Talking Bull - Good Pub Guide - August
Last season's promotion was an incredible achievement on a shoestring budget and whatever happens this year they can't take that away from us.
It may be that this season will be more of a struggle but as fans we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we've done wonderfully well to reach this level.
Lets get behind GT and the team and remember to keep patient when things don't go right.
Whatever ensues let's do our best to enjoy it-on and off the field. There's going to be lots of new pubs this year starting at;
LEYTON ORIENT 09/08/08
Our first ever match in League One is versus Orient at Brisbane Road. It'll always be Brisbane Road to me, not the "Matchroom Stadium" or whatever they bloody call it these days.
Let's hope we have more to cheer this time than on that grim day back in 1997 when we last visited.
It must be a first for this column to recommend the opposition's social club as being THE place to visit for a quality drink. However Orient's award winning Supporter's Club would appear to be just that.
It was relocated two years ago to the newly built West Stand and is clean and modern, but most importantly has adopted an adventurous policy of selling quality real ales at competitive prices. Surprisingly for London you may even find the beer is cheaper than in many places in Herefordshire.
There are six hand pumps offering a constantly changing range of beers with a mild (usually Mighty Oak) regularly available. The club featured in the July edition of CAMRA's "What's Brewing" magazine and feedback from the Essex Whites also suggests that this is the place to go. I'm not sure if there's any food on offer and the club is bound to be very busy but it still sounds well worth checking out.
If you're looking for a more traditional pub atmosphere then the Birkbeck Tavern at 45 Langthorne Road, Leytonstone, E11 4HL should fit the bill. It is near Leyton station and within easy reach of the ground. The beer range changes constantly but concentrates on micros. This sounds a good little boozer and a good alternative if the Supporter's Club is too busy. No food other than rolls but it does have a sizeable garden if the weather is half decent.
CRYSTAL PALACE, 12/08/08
It'll always be the League Cup to me as well. However many names has this competition had?
Selhurst Park is a bugger of a place to get to and drinking time may be short on a Tuesday evening and CAMRA don't have anything listed in the vicinity of the ground. However trawling the net has thrown up a few ideas.
The nearest pub to the ground is the Clifton Arms in Clifton Road. It serves up to four real ales but sometimes has a "home supporters only" policy so you may have to get here early to sneak past the doorman.
The Two Brewers in Gloucester Road is a little further away and offers Shepherd Neame beers.
There are a couple of Wetherspoons, one at Thornhill Heath station and another in South Norwood High Street.
Also in the South Norwood area are The Alliance in Station Road which serves a couple of real ales and The Ship in South Norwood High Street which serves three to four ales and sometimes a cider too but is reportedly very noisy. Both these are fairly close to the Wetherspoons so you could afford to check them out and fall back on JDW's if you don't like them.
A little further away is the Portmanor in Portland Road. Reports suggest that the beer here is in particularly good nick so it may be worth searching out.
Apart from Wetherspoons I doubt if any of these do food but there should be plenty of chippies, kebab shops etc. in the area.
It's not the easiest of trips for the fans so let's hope the team make it worth our while with a good display. Our second half performance at Birmingham last year really helped to kick start our season. More of the same please lads.
BRISTOL ROVERS 23/08/08
I can't say that a return to Rovers' ground fills me with glee. A soaking in our last league game there and an abject defeat in the cup do not bring back happy memories.
However I have no objection to returning to the Inn On The Green at 2 Filton Road, Horfield, BS7 0PA This excellent pub is within easy reach of the ground and serves up to ten real ales and also boasts an impressive range of ciders for the appleheads. It is a large pub and never feels uncomfortably crowded even on match days. O'Hanlon's Port Stout proved a big hit on our last visit as did the barmaid who Mappy reckoned looked like Kate Winslet. The pub does food as well but I've always been too busy with the beer to check it out.
Even closer to the ground is the Wellington in Gloucester Road, Horfield, BS7 8UR. This is a Bath Ales tied house, a brewery of whose products I am particularly fond. I keep intending to check out the Wellington but have always found it too difficult to move on from the Inn On The Green. Food is available here too and sounds well worth trying. As it is even closer to the ground I would imagine that it gets very busy on match days but hopefully we will try it out this year.
Alternatively there are of course plenty of places to eat and drink in Bristol city centre but unless you're going by train the traffic can be a bit of a bugger. For most people the pubs outlined above should be more than enough.
Bring it on!
'The Northcote' described as 'another friendly and reasonably priced pub and a regular with football fans. Less than half a mile from the ground - just head down Warren Road on your way from the tube station to the ground'.
You might like to try 'The Railway Telegraph', Bridgestock Road which is said to be 'popular with away fans. From the station cross at the zebra crossing and turn right. Pub is 100 yards down this road'.