Tuesday, 14 April 2009

No Dreaming Spires Here...

It was a nice surprise to find out that Da Vinci's opens a little after 6am - this gave me plenty of time for a full breakfast before joining Mr Wilson on the 7:30am train to Chesterfield.

The journey was due to be three hours - one hour more than usual as it seemed to be stopping absolutely everywhere for the bank holiday weekend - but it was closer to four hours by the time we actually arrived thanks to track side failures and general dithering about.

And I thought Virgin Trains were poor.

We meet Steve and Colin at Chesterfield station and took a cab straight out to the Derby Tup, one of the Tynemill chain of pubs we know well. Steve tried to get hold of Lance and Ray - already supping in the Rutland - but was having trouble getting through. Not for the first time...

After no sign of activity from within the pub just a few minutes after opening time (11:30 according to the sign outside the pub) I tried the door and found it wasn't actually locked - feeling daft for not having tried the door I was non-plussed to find stools were on tables and a cleaner was still doing her rounds.

It seems there is a new landlord and he now opens at noon - the scourge of the away fan who likes his Saturday beer session to start early - and so we have to find something to do in Whittington Moor to waste 25 minutes. Not a lot as it turns out - a quick wander round Lidl for some pork pies and chocolate being the most exciting thing on offer.

(above) Colin and Trevor ruminate on the meaning of life, the universe and Darlo

On finally getting into the pub, along with Trevor and John Bell who we'd found outside on our return to the Tup, there was quite a decent range on offer - Harvest Pale and Preservation Ale from Castle Rock, Thornbridge Jaipur IPA, Hopback Summer Lightning and a couple from the Oldershaw Brewery, Grantham Stout and Old Boy.

I stuck to the tried and tested duo of Harvest Pale and the Jaipur IPA - an easy choice really. Both Steve and John B were taking it easy - Steve was not feeling well and John had suffered at the hands of his wife driving over here from Chester and was still a bit light-headed.

The Tup is a nice, traditional pub but was virtually dead on this lunchtime - apart from the six of us there was probably only another half dozen customers whilst we were there.

That is likely to change in the next year or two once Chesterfield FC relocate to a new ground in Whittington Moor. Perhaps then they'll open a bit earlier.

We arrived at Saltergate a few minutes before kick-off - Steve was still not himself and opted for the comfort of the stand - the rest of us headed for the open terrace despite the odd drop of rain - it's not often we get the chance and we were hopeful the rain would pass over. It did.

(left) John still in a daze after his wife's driving

The main topic of conversation amongst the fans was the non-appearance of Liam Hatch and Danny Carlton - it seems the Football League have suggested all may not be well with their loans now that we're in administration and so we can't play them until it's all sorted - or maybe not play them at all - cue rumours of points deductions and relegation to the conference. God, we're a cheery lot.

The first half saw us under quite a lot of pressure and not much action up front to relieve it. Quite predictably Jack Lester, this league's top scorer, was tumbling theatrically at every opportunity, looking as if he's spent six months on loan at the Bolshoi, and the home crowd was baying for free kicks. Come on lads, have some dignity - you know what he's like...

At times it was pure gritty last gap defending with Ravenhiill, White and Miller holding firm - so much so that Kazimierczak didn't have to pull off many real saves.

The second-half saw us take the initiative and take the game to the Spireites - Abbot came more into the game with support from Burgmeier, Poole and Main - and it wasn't until late in the second half that Chesterfield looked like scoring.

It was a more-than-deserved point - the team's attitude was magnificent under the circumstances and they were given a prolonged ovation as they were warmed down after the final whistle.

One Chesterfield fan accused of coming for a point with ten men behind the ball but after chatting with him on the way back to the station, I suspect he was more frustrated with his own side. They seem to have no love for their manager and little more for Jack Lester despite all his goals.

Thankfully the journey back to St Pancras was a speedy trip - Martin and I enjoying the comfort and quiet of first class whilst abandoning John to standard class - and after a well-deserved snooze, John and I were in the Betjeman Arms for 8:30pm.

Liz and Jenny joined us a little later for a couple of drinks and then it was time to go home a little bit earlier than usual - the weekend's not over yet...

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