23/3/19 St Albans City v Gloucester City, National League South. Double Gloucester.

I ran to make the bus, I don’t know why really, as I live on a good route, from before 5 in the morning, till after midnight, the longest I have to wait for one is about a quarter of an hour, and that’s a rarity, yet still ran for it. I caught the train down to Watford Junction, but as a passenger had been taken ill somewhere near Berkhamstead, and needed paramedics, (Something I needed, though still have absolutely no recollection) we docked at Watford Junction after my connection to St Albans had left, Watford Junction is one of those soulless stations where the minutes waiting, seem longer, my itinerary slightly altered, I missed out the Wetherspoons, and went straight for the White Hart Tap, and although I could definitely hear the clock striking 11, and the sandwich board stating that the 11 was its opening time, I found the front door locked, lights on, but no one at home, I went off to buy a lottery ticket, and life inside the pub was moving when I got back, a surprised woman let me in, obviously not used to having someone waiting.

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“A man who allegedly liked a drink or two”

A nice pub, a rightful entry in the G.B.G. a good range of breweries, if only of the lighter colours. Six Bells next, the walk making me wonder how on earth St Albans and Watford could be so close to each other, yet be such a contrast, I don’t profess to be anything else but working class, lower working class at that, as I soaked in my surroundings, I felt like I should possess some kind of passport to be there, expected to be frog marched back to the station and put on a train to Watford.

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“You don’t get this sort of place in Watford”

No disrespect to the people of Watford, but considering they’re so close geographically, they might as well be on different continents. The barmaid was struggling with the till, I mentioned about the one in ‘Open All Hours’, I got a youthful blank look in reply, time is cruel to us. Lower Red Lion was next, I have no idea if the upper one still exists, but I’m sure it would’ve done at some point.

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“I didn’t see a gallery of black listed pooches”

It seems to be a prerequisite for owning a dog in St Albans, and taking them to the pub.

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“The world’s greatest invention”

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“I wasn’t waiting for it to open. . . . . . . . . .Honest”

If the last two pubs weren’t old enough, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, is supposedly the oldest pub in the country, the regulars at the Olde Trip To Jerusalem in Nottingham might dispute the claim, but I really don’t care, whoever the entrepreneur was, they were genius,

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“Old or not, this is introducing the little cherubs early” 

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“Slipping into ‘Tourist mode’ for this”

After being spoilt in terms of dripping history, with the previous three places, The White Lion was a little more, run of the mill, in reality, another beautifully quaint piece of history, plonk it a few short miles up the road, and it would be lost to a national chain and mainstream fizz. The Robin Hood was a recommendation off Dingle Dave, from when he lived in St Albans, it’s in the G.B.G. and if nothing else, although not quite Preston’s Vinyl Tap, the jukebox was brilliant, as was the back issues of the G.B.G.s stretching back to the 90’s, thoroughly entertained, I moved on to my last port of call before the game, The Mermaid, In relation to its proximity to the ground, I’d left it last, but with how the ale trailers usually seem to leave the best till last, it fitted to type, in truth, I’d been in some really good pubs, everyone of them deserving their entries in the G.B.G. but this place just shaded it as being the best.

There was some good football played by both teams, but I wasn’t really surprised, I’ve seen some good stuff on my ground hopping travels, that puts Blues to shame. The home side hit the bar, but only had to wait for the next attack before taking the lead, from a far post cross, Gloucester didn’t capitulate though, St Albans not pressing their advantage, didn’t go looking for a second, half-time and I went to see if there was any ale that they sell at Clarence Park left, especially as I’d seen a number of supporters with it, unfortunately, there wasn’t, it had all gone, I should’ve been quicker. Second half and the small band of Gloucester fans took up behind the goal they were attacking, on the hour, they were celebrating, as the equaliser was scored, it wasn’t so much as a break away, but the home side did have slightly more possession, after the equaliser, St Albans upped the ante, searching to go back in the lead, the travelling band from Gloucestershire, were celebrating again, the winner was definitely a break away, the ball swept in after they’d exploited a gap to provide a cross for it. I’d enjoyed the game, but didn’t particularly find myself siding with either club, usually I get a feeling of who I’d like to win, but other than feeling that I wouldn’t mind going again, because it was a nice place to watch football, a soft spot hadn’t appeared.

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“I know you wanted to know what the ground looked like”

I went back to the Robin Hood, I know I said the Mermaid was the best of the day, and it was, I just felt slightly more comfy in the Robin Hood, maybe it was the jukebox, but then they had the rugby on too, a rugby union club game to be exact. I got chatting to a young lad who was enjoying it, but hadn’t got a clue about it, I then tried to explain the differences between the two codes, because he didn’t even realise that there were two sorts, I left him still baffled, and also later than I should’ve, after jogging at first, picked my pace up, and ran like I had, back in Stroud, when I’d watched Forest Green v Yeovil, I made the train, determination and adrenaline, or the other way round, up to you if you want to swap them round. Connections meant that I would still have far too long to wait at Watford Junction, but then Watford itself seems to be a Junction, a giant passing through place, as you wouldn’t want to stay there for long. Setting my alarm on my phone, I fell asleep on the train, not fancying a last pint in Brum, I caught the bus home.

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