Andy were on an organised Rovers fans trip to Blackpool for the weekend. Blackpool in February before a game at Rochdale? With fancy dress requirements? Me? Want to go? Of course I didn’t. Neither did my companions for the day. Peter de Meteor, Lord Powell and the Beardless Hipster Marcus. We all had different priories. Peter would be carefully studying the impact, post floods, of regeneration on the café culture of the Pioneer town. Marcus was heading off ground hopping to Hyde, resplendent in Scarborough Athletic football Tee shirt.. Martin was in decision making avoidance mode and would be in hopeful ticking mode.

Pre-Match pubs

Flying Horse (11)


Inside the Flying Horse

Peter left for town and we diverted via the parish church yard to this pub. It was once described thus:-

This is a town centre pub that has a fantastic location, interesting design and a good choice of guest ales. It also offers something different in housing a night club and accommodation. The image you now have in your mind will possibly be very different to reality because it is a very relaxing, slightly off the beaten track, locals and regulars pub.

It is located directly opposite the Town Hall beneath the bank that has the Parish Church as a dramatic back drop to marvel at when walking in to the pub. The design is somewhat back to front. It has one large bar and a series of beautifully decorated lounges off the main bar. The bar is carpeted yet the lounges have parquet floors and proper fires. The effect is that people readily move off in groups to their favourite drinking spaces quite discrete from each other, and a series of mini pub conversations get going totally separate to each other. For footie fans who want a lively place to stay then this could well fit the bill.

True to my description there appeared to be a birthday celebration gathering around Martin and myself as we settled to our first pint. No problem, we just moved to a different area and set up club Gashead for anticipated companions arriving. The pub had 8 hand pulls, one or two which were ciders. I was drawn to the Phoenix Arizona. (7) The messages were pinging between twitterers and Andy. Roger Right hand was with Malton Clive and they had decided to arrive via the Cask and Feathers. My inside knowledge told me it wasn’t the pub of the past and they reported on arrival; that their beer choice was now very uninspiring. At five to one we rose to leave. At 4 minutes to one the others arrived and our plan went into alternative mode. Andy, Bob and the Silver Fox swelled our numbers to seven. My second beer was an excellent Pictish Porter (7) the universal feeling was that the pub was pretty good and worthy a revisit. I had one serious gripe. The Pub was well staffed and worked well once they got to actually taking an order. They were, however, fully deflected by a phone that kept on ringing and taking their time to answer. At one time it was a full five minutes while 10 or so potential drinkers watched staff doing anything other than serve beer. It was like job avoidance was in full operation. To complete this impression within the next half hour our table was cleared of glasses twice. They had gone from totally busy to being over staffed.


Malton Clive

The walk to the Baum should be easy. My advice had always been to follow the signs to the Pioneer Museum. Alternatively follow you nose through the shopping centre. If in doubt look at the town maps in the squares that show the location of the Baum.

Rochdale was flooded last year and the town has taken an opportunity to do some refurbishment and redevelopment. I like the fact that the river is now open to see as it flows under the main street. I also like the way they appear to have opened up the main shopping streets for pedestrians to wander. I do not like the way they appear to have removed all signposts. They have also closed off some entrances and exits to the shopping centre. Crucially the obvious walkway to the Baum is now through a multi-storey car park. We got there, but I was developing a grump.

Baum (11)


Blackpool excapees

We joined the Andy Gray gang and swelled our own numbers with Craig and his mate being in situ at the table we gathered around. To get out of my grumpiness I decided on a random act of kindness to those less fortunate that myself. I offered to book the taxi.  Taxi for nine then at 2.15 was agreed. In total contrast to the service in the last pub the staff here are really on the ball. Can I book that for you said the girl behind the bar? Why of course said I. That will be a five and a four at 2.15 and we will make sure the bald one gets his meal in good time so he can come with you. She didn’t actually say that but you could see the thought bubble coming out of her head when Roger had to take his meal to a separate table, He thought he might eat in peace. No such luck. Our table was reserved for others at 2 and we just had to join him in his solitary sausage and mash. My how he enjoyed our envious vigilance of those mushy peas.

The Baum stood up to the praise of my previous description.

The concept of historical value in a traditional real ale pub is seriously challenged when you talk to the locals of this impressive pub. Simon is one of the younger members of the real ale landlord fraternity. Youth is also a factor when you hear that the pub is just 25 years old. The building is centuries old and has bags of tourist value. This former ironmongers has gone through its wine bar stage to become the best example of how the thirty – somethings can lead real ale interest for years to come by offering a great place to eat and drink without going to the open plan aircraft hangar design so often found in town centres.

The food was excellent, and I don’t say that very often. The pub is panelled throughout and has masses of the metal advertising plates so common in the wine bar scene of the eighties. To the rear is a great courtyard with a petanque pit and interestingly a photo that tells the story of charitable connections with Kenya. Don’t expect loads of football fans here; it is off the main shopping hill, next to the Pioneer Museum in “historic” Toad lane. Continental beers are popular but the main attraction is a good range of local guest ales.

The Game

The five quid taxi was prompt and we arrived in plenty of time for the Blackpoolers and Martin to head off to the club bar and a £4 can of Guinness. My £4 was better spent in my opinion on sausages and chips (Note the plural) from the Wilbutts Lane Chippy. This is rare for me but this chipper is such an institution in lower league folklore that it just had to be done. A chat with some locals while sat on the neighbour’s wall is the apparent done thing. The home fans were not particularly confident so we could well be in for a dull afternoon I thought to myself.

Rochdale 0 Bristol Rovers 0 Attendance 3,168 (577 Gas)

My imagined pre-match tactical talk would be as follows. “Nil- nil at half time will be fine, last twenty minutes we will throw the kitchen sink at them. We will take a draw as a good result. You boys up front have a point to prove now the cup dipping snake in the grass has gone.”

Nil- Nil wasn’t a fair reflection on what was a decent if cagey game. We had two very good chances to win it and I never felt we were likely to give away yet another soft goal. It was like we had returned to the way of playing at the start of the season. Possession stats were very high. The Bearded one has now found a role as harrier in chief in areas where his absence is not quite so crucial. The new keeper looked good and Sweeney, apart from a couple of misplaced passes, was pretty good.

My list of Rovers fans irritable comments grew by one today. I hate the following at any game.

“Distribution” instead of passing. Apparently only centre halves, goalkeepers and strolling midfielders distribute the ball. The rest “ping” the ball about.

“Travel, travel, travel” whenever a player has a yard of space in front of him.

“Win the second ball”

“Get under ‘im” whatever that means

“Get it in the box” shouted whenever a free kick is taken in the opponents half.

“X, y or Z is lazy” for not chasing a ball into the far reaches of a pitch or stretching his leg to intercept a pass that if 15 yards away. I would defy any player to be lazy in a professional football organisation. I suspect their peers would let them know in terms that were more effective than you or I could ever imagine.

That stupid reference to the IRA when justifying a pipe playing youth singing about hating the city.

Any town” is a s***hole, I want to go home” when you have spent so much time and money getting there and presumably enjoying the hospitality of the locals. (Peter is impressively vocal on this one in suggesting the gates are open should one wish to leave).

And the new one for today.

In this case Ollie Clark happened to run the length of the field, then fell over and then ran off again at what is his maximum speed. The boy next to me came out with the classic newspaper inspired phrase.

“That boy’s got a good engine” What is more this was uttered by a boy no more than 20 years old himself.

He had of course “travelled” with the ball rather than doing a Barry Potter thing and “letting the ball do the work” Had he not fallen over and got up again he would have been accused of having bad “decision making” and possible “poor distribution” / being “lazy” for not making the instant first choice of “pinging” it 40 yards across field to Billy Bodin.


It’s a quarter to 3


Peter de Meteor

My Ratings

Joe Lumley 6 Joe Partington 7, Ryan Sweeney 8, Tom Lockyer 7, Lee Brown 7, Billy Bodin 6  Chris Lines 6, Ollie Clarke 8, Stuart Sinclair 7, Ellis Harrison 7  Luke James 6 .

Subs: Cristian Montano 5, Rory Gaffney 5

Entertainment Value: 2

My entertainment was not enriched by the chap sat next to me. He appeared at about 20 to 3 and proceed to put on a stewards bib over his Rovers shirt. He then put on a jacket. My curiosity was aroused and he answered with an explanation that he was a steward, not needed for the day and therefore free to sit with the lads. He had to be wearing the bib but it must be covered up. A reason for not having him as a steward then becaame clearer as he went off on a full 45 minute stream of invective aimed at anything that caught his eye. Most went toward the ref, much to the lazy Rovers players. Some to the barely audible Rochdale supporters to our right. Thankfully he didn’t return for the second half. Had he been called to duty? He reappeared as we were leaving at the end. He was now putting on a full, mass-murderer balaclava, complete with eye slits, and proceeded to throw his comments towards a group of Hibs supporting Conrad Logan fans who were packing away their flags in the away end. Thinking back now I probably think he was about to win the least appropriate fancy dress award on the supporters coach back to Blackpool.

Man of the Match: Ollie Clarke

The journey to  the next pub was somewhat fraught. We gathered with a gaggle of home and away fans for the 5 minutes past the hour bus that was to take us to the station. Or so we thought. In another linguistic northern anomaly interchange appears not to include rail in the modes of interchangeable transport. Martin and I did catch our train in time to get a final quickie in the pub but we did blow a few gaskets as we wandered directions less between stations and bus stops looking for non-existent labelling of the way to Piccadilly. The free inter station buses are well signposted at the Piccadilly end. Not so at Victoria.

After-Match pubs

Piccadilly Tap

Marcus was waiting for us. Hyde United 3 Scarborough Athletic 2 was the answer to our question. His personal jinx on the team he part-time supports continued. We ordered a Tiny Rebel Cwtch (6) and a couple of other beers from the bar for the most expensive, well beyond £3.50 a pint, round of the day. I did get the beers mixed up and we had some difficulty finding the odd one out of three beers. It is all part of my distrust of the craft beer revolution that so much is now overly formulated hoppy dross. Not in this case, the beers were good but very difficult to differentiate.

Pub of the Day:  Baum

Beer of the Day: Pictish Porter in the Flying Horse

The Journey home

The trains ran to time. We all played along well and managed some sleep between reading programmes.  I was the only spanner in the peace and contentment as my irritable cough became rather persistent. Sleep gave the others some respite but I did manage to clear plenty of space as people realised the risk of my cross infection. The boy Wilcox wandered in and out to canvass some support for his next trip to Europe. We arrived back at Parkway and gave a final rendition of the Sweeney tune to the non-existent friends in the car park. Rose was taking me home to a magical medicinal malt.

Next up

Port Vale Away 18.2.17

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