This is one of the fixtures I enjoy doing. It’s easy to get to by train, the station isn’t miles from the ground, and the ground isn’t miles from the city centre. The best thing though, it’s brilliant for real ale. I got to New Street early enough to get my ticket for the train, I spotted Steve first, and he chucked me my lads Vile ticket, that was LJs birthday present sorted, we both spotted JK before he spotted us, seconds later, joined by Spoons and Jude, though Jude wasn’t coming to Derby with us. Darrell turned up next, and then Mikey. There was no sign of Jinksy, he was already on the platform stuffing his face. I sat by Darrell on the way, he’d sent me a local to me, news link. Brum, especially inner city Brum, is infested by gangs, there had been a gang fight down the end of my street, I hadn’t seen or heard anything. Luckily, I’m old enough, to not be hassled by them. Spoons is even more of a technophobe than me, he’s probably more rebellious than me too. We subjected Mikey to a joint rant on reliance on the internet, and hatred of self service, on the way to Derby, neither of us will use self service, on principle. We touched down in Derby, and me and Jinksy chatted about our dislike of Neil Lennon, on the way to the Babbington Arms. The Babbington is by far the best Wetherspoons in the country. Never mind head and shoulders, it stands from ankles upwards above any other Wetherspoons. The ale trailers conversations are varied, it’s never boring, no same old, same old, box ticking. It turned to exam options at school. It might’ve been talking shop to Mikey, but even he couldn’t help but join in. Technological equipment might have been introduced, but school hasn’t changed much, it is still the most important time, in terms of personal development. The impact it makes, affects what you do for the rest of your life. It was obvious by the conversation going round the table, that’s true. Spoons identical twin, (They were once mistaken for one another) Badge came in and we swapped plans. Me, JK and Spoons moved on to The Peacock, but had a quick half in The Brewery Tap, the rest must’ve read our minds, because they found us. (Not that we were trying to hide)
“Lest we forget”
Wherever we go, we’re always on the lookout for Camra mags, this edition was a must have. Usually one of us picks one up, and it gets shared around, we all had one of the above edition. The Peacock is my own particular favourite pub in Derby, in fact, it’s one of my favourite pubs in the country. Always a good selection, and I love the old football photos that adorn the walls. If nothing else, you can get a programme in there. If only all of Marston’s pubs were as good as this place. We spent the time, talking Blues and Derby connections and old Derby players we admired.
“Searching for Carling”
The Little Ale House was a new one for me, it felt a proper cross between a traditional pub, and a micro pub.
“Just before demolition”
I was spoilt, when it comes to pork pies, I thought pork pies were going to be the of the same standard throughout the country, like they are in Shropshire, I’ve been extremely disappointed on my travels. This pork and black pudding one, was absolutely gorgeous. I almost asked if it had been imported from Shropshire, but didn’t want to miss a mouthful. I never got to any of the European games, so I sat and listened to the stories, again, it would’ve meant missing a mouthful. Badger was already holding court when we got to The Furnace for their light and dark beer festival. For me, I was definitely going to take in this festival, I have a weakness for dark beers, I could have tried them all. The Flower Pot was next, the place was full of Blues, each pub we’d been in, had had a good contingent of Blues fans in it. Paul and his ugly crew were in there, with half of the White Swan crowd, including Rob, who I hadn’t seen for a couple of months. I was recognised by Bryn’s son, I just had to go and say hello. I don’t know who had been talking, but he had heard good things about this tosh, I sent him a link to his phone, so now he can see that it’s utter rubbish. I caught up with the rest, for a visit to another place I hadn’t been in before, The Smithfield. Derby is awash with real ale pubs, a beer lover, just can’t go wrong. Ian, back off holiday that morning, was in there, as was Nat. We’d given ourselves just the right amount of time to get to the ground.
“We weren’t the only ones”
We completely controlled the first half, scoring early from a full of confidence goal, from the strangely prolific Jutkiewicz. The highly rated, hugely talented Derby side, were a poor second. We could’ve and should’ve added to our lead, way before Derby actually managed their first real chance on the stroke of half-time. I spent half-time waxing lyrical with Rob from block 11, about how we were performing at the moment, let alone how dominant we’d been, in the first half. The second half was totally different though, and we returned to the Blues of before the run. I don’t know what was said in the dressing rooms at half time, but Derby came out playing like lions, where we were more like kittens, with a couple of swipes with a gigantic paw, we fell behind, Camp isn’t as good as previous Blues keepers, but not the worst I’ve seen, but he sports a ‘man bun’ in his hair, that in itself, hasn’t adhered him to most, but as kittens go, he was of the stuffed cuddly toy version on the third, he might as well have not been there for it. So our unbeaten run had come to an end, I wasn’t too surprised, and I wasn’t too disappointed.
They were all in The Alexandra when I got there, my eyes lighting up, seeing a mint choc stout, and copies of the new Good Beer Guide on sale at a tenner, Spoons sidled up to me at the bar and broke the news to me, that one half of the Bournemouth couple, Carole had succumbed in her battle with cancer, and had passed away. I won’t deny this, I was devastated. Her and Jeff, were always there, home and away. I don’t know if Jeff will get to many games now, you never saw one without the other. Carole was the organiser, I suspect it’ll be too much of a gap to fill, too much of the days out, will remind him of her. She’ll be missed by us all. R.I.P. Carole. Most moved off to get the train back to Brum
“Not this one though”
Apparently, The Brunswick, had been turning Blues fans away, I see that as a challenge, not least, it’s another good real ale boozer. I managed to get in ok, and got talking to a couple of Tamworth Blues, who knew the Hearts/Blues lads, that Jinksy knows. I also got talking to a couple of Derby based Sheffield United fans, before we all moved off to get trains home. It had been a good day, but tinged with sadness.