Archive for the ‘Geordie Pub Guides’

Geordie’s Pub Guide to Carlisle

Neil @ 4:50 pm Thursday 31 January 2008

Carlisle, the north’s forgotten city, can be a good day out depending on the mood of the locals. Despite the well earned reputation of a naughty minority I have always found Carlisle to be a welcoming away trip, even more so now that visitors are housed in the new East Stand rather than the exposed open terrace behind the goal. The new stand boats a bar amongst its excellent facilities, and there are plenty of other options for those in search of pre and post-match refreshment.

Carlisle “Citadel” station opens onto a modern café infested crescent which leads you up to the junction of several main roads, including Warwick Road where some twenty minutes walk later one catches first sight of arguably the most striking floodlights in the league, resembling outsized toothbrushes.

The immediate “beside the station” option comes in the shape of the half-decent Griffin, although colours are not to be advised. This bar does real ale and food and is large and bustling with decent service.

Heading into the town, on the splendidly named “Botchergate” – which is the main town centre street for pubs – Wetherspoons/Lloyds provide The Woodrow Wilson, and I have to concede this is one of the best Wetherspoons establishments I’ve come across, well worth a visit. Even better just a little further down the same street there is now another Lloyds outlet that is a bit more upmarket.

The Border Rambler (formerly The Albion) on the same street is probably one to tuck in those colours, though in my experience it’s usually a decent place for a bit of banter more than anything. A more traditional offering comes in the shape of The Cumberland Arms if you like wood panelling and real ale.

After trekking down Warwick Road The Beehive takes an age to appear on the right hand side of the road. This Theakstons establishment is probably the nearest pub to the ground and is very much a home pub, although again I’ve always found it welcoming to visitors.

Also near the stadium there is a bar at the adjacent rugby ground that is open on football match-days and again provides a pretty warm welcome.

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Geordie’s Pub Guide to Northampton

Neil @ 2:05 pm Thursday 22 November 2007

I suppose in an adaptation of an old joke, visiting the same opposition on successive Saturdays at least affords us the opportunity to apologise on the second visit.

Sixfields, like so many new grounds is constructed on a tacky out of town complex, although this one has matured somewhat over the years, now offering 4 or 5 outlets that may or may not condescend to vacuum your wallet. They are pretty much what you expect in these type of complexes.

Starting with the least welcoming, The magic Tower is home fans only, The Sixfields Tavern (Hungry Horace chain) is no away colours, Old Orleans is a themed American diner that offers a menu more suited to the deep south rather than the south midlands, while there is a sports bar in the bowling alley – ala Barnsley – that welcomes away fans. Apparently a TGI Friday’s has also sprung up opposite the ground if outsized burgers served by outsized waitresses flops your pre-match mop.

At the distant town-centre fans arriving by train can sample real-ale at The Black Lion which is apparently haunted, and The Fish Inn in the centre of town offers a similarly relaxed and traditional atmosphere.

The King Billy on Commercial Street comes highly recommended for those who like rock-music, and like most pubs of this ilk the welcome extends beyond hairy, leather-clad fat people.

Also heading from the station towards the ground the Irish themed Thomas O’Beckett, and the Foundryman’s Arms are geared up for football fans, albeit those who like odd-shaped balls. This could add an interesting twist to the pre-match pint as the rugby team are at home both Saturday’s we are in town!!

Geordie’s pub guide to Bournemouth

Exile @ 8:27 pm Thursday 25 October 2007

The first of two successive visits to the seaside for Saddlers fans begins with a pleasant trip to Bournemouth.

Unfortunately the ground is a fair distance from the town and railway station, but the sea-front is clean and well worth a visit if you have the time.

Thereabouts pub-wise one encounters the usual themed lager-dispensaries associated with the English sea-front. In Bournemouth’s case Edward’s bar is probably the pick, especially if the sun is shining (!!!) as there is a nice upstairs decked area.

Heading from the station logically takes you up Holdenhurst Road, which is well populated with several avoidable bars, the pick of the pubs in this street is at the far end and also the nearest to the ground, namely the Queens Park Hotel (just across the park from the ground).

Anyone approaching from the Boscombe sea-frontage has Neptune as the immediate tacky option, followed by The Portman, a large corner pub on Ashley Road heading up inland towards the ground which although a bit rough around the edges does boast connections to the football club and has a reasonable pre-match atmosphere.

At the ground itself the Cherry Tree has a variable reputation for away friendliness over the years, but in recent times seems to have become more welcoming and relaxed towards visitors and is attached to the re-built main stand.

Geordie’s Pub Guide to Doncaster

Neil @ 1:02 pm Monday 01 October 2007

The updated Doncaster pub-guide doesn’t have much to offer by way of an improvement on the availability of pubs in the vicinity of the ground. The Keepmoat, like its ramshackle predecessor is well outside the town-centre, and being on a retail park there are only a couple of offerings, namely a Beefeater called “The Lakeside” and another newly built pub called the “Woodfield Farm” situated behind B and Q**.

The usual bland and expensive beverages are available inside the stadium, and there is a sports bar at the ground that allegedly admits away supporters.

Back in the town centre for anyone arriving by train there is plenty of selection as Doncaster supposedly has more pubs per square mile than any other town in Yorkshire.

My advice is the same as last time, Head under the underpass donating a can of lager to the resident tramp and through the newly expanded Franchgate Centre. Once outside the main entrance, hang a right down the side-street to the Tut and Shive, an earthy little establishment where men are men, and the women arn’t. Repica tops probably not to be recommended, but at least its handy for the interchange from where you can catch a 75X to the ground for £1.10 return.

A little further along on Stott Lane there is the cheaper still Coach and Horses which is reasonably pleasant and friendly.

** Anyone becoming increasingly under the thumb and finding excuses hard to come by following six long away trips this season – just tell the missus you are popping to B and Q.

Geordie’s Pub Guide to Hartlepool

roger6 @ 1:30 pm Wednesday 26 September 2007

Something of a more specific and updated pub-guide to Hartlepool this season as over the course of the last couple of years certain pubs seem to have become firm favourites, and of course the residents of The Pooliebunker have thrown open an invite to The Millhouse.

The long thirst inducing trek North to Hartlepool, which if you are “training” it via Newcastle includes a picturesque coastal bit past Blackhall rocks, scene of the demise Jack (Michael Caine) at the end of the film Get Carter.

On arrival the station exits onto Church Street which has a plethora of bars (although many strangely quiet on a match-day), the best bet is to take a right towards the ground and head up to The Ward Jackson which is a very decent Lloyds No1 effort, with good service, reasonable prices, and decent menu. There are usually a good mixture of fans in here without it being too busy.

In years gone by I’ve always headed to The Jackson’s Wharf on the Marina, visible via the tall ship mast. Car travellers will also find plenty of free parking here, only 6 minutes walk from the ground. The pub boasts excellent food and a broad selection quaffable beer, delivered via prompt, intelligent service. There is also a genuine welcome for away fans. Three seasons ago they had window posters with Hartlepool and Walsall crests, a really nice touch. Although the football theme was dampened down a touch a couple of years back following a re-fit it is still a good all round pre-match boozer. The terrace overlooking the marina can, weather permitting (chuckles) be a picturesque alfresco drinking environment. If you’ve got the kids with you and don’t mind wasting 8 minutes drinking time there’s an award winning maritime museum next door that includes the moored ship.

Last season I ended up in the corner flag club at the ground, again a friendly welcome awaits although there is the usual social club small door charge, but the biggest problem is the heat and cramped layout which last season forced me to drink in the doorway, it was stifling.

Finally as mentioned our visitors on the message board have recommended the Millhouse opposite the ground, which is traditionally the home pub. Boasting large screen tv and a lounge which admits children, UTS regular Hartofthepool assures a friendly welcome awaits any Saddlers, but its probably not a good idea to belt out a raucous rendition of Queen’s “we are the champions” until safely in the ground.

All in all a really friendly trip, spoilt only in part by an extortionate admission price and that seemingly endless journey home if we lose. I really must stop falling asleep on the metro

Geordie’s Pub Guide to Millwall

roger6 @ 6:02 pm Friday 14 September 2007

If two long trips to the darkest corners of the South-East weren’t enough to erase your enthusiasm for away trips then let’s have three cheers for the fixture computer for making it a quick-fire hat-trick. Yes folks Millwall away, for the discerning drinker/away fan about as edifying as a bucket of jellied eels.

Before I incur some kind of Bermondsey fatwa for slagging the place off, Millwall away and in particular the New Den probably isn’t that bad to be honest. Apart for the odd coin wielding Burberry clad numbty you can get anywhere, for a low profile fixture like ours the atmosphere borders on relaxed. That said although I wouldn’t recommend swanning around the local boozer with a replica top on, but the chances are anyone remotely resembling an away fan will be ushered into the ground for overpriced lager and pre-match tele under the stand.

If you do escape into the outside world said local comes in the form of The Golden Lion, which on my last visit was on a par with many other match-day pubs in roughish areas when Walsall are in town, bog standard plastic beer in plastic glasses and an air of dormant tribalism.

Of course the major advantage of Millwall is that it’s highly adjacent to central London, just five minutes on the train to London Bridge where there is basically something for everyone in a typical London kind of way. All Bar One provides the best sanitised chain option, The Banana Store represents novelty idea that didn’t quite work in reality, and the area around or heading down Borough High Street reveals several more traditional pubs such as: The Bunch Of Grapes for bijou and Young’s ales; The George if you want to sit outside and top up your tan from Gillingham away; or, (recommended) The Market Porter just of Southwark St. for Real Ale and upstairs restaurant.

Just on a completely selfish note…. roll on Hartlepool!!

Geordie’s Pub Guide to Gillingham

neilr @ 7:38 am Friday 31 August 2007

The fixture computer has kindly handed us a trip to the garden of England in late summer. Unfortunately Gillingham is that bit of overgrown hard-standing behind the potting shed.

However, a warm welcome can generally be found amongst the diminutive terraced houses, and none more so than the Will Adams public house tucked away down Saxton Street just off the High Street, where the excellent welcoming atmosphere is matched by the standard of beverage and cheap bar menu.

There are several pubs within a few minutes walk of the ground, with The Livingstone Arms standing out as the away pub of choice. Although often extremely busy the bar-staff remain switched on with service of somewhat more basic brews and sandwiches, not to mention free snacks!. The Livingstone also has the advantage of being adjacent to away end, bookies, and a decent chippy.

For those arriving by train the Britannia offers an immediate if basic opportunity for sustenance and is ok for a swifty in preference to the other pubs at that end of The High St.

If nothing has changed since our last visit then beer is one of many things unavailable to away fans parting with 20 match-day pounds to enter the stadium, the others being a roof or even a stand worthy of the name, or decent toilet facilities. It seems strange that visiting supporters at Priestfield have to put up with these “facilities” year after year considering how well equipped and under-populated the rest of the ground can be.

I once accompanied a disabled supporter in the Medway stand and the facilities were first class, and for run of the mill games like ours I just don’t see why away fans can’t be given a couple of blocks elsewhere ala Rochdale, Orient, Carlisle, Stockport etc.

Shame on you GFC.

Geordie’s Pub Guide To Orient

Neil @ 1:22 pm Thursday 16 August 2007

Here we go again….or maybe not for some, as we haven’t visited this corner of London save for a midweek trip in the tin-pot trophy for what seems like decades.

Leyton Orient, despite its proximity to the city, the involvement of Barry Hearn and the impending Olympic explosion on its doorstep remains the poor relation of inner London football. Fortunately this makes a trip to Brisbane Road one of the friendliest the capital has to offer. However, disappointingly for a traditional stadium there aren’t that many pubs in close proximity.

If you are alighting at Leyton underground station then heading for the ground, turning right up Leyton High Road, the first pub you will come across is in fact the nearest to the ground, namely the Coach and Horses. This is a typical rough and ready football pub, although probably friendlier than it appears at first sight, predictably busy, although like most pubs in the area hand pulled beer is available in the guise of Adnams and London Pride.

However if real ale and a quieter environment are top priority then try heading left out of the Tube station and down a set of steps to Goodall Road, then left into Langthorne Road where after about a 3 minute walk you encounter The Birbeck free house, which is about 10-12 minutes walk from the ground. This establishment boasts a pleasant and spacious outdoor beer garden for lovers of fresh air and nicotine alike.

For supporters arriving at Midland Road station on the High Road on the other side of the stadium, The Three Blackbirds offers the most immediate opportunity for sustenance prior to the 15 minute walk to the ground, and is probably the best bet for food.

There are a couple of other places dotted within a 10-15 minute walk, the pick of which is probably The Northcote on Grove Green Lane, a small traditional east-end boozer with memorabilia and big screen sports.

Honourable mention to the supporters club bar located in the West Stand, which for a pound entry offers a good choice of ales at reasonable prices, but as usual with these establishments entry cannot be guaranteed.

Geordie\’s Pub Guide to Nottingham

Neil @ 2:00 pm Thursday 12 April 2007

The great thing about having a Nottingham club in each of the lower divisions is that it doesn’t matter how bad we are, a trip to Hooters is guaranteed. Of course there’s already plenty of info on the message board about this phenomenon of an away pub that has captured the hearts and wallets of many a travelling Saddler over the years, so there’s not really much to add, other than to say that the great thing about Meadow Lane is that its nearer to the bar itself!. From the station simply head straight down Station St. and across London Road and you can’t miss it, the ground is basically just further down London Road.

Generally speaking of course Nottingham is a good day out pub wise, although surprisingly for some reason I always find the Notts trip somewhat more tetchy than that to Forest, and although always worth a visit for real-ale and greasy spoon breakfast, the Cattle Market Inn adjacent to Meadow Lane was somewhat tense last time around with locals objecting to Walsall songs and bouncers looking a bit overwhelmed.

Likewise The Trent Navigation, and The Magpie near the ground are nothing to write home about save for their convenient proximity, but since its refurbishment The Globe is probably the pick of the bunch for variety and atmosphere, and was excellent before The Forest game last season.

Near the Station I’ve always had a soft spot for The Bentinck Hotel, a paragon of 1970’s eccentricity, although in the likelihood you’ll want something a bit more conventional then the Vat and Fiddle (exit left and walk 100 yards) offers real ale from a brewery tap, a plethora of foreign beers and outdoor seating.

If you can tear yourself away from Hooters, or more likely, can’t get in then there is beer for sale within the stadium although the actual supporters club doesn’t admit away fans. For some reason last time I ended up in a Mersonesque windowless bar in the ground with all the players’ wives, but stick to the main concourse for the usual overpriced lager would be my advice!

One question I always ask myself when drinking prior to visiting the oldest club in the world. Who did they used to play??

(I’d add one more to Geordie’s list, by the way, in the shape of the Victoria at Beeston – and I’m not a CAMRA Investements Shareholder. Perfect for a pre or after match meal, it’s quite frankly, one of the top five pubs I’ve ever been in. Web site is:

http://www.victoriabeeston.co.uk/)

Geordie\’s Pub Guide to Torquay

Neil @ 3:55 pm Thursday 05 April 2007

Torquay is one of the finest footballing backwaters, and it’s a great shame to see this friendly little club heading for non-league football.

Forget Helen Chamberlain, Plainmoor is the ground that brought us pre-match entertainment consisting of a man (called Dave Beer!!) having cannonballs fired at him from the opposite end of the pitch.

These days however pre-match beer centres on the club at under the main stand, namely Boots and Laces, which is well worth a visit, or any of the pubs around Babbacombe where the ground is situated. Fore Street boasts three pubs, the pick of which is The Dolphin, while The Buccaneer Inn is the traditional away pub situated as it is adjacent to the seafront on Babbacombe Downs Road, little more than five minutes walk to the ground, kind of the “Dutton Arms” of Torquay. You can also practice your Bazil Fawlty impressions whilst complaining about the view…”hanging gardens of Babylon” etc.

Heading in-land O’Connor’s bar on St. Marychurch Road is a bit bland but decent enough, and the same can be said of Strikers sports bar and The John Bull.

Of course Torquay itself has a plethora of pubs and clubs to satisfy all tastes, but those in search of something traditional would be well advised to sample The Famous Hop and Grapes on Lower Union Lane. Although more town centre than sea-front, the ground is no more than a 12 minute walk from this establishment which has a good beer garden and fine selection of ales.

If you find yourself in the vicinity of the Harbour frontage then try the ancient Hole In The Wall just back from the harbour itself, allegedly 450+ years old! the local Wetherspoons (The London) is just around the corner from here en-route to the ground for those that like that sort of thing.

Anyhow, anyone lucky enough to be going the weather forecast is set fair, so enjoy your weekend.

Next stop Notts County hooray, Hooters!!

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