Or alternatively: Bob’s day out
Transport to game.
A rather ridiculously early start for the shortish trip to Coventry. Why we had to be in town for 10.50 only the good Lord knows but we were not alone at the station nor on the train. We were among the faithful 4000 ticking off Coventry as a new ground. Most hadn’t the chance to do so the last time Rovers played there in 1963.
The Plan as agreed with Bob; the man with the local connections.
|Rose lift to B.T.M. for 8.30 train|
|Change Birmingham New Street 1.10 train|
|Arrive Coventry 10.35|
|Town Crier 11.00|
|Old Windmill 11.45|
|Town Wall Tavern 1.15|
|Taxi to ground at 2 – Yellow cabs|
|Rovers to win|
|Taxi to town|
|Whitefriars Old Ale House 5.30||CLOSED|
|Twisted Barrel 5.30|
|Train from Coventry 8.02|
|Change – 8.42 train at Birmingham New St|
|Bristol Parkway 9.58|
|Rose to pick me up||Home for Casualty|
The team for the day was large but flexible. The core was the usual gang of Bob, Donnie (as he is known for the day), Andy and myself. The regulars were the Lord Powell, Geoff, Tim and Peter. Joining us was Phil the Lion. Also meeting up in Leeds was Roger Right Hand and his mate but no Paul, Clive or Craig.
The conversation on the train was also of the usual. We had updates on Ronnie’s fascination with the new American president, a quick look at the I quiz, sorted out a plan of action for the day and recapped on the Bristol Rugby debacle. Ronnie played the false anger card when glowing in the fame of the Bury report and all seemed well with the world. The biggest problem was how not to lead all the other Gasheads getting off the train into the pub we were using. We slipped off up a side street leaving the masses to hunt out their Wetherspoons breakfast ciders. I thought we might have a new member of the team but David Maddy, he of two seats down from me at home games and good old Patchwegian, opted instead for a coffee and cathedral lunch; probably for the best.
Beer: Purity Saddle Black (6)
This one opens at 8. We were spotted as not being Coventry fans by the astute barman. They don’t arrive much before 1 apparently. The pub opens at 8. For the students was the explanation given. Really? The pub is impressively modern in design. It was typical of the brash and frankly impressive architecture of the city. It has barrel shaped ceilings, woodwork of sixties Catholic Church halls, a big bar and masses of space to stand or sit. We opted for beers in the sun and all was certainly good with this start. It was a first for all of us and we vowed to return. Little did we think it would be this evening.
Town Crier (7)
This was chosen as one of two that opened at 11. It was typically Marston’s. Cheap in comparison to many but frankly a bit tired and unexciting.
Beer: Marston’s Saddle Tank 7
Old Windmill (11)
In contrast to the Town Crier this pub has plenty of character and interest in the wooden partitioned rooms and fake log fires. They even added entertainment in the form of a handy man working on the windows while we sampled our beers. The numbers grew as others caught up but we were on a mission to tick and left soon after Tangent Tim arrived.
Cameron’s Brown Bear 5
Note the dangerously well watered lawns
You know I like to race. This next pub offered a chance to let the others take the long route and for me to be smug and use my local knowledge to walk the shorter route to the pub. In this case I was rumbled and followed by the stragglers. Bob and Ron settled for a chat with Coventry fans in the bar. The rest of us ventured in to the warm beer garden where the Bristol real ale crowd had already assembled. Roger was tucking in to his pub lunch. The Farquar clan were doing the Farquar family things. There was a table available for our team to commandeer and I went to claim it for the team. Now you also know I am a big bloke. Certain trestle tables do not take to my sitting on one side. The lawns were impressively mown and crucially well-watered. Twenty plus stones of Stedders on one side of a table had the inevitable consequence as the legs sunk into the ever so giving sward and toppled slowly backward on to the chest of the slowly rotating Stedders. The pint flew majestically into the air. The table rested gently on the then fully flattened whale and those who caught it in person were treated to free candid camera entertainment. The bar staff caught the action on their CCTV. No doubt there might be e few re-runs of that one in time. They also fully refreshed my pint and all was well with my world again.
Purity Mad Goose 7
Town Wall Tavern (10)
Some were worried about getting to the game. Bus or taxi for them? Bob assured us there would be no problem. To convince myself that the choice of one more pub was o.k. I booked a taxi for the usual 2 departure and relaxed to an excellent pint. Bob and Ron squeezed in to the Donkey box at the front of the pub. I went for an outside table to keep company with the smoking Andy. Entertainment was provided with our consequential conversation. The local scouts were on a beer break from the gang show at the Belgrave theatre next door. We talked of scouts and Architecture, Then an old boy reminisced on Coventry Rugby of the past. We might well have been in opposition in Bletchley Rugby days at Broad Street or Keresley.
Theakston’s Old Peculier 8
Coventry 1 Bristol Rovers 0 Attendance 11,946 (4,069 Gas)
Numbers in at 10 to 3
Joe Lumley 7, James Clarke 5, Tom Lockyer 5 Jonny Burn 5 Lee Brown 5 Chris Lines 5 Billy Bodin 5 Ollie Clarke 6 Stuart Sinclair 4 Rory Gaffney 3 Luke James 4 Subs Byron Moore 4 Daniel Leadbitter 5 Robert Harris 4
Entertainment Value 2
Nil- Nil at half time? I felt confident as I left my assigned crap seat low down on the away seats to join the lads at a higher viewing space that was left free. I have to say that the spare seats being available made all the difference in letting those who were tardy to find seats without the recent nonsense of squeezing quarts into pint pots.
The changes at half time were crucial and left the team somewhat disjointed in the second half. There is a fine line with Rovers fans at the moment. 4000 away fans brings a different reaction to mediocrity and this was a mediocre performance. Too many had poor games and no one was able to shake that trend. Bad passes became infectious. We still created better and more chances to win but they scored first and for once the team had no response. The team appears to struggle against the teams at the bottom of the league. Listening to the moans of those around me in the second half one might of thought they were deliberately trying to play badly. I couldn’t really argue though that some key players on this day were perhaps running out of chances to be with the club next season. It also returned me to the thought that perhaps we miss Ellis Harrison in the team. Certainly neither Gaffney nor Luke James are convincing league 1 nor crucially, potential Championship players.
Man of the Match: Joe Lumley
Curiously Bob and Ronnie wanted to check out the casino. They had sneaked a pint in before the game. We went in, stood around for a few minutes and then I suggested that it wasn’t very exciting watching other people drink or play at tables and perhaps we might head in to town.
A taxi from a taxi rank rather than the bus option favoured by the others in the group. Four of us were soon zooming through Bob’s land of youthful memories and into the Fargo area of town.
Twisted Barrel (8)
This shed of a brewery and bar is in a strange but enterprising closed off street off the Far Gosford Road. It has a wide range of the small Art Is Anal food and art shops. If this is Coventry’s attempt at trendy hipster land than I quite liked the street and bar. The lads joined in to impromptu kick abouts in the street and we chatted at random intervals with people walking dogs or just strolling into the communal space. I do however have a moan about the bar itself. It has an impressive range of keg beers. I do not need a notice at the bar telling me that CAMRA thinks their keg beers are real Ales. I do not and that is O.K. by me. I went for a black IPA because they are usually very good in the keg form of the craft bugger bars. This one was overly cold, predictably bland and reinforced my thoughts of craft style over substance
Twisted barrel Call of Karriban Black IPA 5
We had intended to check out the conflicting messages as to whether the Whitefriars was open or closed. It was closed so we went to the pub nearby. It had a predictably boring selection of national chain beers so I exercised my option of a palate cleaning Gin and Tonic.
Gin and Tonic
With time for one more pub we ventured back to the Drapers. Ronnie was still moaning about the game but we were able to listen in shifts to his constant bleating. No worries we thought. It would soon be time to sleep on the train home. Perhaps we might catch a bus to the station and true to form of last week he might fall asleep and we might leave the bus with him not knowing. Last week in Bristol he almost ended up south of the river but we kindly knocked on the outside of the bus to wake him at the city centre.
Purity Gold 4
Pub of the Day: Gatehouse
Beer of the Day: Theakston’s Old Peculier in the Town Wall Tavern.
Trip home: Remarkably quiet and thankfully uneventful. Ronnie was asleep by Moseley.
Wimbledon Away Saturday 8th April
Pubs as formerly reviewed in Stedders Guides of old.
Martin built this pub so, despite initial appearances, it only dates back to 1995. With that in mind you have to marvel at the design. It fits perfectly into my mind of a perfect beer drinking place. The scale is just right, space to stand or sit, I liken this to the very best rugby clubhouses I have visited without the language or singing associated with that genre. It offers Sky TV and is busy on all matchdays, both for rugby and the Sky Blues. It is not, however, a place for those who prefer lager. The real ale fans have a place of reverence here and as such the atmosphere is like all such pubs, i.e. more reserved than that in the city centre swilling houses. Having said that, my Sunday lunchtime was shared with the not so successful pub footie team, lagers in their hands. Someone should tell them to try some real ale, it might make a difference to the result or at least keep them on the pitch. UPDATE The Gatehouse has been hemmed in by redevelopments but remains a great pub with a very friendly atmosphere. The ale choice has risen to six hand pulls and new local breweries feature on a regular basis. RS
Some History remains in Spon St. The post war redevelopment managed to keep the area as an island among the concrete. The Old Windmill, by its nature therefore, offers some novelty in the city. It is timber – framed, multi – roomed with flag – stoned areas as well as cosy carpeted snugs “it is a place to take your mother in law during the day and your mistress in the evening.” A good selection of national ales is on offer, including on this occasion Old Peculier that draws in its devotees. I would choose to return to sit in the room nearest the road, all leaded glass and bench seats and tables. From there you could enjoy a quiet lunchtime crossword and ale session. In the evening, perhaps with a group of blokes, set yourself the task of finding a pub in Coventry that has as much history in the walls and windows. The signs of refurbishment are everywhere but the essential pubbiness remains as people come and go. UPDATE There is an extra pump added since last year. Robin has now moved on. A beer festival was held in June. RS
Town Wall Tavern
Coventry Bob led the way through the pedestrianised city centre and behind the Belgrade Theatre to this mysterious, but not so secret, location. This variation on the Tavern has a single serving point with two hatches and one normal room bar front. This should suggest that the pub has many small rooms. I counted five separate areas within three rooms but then was told about the donkey box, with space for four people, accessed from the red door featured in the picture above the fire place. This is all very quaint and distinctive, much like the friendly nature of host and customers alike. We settled to the larger of the rear areas, which curiously has the original rear bay window of the pub within the room. Most of the pub is carpeted; the main bar has wooden floors and standing room. This space has Wendy’s original music scores on the wall and vinyl discs on the ceiling, individually priced and shared with the customers for nostalgia purposes. Lunchtime background music will be from the Top of the Pops jukebox. It is all very traditional, comfortable and comforting. The food is very highly rated and is a work of miracles given the size of room that one can see from the serving hatch. There will usually be 6 regular and one guest ales. This pub is strictly over 18’s only and well worth using for lunchtime match viewing. All in all, a great find, Bob.