An appealing fixture for all, we had quite a large group assembled, but in the early stages, it was just myself and the fit again Father BRAPA as an old couple barked instructions to get us through a multi-storey car park so we could find the best route to Wetherspoons, the traditional place to start any classic away day.
|There I am, in the shade of Luton's only tree|
Seemed quite an imposing modern building, White House (1550 / 2766) and by gum, did you see some life in here? The Spooniest Spoonsy ever, every man in a stained white vest (blood? gravy? was like a Persil ad), a shopmobility scooter glimmered in the sunlight, and the area where the handpumps were was deserted, the lager and coffee 'station' about three deep. A huge banner proudly displayed their inclusion in the 2019 GBG, but they can now stick the 2020 GBG one up, if the colours aren't too Oxford or Barnet or whoever their rivals are! "Reminds me of Strictly!" said Dad as we climbed the spiral staircase to the more peaceful upstairs, where a REAL bookcase (yes micros and dining pubs, it CAN be done) displayed a nice selection of moth-eaten neglected tomes from the days of Ricky Hill and Steve Foster. In fact, Dad and I may be the first people in this pub to hum the Strictly theme as we ascended the steps. He was Tess Daly obvs, I'm very much Claudia, we have lots in common, using Head & Shoulders, talking a load of shite, getting abuse on Twitter despite being 'lovely' etc. etc. Liquid Len of West Bromwich fame reckons this is Tommy Robinson's local, it might be but he (LL, not TR) is such a wag, you never know with him if it ain't just a 'White House' gag. Despite choosing a seat carefully, a man runs up to the table next to us singing Amarillo at the top of his voice, incorporating '204' into the song (the table number) so when he gets back to the bar, he can order his brekkie and remember the number. Ingenious or a lunatic? We moved seats anyway. Later I went to the loo. Everyone was scary, but you don't visit 'Spoons to not enjoy some mild peril now do you? Classic pubbing.
|Nice barman confused by £1.99 x2 minus two 50p vouchers|
|Get yer banner updated ya dinosaurs!|
|Dad and bookcase, before the Amarillo storm|
|Duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-durrr, duh duh duh duh duh, woooo (etc etc)|
Next up, the pub I'd most been looking forward to after favourable reviews from Twitter legends like M.Taylor and L.Foster. It looked small and perfectly formed, the Kingsley Black or Danny Wilson of its day, perhaps, and a 'No Away Fans' sign actually reassured me. I mean, I wouldn't DREAM of wearing your colours to Luton away, you'd have to be mad wouldn't you?
|You can tell it is gonna be good already|
Great Northern (1551 / 2767) immediately lived up to expectations with beautiful green tiling, a lovely curved old bar, and plenty of ornate features for the pub purist to enjoy. Plot twist though for the beer lover ..... just the one ale on, St Austell Tribute. The 2014 BRAPA wouldn't have understood such a concept, but my beery forefathers have taught me 'less is more' when it comes to ale range. And to get in the GBG with just one on seems a bigger achievement to me! And as Dad noted, bar staff spent an age pulling through a Doom Bar that never materialised. Ever seen Doom Bar as foreplay? Nope, neither had I til today. The Tribute was much cooler and crisper than I'd been expecting from recent reports, I had two and a half. Our assembled Hull City group were soon all here, including legend Tom Irvin, BRAPA mainstay Ben Andrew, Tom's parents Chris and Bernie, another BRAPA legend of our past Chrissy A, Chrissy D, a nice lady who kept talking about Manchester for no reason, and her other half who attends home games and was wearing a Hull City shirt because, well, there's always one! The barman told him "you are okay ...... FOR NOW...". A few Luton fans in silly orange shirts even though they should wear white with a black trim and a Bedford logo blinked around the room morosely. No one was wearing a David Oldfield wig though someone did cough in the Les Sealey style. It was all very fun, I was encouraged to do my quiz early (Ben won, so he said) before the gang dispersed, though considering the one beer policy, which may have frustrated some of our group, it says a lot about the pub itself most seemed happy to stay. The news that Tom had been getting free pints of blackcurrant cordial and tap water, even when he was only customer, is a mark of the class of the place.
|Ben's Tenacious D joke fell flat, but the 'Tribute' didn't|
|Happiest a home fan got all day|
|Look at its little face!|
|Quiz time (I'm probably deducting Tom 100 points as usual) - thanks to Ben for photo|
But being a pub ticker, I couldn't relax for too long and an 11 minute walk took the majority of us to my third and final Luton tick, a 1pm opener so there'd been no need to rush. I suspect they might open early on match days but there was no evidence of that online.
|Some of the gang at the Black Horse|
|Luton fans and their silly orange shirts #BringBack1989|
|Who nicked 2015?|
Then something strange happened because Hull City played quite okay in the second half and won 3-0, when did we last witness such away day joy? Ben captured it below, and as he said, I'm somewhere behind Hull City's Rev Richard Coles......
After the game, the gang headed back to London and wisely overruled my ambitious Hoopy and Grapey plan in favour of the new Euston tick, a good call, and a bit of a walk had me feeling better than the dehydrated mess I'd felt stood up on the train ........
|Let's go Exmouth|
|Amazing pint and Ben safe now to put his colours on!|
|Bernie, Tom and Christine at the bar|
|Look, it is quite nice really!|
|Nice old pubby bits|
Though it wasn't QUITE at an end as I got myself and Dad halves in the Parcel Yard whilst he bought food, then we had an amusing train journey back and then I popped in to York Tap for a half cos I though Chris and Bernie who'd been on same train might be in there, but they didn't arrive, so must've got a bus home to their weird village. I said farewell to Dad, then a drunk lady pinned me to a wall but it wasn't too scary, and I was back home for a bag of Snack a Jacks and an episode of vintage Sooty. Job done.