At New Street station, Darryl was already on the concourse, of course, and I thought I was early for the train. Jinksy was next to join us, while we waited for Mikey, who’d settled on getting the train into town, as the buses weren’t running properly from where he lives. Once he’d arrived, we went down the platform, and boarded the train when that arrived too. The journey down to London was filled with talk of Brexit and Non League football, touching down, I went and topped my Oyster card up. I try and always have enough credit on it, so I don’t have to queue to get it from Euston, as one thing’s for sure, you always end up having to queue, I queued. I know I can do it online, but I really don’t like to. As I’ve said before, I’m being dragged, kicking and screaming, into doing things online, it’s little by little for me, whilst others just dive in, I dip my toe in first. Getting the tube to Charing Cross, one stop later, we were inundated by a good number of the Dutch Navy, possibly getting one last trip in before Brexit actually happens, and movement possibly becomes much more difficult. Lord Moon of the Mall was the meet up for the days proceedings, a Wetherspoons that I hadn’t been in before, with Wetherspoons being cheap, even in London, I took the opportunity to snatch something for breakfast. First Steve, then Spoons, JK and Ian came in, as well as Paul Mason and a knot of Baggies doing the same as us, but going down to Fulham for their early kickoff. There was already a fairly large contingent of Baggies that were already holed up, but more the Carling brigade. Steve turned 70 (Seventy) last week, and Gaye had treated him to a trip to Belfast, a place that both Jinksy and Mikey had been, all waxing lyrical about the place, a place that is on my ever growing wishlist. Listening to Steve, I can definitely see myself ticking the place off, but I will drop in at least one ground hop in the middle, if not two. Jinksy went off to meet Nat and catch Tony’s Disco Boat, or the Carling Cruise, as us beer snobs had dubbed it, and we walked up to the Harp, where, on Gaye’s insistence, Steve got us all a pint. With him reaching 70, it really should have been us buying him one, to that end, it seemed apt to choose a beer named ‘Gilt Complex’, a play on words, but the sentiment was there. I’ll never reach 70, not a chance. It was discovered that nobody had done an itinerary, we’d all left it to each other. We got the overground to London Bridge, to a packed Borough Market, a place, that through reputation, has been taken over by tourists, it’s changed from a place where you could buy all manor of ingredients, to a place where the hipsters go to eat. I feel compelled to say, that it’s been ruined. It was a place that was a cacophony of different aromas, all had been overpowered by something akin to smelly feet. The Rake was the first place we went in,
“Even the Carling Brigade had been here”
“Wall to wall brewing graffiti”
I chose the wrong beer for my palate, I was seduced by a keg beer that promised a coconut taste to it, which I suppose was true, if you’d taken to licking the outside of the shell. The Rake is actually a great little place, it was just the particular beer I hadn’t been impressed with.
“Just a beer, you may not like the taste of”
I didn’t think I’d been in the Market Porter, I realised I had, as soon as I walked in, looking at the range of ales, it was pretty obviously a Marston’s outlet, and also a place that hasn’t really got to try too hard, it’s aimed at tourists, it was only a half in there. A poster for the upcoming rugby World cup, and kickoff times took our attention, because of where the pub is, and its famous early opening times, the pub will be showing games. I recently went back on night shift, and me and Ian (Who, also sometimes does nights) chatted about how much working hours have changed over the years, that more pubs in certain areas, could change their hours to suit. I much prefer an early drink to a late one. I’m happy to have a beer at 8 o’clock in the morning, but not that bothered about having one at 9 o’clock at night. Bizarrely, the stench of smelly feet, had made me peckish, but instead of getting something off the market, I waited till we got back to the station, before queuing to get something from Greggs, it wasn’t missed by the rest of the trailers, who took the opportunity to take the Mickey. We got off at Deptford, to do two pubs, the first was The Dog and Bell, a great back street boozer.
“A pre underground map”
“Any old iron”
“Roll out the barrel”
After one in the Dog and Bell, it was off to the Job Centre, no you’ve not read that wrong, it’s a micro pub on the high street, but then Job Centres always were. On high streets, not micro pubs. I’m old enough to remember the job centres, and the memories came flooding back.
“Didn’t have menus like this though”
“The jobs boards were a lot more sparse in the Thatcher years too”
I can honestly say, as those memories flooded back, it was not how I remembered them, the range wasn’t as good as I was expecting either, so one thing had remained the same, I still came back out of the Job Centre, disappointed. It was on to the ground
Although we won at Brentford, we played the kids at Pompey, making do with watching the Swansea game on Sky, our away form has been abysmal, and with Charlton starting well off the back of being promoted, my expectations were low, if not nonexistent. I was to be pleasantly surprised. I was definitely surprised to see Jude Bellingham in the starting line up. After three big games in 10 days in his microscopically short career, I didn’t expect him to make the bench, let alone start. Initially, we were neither great nor terrible, the match was quiet as Charlton were the same. The Blue hoards sang for Bowyer to give us a wave, the ex player, and now Charlton boss, duly obliged, upsetting the home support or not, Lee is his own man.
“I’d forgotten about the stanchion”
We got a hold of the game, not making any real chances, but bossing it. Going into halftime, we looked comfortable. 0:0 it was, and I went off to see if I could spot anyone. I spotted Rob, but missed Steph and Just. Second half brought a little more impetus from Blues and a sweeping move led to a good pull back to Bellingham, who finished with a maturity that a 16 year old shouldn’t possess. 0:1 I don’t like hype, I also don’t like to indulge in it myself, but Jude is going on to big things. I can count on the fingers of one hand and still have fingers left, at all the players at his age, that have impressed me. 17 year olds Robbie Keane and Craig Bellamy, basically, and now Jude Bellingham. He’s going to be something rather special. I hope we can keep him for longer than two seasons, as I can see myself enjoying watching him play, unfortunately, I can’t see it, he’ll be bought by a Premier League club, but it’ll be one who will be playing in the Champions League too, as I think they’ll be the only ones who’ll be able to afford him. After later taking a knock, he was replaced, usually, I’m ambivalent to a player going off, but I was genuinely concerned, as even at this ridiculously early stage, he’ll be a huge miss. Charlton pushed for the equaliser, and the lambasted Camp made a couple of great saves to keep us in the lead, though we had a chance that we should’ve buried to make it a bit more comfortable. I couldn’t quite work out what happened, but Bowyer took umbrage with the Blues bench over something, it led to The Clot getting booked, and Lee Bowyer getting a red card. We managed to see the game out for another three points, though this 1:0 away win, was a lot more deserved.
I’d had designs on going to Deptford after the game and not before, as I’d done it before, and I was on a later train, I was going to get off at Waterloo East, and go to the Kings Arms, but came out of the wrong exit, and so went to the Hole In The Wall instead, a pub I’d been in before, but not covered by this rubbish. From the outside, it’s not attractive enough to lure the tourists in, so it’s a proper London boozer. I watched Norwich dismantling Manchester City on the telly, as the place vibrated with the trains overhead, something else that probably wouldn’t be attractive to the average tourist. Using the underground, I traveled up to Euston, taking in first, Somers Town Coffee House, but not for a coffee, and then the Exmouth Arms, both ranges were uninspiring, but well kept.
“What was on was uninspiring anyway”
I got the train home, falling asleep pretty soon after, waking up at New Street, but only after we were pulling out of, and not in to New Street. A sure sign I’m back on nights, instead of having to get the train back from Wolverhampton again, I can see myself having to set the alarm on my phone to time of arrival, something I did on a regular basis, when I still lived in Telford.