It’s FA cup day, 4th round qualifying away at Aldershot, will it be 3rd time lucky, will the Shots be firing blanks?
A nice day, pleasantly autumnal, woolly jumper weather along with the lucky boxer shorts and lucky socks. Make sure they’re on the correct feet, the blue sock with the hole goes on the left foot, the other sock, a black one, has to be inside out. It was around 9:30 when Parker arrived, Citra was gurgling on the back seat. Parker has just returned from his holiday, he’s been in Spain on the Costa Latte, strutting along the Playa Del Boy wearing nothing but his poppies red satin thong. He’s a regular strutter, apparently, he never lets a Diego by. Being of chalky complexion it didn’t take long before he turned bright red and blistered, this morning he looks like a roll of pink bubble wrap. Citra, is travelling today, although he’s got the lurgies. Citra says he has a permanent drip on the end of his nose, we didn’t ask which end. At least he hasn’t got one of those tickly irritating coughs, it’s quite clear he’s getting some purchase, by the sound of the reverberating rattle each time he splurts out another black death induced hack followed by a long lingering wheeze. Nothing an ale won’t sort out. Just before 10:00 we arrive at Pharp’s abode, we know this is where Pharp lives due to the pungent yellow haze lingering overhead, there is the occasional swirl of purple mingling with the yellow, looks nice. You don’t see many birds about. Looking up at the flock of Canada geese, you can clearly see a ‘sharply veering wobbly right turn’ in the flight path, before swinging back on course a few miles further on. The lead goose looked quite unwell, I suspect he inhaled the first billful before leading the rest of the flock on a safer course. He crashed into a couple of his chums, they look nervously frightened, goose bumps I guess.
A decent drive down, punctuated by the obligatory hold ups on the M25, very reminiscent of two seasons in the league below. Egham, Godalming, Ashford (Middx), and all those clubs around these parts, makes one shudder. We arrived at the White Lion in Aldershot around midday. Pharp got in first and proclaimed “we have arrived just in time, the landlady is pulling everything off”, Pharp had a smirk on his face. A very pleasant landlady with an antipodean accent and of south pacific appearance, duly served us our ales. The White Lion is owned by Triffle FFF brewery, from just down the road in Alton, birthplace of Courage Directors, when is was a far better product than it is today.
The White Lion feels like a real town pub with live music at the weekends, quizzes and so on. The scooter club meet here on Sundays, with scooter ornaments on all the shelves throughout the pub. A generally good feel about it. We were the first ones in, but within half hour the locals were perched on their regular stools at the bar.
Citra and Fuggles went for Moondance, Pharp had Pressed Rat and Warthog whilst Parker settled for the Alton’s Pride. Moondance is a lovely pale ale coming in at 4.2% abv. Floral nose, bitterness with a sweetish finish, very nice and very refreshing. Winner of many awards on a national level. It was natural that Pharp went for Pressed Rat and Warthog, for no other reason than its name and hoping that it would add some sort of dead animal aroma to any future emissions. Another national champion, this is a dark mild which is unusual for its hoppiness. Having said that it comes with the usual ruby colour, chocolate, coffee, fruity roasted flavour, with a 3.8% abv. Alton’s Pride, yet another national award winner, CAMRA Supreme Champion Beer of Britain 2008. A good English ale, clean, fresh and hoppy, coming in a 3.8% abv.
Parker cooked for Queen and country in Aldershot, so he knows is way around, he mentioned a few barracks names, the rest of the PRATS had no idea but the landlord knew where they were. Crash!, Pharp sends his Warthog sprawling, almost soaking the bag of Yummy Yum poppadum’s with green chilli, including dip. Parker’s trousers now have a suspicious looking splash where blokes don’t really want one. Within 2 shakes of a Maori’s tewhatewha, the landlady is out with the bar towels mopping up. Time for another round of ales, same all round. There’s a most unusual sign on the bar, ‘PACK OF 8 TISSUES ON SALE. 50p’. Never seen a sign in a pub like that before, they’d sold out as well, thankfully Citra didn’t need one, he still had room on his sleeve. By now the Weebles had arrived, Marshall, Wort, Petit Chemise and Petit Pantaloons. Full marks to Pantoloons, she drove down, Chemise was driving home, good planning. These girls are slowly catching on with all the bloke’s tricks, don’t tell Mrs Fuggles. It’s also noticeable that since the Petit’s tied the knot, Chemise is drifting towards a Moyen, the marmite and cheese sausage rolls baked by Pants was clear evidence of the culprit. One more round before we had to get parked up in the ground.
Time for footy for Pharp and Fuggles, we had official duties to perform, whilst Parker and Citra thrashed down another ale in the Crimea pub. Which by a strange quirk was “half a league, half a league, half a league onward” just down the road, not quite that far but I had to get something from the ‘Charge of the Light brigade’ in. Time for a Michael Caine moment, did you know that Deene House, the other side of Steel town, is the home of the Brudenalls, the Earls of Cardigan. It was the 7th earl that lead the charge of the light brigade at Balaclava. Not a lot of people know that. As a nod towards the local footy club, the ale in the Crimea was Aldershot Town Ale, 3.8% abv brewed by Marston’s, probably re-badged standard stuff.
The EBB stadium is right in the town centre, with very little room to move. Getting into the car park was a bit of a chore, but we eventually got parked up. We spotted the manky cat club badge on the score board, the chairman of Aldershot was only too pleased to put the right one up. A beautiful playing surface, which received more water than was probably required, it even got another dousing at half-time.
The match, well we did ok, it was one of those games where the opposition win but you’re not sure how they did it. We had our chances, but didn’t take them. A decent turn out by the vermillion horde, made plenty of noise, but it wasn’t to be 3rd time lucky. The club did itself proud throughout, with the players and the supporters taking joint centre stage. Well done all round.
Time to go home, as we left Aldershot, Pharp unleashed a Triple FFF, thankfully he was firing blanks. As is almost always the case when going around this section of the M25 we go to the Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty in wealthy Heronsgate.
There are quite a few posh pads either side of the road. But not the LOLPP, this is a proper pub, with 10 handpumps, lovely. We always get a welcome from the landlord, who will look at us and proclaim ‘Kettering Town’, we all nod appreciatively. Where to start, https://www.landoflibertypub.com/2.html you will very often see ales from Tring, Downton, Dark Star, Leighton Buzzard breweries, plus plenty more from all over the country. Fuggles and Citra went for Downton’s Quadhop, Parker had Leighton Buzzard’s Captain Cook whilst Pharp settled for Tring’s Mansion Mild. Fuggles also sneaked in a half pint of Dark Star Green Hopped IPA 2018. We’ve had Quadhop quite a few times, even at the Poppies beer festival. A nice pale ale, as the name suggests it’s brewed with 4 hops, easy drinking, slight citrusy aroma very moreish bitter. Captain Cook, no not the famous sea captain, but Alistair Cook England’s cricket captain. Light bodied, not palette blowing but easily drinkable all day, coming in at 3.8% abv. Mansion Mild, as you might expect with Pharp, it’s brown, his favourite colour when it come to ales, and bizarrely his underpants. A creamy head, with hints of brown sugar, toasted malt and fruits. 3.7% abv. Pharp must have liked this one, he didn’t knock it over. The Darkstar Geen Hopped IPA 20118 was shared around as a taster, coming in at a whopping 6.5% abv, was just too strong to guzzle down on your own. Crikey, powerful or what, very bitter as you might expect with a green hopped ale, alcohol vapours coming off as well, very, very nice.
The Weebles were already in residence enjoying Cornish pasties, brought up fresh from Cornwall every week. Not to be outdone Pants whipped out her radio-active marmite and cheese sausage rolls, they were wrapped in lead lined aluminium foil and glowed a yellowy marmitey brown, right up Pharp’s street, so he duly obliged by woofing one down. Another round, this time Fuggles went for Captain Cook, it was same again for Pharp and Citra, Parker was driving so had reached the limit. The usual post-match debates ensued, Marshall knows best, or was it Pharp. Just time for our last ales of the day. We have forgotten what we had, time for home, we dropped Pharp off around 8:40, as we pulled up, the rats must have got wind of our pending arrival as they were pouring out of the sewers near Chez Pharp. We got back into God’s chosen town at around 9:00pm. Thankfully, bloody ‘strictly sodding come prancing’ was almost over.
A decent day out, our FA Cup run is over for another season, downed some decent ales in 2 very good pubs.