I’d been saving this particular ground hop for exactly the right time. That time had arrived. Wow, just reading that back, it sounds like a tagline for a really boring film. Be prepared to reach for the Prozac and Red Bull. Wow, yet another tagline for the same film. The original plans were to visit my sister Val and brother in law John over Christmas and attend Blues’ game at Fulham. Why am I repeating myself for?, you should already know, or should do if you’re a regular reader of this rubbish. Apologies…..for this, this and that. While I’m at it, apologies for all the other garbage I’ll probably write in the future. I’m fast becoming a ground hopping addict. Especially now that the Covid passports and lateral flow testing have been made compulsory. With Fulham v Blues now off due to too many in the Blues camp failing their multiple choice personality tests, I’d looked at what other games I could do whilst on holiday. This was one that stuck out, and as I still needed a fix of course, here it is. I got the bus into Uxbridge. I’d still got to do an ale trail and by public transport. It’s the unwritten rule. In Uxbridge, the first place was The Good Yarn. Don’t worry, I won’t try and spin one. Besides, I’m lucky if I can manage to spin even a mediocre one. The pub is a typical small town centre Wetherspoons and was complete with the usual morning regulars. I’d been in there before, but with my Wetherspoons hating brother. By the way, it was the 39th anniversary of Blues beating ‘them lot’ 3:0 and he went to it because he’d bagged himself a lift from Telford. (There weren’t any trains running.) I still haven’t forgiven him for not arguing the case strongly enough for me to travel in the boot of the car. ‘No room’ my ar…….. The Swan and Bottle was next, a Green King tied place. I’ve been rightly giving the Green King chain a battering on here, because of its lack of ale choice, ‘Due to Covid.’ So it was heartening to see guest ales on the bar again. As was being able to pick up a copy of the ‘London Drinker’ Camra magazine. I crossed the canal bridge and the road to The Crown and Treaty. It was another ok pub.
I’ve got to say, and it’s certainly no disrespect to Val and John, but I couldn’t live in this neck of the woods. As real ale goes, there’s not a lot. A couple of guest ales, but if I’m being beer snobbish, nothing of interest really.
German bombing raids during the Second World War laid waste to biggest part of Uxbridge, but this place had managed to survive. I’m not so sure its MP/PM will be so lucky at the next general election, if even he makes it that far. I was going to grab a quick half in The Three Tuns, but I noticed it was another in the Green King chain. As I’m still not trustful enough, I decided to cut and run, catching the bus back to West Drayton station, but not before I’d taken the below photo.
Although I’d been drinking in Uxbridge, Uxbridge F.C. actually play just round the corner from Val and John’s in West Drayton. In fact, they were astonished that I would want to find out what Boris’s constituency had got to offer in terms of real ale. In retrospect, so am I.
A long time ago, when I was still very much a ‘football snob’, I once viewed Uxbridge’s ground from afar. At the time, it was Birmingham City and that was it. Since then, I’ve grown to realise that there’s more to football than glitter and razzamatazz, and I’ve had this in my cross hairs.
I’m joking with the caption of course, although the attendance was actually Uxbridge’s biggest of the season. The game was in the fourth tier below the EFL. It’s ‘honest’ football at this level. No VAR, no pretension, no gamesmanship, no blatant cheating, just players who are slightly better than me, being paid expenses and just enough money to make it worth the effort to train. There aren’t any luxury cars in evidence in the club carpark at this level. There wasn’t to be any replays shown on a big screen in the corner of the ground, no highlights on Sky Sports later that night. Just this.
It was to be a really good game though. The home side were awarded a penalty for a foul on a very good number 11. Dispatched, it was a good start. Considering the level, there was some good flowing football played by Uxbridge. As I watched on, I looked for an unruly mop of blond hair, in the main stand that straddled the Halfway line. I couldn’t see one. (And it’s not like you’d miss Boris’s) The PM was to miss his local team gaining and scoring from another penalty. 2:0, and I wondered if I was to see a hattrick of penalties. There was certainly enough time left in the game, and it wasn’t even halftime. It was still 2:0 when halftime did arrive. With no programme and only a free teamsheet, I wasn’t expecting much in terms of a club shop and club bar. In that respect, I wasn’t disappointed. There was no souvenirs and no real ale on sale. Had there been, I’d have been truly shocked. It might have been the biggest crowd of the season, but there was still only 104 there. There’s knowing your clientele and then there’s actually having one. It’s a shame really, because Uxbridge do like to get the ball down and try to pass it. Midway through the second half, Bedfont halved the deficit. 2:1. I don’t like the word ‘Sports’ or any derivative of, in a football club’s name. It’s football, not athletics or table tennis. Yes I know football is a sport, but it just doesn’t sit right with me. Feels false, like they don’t really want to be associated with the game. Like it’s an annoyance and not the main focus when it blatantly is. I thought maybe that Uxbridge might capitulate, or at least retreat into their shell to hold on to their lead. They though, had different ideas to me, and pretty much carried on as before. Their pressure was rewarded with a third. Bedfont’s keeper misjudged a cross that dropped off the crossbar, straight to the feet of the player who had challenged him. The forward gleefully smashed the ball high into the net. It was that easy a goal, that disbelieving, I looked straight at the referee, and then over at the referee’s assistant, expecting the goal to be disallowed. However, it was nothing that the home side hadn’t deserved. It wasn’t to be the end of the afternoons entertainment though, that was reserved for added time. One of the Bedfont centrehalves had become increasingly frustrated by what had unfolded, and had taken his frustrations out on the penalty scorer, who immediately reacted to being kicked. The defender then took it upon himself to hit the Uxbridge forward who just happened to have been booked earlier on in the game. The rest of the outfield players piled in on the melee. Calm restored, the referee brandished a straight red card to the Bedfont defender and a second yellow and then red to the Uxbridge forward. Sporting behaviour it wasn’t. There was still enough time for the very good number 11 to uncharacteristically, carelessly give the ball away in midfield. If that mistake wasn’t enough, the goalkeeper then made a hash of trying to save the low cross that was swept over, leaving an onrushing forward to make it 3:2. Thankfully or unfortunately, depending on who you wanted to win, and how much you were actually enjoying the game, the referee blew the final whistle. I’d seen 5 goals, 2 of them penalties, 2 sendings off, and a fight. There’d even been some pretty decent football played. So had my football ‘fix’ satisfied me? What do you think? You should know an addict is never satisfied.
I walked the short distance back to Val and John’s, and to a tea of baked potato and cold cuts of turkey. Well it is Christmas after all. It’s not Christmas if you don’t at least have cold turkey with something or other.