We have a new leader in the race to find my earliest GBG tick!
131. Cemetery Hotel, Rochdale
When trying decide the date of mine and Dad's only visit to this glorious heritage pub, I found myself reminiscing on Rochdale, one of the original "great away days", for even in those dire Terry Dolan days, we always seemed to have a good chance of winning in this wonderfully bleak town, a blueprint for terrible 1960's town planning with a huge concrete shopping centre you cannot negotiate and a football ground almost as inaccessible as the identikit modern "out of town" efforts you see everywhere today.
We seemed to be at Rochdale almost as much as Boothferry Park in those days, only Brisbane Road had the same "home from home" feel and if any Hull City fan over the age of 21 would claim that Spotland is a "ground tick" for them, I'd have to tell them they were a plastic glory supporting Allam whore, now that wouldn't be harsh would it? In those days, Hull City fans didn't have to sing "Hull City away, we'll sing all day" as a congratulatory back slapping exercise, it went without saying.
So let me bore you with a trip down memory lane to try and work out when I stepped foot in this wonderful hostelry, which all I can remember about was good beer, a real fire (it was a cold dark evening game), and stories on Tiger Chat that later in the same evening, Lisa Stansfield was in mingling with other Hull City fans. When I first mentioned this pub to John Watson many years ago, he found it hilarious there was a pub called the Cemetery! In the Spring of 2002, I wrote a poem called "Cemetery" when I was going through my Horror-Punk phase (AFI, Tiger Army, Groovie Ghoulies etc), it was possibly inspired by this pub (a line about stale beer, not that it was!) but was more about loss of identity. Harsh stuff as I got to grips with being in full time employment.
So let's go back through the season's in order .....
Recent friendly game aside (covered in the archive reports on Baum and Flying Horse), our last league game here was 20 Sept 2003 when Stuart Green thought he was god and pre-match, we found a guide pub called the Brittania and despite a long walk in the rain following a battered Autoroute map, my Game & Guinness pie remains one of the best pub meals ever. Beer was good too.
The season before this, Tues 29th April 2003 Dad picked me up front work and we tried GBG pub Cask & Feather, which had snooker on and was very loungey and local, it was ok, not incredible. Peter Taylor was late for the game, but we weren't! No wonder we lost.
And it was also a Tuesday night defeat at the season's end in 2001/02 when on 9th April 2002, Dad and I used the "Inn Brief" section of the 2002 GBG and stumbled across community local, the Albion which was like stepping back to the 1920's with music and the landlord shouted to his wife down in the cellar to bring us some sandwiches. An incredible experience, I hope that pub is still standing.
Rewinding another season, we suffered a 0-1 Boxing Day defeat in 2000. With pub time not on our side on this day of the year, and being pre GBG, we decided on the Rochdale Supporters Club. No idea what we drank, a curtain wouldn't close shining much sun in on our eyes, I found a betting slip and put a fiver on a 2-1 win (Brabin first goal) oops. Then, a rather rumbustious chap told some of most toe-curling dirty jokes ever, in front of Dad!
The previous season then, and as we didn't go to the Auto Windscreens shootout defeat (not hardcore enough), I remember the league 2-0 win on 2nd November 1999 but no idea what we did pub-wise on this day. This was a Tuesday, I remember the game cos Neil Mann's Dad sat in front of us, and it was our first proper glimpse of our two Jamaican's looking a class act.
HOWEVER..... we came here for a televised game on Tues 12th Feb 1999 with our form on the up as the Joyce inspired Great Escape had just got underway. Loads of fans travelled, we were awful (especially the returning Big Bob Dewhurst who never played again after this!) and there was plenty of aggro & racist chanting. I seem to remember hearing next day our so-called fans trashing the Cemetery and the landlord banning Hull City fans forever. It is my recollection we'd already been when this happened cos I was really sad to hear it. Part of the reason we never returned again, shame. So if this unsavoury incident happened post match, I reckon we were in pre-match same night, before the Lisa Stansfield knees up, and eventually, the post match trashing.
I recently asked Dad his memories of the Cemetery and he remembers us leaving pre-match BECAUSE a group of really aggressive men arriving pre-match, something I'd totally forgotten.
The season before this, I was settling in at Uni and missed the Hateley defeat, Dad recorded highlighted commentary into a dicta phone, capturing their winning goal "live" and he sent me the tape - bless him!
And the visit before that, a 2-1 win on another Tuesday (how many midweek trips here?) was Feb 25 1997 and being underage, I probably didn't pub it but remember the best rendition of "Common Dolan" ever heard and the Rochdale fans applauding it. As that was our first season in division 4, this must have been my first trip to Rochdale.
So in conclusion, hope I didn't bore you too much - but we have a new BRAPA leader for "first pub visited". 12th Feb 1999 nearly 3 years pre-GBG. Wow!