Right, listen up all ...... I've decided to re-buy my first two, 1999 and 2002 to try and help work out the basis of my decision making re pub ticks in those very early GBG days.
You have to go back to the start of my time working in Leeds for when I was first introduced (accidentally) to the GBG, so some time after 12th November 2001 but before Christmas of the same year.
In a very unfashionable shopping arcade in Leeds now swallowed up by the huge Trinity Shopping Centre (but in truth, demolished long before that), I used to go for a pensioners lunch special - pie and peas for something ridiculous like £1.25. I stood out as being not very pensioneresque, but I didn't care.
The only other shop in that arcade that I used to visit was a second hand bookshop, and it was here where I saw an second hand copy of the 1999 Good Beer Guide (so three years out of date assuming the 2002 edition had been released Sept '01) and I planned to give it to Dad for his "Christmas House" cheapo additional present. It seemed to answer our most recent football conundrum : we'd just got into ale, but it was hit & miss whether pubs at away games would serve the stuff, and would it be any good?
Northwich's Penny Black tick (17/11/01) was more a case of good luck or a Wetherspoons website rather than a result of the GBG as I can see it wasn't in my first 1999 edition. We didn't go to Luton the following Tuesday night (but drank a dreadful flaggon of "Save City" ale from York brewery at home as they were in crisis and needed the cash).
Our next away game wasn't until 15/12/01 when we visited Scunthorpe for a joyous 1-2 defeat, and yes, I knew I was supposed to be wrapping this up for an xmas present, but I knew it's importance so smuggled it under the car seat and vaguely described it's merits to Dad. Scunny had two main pubs in the guide but for whatever reason we decided against a trip into the town. We were soon trawling the villages outside to try and find a pub. One of these was a roadside pub (Horn Inn in Messingham?) and we pulled into it but it was closed so we eventually settled on a tudor fronted pub, busy with people eating but we settled into some comfy armchairs, were impressed with the ale quality - reading the description, it was the Red Lion Hotel, Epworth. We didn't have a map and it was well before GBG App days so we couldn't find one at Belton we'd looked for before.
Our following away game was Kidderminster on 29/12/01 so with Dad having 'officially' received his prezzie, we must have used the guide for this brilliant 0-3 defeat where recalling Nicky Mohan didn't work out well. Kiddie is a place I really associate with early guide usage, we found an amazing pub called Station Inn which did filled rolls, great beer and I guess was visited on this occasion which really brought home to us how valuable this Guide could be.
I vividly remember using this same 1999 Guide in our first away game in the New Year, 11th Jan 2002 on the Friday night before a Plymouth away defeat. I've mentioned this in the archives already but like Scunny, we struggled to locate some pubs (Shipwrights? Tap & Spile?) and decided one or two had probably closed down or gone downhill since the Guide was published. The Dolphin was one we definitely found matching the description, but we didn't really "appreciate the experience". Despite this, the Fortescue was great for our main pre-match pub the following day.
We were still using the 1999 guide at a terrible 0-2 reverse at Southend a week on the following Wednesday night, where we visited both the Last Post Wetherspoons and a rubbish windswept thing on the seafront, almost certainly the Liberty Belle. This matches the 1999 guide and the 2002 guide only had the wonderful Cork n Cheese listed so that's how I can be sure.
York away was on the following Tuesday (guess what, an abject defeat!), well I didn't need the guide to help me out here!
We went to Halifax on 2nd Feb and actually won (4 wins out of 4 for me at the Shay, now I was sure this must have been the game JW2 came to, Rodney Rowe carted off by ambulance on the pitch) and if so, this was Big Six day and we can only have used the GBG and a Dad Autoroute Map to identify this gem of a backstreet pub (it is in the 1999 guide but not the 2002 edition) complete with Ploughman's in a bag!
A fortnight later and another early cracker I associate with the GBG was the Crown & Sceptre, Torquay. This was my favourite pub full stop for a while, and I'm sure this was our first visit. I even remember my first ale here, 16th Feb 2002, Wolf Brewery's "Granny Wouldn't Like It". As Gary Alexander equalised, their crowd shouted for handball, offside and a foul. None of which were given! However, we may have been using the 2002 guide by then as I vaguely remember the line in this edition (and not the 1999 one) about lengthy service of locals and landord plus many years listed in the guide.
My first definite memory of the red fronted 2002 GBG was at a home game, parked up at that Shell garage near the Humber Bridge trying to work out whether we could visit some new pubs in the Old Town area I wasn't familiar with. This edition of the guide had an "Inn Brief" section, JW2 loved it and wants it back, everyone else was confused. Were these brief pubs not as good as the main entrants? Of early experiments in this guide Kingston Tavern was one that stood out, and we had some amazing moments here with a hot beef sandwich and Mansfield Riding Bitter. The Mission was a less successful effort (in the "Inn Brief" section), as was Courts Bar but on our more traditional Spring Bank stomping ground, Editorial and Tap & Spile were two we were maybe a bit surprised to be listed.
By the time we went to Swansea on 1st March (a Friday night?), we must have been using the 2002 GBG and I can only think it would have been a Guide decision to go down the coastal road towards Mumbles where we went into a big foody pub on the coast, inhabited by very slow moving elderly folk being transported in and out by younger relatives. This could have been the West Cross Inn (an "Inn Brief" choice again). We lost 1-0 in any case.
Two weeks later, we were in Oxford for another defeat and typical failure to score at the Kassam. Our first stop off was the Bear Inn (tiny, students drinking outside, tie collection, Morse connections) before moving onto the Hobgoblin which became a firm favourite with us over the following years and may or may not be the "St Aldates Tavern" I visited as a BRAPA tick last Sepember.
A week later, we were at our old stomping ground Leyton Orient in the infamous Kyle Lightbulb & Adrian Caceres 0-0 thriller. This must have been the year we first discovered William IV and beers from Dark Star brewery (though it had started brewing it's own beers which were also good), the pub is still going strong but it has never beaten this first experience.
April came around with a 0-1 defeat at Cheltenham, but a lovely little pub alongside a pristine green (practically a bowling green!) called Kemble Brewery Inn down a backstreet not far from the ground. For once, the locals were friendly enough to talk to me in my Hull City shirt, the Archers beers were great, but it did get very smokey as it got towards kick off. They were up for promotion so it was buzzing by 2pm.
Our final away game was at Bristol Rovers (where we'd begin the following season). I think this was where we made our Post Office Tavern debut (an Inn Brief pub but excellent) and also tried the Prince of Wales, both in Westbury on Trym. It also fits that we tried the Victoria this day but this may have been two seasons later, it's all a bit confusing.
We lost 4-1 and all I can say is, how did Hull City finish as high as 11th that season!