I was so relieved, when I left the flat that finally it was raining. After all, it had been almost 2 hours since we’d had rain. I absolutely despise early kickoffs, they knock your body clock sideways, great if you’re an armchair fan, horrible for us supporters who actually make the effort to watch our clubs in the flesh. If nothing else comes of another 5 years of Tory austerity, early kickoffs and Monday football, should be made illegal. I dread finding out that a Blues game has been moved to accommodate television coverage or because of ‘police advice’. I got off the bus in town, spotting Albion fans everywhere.
“And a Lego bank teller”
Most heading to the Briar Rose, a Wetherspoons outlet, being an early kickoff and the Baggies having a fair number of real ale fans, The Wellington was doing brisk trade. It was no surprise to see Paul and Jackie already in there, along with JK and Darryl. The days game was the subject matter, the Albion fans not taking anything for granted, where as us Blues were, we were confident we were going to lose. The Colmore is a new pub that opened earlier on in the week, a Thornbridge Brewery outlet that has been quite long in the fitting out, but has been well worth it. It had been my first real chance to go in there, and I took a couple of photos.
If you didn’t know that it was brand new, you would’ve thought that the pub had been there decades, it’s not that often that I’m utterly impressed with something that is new, but I was with the Colmore. There was a couple of other new places that we were hoping to go to before the game, unfortunately, neither were open, the curse of an early kickoff, we slowed down to snail pace, unfortunately just making kickoff.
I do actually like games against the Baggies, they tend to be good games, passionate, but without that undercurrent of menace, you get with them lot down the road from me. This game wasn’t going to be any different, and it had an explosive start, it only took us 3 minutes to take the lead, a good cross, produced a brilliant header from the Juke. The lead didn’t last too long though, and from where I was standing in the Tilton end, totally unbiased of course, the equaliser looked offside, 10 minutes gone, and the game had seen 2 goals. The first half didn’t see anymore goals, but plenty of action, West Brom might’ve been sitting at the top of the table, but we were more than matching them, the fear that we were going to get easily beaten had evaporated. I bumped into Worcester Pete at halftime, he was with a mate that had emigrated up to Edinburgh 24 years previous, I couldn’t help feeling a pang of jealousy. The more I go up to Embra, the more I wouldn’t mind moving up there. Second half exploded like the first, this time, Harlee Dean heading in a Bellingham corner. Was a time when our set pieces were always wasted, these days, they’re our best chance of scoring. The game needed something to change if Albion were going to win. It happened, a player with a bleached blonde bonce entered the fray, name of Charlie Austin, 3 minutes later, he’d equalised. If the procurement of a goalscorer in January needed to be anymore highlighted, then this was it. With the equaliser, Clotet substituted Bellingham with Gary Gardner, what he thought he hoped to achieve by doing this, whether it was to secure a point, or that the change would somehow bring a winner, I don’t know, but it was never going to. Football has a way of surprising you, sending you into total ecstasy, but also, from years of experience, you know when a substitution is not only a complete waste of time, but will make things worse, swapping Bellingham with Gardner was one of those times, and with fully 15 minutes left plus added time, I left. I even had to get the steward to open the gate for me.
Heading for Roberto’s, or Bob’s as we’ve renamed it, I checked the score on my phone, I’d been right, Austin had scored again, we’d lost 3:2. Roberto’s, or Bob’s, is the old Clink, the downstairs has had the shelving ripped out, that held all the bottled and canned beer, and the rustic style seating, has been replaced by leather sofas, payment is by card now, not something I like, but then I am a dinosaur, the upstairs is virtually the same, but for the door to the toilet now to the wash basin aswel, instead of just to the cubicle. Darryl joined me, before we got the train to King’s Norton, his pass meant that I got a discount. Cotteridge Wines is a strange set up, it’s effectively just a normal shop feel at the front, then you go through a doorway to the bar, with the seating area, further into the back, where everyone else had congregated. Paul, Jackie and the Baggies lot, Russell, Nick and the postmen, Badge and Sean, Spoons and Jude, Jinksy, Steve, JK, Mikey and Ada.
“Now that’s what I call a puzzle”
The only good thing about the kickoff being a lunchtime, it meant we could do a Stirchley ale trail. After the quirkiness of Cotteridge Wines, came the Glasshouse, well it was once we’d walked all the way round the trading estate that it’s on, to get to it.
“Christmas amongst the brew kit”
It may have been well hidden, but was also well worth it. Wild Cat was next, further on down the Pershore Road, getting in there just as the rain started again, I say started again, it felt like it hadn’t really stopped. A micro pub, good beer, but pretty much what is standard for a lot of micro’s in terms of decor, a wine bar sort of feel, like the owners are trying to make drinking ale more gentrified. When it came to heading for the next place, I was a little behind, as I wanted to visit the toilet, the rain had not only definitely returned, but had returned with a vengeance, Brum had 4 rivers that night, The Cole, The Tame, The Rea, and the Pershore Road, it was coming down so hard, it was all I do, to see where the Cork and Cage was. It was purely key keg in there, and I settled for a raspberry sour, which was actually nice. Instead of waiting for some kind of boat, or turning one of the tables upside down and turning it into a raft, me and Darryl managed to get a taxi back into town, before splitting up to get transport back home.