Thursday, 29 October 2015

SEVEN WIVES????

It’s Friday night and we’re going to a footy match, just a short trip down the A14 to St Ives for our first encounter in the FA Trophy this season. Did you know that in 1838 there was 64 pubs in St Ives one for every 55 inhabitants, now the ratio is one per thousand? The PRATS don’t intend to go to all of them just the good ones.
OLIVER CROMWELL

The Oliver Cromwell looks like a decent places too start, plenty of ales to choose from, although not sure about the parking situation. Just a few minutes walk away is the Nelsons Head a Greene King pub with loads of guest ales. All the pubs are very close to each other so just a few more minutes’ away is the Royal Oak with another decent selection of ales. Finally moving towards the ground is the Elgoods owned pub Floods Tavern, Usually 4 ales available. The pub stretches down to the Great River Ouse, so if the weather is good it might be worth sitting outside. Parking is possible on the on the road outside the Floods. The ground is about 10 minutes walk. After the game whilst the pubs in St Ives are tempting there is an exceptional pub a few miles away in Huntingdon the Falcon,
boasting 15 hand-pumps mostly serving local ales. The Falcon can get quite busy so not far away is the smaller Market Inn serving 3 ales with a couple selected from the SIBA list. That should be enough for one night out.


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

OUT ON THE 'TOWN'

Well here we go, the Red Insure Cup. It’s proving very difficult to contain the overwhelming exhilaration that is raging through the PRATS who once again are on the road. Mrs Fuggles protested, surely you can’t be away again? “Sadly my dearest, not only are we away tonight but also next Friday night”, 5 away trips in 18 days, 4 night games and one Saturday games with the monster trip coming up the weekend after next, down to Bideford. Nevertheless, Lady Fuggles conveyed me and Citra to our usual pick up point, The Britannia in Northampton, but this time we thought soddit, we ain’t going to have another Tribute so we didn’t go in. Parker arrived just after 4.00pm and we made our way to Stratford. We went straight there and arrived in the car park opposite the Stratford Alehouse around 5:30pm, a crawl on the M1 had slowed down our journey.
Just 4 ales on today, RCH brewery Old Slug Porter, Prescott brewery Grand Prix, Stratford Upon Avon Brewery Malty Pig and Wye Valley HPA, all served by gravity. Citra and I went for the HPA, a pale ale at 4.0%, it was pleasant enough, refreshing but not a great deal of flavour. It was perfectly clear with a good head which clung to the glass all the way down. Parker tried the local ale Malty Pig, it looked in very good condition, dark amber coming in at 4.4%. In fact it looked so good I went for it next whilst Citra stayed on the HPA. The Malty Pig was quite malty indeed but also packed with a delightful bitterness, this ale had loads of flavour with a pleasant lingering aftertaste. It’s not the sort of ale I would normally go for but I’m glad I did, well worth it. We then moved onto the Crown Inn at Tiddington just a few hundred yards away from the Stratford ground. Nice pub, looked as though it had been recently refurbished with the obligatory pastel shades of grey and duck egg blue. You name it, it had been given a coat of paint. Still the pub felt clean and fresh. Food sales would be a dominant part of the trade.
The cask Marque sign on the door raised our hopes of a decent pint and we weren’t disappointed. Four ales on hand-pump, Wychwood Hobgoblin, Bloody Doombar, Everards Pumpkin and North Cotswold breweries Windrush. We sent a text to Pharp, advising him that one of his favourite tipples was on tap, he replied stating the he’d ‘gone to ground’.  If he was trying to hide from someone he could only hope that he could contain his Windrush. Parker had a coffee whilst we had a couple of pints of Windrush. At 3.6% this amber ale was packed with flavour, and served in very good condition. It was malty, hoppy, slightly sweetish but very good. Good enough to have another, having said that, if the choice of ales had been a little bit more than just amber or darker; we may have tried something else.  Still the Windrush was worth a second pint. Interesting sign on the toilet door, ‘Please don’t slam the door, children asleep in the room above’. A very quiet pub indeed, bring your books for a peaceful read.  The lagers were better than the usual swill, with Peroni and Urquell Pilsner available, although lager drinkers might find that Urquell, a Pilsner, might have too much flavour for their sterile palates. Beware the car park at the rear of the pub, you have to pay to use it, although just £1 for 3 hours. That was it, onto tonight’s main event.
The game, well it was actually quite entertaining, the prestigious competition had brought out all of 132 die hard footy fans who had forsaken the latest TV brain buster ‘Strictly Come Pot Making Bake Off’s Got Talent’. The Poppies had mostly kids on the park, with a few old farts making up the team raising the average age to 15, fortunately it was half-term so most of the players weren’t going to school the next morning. It ended 3-3 at full –time with the ‘Town’ winning the penalty shoot our 5-4, the Poppies kids were given a lolly pop and a fruit shoot to console them, the manager had to wipe their noses though, bless.
The PRATS didn’t bother with a pint after the game, so straight home. Mrs Fuggles will be pleased.

Monday, 26 October 2015

STRATFORD RETURN EAGERLY ANTICIPATED

Most Southern League footy fans have already experienced the big moment of the season, but for us Poppies supporters it the stupendous occasion we’ve all been waiting for. All ambitious footy players, supporters and club chairmen want to play in the cup, the FA Cup? No way, how about the FA Trophy? No chance, what about the county cup? Sorry, not really interested.  There’s only one competition they all have their sights firmly set on, it’s Red Insure cup time again folks, hooray, yahoo. The shrieks of overwhelming delirium can be heard echoing across the whole of Southern England. Leonards Cohen’s classic ‘Hallelujah’ will be blaring out on ghetto blasters throughout the region. Although perhaps Alexandra Burke’s rendition might be more appropriate. We must be Burks; travelling away tonight for this pointless competition? But it’s our club so we follow them irrespective of the futility. Will we even put out a first team, who knows?

Still, one good thing to come out of this purposeless adventure is the chance for the PRATS to re-visit the Stratford Alehouse every cloud has a golden pale ale lining, marvellous. One again we can sample the finest gravity served ales.  This time we’ll give the Bear a wide berth, our wallets just aren’t fat enough.
So not far from the ground is the Crown Inn Tiddington, yes I can see, they serve bloody Doombar but they also have North Cotswold ale available, Windrush, ‘Warwickshire beer of the year’ 3 years back. I don’t believe for one minute the Pharp was the inspiration for Windrush. Hopefully Windrush won’t be an inspiration to Pharp. Worth a try as there’s not any ale at the ground. Must not have too much ale before the game, we have a classic footy experience ahead of us. Can’t wait.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

TWEETY PIE CHOKED THE PUDDY TAT

It was just after 10:30am when Parker and Citra arrived at Chez Fuggles. After Tuesday night’s magnificent performance we had high hopes of stuffing the Canaries. The early debates were, what pubs are we going to and in what order, by the time we’d scooped up Pharp the plan was clear, we would go to all the pubs starting down in Baldock at the Orange Tree.
Arriving just before opening at 11:55am we checked the pub door and to our delight it was open and it wasn’t long before we were supping our first of many various ales we would be sampling today. There was a very large list of ales to choose from, three from Morton Ales, a couple from Buntingford, three from Greene King, Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild, Woodforde’s Wherry, St Georges Lazy Days and a couple more that escape my memory. Pharp went for St Georges Lazy Days, 4.1% light golden ale, not the usual stuff Pharp goes for but he liked the name. Always the discerning connoisseur is Pharp.  It looked in good condition with a nice tight head clinging to the glass. Parker and Citra went for Buntingford Twitchell, always a favourite this one, we’ve had it twice at the Poppies annual beer festival and it is always one of the first to be supped dry. Another golden bitter at 3.8%, refreshing ale once again in superb condition and of pristine appearance. Fuggles went for Morton Ales Gregory’s Gold, I’m sure with a bit if imagination you can determine the colour of this ale. 4.1% in strength a dry-hopped bitter delightful taste. So far so good, it was time to have a look at the sausage menu, on offer was traditional Pork, spicy pork, pork and stilton, pork and honey, lamb and mint, one with some ginger in it, another with some leeks and a French Toulouse, lovely. As it was well after mid-day and had been several hours since we’d thrashed through a bowl of Crunchy Nuts, it was clear for all to see that the onset of malnutrition was imminent. Citra looked decidedly peaky; almost ashen in fact, so we ordered our favourite snorkers. Pork and honey for Citra, Spicy Pork for Pharp and Parker, but with Pharp being somewhat esurient he had an egg on top. Whilst Fuggles consumed the delightful Pork and stilton. All very nice, in a baguette and with the obligatory foliage on the side. If I ever come back as something please let it not be a lettuce, how depressing it must be to be a lettuce. It must be somewhere in the region of 95% of all lettuces are thrown into the bin after being no more than decoration around a plate. When was the last time you saw a smiling lettuce, nothing wonderful about being a Webb or a bloody iceberg? I suppose there’s some consolation as one had a Greek island named after it. And so on to more beer, Pharp decided to try a mild, there’s not much better than Greene King’s XX Mild, at 3% Pharp wasn’t going to get inebriated on this. Citra and I went for Morton’s Jelly Roll, named after the jazz musician. I recall a few years back fetching a barrel of Jelly Roll from the brewery somewhere near Wolverhampton just off the M54, it was a bit of a surprise when I arrived to find a semi-detached house at the address I’d been given, the brewery was in the garage, a very micro-brewery indeed. They have now moved on and have a small 3 barrel plant close by on an Industrial estate, Jolly good. A nice light golden ale at 4.2% just enough citrus to put a smile on Citra’s face, either that or he had wind. Thankfully Pharp was quiet on the wind front, there was still time. That was it for the Orange Tree, a very nice pub, all the ales in good condition, however, the prices are high at around £3.90 a pint and Sarah Hughes selling for £4.20, maybe that’s normal around these parts.
We moved on into Hitchin town centre and parked up in the Asda car park, across the road was the Half Moon. A beer festival was in full swing, we walked to the tented bar at the rear of the pub. A decent selection to choose from but where to start? The green hop beers were beckoning, Citra and I went for Bexley Gushmere Fuggles Pale Ale, well what else did you think I’d drink? Pharp had Caveman Brewery’s Swanscombe Woman.
We ventured up the pub garden to the marquee covered seating area, with a considerable slope, so much so that the glasses were sliding across the table. Nevertheless we persevered for about 15 minutes hanging on tightly to our wandering ale filled glasses. It was also quite damp and chilly outside; eventually we had the inclination to move inside. The Gushmere was delightful 4% bitter with a dry finish with a hint of citrus, in reasonable condition considering it was served direct from the barrel. Pharp likes a mature woman, the Swanscombe lass is around 400,000 years old. The ale is hoppy dark amber ale at 4.2% looked good, Pharp didn’t complain, however, some of the newly arrived Poppies supporters soon had something to moan about. The Weebles had arrived, this band of boozers from Wellingborough consist of Petit Chemise, Marshall, Wort, Betweenthesticks and Cardiac who had recently been fitted his very own metronome. It was within 5 minutes of their arrival when they first experienced Pharp. Cardiac proclaimed “bloody hell Pharp, you’re infamy proceeds you, my god how do the PRATS deal with that week in and week out”? Cardiac was some way off by now has a very large space had opened up around Pharp. We explained to the Weebles that training as pearl divers had allowed us to hold our breath for considerable periods of time. The kafuffle quietened down after a few pungent minutes and the group were able to chat normally again albeit in a husky voice.  It was time to whet the larynx  again, this time Pharp went for Woodforde’s Nelson’s Revenge, most of us thought Montezuma would have been more appropriate under the circumstances. Nelsons Revenge is a premium malty ale coming in at 4.5%. Looked in very good condition was drawn by hand-pump at the bar. There was now a few more Poppies supporters in the bar, clearly contributing to the Hitchin economy. Citra returned to the ‘bar in the tent’ and came back with a supercilious  grin on his face, he was clearly pleased with his selection, Deeply Vale Citra Storm What else could he possibly choose, first beer had Fuggles in the name; he had to get something with Citra in the name. What a beauty, at 4% a pint of grapefruit and lemon pale ale session ale, it was in good nick could have stayed and had a couple of more of these but it was time to go to the game.
The Canary clubhouse has two ales on tap, Fuller’s London Pride and Youngs London Gold. Pharp went for LP and Citra and I had LG, they were ok, these ales are so readily available around the country they get a bit boring. The beer was in good condition, nothing more to say really.
The game, well Tweety Pie came out of his cage for the first 5 minutes from then on we controlled the game that was until the last 15 minutes when we spluttered like Sylvester the cat and decided to have a nap. Oh dear.

Onto the Old Transporter in Henlow Camp, a converted shop next to a Tandoori take away, nice! A few tables and chairs, all different, scattered around the one room hostelry. The eight barrels were all racked up at the back of the bar, with just 4 available. As a lover of all things from Greenjack brewery it was inevitable that Citra and I went for Waxwing. A refreshing pale session ale coming in at 3.9% lovely. Pharp tried Loddon Russet, we had this on Tuesday in Biggleswade, and both ales were in good condition, very clear with a decent head, not overly tight but the head hung around until the glass was empty. Drivers are given a free drink so Parker had a coke, good on them. The Weebles arrived after going further up the road to our next destination the Engineers Arms, but not yet we had another beer first. I went for Springhead Barebones, Citra stayed with Waxwing, Pharp had Ampthill IPA. Barebones is a premium amber ale at 4.7%, hoppy with a dry finish, once again beautifully clear with a good head. Pharp’s Ampthill IPA, at 4.5%. I’ve always had a gripe when an IPA (Indian Pale Ale) is less than 5.5%, nevertheless, this looked fine, by now the long day was taking its toll on Pharp and he struggled to get through his ale. It was time to move on. 5 minutes later we arrived at the Engineers arms, and unbeknown to us they were holding a beer festival.
The place was heaving, not a table to be had. Citra and I had a very delightful Blue Bee breweries For’t’ thirst. Best pint we’d had all day right up our street. 4.1% straw coloured hoppy, zesty, marvellous. So good we had two. Pharp had a Hanlon’s Devon Darkness, a rich chocolaty stout. This was one beer too far for Pharp he needed help to finish it off. The day was done, and it was a good one, apart from the footy that is.

Friday, 23 October 2015

AUNTY MARY'S DRAWERS

This weekend a full complement of PRATS is making their way down to Hitchin Town. We could be in for a good trip; it may even have a hint of pissyarseness about it. There are quite a few real ale options in Hitchin town centre; however, the Half Moon is holding a beer festival with up to 80 ales and 22 ciders & perries.
18 of the ales are brewed using green hops, celebrating the hop harvest so this is a very seasonal event. I should add that green hops generally encourage flatulence, and we have Pharp travelling with us. He doesn’t need any encouragement as a rule, so it is very important to undertake all the usual checks, electric car windows fully functional, pegs in glove compartment, respirator easily accessible, Pharp’s passenger door can be kicked open in case of real emergency and Pharp kicked out, safety boots required for this delicate operation. The food looks good as well, Chicken Wings of Fire, bloody hell, better make sure Pharp doesn’t see them, he’ll turn into a flame thrower.
We are very close to the wonderful Orange Tree in Baldock, North Herts Camra Pub of the year 2015 13 ales and 4 ciders, and probably the best sausages you’re ever likely to taste in a pub and a very wide selection to choose from. The PRATS have frequented the Orange Tree on several occasions and never been disappointed. Buntingford ales are always on tap. The landlord is a Stafford Rangers supporters and was at Wembley in 1979, he feels obligated to remind us of the scoreline on every visit. Pharp always leaves a little parting gift, did I say parting?
Also in close proximity is the equally wonderful Engineers Arms in Henlow. 10 ales and a few ciders. We’ve been a few times as well and will not disappoint, the food is excellent value for money, well worth a try. 

On route between Hitchin and Henlow is Henlow Camp where we’ll find the recently opened The Old Transporter. Look’s interesting; maybe we’ll give it a try or send in Marshall and Petit Chemise to do a recky.

We must also get into Hitchin Town’s Canary club, last time we were there on Boxing a few seasons back they had a couple of real ales on tap.

Decisions, decisions, where shall we go?

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

WADERS OF THE LOST SPARK

The evening started out with Mrs Fuggles conveying Citra and Fuggles to the Britannia Inn, near where Parker put’s his time in. Already in the bar was Bailiwick Bill guzzling a vin rouge and playing Lode Runner on his laptop, all very important indeed. Bailiwick runs a local sieve company, something to do with mesh. As usual the ales on offer are pretty boring and a St Austell Tribute is the best of a bad lot, it tasted a bit odd but that could be the Strepsil I’d been sucking on just a few minutes earlier. Fuggles has a throat like a Shetland pony, a little hoarse, so even though it tasted like a septic tank it was soothing. It was just after 5:00pm when Parker arrived to take us on our short trip to Biggleswade, Bailiwick went home to cook dinner and change a few nappies whilst listening to the match on Poppies TV radio. Pharp was going to the game straight from work so lucky for us it was plain sailing with no excessive turbulence.
At just after 6:00pm we arrived at our first port of call in the town centre, the New Inn Ale House and Kitchen, a Greene King pub with an excellent selection of ales.  From the GK stable they had, IPA, XX Mild, Abbot Ale and Morlands Original. Additional ales included Elgood’s Insight, Titantic’s Cappuccino Stout, Charles Wells Eagle, and sadly just gone off was Leighton Brewery’s Narrow Gauge being replaced by an ale from the Kettering area, Julian Church’s Lion’s Den. There was also 3 ciders on hand-pump, 11 pumps in total. 4 at one end of the bar and 7 further down. A long pub with several areas with tables and chairs, half way down the bar was a rack of barrels, which were all part of the d├ęcor.  We all opened our account with Morlands Original, a pleasant enough ordinary bitter amber in colour at 4%, nothing to write about so I won’t. To be honest it was OK, the beer was in good condition and tasted fine with a nice biscuity finish. I’m not sure what sort of biscuit it was though, maybe a custard cream, definitely not a ginger nut. A few more Poppies supporters entered the pub, Flopper, who is always greeted with the question “did you walk here”.  Flopper walks everywhere, even Mt Everest along with his trusty back pack. Also arriving in the bar was Marshall and Petit Chemise along with Betweenthesticks. I’m not sure what Marshall and BTS had but it was clear Chemise had gone for the Cappuccino Stout, as black as your hat, it certainly looked OK. Chemise had enjoyed it once up in Stoke so had to have it again, keep drinking those and his chemise will no longer be petit. Parker had a glass of ice with a splash of coke, whist Citra and I went for the Lion’s Den. We shouldn’t really drink beer brewed in our own back yard, but we weren’t really interested in any of the others. We did also sneak half of the Elgoods Insight, as its 5.6% we thought we’d give it a try. Insight is a collaborative brew between Elgoods of Wisbech and Insight Brewery in Minnesota in the US of A. The beer was flat, tasted like watered down whisky. Not overly impressed, took some drinking between us but it’s against our principles to leave it. The Lion’s Den was alright, pleasantly bitter toffee flavour, very slightly peppery. 4% it was in decent condition, slight haze, maybe one of the first out of a new barrel. That was it for our pre-match imbibing and so we moved onto the Carlsberg Stadium just over a mile away on the outskirts of town, via Pothole Avenue. Driving up to the stadium was like a car rally over a moonscape.  Still the stadium looked new, although an incredible dearth of advertising boards around the perimeter.  No decent ale in the bar.
The game, well what can I say, we won and it was a Tuesday night, our first victory in the league on a Tuesday night. The Mighty Red Poppies deserved the victory, probably our best performance of the season.  The game was over and with a quick escape we went back into
Biggleswade town centre with the Golden Pheasant as our destination. A very good typical town centre pub, with 7 hand-pumps, 6 ales and a cider available. Charles Wells Eagle was once again available; this may be a Wells pub. Buntingford Engineer, Tring Thunderdell, Lodden Russet, Courage Directors and Teignworthy’s Scrum Down, obviously their contribution to the Rugby World Cup collection, yet another wonderful use of imagination by the marketing team. We were now joined by Pharp, who along with Parker went for Engineer. Buntingford ales are always good and this was no exception. In good condition, a session ale coming in at 3.9%. Citra and I went for the Scrum Down, Teignworthy Brewery down in Devon brew some delightful ales so we were looking forward to a tasty treat. One sip and bloody hell, you beauty. The beer was off, even Sarsons would have rejected this. Citra also took a sip and what happened next was a sight to behold. Imagine Michael Jackson going through a three minute dance routine, jerking here and there, moon walking, and his neck thrutching all over the place. Well now imagine all that condensed into three seconds, this was Citra’s reaction. At one point there was a Higgs Boson moment when his forehead and chin collided just in front of his nose. His head shook violently for several seconds after; he was unable to utter any words with any clarity. The beers were handed back to the barman who got the landlord to verify the beer was off. The landlords face was a fitting response. So we moved onto Lodden Russet. It was looking as though we weren’t going to get any pale citrusy ales tonight, soddit. The Russet was ok, the name indicates its colour, a thick head with a bit of oatmeal, reminded me of a typical Scottish ale from a few decades back. 4.5% it didn’t do a lot for me. But to our delight, the ale replacing the rejected vinegar was from Elland Brewery, a pale ale named Sanctuary, New Zealand hops will always give a very citrusy taste, this was lovely, a 4.3% straw coloured ale and in good condition. Nice head clinging to the glass. The night was finishing well. That was it, several decent ales and great result. We didn’t go to the Engineers in Henlow, saving that for Saturday’s trip to Hitchin where a beer festival is being held at the Half Moon. Marvellous.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

A BRIDGE TOO FAR

The last time the Poppies travelled up to Lancashire for a game of footy it was on a Tuesday night, it was also the 13th of the month, and it was in March 2012.  In one of our worst seasons ever we scraped a goalless draw at Southport. Before that it was yet another Tuesday night up at Fleetwood in November 2011. Some bloke called Vardy was on the bench, he wasn’t good enough to face the mighty reds. What it is with Lancashire on Tuesday nights? The PRATS were travelling up on the team coach, well almost all of us; Parker was still swanning around in Spain looking for a wicker donkey called Oatey wearing a sombrero. We picked up Pharp along with a few other relatively unimportant folk at Corley Services and so the long drive up the M6 continued. With the temperature forecast to drop into single figures by 9:00pm I thought I’d better dig out the vest, the big coat and of course my hand knitted Poppies scarf. Mrs Fuggles spotted the scarf and that was it, “don’t you lose that scarf, it took me months to knit that, you lost the last one; it took me months to knit that one as well”. On and on this annual recital goes on and on, I lost count of how many times I said “yes dear”. I shaped the scarf into a garrotte during this period of numbness, and undid it quickly when she turned around, “yes dear”. It was around 6:00pm when we finally arrived at the ground; fortunately Rasputin had arrived before us and was advising the Bamber Bridge staff where to park the bus. Hopefully the mad monk was also the chief advisor to the team on bus parking techniques. Actually it’s not Rasputin, its Topper with a full facial hair down to his knees, still mad though. Pharp, Citra and Fuggles started the 12 minute (verified by Googlemaps UK) route march to the Withy Arms
Entering by the rear smoking veranda, we were greeted by a smart pub with a nice row of hand pumps serving micro-brewery ales. Several Poppies supporters were already in there enjoying the ales. On tap was two ales with WA on the pump clip, Best bitter brewed by Ribble brewery which is owned by the same people that own the Withy chain of pubs all based locally, and their own ale WA. But we’re not sure if these are not the same ale, the young girl behind the bar said they were. The Whatpub website suggests that the house ale is brewed by Thwaites and comes in at 3.2% whereas both of those on offer where 3.6%. Even the chalk board above the bar suggested the ales were different.  Either way only the Best Bitter was available. There were two ales from Wall’s brewing Co of Nothalllerton, Alventure at 3.8% and Allerton Pale, at 4.5% plus the very robust 5.7% abv Marston’s Empire, with the 6th pump serving Old Rosie Scrumpy cider.  Pharp went for the WA Best Bitter, copper coloured ale looked very clear with a good head clinging to the glass. £2.30 a pint is a good price to pay for ale these days. Citra and I went for Wall’s Alventure, once again in good condition, pale and tasty with a good head. We had the last 2 pints as it went off directly after we were served, considering this; the ale was in good nick. It was replaced by Prospect Brewery’s Pioneer. By this time both Marshall and Petit Chemise had arrived, as expected Marshall went for the Pioneer, nice looking chestnut ale, very clear coming in at 4.0%. More beer, Pharp stayed with the house beer, whilst Citra and I went for the other Wall’s ale Allerton. A lovely earthy bitter, as before in very good condition. Citra proclaimed that if he lived in Bamber Bridge, he would be happy to make the Withy Arms his regular imbibing haunt. All the prices were very good, even the selection of lagers looked impressive, Peroni, Warstiener and Estella to name just a few. A very good pub, the menu looked well balanced and once again very well priced.  It was time to trudge back to the ground; we decided to give the clubhouse a miss until after the game.

The game, well for fear of becoming repetitive, it was a Tuesday night, we were away, we lost again. Despite playing well for most parts of the game we once again come away empty handed. It was a classic cup tie, end to end stuff, goal mouth clearances all the ingredients required for an entertaining game for the neutral and nerve jangling stuff for both sets of supporters. Well done Bamber Bridge, hopefully the additional 200 onlookers more than their usual gate will attend again during the season. Best of luck in the next round down in the south of our county.
So onto the clubhouse, what a delight, 2 hand pumps. Bradfields Farmers Pale Ale and Bank Top’s Barley To Beer. Pharp went for the latter thinking it was a dark beer, it wasn’t it was a delightfully light coloured ale coming in at 3.6%. Unfortunately the beers were served in thin plastic squeezy glasses. Nevertheless the ale was in excellent condition, it’s a job to tell if it was pristine as the plastic glass is not clear itself and the head never really clings to the side. Fuggles and Citra went for the more robust Farmers Pale Ale coming in at 5.0%. This was lovely, full bodied with a delightful dry after taste. The ale looked as clear as we could tell, with a reasonable head. Nice newish looking clubhouse with plenty of space. In fact the whole ground looked fairly new, clearly some good investment has been made here. That was it for the night at 10:20pm it was back onto the coach for the long journey home. On the way back looking through the window the night sky was incredibly clear once we’d got away from the motorway lighting. I commented that I couldn’t remember seeing so many stars when I was a kid. Up chirped Citra, “there weren’t, but they have better telescopes now and they have discovered a lot more”.…….Stunned! As John McEnroe once said, “you cannot be Sirius”.

Next week it’s Biggleswade, on a bloody Tuesday night.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

NO NOT GASCOIGNE OR STRATFORD


Just when the PRATS had readied themselves for the most eagerly awaited cup tie at Stratford, we managed to draw in the FA cup. So instead of just a couple of junctions up the M6 and along the A46 we now have to travel all the way up the M6 to a junction somewhere in the upper 20’s. Like all Southern League footy fans we were really really looking forward to playing in what must be the pinnacle of all footy players careers, the Red Insure Cup. If only the Poppies players had realised what was at stake when they drew on Saturday. They would surely have been more determined to convince the ref that when a goalie performs a swallow dive onto our centre forward to bring him down; it is generally regarded as a penalty. Especially in the 94th minute, must try harder.  The goalie was awarded straight sixes from the on looking judges, and the good news for Bamber Bridge is that their goalie is now on the flight to Rio at the expense of Tom ‘hairy chest’ Daley.
Will the PRATS get a pint or three whilst up in the cotton mill country? We could try Ye Olde Original Withy Trees a Robinsons pub about half a mile from the ground, maybe call in the Withy Arms just a few yards further up, apparently this used to be called the Withy Trees,  just not as ‘Ye Olde’ as the other one. Or perhaps the Pump and Truncheon.  
Can you imagine having a chat with your mates on deciding what to do for the evening? “Anyone fancy the pump and truncheon tonight’? Oooh you are awful, but I like you.