I’d taken to waking up before the alarm going off, with the routine grind of work. The noise of the alarm then, was a shock to the system. Waiting for the bus into town, led to thinking of the cold winter mornings to come. At least I had that comforting feeling of taking a couple of days off holiday, when normally I’d just be a Minion. You couldn’t wipe the smile of satisfaction off my face with a Brillo pad. For me, it’s football, real ale and train travel, in that order. I was back to combining the three. England, that yellow and pleasant land, sped by. I wasn’t, and still aren’t fed up of the weather we’ve had this summer. As far as I’m concerned, this could last, until well after Easter. I was sat in a seat, reserved from Warrington, the lady claimed it when we got there. It led to a flowing conversation, that lasted until Haymarket, where I disembarked. It was good to be back. It was cooler than what I had been used to, and I contemplated buying a sweatshirt, until I became acclimatised. I went down to the ground to get my ticket for the game, and took a leisurely stroll to the first pub I’d got on my itinerary. After a deviation, (Ok, I went slightly off course. Wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t) I found the Barony Bar.
“Not a tourist in sight”
It was pricey, but I was expecting that. A beautiful place, with a hipster feel. I moved on to the next place.
“And this is classed as the New Town”
“No wonder he scored so many goals”
Clark’s Bar was a bit more rough and ready. It had character, but a disappointing range. Just a half in there, and it was on to the next place. To get to the next place, it was a battle through the tourists. Tourists not being their usual target market, and it being Tuesday, most of the pumps were off. The barman was obviously still learning, as he’d never seen a Camra membership card before. At least, even without the discount, it was cheap. The discount made it even cheaper. The pint was nice too. I gave the next place, a miss. I’ll do it during the season, when it’s a lot quieter. Has a statue of a dog, ever had as many photos taken of it? Typical of Hollywood to cast Lassie, as a Scottish terrier. I headed for my hotel. Now I’m a relative novice at staying over for a game, let alone booking a room over the tinternet. I’d made the mistake of booking two rooms, instead of just one. It was too late to cancel, so already, I was down on the seasons expenditure. Talking of the tinternet and the inept way Blues is ran, the Middlesbrough tickets had been released, only they were released BEFORE the information was posted on their website. While I’m on a rant, how is it fair that the tickets are released over the internet, before you can physically buy them at the shop/ticket office? It discriminates against supporters who haven’t the access to internet facilities.
“A night on the tiles”
The Cafe Royal is in my top three most beautiful pubs in the country. Though I’m always on the hunt, I can’t see me finding anywhere as plush. I wasn’t originally going to go back in there on this visit, but I just had to immerse myself in historical eye candy. I headed for Tynecastle. I went to Ryries. This place was supposed to be the home of the Bay City Rollers. (What do you mean, who?) This band was huge. Hundreds of thousands of girls with something in tartan on.
“A former groupie? The tartan trousers give it away”
The Diggers was next and last before the game. I couldn’t come up for a Hearts game without at least one visit to the place that’s become my favourite pub in Embra.
Just like in England, the League Cup doesn’t inspire, like having to migrate to the kop at Blues, I got to sit in the main stand. Great view, padded seat, wouldn’t sit there for a normal league game.
Fans get used to their season ticket seat, moving is alien. It disrupts the routine. “There’s a girl playing at number 8” said a woman to my right, to her other half. Migration or not, League Cup or not, I was just happy to be there. Cowdenbeath were reduced to ten men due to a bad tackle, just after the half hour, but at half time, it was still 0:0. The second half was much better. Naismith was dropped deeper, and it seemed to work. He was able to use the ball better. MacLean made it 1:0 with a scrappy goal. The lead was doubled soon after by a very good finish from the new lad from Cambridge. Uche Ikpeazu is a name I’m still trying to get my mouth round. If he knew mine, he’d probably have the same trouble. The third was scored by another new signing, (Levein had been busy in the summer) a barnstorming header from Peter Haring and almost immediately, Hearts were awarded a stone wall penalty. Naismith dispatched it with no hassle. After the flat first half, this was more like it. 5:0 and the scoring stopped. It could’ve been more, possibly should’ve been. I was happy though. First game of the season already under my belt. A full main stand, meant it took an age to get out.
The long walk to the hotel, hadn’t felt as long on the way to the ground. I got up Wednesday, had a shower, and read a couple of chapters of the book I’m reading. The story of how F.C United of Manchester came about and how they were set up, is a compelling read. After checking out, I found out that the kitchen at the Booking Office was shut, there wasn’t to be a Wetherspoons breakfast for me. Gravity pulled me towards Haymarket, and I had a bacon roll on the hoof.
“Now if I can only get a mortgage. . . . . . . ”
A mooch took me to the Roseburn. Knowing it opens at 10 o’clock helps, as does the decor. Work being done in the lounge, meant settling myself in the bar with my copy of the Daily Record. It also meant I could have a good look at the old photos on the wall.
“They need a bigger wall”
I hadn’t treated myself to a steak pie yet, so that was going to be rectified. I ambled passed Tynecastle, grounds always seem strange, the morning after an evening game. Or that’s just me. I was the first customer in the Diggers. They’re award-winning pies in the Diggers, but then, it’s an award-winning pub. These pies must be made by magicians. I have no idea how they get so many big chunks of steak, in what looks to be a small pie. The eyes deceive you. It’s a Tardis of a pie. I battled through yet more tourists, to the Halfway House. I was meeting Dingle Dave in there and he was already in there, when I got in there. It was good to see him, and he was with his cousin/girlfriend/missus (Delete where applicable). Dave had painted a Rembrandt, I’d got a Picasso in my minds eye. I was pleasantly surprised, she was more of a Monet. We had a good catch up and chewed over everything on planet football and real ale. The weather, as it is at moment, broke into the conversation and Dave couldn’t help but remind that Glasgow is the wettest city in Britain. I said goodbye to Dave and Yvonne and walked back to Hearts to buy a Tynecastle tartan scarf, I can wear down the Blues, home and away. On the way back into town, I went to Mather’s Bar.
A proper Edinburgh pub. Also much nicer on the inside, than it looks from the outside. Possibly why there were only locals in there. I got the train home, mindful that it wasn’t terminating in Brum, but carrying on down to Euston. I’ve history of missing my stop. Though not as bad as Nat Peters. It probably helped with having an older Sister, texting all the way back.