Given the early hour, it wasn't a surprise to find the train was not heavily loaded. Just as well as the seat reservations hadn't been printed, confusing passengers as they joined en route.
|John, Martin, Steve, John and Cath|
in the Bacchus
Before we went to the first pub, we had a wander round the famous Grainger Market where, as a student in the early 80s, I used to get 28p a pound ox liver. Martin commented he'd never seen so many butchers under one roof and it was hard to decide which of their pies to plump for.
The first pub of the day was an old favourite - helped by the fact it opens at 11am - the Newcastle Arms. Given it's proximity to
The beers at the bar were Anarchy Brewery Sublime Chaos (7.0 breakfast stout), Big Lamp Golden Star,
Temptation 7 Deadly Sins, Triple F Moondance, TSA Sherrifmuir and Wensleydale Gold. Of those I tried the breakfast stout was very tasty but a half was more than enough.
From here we crossed the city centre to the Bacchus, pub of the year for the fourth time in a row, and where we found our Gateshead chum Steve waiting for us.
At the bar I bumped into Ken, a ticking type from Durham. We used to regularly see him in the Quaker but Newcastle has got such a vast array of good pubs these days, he has more than enough beers here to keep him busy.
Also joining us was Cath, one of my chums from my university days in Newcastle. After graduation Cath stayed in the area and her Cheltenham burr has long given way to a subtle Geordie tang. It was good to see her again.
After a few beers Steve suggested we wander to the Bridge Hotel - another of my student haunts - where we met a few of his buddies. After a few more beers - and some cheek from the barmaid - we took a taxi ride to Dunston.
The UTS stadium is a large flat ground with just a couple of stands, surrounded by trees and feeling quite rural. It was clear to see there was a healthy Darlo contingent in attendance, swelling the attendance to almost 800.
The players were warming up as we came in and it was hard for me to put a name to any of them save the Purewals and the guy who seems to love tanning machines - well scary.
I had a reduced set of camera gear with me today and didn't really have a need to be pitchside. As a consequence I ended up doing more talking than usual - catching up with a lot of familiar faces - and so paid less attention to the game than normal.
Dunston would regret this almost instantly as Darlo scored within a few minutes when Joe Tait (apparently) scored with a close range header. The score remained the same when the ref blew for half-time.
|Tait and Scott celebrate |
as Darlo go 1-0 up
Darlo scored a third in the dying seconds as young Lowes rounded the keeper to put the game well beyond reach.
As we left the ground and waited for our taxi, about five police vehicles turned up - trouble at the far end of the ground apparently after the game but I have to say we were oblivious of it all.
We caught a taxi back to Central station where some of us went for a final pint in the Forth on Pink Lane, an avenue of disrepute in my student days but now quite a decent little cut-through with nice pubs and cafes.
And then it was time for the the train back to Kings Cross, most of which was spent snoozing.
Since Martin had already had a few halves, I ended up going to the Euston Tap on my own but it wasn't long before I was chatting to some of the other regulars.
Nothing particularly interesting on cask tonight so I went for a few nu-keg beers - Red Willow Ageless & Wreckless were both excellent whilst Tempest Face With No Name and Hop Studio Pilsner were pretty decent.
All in all, mission successful - I feel well and truly back in the groove...