Thursday, 29 November 2012

Bloody Students...

Our destination today is Newcastle so we're on the 7:30am train from Kings Cross - it promises to be a long day and even Martin has seen the light as I arrive to find him having breakfast in Da Vincis.

Too early for any other football fans today despite the early kick off at the Stadium of Light - the train is quiet until Doncaster when the carriage becomes full of confused women trying to find their seats as they head to York for Christmas shopping.

Brian joined the train too and we join him in the relative quiet of coach H. At Darlo we're joined by John W, Neil and Claude.

On arrival at Central station we wander off to get our Metro tickets for later - by now Trev has turned up - and we head off to the Newcastle Arms.  We find John, Rich and Andy waiting for it to open and after a few minutes the elderly barmaid turns up and attracts the attention of the manager. In at last!

Rocky (Dave!), Cath and Ted

Amongst those on tap today are Hadrian & Border Needles & Pins, Durham White Amarillo and Big Lamp Prince Bishop. The White Amarillo is very disappointing - thin and not a lot of flavour - but the Needles & Pins is very tasty and the pick of the bunch.

As we sup the management turn the TV on and rather than sport, we watch Lorraine Pascale as she makes some very tasty looking desserts whilst being very suggestive a la Nigella. Beats Football Focus.

As the clock approaches noon, we decamp and head on down to the Bridge Hotel - John Bell has arrived and is with Frank who is standing in for Gateshead chum Steve who is indisposed.

Once again, my old Uni chum Cath has popped along - not long after another old chum, Rocky (or Dave as his family call him) joins us too - we've not seen him since 1984 so we have some catching up to do. I'm pleased to see he still likes his beer.

A good selection at the bar: Summer Wine Rouge Hop, Bristol Beer Factory Independence, Buxton English Pale Ale, Gundog Gundog, Harbour IPA, Moor Revival and Allendale Tarbarl Stout plus Tempest A Face With No Name on keg.

Most of our little band are happy in the Bridge but a few of us wander off to visit the wonderful Crown Posada.  Not necessarily wonderful for the number of beers - they have four taps - but the general atmosphere with the old Dansette playing easy listening vinyl.  A quiet little haven.

The two Johns and I decide to order a taxi - John B goes outside to do so and when he comes back he can't find his wallet. He checks all his pockets and we check the immediate surroundings - even the other punters check but no joy.

A real mystery and we can only assume he has dropped it and someone has taken it.

Keeper Craig Turns
goes off injured

We arrive at Team Northumbria's ground by taxi about half-way through the first half. As a student I used to play football on the pitches in this area - the Geordie version of Hackney Marches.

As we enter the ground the score is nil-nil. The game looked quite even at this point though neither side was creating realistic chances.

Shortly before the first half ended goalless, Darlo keeper Craig Turns was injured and replaced by Jack Norton.

Sadly for Norton (and Darlo) he was beaten by a low shot shortly after the restart.  Not a good start.

This spurred Darlo into action and for most of the second half we were constantly attacking. However far too many moves broke down due to a poor final ball or poor finishing as the ball whizzed across the Team Northumbria six-yard box.

The away fans were all starting to get very tetchy at the lack of an equaliser - something we've maybe not seen much of so far this season.  It didn't help when it looked like TN had scored a second only for the ref to disallow it.

As time ran out, we walked towards the exit - the ref seeming to be playing a lot of additional time - TN attack on the counter and score to make it 2-0 and that's it, game over.

We don't wait for the final whistle but trudge back to the Metro.  Thankfully a train soon turns up and we're back at Central station by 5:30pm.

As the others go to the Forth Hotel for some more beer, I buy a train ticket for John so he can get home. He isn't interested in any beers and who could blame him?  I'm sure he wished he'd ignored his alarm for once.

Thankfully we have an unremarkable trip back to Kings Cross - I'm sure we slept for most of the journey - and since Martin has had his fill of beer for the day, I head off alone to the Euston Tap.

Team Northumbria defend
in numbers 
Not a problem though as there is always someone to chat to there - tonight I meet another Ted - just what the world wants!

Some cracking beers as ever - Mikkeller Solstice Saison, De Molen Amarillo, Magic Rock High Wire, Summer Wine Oregon and Thornbridge Wye.

The Wye is an interesting beer - it is infused with cucumber and is very light and refreshing but still packs at punch at 4.7%. I tried this at the Borefts festival a few months ago but this is even better.

I was still going strong but last orders are called and I wander off to Euston Square, getting back to Upton Park just before 1am. Thankfully the Kebabish is still open - not one of the best curry houses but at this time of the day it'll do just fine.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


And so another Saturday sees me missing our game. On this occasion however no one can accuse me of being a part-timer!

Darlo are playing away at West Auckland and although I'd bought rail tickets to travel up for the game, the decision by the home team to increase admission by 100% (from £5 to £10) has led to calls for a boycott by Darlo fans.

Despite the vague mutterings of the West Auckland chairman trying to justify the increase on additional security costs, it is plainly a money-making exercise taking advantage of our following. It is not the cost per se but the principle and certainly the on-line community are heavily in favour of a boycott.

Such behaviour must be nipped in the bud to deter other clubs from doing the same although praise should go to those away teams we've played so far for not taking such a stance.

Northern League chairman Mike Amos had said this is not the sort of thing they expect to see from their member clubs but nonetheless he'd still prefer that Darlo fans didn't boycott the game. Which does seem to be a mixed message to me.

No doubt some fans will still attend regardless of the price and will not see the point of a boycott.  Whilst I don't agree with them, they're fully entitled to do what they want and they certainly don't deserve the spite and vile that has been levelled at them on the messageboard.  People only seem to like a democracy when it goes their way.

Geuze on cask - excellent!

My non-attendance does me allow to spend some drinking time with the London Millers not far from home in the Black Lion, Plaistow.  Like us, they use this pub as their pre-match watering hole for games at Dagenham.

Sadly the beer selection is a bit boring - Courage Best and three rather obvious beers from Adnams.  I have just the one pint as I bring some of the Millers up-to-date about developments at Darlo.

I resist the temptation to join them at the game - I can find better things to do with £19 - and head into central London and, you've guessed it, the Euston Tap.

Today there is a better-than-usual reason to visit as they're celebrating their second birthday. This comes just a few days after CAMRA awarded declared them to be runners-up in their Conversion to Pub Use award (the winner being the Drop Forge Inn in the Jewellery Quarter, Brum).

To celebrate their birthday, they have some an extra-special selection of beers available. On cask the Kernel Table Beer at just 3% was packed full of flavour whilst the Cantillon Geuze was extremely drinkable.

On keg there were some excellent beers, the pick of them being Kernel/Brodies SCANNERS IPA collaboration, Buxton Imperial Black IPA and making their debut, a couple of beers from the Wild Beer Co, Scarlet Fever and Fresh.

The Wild Beer Co suggest their beers are made with a "combination of ancient and new techniques" to give a "truly memorable drinking experience".  Slightly OTT craft-beer style bollocks? Well both beers are very interesting and enjoyable - far too often you get just one or the other but these beers work for me.

Martin ha travelled as normal so I drop hm a text to see how he is gettign on - he replied to say that he and fellow-steward Claude were watching the game from over a wall. Good lad!

Tigger has been dumped
 After chatting to a few tickers - more than usual today to try the Wild Beer Co beers - I popped along the Circle line to join the London Millers for post-match beers at the Craft Beer Co on Leather Lane.

I'd not seen any league results and so I was quite surprised that Dagenham had won 5-0.  "Evans Out" was my first response but that is always my response to that man.  

Sadly I heard that Darlo had also lost - a last minute penalty scored by old-boy John Campbell according to Martin - which brought a bit of a downer to the day.  However a curry on the way home soon put it all in perspective!

As I wandered back home through the back streets of East Ham I came across this sad looking character who appeared to have been abandoned.  As a Disney chap I should really have rescued the poor mite but I think we already have enough animals in our household...