Thursday, 3 October 2013

Carry On Follow That Cammell

After a few weeks stuck down south and spending recent match days in the boozer, it was time for another trip out on the train.  Our original opponent today was Cammell Laird but since they were still in the FA Cup, we were lining up at Salford City instead.

I checked out train prices and found it would have meant an additional £50 or so to get to this game – and this is after we’d spent just £28 for the return journey to Rock Ferry! I opted for travelling to Liverpool as planned and taking in a few pubs having been told that their beer scene is actually quite good these days.

I met Martin at Cafe Sorrento for breakfast – he would be travelling with me so far as Liverpool and would get the train over to Manchester.  He isn’t the sort of part-time fan who lets a small change in geography stop him from seeing the Quakers.

As we headed back to Euston to find Howard – who’d decided to travel to Cammell Laird as well – we bumped into our Wycombe photographer chum, Paul, who was off to their game at Rochdale.  I’d not seen Paul for a season or so – one of football’s good guys and it was good to have a quick chat.

The train was very busy and so Howard couldn’t get a seat with us and he had to return to his original seat next to a mum and young baby.  The journey was only two hours though and on arrival we made sure Martin got on the train to Manchester before heading off to explore.  It took a few minutes to get our bearings but eventually we were in the right direction for the pubs I wanted to try out.

We wandered past St Luke’s church – you have to look closely to realise it is a bombed out shell that has been left as it is and the surrounding church yard is used as a place to sit down and reflect.  Interesting. 

Clove Hitch
Most of the pubs on my map were around Hope Street which is an interesting part of town and the part we started on houses the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts where various Scouse luminaries had studied.  There was a throng of Japanese tourists taking photos - we joined in.

Further along Hope Street we came to the Anglican Cathedral – an enormous structure in some interesting grounds.  We wandered in – the scale was impressive but it was quite modern (building started in 1904) and it lacks the style and grandeur of somewhere like York Minster.

At the opposite end of Hope Street is the Catholic Cathedral – the very modern one – but I left Howard to have a closer look on his own. 

Instead I went for my first beers of the day at the Clove Hitch – not so much a pub as a bar and bistro.  Three beers on cask: Kent Brewery Elderflower Saison, Pope's Brewing Company Hop Market and Nelson from local microbrewery Mad Hatter whilst on keg they had Beavertown London Sour and Gamma Ray. I had a half of each and they were all in very good nick.

It has a craft bar in the basement but sadly this doesn’t open until 4:30pm so we wandered back on ourselves and popped into the Philharmonic Dining Rooms (or Phil for short).  This is a cross between a gin palace and a gentleman’s club – highly ornate with several rooms.  The beer choice wasn’t quite as dramatic – I had halves of Liverpool Organic Pale Ale and Rudgate Zest Is Best but I drew the line at Thwaites.

From here, Howard headed off towards the docks as he was set on going for a quick trip on the ferry.  I wandered further along Hope Street and then down a side street to Ye Cracke.  

The outside of the pub advertises Boddingtons and Bass but inside there is a better choice including beers from Phoenix. They’re OK but not brilliant - a tad warm for my tastes. I hadn’t realised it but this place is on the Beatles Tour as John Lennon often spent time here with his first band the Dissenters.

A load of Swedish blokes came in as part of one tour and had a quick pint before rushing away to the next stop.  I got chatting to a couple – Cambridge United fans – who were in town for a psychedelic music festival and we soon got chatting about music and football.

Ye Cracke
The three of us then moved onto the Roscoe Arms – a well-preserved pub with four tiny rooms and beers from the likes of Jennings, Cumberland and Tetley’s.  The beer was OK but not brilliant – once again I'd have preferred them to be a bit cooler. A friendly pub though and a great place to have a good natter.

After a couple of rounds, I left my new chums and headed to somewhere closer to Lime Street so that Howard could join me.  

On my map there was a place called the Swan.  I found this on a back street and it wasn’t a particularly inviting place from the exterior.  The interior had supposedly been refurbished but it was hard to tell as it was quite dark.  It had several beers on cask – of which only the Hop Studio looked enticing – and a small selection of Belgian beers.  

However it did have an excellent jukebox though and a distinctly rocky clientele.  Howard joined me and wasn’t put off by the noise so we had a last pint before catching our train back to Euston.

We were a little behind schedule back into London – the perennial “lack of platforms” excuse – but I was in the Euston Tap by 8pm.  The place was very quiet inside and I took my usual place at the bar.

One of the bar staff – a lad from the Boro – had been to see their latest defeat at Loftus Road.  They had no complaints at all – well beaten it seems – and so we set about discussing who would (should) be the new manager given that Tony Mowbray must be on borrowed time.

To make my day complete, I saw from Twitter that Darlo had won  2-0 at Salford City - hopefully we're now back on track after the midweek defeat at Ramsbottom.