It is that time of year again when the dust has settled after the big 'cross-ticking' exercise (I actually started writing this on 1st October!) and I'm able to identify pubs that appear in the 2020 Edition which I've been to, but haven't made previous 'BRAPA GBG's (2015-19), so I've never reviewed them retrospectively.
In most cases, I visited them before BRAPA became a thing, and whether they've been down on their luck, temporarily closed or the local CAMRA just hate them, it is hard to know, but great to see them back to bolster my net total.
13 of them this year, amazing really, and at the end of the 2019 archives, I even wrote "hard to think the 2020 GBG will throw up any pubs which make me think 'hang on, I've not written about that bunch before!' but I thought exactly the same thing about this edition so who knows what surprises we'll have in store."
So let us kick off with the first six, all Hull City away day related, and we start like so many good pub crawls, in Derby in an age when their football players were model citizens probably (that 'joke' made more sense on 1st Oct) ........
420. Tap, Derby
22nd Feb 2011, and a Tuesday night Hull City away game was never going to stop me and Dad driving down for some Tigerish fun. We'd parked in a dodgy car park, been called 'duck' by a dodgy attendant in a hat, and totally by chance, made an excellent Silk Mill debut. This was over three years before 'preemptives' became a thing, but we saw Silk Mill had a huge 'CAMRA Pub of the Year' banner outside and went in on the off chance. 'The Brewery Tap - Derby's Royal Standard' as this one was dramatically known in those days, was our other pub that evening, and whilst it didn't wow us like Silk Mill had, it proved a decent attempt at a 'higher class' bar type place to have a couple of swift quiet strange local beers pre-match. A season later, on a Saturday this time, we popped in again with a larger group including Ben and Christine, and gone was the gentle evening feel for a chaotic, stuffy, drinking in a sewer style outdoorsy experience which was enough to make Dad leave on one of his legendary 'wanders' and who could blame him? With Derby having a strong suit of pubs, I've never been surprised it hasn't appeared in GBG's circa 2015-19, so something (well, the beer) must've improved in the last year!
421. Old Fishmarket, Bristol
Strangely listed under 'Bristol : Old City' (thanks to RM for spotting that) which seems a new area of Bristol invented for the 2020 GBG, I'm glad to see this one back after many years as every pub I visit in Bristol always seems to then get binned from the Guide, leading to much paranoia on my side. It is a City I'm looking forward to doing properly in the next 5 years once Essex is finished and Glos becomes the apple of my eye. I visited here 1st March 2008 with Dad and Tom before a Bristol City away game, and my reason for selecting this pub was quite simple, it opened 11am and we'd got in early, done a 'Spoons, and this was the only other pre noon pub! I remember getting food and we (especially Tom) were horrified by the way it was presented - chips in a silver tankard or something with old newspaper lining, might sound tame now in the days of cooked breakfasts on shovels, but remember this was a gentler age! There were quite a lot of screens, and I see it was or is a Fullers pub. Oh and Dad left his bag and had to run back for it. I thought it was ok, but had preferred the Bridge Inn which is the one Bristol pub I go to which actually stays in the GBG every year!
422. Coach & Horses, Leyton
Every year during cross-ticking, I notice an entry that makes you go 'wowwwww' out loud, and this year, it was this large pub close to Brisbane Road. I first came here with Dad on 13th March 1999, one of Hull City's most epic games in the 'Great Escape' season - you know when Gary Brabin scores an overhead kick in the opening minutes that you are staying up after all! The visit was so early, I was 19 years old, a mere Twudent, and certainly a lager drinker. There was something about the pub, the busy but not crowded, friendly, sun shining into the smoky atmosphere, and we reckoned the gaffer must be a former O with his huge afro and friendly manner. I was gutted the following year, 3rd Jan 2000 when we got lost somewhere near Walthamstow, cutting our return visit short. The pub made such an impression us, even when we got into real ale and the GBG, we were still trying to pop in for at least one each season up to 2004 time and I was just glad to see any hand pump on, I think! Though on play off semi final defeat night, we missed it and later heard our fans had trashed it, which was sad, especially as I'd invited an old school friend to join us (not heard from him since but he became a copper, hissss!) Once, a bloke saw my colours and sidled up to me and said "my brother plays for Hull City". "Oh wow" replied Dad and me and unison "who?" "Steve Swales" he replied. "Oh" I said "well he seems like a errrrrm .... nice person".
423. King Charles I, Pentonville
I've got 9th April 2011 down as my first visit here, after a Watford away game, though I'm not sure if that is strictly accurate. I've been on two or three occasions, and before Parcel Yard opened, this for a short time was our Hull City gang's 'easy Kings Cross post-match tick' though once, we walked around for ages searching for it, on another it was closed altogether. An atmospheric, dimly lit place, it seemed to sell two Brodies ales, both ridiculously strong. We associated it mainly with this fantastic landlord, who ran a very tight ship but on our visits, always seemed to have reason to shout at some idiot pub tourist for not observing proper pub etiquette, or threaten to bar someone who was acting out a bit, which someone always was. Always felt the need to sit very still in a dark corner, whisper and drink!
|Christine, Me and Tom hide in a dark corner of the King Charles, April 2012|
424. Bear, Oxford
16th March 2002, and having driven down with Dad for our debut Kassam experience (do we ever perform at that ground? No is the answer) this ended up being my first ever Oxford pub. Ridiculously studenty, it was packed to the rafters as we ended up fighting to the bar to get served. It was one of the first times I'd used my new 2002 GBG (which had replaced my original 1999 GBG I'd bought it a L**ds cheap book shop the previous December for an added Dad Christmas present ..... is any of this making sense?) The reason I chose the Bear was because it had a quirky selection of ties, and apparently one helped Inspector Morse solve a murder, Dad was into Morse so I picked the pub out for this reason. But I don't think I even told him this bit, we took our pints outside to some rubbish metallic chairs again surrounded by students (perhaps on the river?), and left, relieved and quite non-plussed, for a much better experience at the Hobgoblin where we stayed and drank lots of pints til the bus to the ground.
425. Lord Nelson, Brighton
I travelled down on my own for the Hull City away day on 9th Feb 2013, having made my Withdean debut the season before. I'd already ticked off a weird Nicholson's called Pump House (which also hasn't been in the GBG since) and a more successful GBG but overly busy pub called Basketmakers where I nearly got shoehorned into the ladies loos. I came to the Lord Nelson mid-Evening Star which confused some folk I'd met up with as Evening Star is wonderful and why would you leave it? All I can think of is the pub-ticking gene was within me, a full year before BRAPA was formed! It was quite a traditional Harveys pub for Brighton, verging on spit n sawdust with a huge screen showing a live game and being quite shy in those days, I had to creep around the room hoping someone kind would let me sit at their table, I think a bald man finally huffed and budged up a bit. Nevertheless, I was glad to return to Evening Star to meet Chrissies A, D and a bunch of friendly Brighton fans from Canada and Falmer and weird places like that.
|Making friends with the enemy at the Evening Star, fresh back from my Lord Nelson interlude|