26/1/19 Dulwich Hamlet v Chelmsford City, National League South, Proper Beer, They’ve Got Proper Beer.

Apparently, according to some deluded person, (No, not a supporter of B6) watching football in the pub, takes true support, here’s my retort based on an advertisement for a well known banking product, hopefully you’ll recognise it.

For getting the taxi to get you to the pub early, so you can secure yourself a stool at the bar, nearest the T.V. . . £5:60, for having to get your mates girlfriend, who has no interest in football and just talks about Love Island over the commentary, a Martini and coke, because he got the first round . . . £4:90, for spilling a bit of the weird blokes pint, who then keeps going on about how he can’t afford another . . . £3:80, for losing a bet that nothing would happen when you went to the toilet, and a goal was scored . . . £10, seeing the team you’re supposed to support, lifting a trophy up, at a ground you pretend to have been to, but when pressed, the details are too vague . . . . Worthless!! for everything else there’s a season ticket . . . Thankfully. See a committed ground hopper for terms and conditions.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, I’ll carry on. (No, not with the rant) I was asked by a colleague at work, why I do such obscure games, I’m not domesticated, (Am house trained though) and I just like the combination of real ale, trains and football watching. I don’t get jealous if someone’s visited more grounds, and I don’t see the amount of games or grounds I’ve done, as any type of achievement, I just feel alive when I’m doing it. I’ve got aims to hit 200 grounds, but if I manage it, I’ll just carry on, I won’t be hanging up my trainers. I touched down at Euston, noticing that they are starting to put electronic barriers up. That’ll make it interesting when a whole train of football fans land. I got the tube, passing the Millennium Falcon and the Starship Enterprise on the way between the planets of Bank and Monument, the Crosse Key’s at Monument, is the best Wetherspoons in London, I know I’m probably repeating myself stating that, but along with a breakfast, it’s a good place to start, I got back on the tube heading for Walthamstow central. The Rose and Crown was going to be first, but although open, wasn’t selling alcohol until 12 o’clock, teas and coffees only. I understand that pubs have to diversify to keep going, but as its business is primarily to sell alcoholic drinks, can they please advertise their licensing hours better, personally, if I want a coffee or cup of tea, there’s no way, I’d go to a pub for it. I wondered round Walthamstow, falling foul of opening times misinformation at another pub too. It’s a place of two halves, as a bullet point in my notes for this post, I put posh and dross, which pretty much sums up the place. One half, gentrified, the other, Chav Ville mixed with Eastern European. High noon, I went in the Bell.

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“A game for Spoons”

The Bell was a nice pub, good range, well kept, rustic meets shabby chic. Couldn’t help smiling at a little lad in a pushchair, who started singing the word burger, when his Dad mentioned it at the bar, much to his father’s embarrassment. I went back to the Rose and Crown, and certainly didn’t have a coffee or cup of tea, the range not quite as good, but you could see that it was worth being in the G.B.G.

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“The place had had a battering”

I moved on to the fabulously named Mirth, Marvel and Maud. I went through the back entrance, which was a bit like going into the Rock and Roll brewery in Brum, once in though, I was in awe.

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“I never got to meet Maud”

My trip up to Walthamstow was worth it, just for this place. I got back on the tube and somehow messed up on the Northern line, it meant having to get a bit of a jog on to catch the train at London Bridge to East Dulwich, it was here, that I first noticed the colours, the train went passed the New Den, a glimpse of the pitch, the only thing distinguishing it from all the other dark satanic mills around the ground, A foreboding, depressing place. I got off at East Dulwich and went in the appropriately named East Dulwich Tavern.

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“Plus one bought by a ground hopping Brummy”

After a quick pint, I made the short distance to the ground, with plenty of time to get in, or so I thought. Without even knowing it, the population has become slaves to the P.C. and conjoined printer, print your own tickets at home, even worse, buy an all singing and dancing phone and download to your mobile, I joined the queue for the only two turnstiles that were taking good old fashioned cash. I not only missed the kick-off fairies, but the first two goals.

So it was 1:1 by the time I got in, managing to find someone selling programmes, that I’d been told, had sold out.

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“C’mon the pink and blues”

Dulwich Hamlet’s colours are synonymous with the club, gives them their unique identity. I don’t like pink, never have, never will, but under sufferance have actually worn it, there is a Wimbledon type feel about them, the club, not the tennis competition, they are definitely a community club, that embraces the minorities of that community. You can relax and enjoy the football, no xenophobia, supportive rebellion. I couldn’t ever see me wear the colours, but could definitely buy into the social philosophy. Live and let live. Dulwich found themselves a man down, two bookings equal one sending off. I expected the higher placed Chelmsford to just take the game away from the struggling home team, but if anything, it seemed to galvanize Dulwich and Chelmsford didn’t seem to know what to do with the ball, their passing and control was sloppy, half-time, and I had a mooch round the ground, it was then, that I spotted a festival type stall under a gazebo, selling cask ale, yeah, cask ale, within sight of the pitch, not just one, but three different ales, all reasonably priced too. I couldn’t miss this opportunity, so didn’t. I took up position, pint in hand, for the second half. Although it was still in the ascendancy, Chelmsford found a little bit of ruthlessness, and went in front, it knocked a bit of the stuffing out of Dulwich, and you could see that the legs had got heavier, they didn’t deserve to concede a third, and Chelmsford didn’t deserve to score it either. It was harsh on the home side and their supporters as they trooped away from the ground, I would go again, but view buying a P.C., printer or downloading a ticket, the same way as buying a fridge freezer or setting up a direct debit to pay the water rates.

I got the train back to London Bridge, and back on the tube, and headed for probably my favourite place in London, Leyton Orient Supporters Club, I had watched the weather forecast before leaving the flat, howling derision at Mat Taylor, on the BBC, as he gleefully hopped from foot to foot, evily predicting rain moving across from the west. Rain it did, the clouds had been saving it up and after being prompted by the precipitation master, were unloading their entire contents on anyone unlucky enough to unwittingly be out in the open, I was soaked by the time I had made it to the club.

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“Not a Wetherspoons carpet”

I never get tired of the place, I only wish we had one at Blues. I’ve been to watch Blues at Orient three times, at the time, I was unbelievably not in to real ale, and the supporters club was just a portacabin type hut, we have Barry Hearn to thank for its housing now, this was my third visit, I suspect, it won’t be my last. I got back to a redeveloping Euston, in time to have one last pint before getting something to eat, and getting the train, going in the Euston Tap, now that the redevelopment has claimed the Bree Louise, I usually do the cider half of the Tap, it resides in both of the old gate houses, but ale has now taken over both, not that I particularly wanted a cider on this occasion. I got the train back with a family of Baggies fans coming back from their cup game at Brighton, I fell asleep, thankfully waking up in time, to get off in Brum, although still drying out, with using a Virgin service, I hadn’t got the aroma, noise and sights of clubbers getting on at Dorrige and Solihull, to wake me up. Back to Blues at home next week.

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