Another early arrival at Bank Top for Martin and I with ample time to brave the queues at Taylors before arriving at the Quaker at opening time.
Some fine beers on tap today - Captain Cook Sunset, Oakham Inferno, Ringwoods Bitter, Milestone Black Pearl and a couple from Centurion. I started with the Sunset - brewed by local CAMRA member Iain Jackson - and a nice pint it is.
The Oakham Inferno divided opinion amongst some drinkers in the bar - it was an extremely hopped beer, probably too much so for most. I tried it and liked it but I preferred the Sunset.
The big news of the day is that Steve and Linda have given notice on the Quaker and it is probably being taken over by a couple of lads who run the pub on an evening. It will be interesting to see what affect this will have on the beer choice going forward and whether there'll be pressure from S&N to stock their guests. Fingers crossed.
John and his father-in-law Mike joined me after a while as did Colin who was fresh from an excess of bottling at the Oakwood (Rotherham) festival during the week. If you don't know what bottling is, don't ask.
(left) Colin and his bottling tools...
From here we moved up to Number Twenty-2 - very busy today but some decent beers as usual - the service was a bit on the sluggish side however.
Tony Gargett pointed out that he had brought some of his pals, including the one who had seen about 17 games at the Arena, of which we'd drawn just two. Suffice to say we tried to put him off going but he was adamant that today was the day he was going to break his duck.
And then to the match - nice to finally see Darlington in action after what seems like ages - there was a bit of a panic when Pav Abbot failed to show up on the team sheet but I was told it was a virus rather than something broken/twisted/torn. Tonsillitis as it later turns out - phew!
The game wasn't really up to much - both sides cancelling each other out to some degree although Grimsby rarely threatened - Proudlock had a shot over the bar but Gerken was visibly unimpressed and he had very little to do for the rest of the afternoon. Darlo certainly created some chances but we seemed a bit lost without Abbot - Hatch didn't appear to be his usual up-and-at-em self.
The game wasn't helped by the spoiling tactics of the Mariners - constantly falling to the floor, feigning injury and generally trying to waste time - a draw was what they were after and after a while it looked like it was on the card - especially after Carlton missed an absolute sitter.
And of course the ref didn't help matters - inconsistent use of the yellow card especially - and sure enough Nottingham's finest Colin wasn't slow in letting him know about it.
Then cue an inspirational move. No, not the substitution of Carlton for young Curtis Main but Tony and Brian moving to what they assured us were their lucky seats a few rows down. They insisted it had worked before - and so it did again with just a few minutes to spare. A simple header from the 16-year old but that's all we needed to get back on track.