There was a small but perfectly formed batch of Darlo-ness in London Bridge last night when a few of the capital's DAFTS got together for a few beers.
The venue was the Wheatsheaf - the new version of the pub of the same name just round the corner by Borough Market - the original is now closed so that work can be done to try and eradicate the rail bottleneck between Charing Cross and London Bridge stations. I'll believe that when I see it.
The new place is a basement pub - what used to be a Davy's Wine Bar apparently - which lies under the impressive Hop Exchange. It's quite a decent place - stone floors, plenty of seating, Sky TV (but not intrusive), not too noisy and decorated with black and white photos of the original Wheatsheaf's regulars (including a couple of topless ladies who I don't remember seeing in the old place unfortunately).
The place still appears to be a Young's pub and has two of their beers but there were about 4 or 5 interesting guest beers on. Howard and I arrived together and both opted for the Elgood's Golden Newt - as the name suggests it's a golden ale - slightly flowery and not too hoppy - easy drinking.
We were soon joined by Christopher - due to be back in the capital on a permanent basis before too long - who was just in time to get the drinks before John turned up and we got into the thick of things Darlo-wise.
The consensus of opinion is that we're very happy to still have a team in the league next season but obviously wary of how things will go - not so much on the pitch but in terms of the long-term stability of the club.
(left) The Wheatsheaf
The chairman has not made any friends and it's fair to say that the spotlight will be on him throughout the coming months.
Next season will undoubtedly be a slog - a reduced budget will gives us a much smaller squad which won't match the quality we seen in the past ten months - I'm sure we'll get the more traditional type of Darlo performances and will sap our reserves of optimism - new manager Colin Todd has his work cut-out.
But it's a situation like this that means the DAFTS way of approaching things - have a good time in the pub before the game so the day isn't a total waste - will come into it's own. We're an optimistic bunch - why else do we turn up? - so I'm sure we'll have some fun along the way.
As ever there's been a lot of hot air on Darlo messageboards - a few fans seem set to boycott home games so as not to line the pockets of George Houghton (as if) - I think we all know where they're coming from but actions like this are ultimately self-defeating.
So I'll be renewing my season ticket and my player sponsorship - the club needs our money and support - but that doesn't mean I condone or forgive George Houghton for his actions of recent months.
All this bluster was thirsty work and so time for more beers - this time I tried the Loddon Hullabaloo - slightly darker and maltier than the Golden Newt but a nice drop all the same.
It was all too much for Howard though - his elderly bladder called time on his night out - and then Chris (and other half Susie who had also joined us) went off in search of some food.
John and I stayed for another couple before wandering over to the nearby Rake - we tried each of the two beers on handpump, one of which was a wheat beer from Springhead which was OK but slightly dull. I forget what John had.
We decided we'd also have a taste of the 10% porter from Stone - which is where the third of a pint glass comes into it's own. The porter was a very full-on affair, extremely liqouricey, and a half would have been too much for us at that stage - nevertheless a very good one-for-the-road beer. And it was then time to hit the road...