Skip to main content

We're On Our Way....

This weekend, for the first time in their 105-year history, Halifax Town, yes, my club, are appearing at Wembley. They have reached the final of the FA Trophy, where on Sunday they take on Grimsby Town. This has created a tremendous buzz around the town, with sales of shirts and other merchandise going through the roof. 10,000 or more are expected to go to the game, including wives and girlfriends who have never set foot in the The Shay! There is even a Wembley song, by Simon Conway, featuring The Rainey Street Band's Andy Garbett on cajon!

Aside from the football, this trip gives us a great opportunity to try some of the ales on offer in the pubs of London. This is one of the great benefits of following your team away from home.

You see, real ale and football go together so well. Before every game at the field of dreams, aka The Shay, we meet at one of Halifax’s real ale pubs to discuss tactics. Post-match analysis is also conducted at one or more of the same venues. Many a game is previewed/reviewed in the Three Pigeons, Dirty Dicks, the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe, or the Cross Keys, with the Ring O’Bells, the Plummet Lane, and the Barum Top as occasional back-up. Ossett Silver King has been the lubricant for many a post-game celebration/rant/moan*(*delete as applicable subject to result).

Away matches provide a great opportunity to seek out new ales in new pastures, a time when the Good Beer Guide comes into its own. This season alone I have enjoyed some great beers in places like Chester, Lincoln, Gateshead, Newcastle, St. Albans, Nantwich, Manchester, and Southport, visiting places, pubs, and beers that in many cases I would probably have not got to try had I not been going there for football. For many of us, the first thing you pick up when the season’s fixtures come out is ‘The Good Beer Guide’. Potential trips are plotted, a town’s best pubs are identified. Routes are worked out to maximise the real ale potential, so that for example a trip to Lincoln can involve a stopover in that vastly underrated beer town, Newark. Likewise, when we played Boreham Wood at the start of the season, we stayed over in St Albans, a wonderful town with some excellent pubs.

The fact that a day at the football also involves sampling some great beers means that the day’s focus is not just on the football. Pity those poor souls who just turned up at the Shay for our 7-1 drubbing by Cheltenham, then went straight home after the game, deep in misery, only able to share their gloom with family and friends who haven’t been through the pain. The pub offers a place for collective therapy with like-minded individuals who have suffered the same as you, and as the pints flow and the hours pass the football seems less important.

So, Wembley beckons. Hotel booked, train booked, tickets in hand. Grimsby finished 3rd in the league and last weekend, also at Wembley, they beat Forest Green Rovers to gain promotion back to the Football League. We, meanwhile, suffered relegation on the last day of the regular season so that next year there will be two leagues between us. The Trophy Final does therefore give us the chance to put that disappointment aside for a weekend.

Will we win at Wembley? Who knows? On the face of it you would think not, but on the day we start out as equals, and we can take comfort from the fact that we tore Grimsby apart in our league game at the Shay earlier in the season. It is just great to have the opportunity to play at the nation’s premier stadium. One thing’s for certain, as someone once said "Win or lose, we'll have some booze, and if we draw, we'll have some more!"

We're on our way....




This is an updated version of an article I wrote for the Spring 2016 edition of 'Calder Cask', the magazine from Halifax and Calderdale CAMRA, available in all good pubs within the area.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Town That Thinks It's A Village....

My time has been a bit limited recently for venturing too far afield, so last weekend I made the short journey to Elland to check out a few of the town's pubs and bars. Here's what I found.... Elland is a small market town in West Yorkshire, located between Halifax and Huddersfield beside the River Calder. It goes back a bit, being recorded as Elant in the Domesday Book of 1086, and over the centuries the town grew as a result of the woollen industry, with the town becoming home to several large mills. The coming of the Aire and Calder Navigation and the railways further helped the growth of the town. The subsequent decline of the woollen industry in the town meant that there were a number of empty mills left standing, and those that didn't burn down were put to other use, such as the home of Gannex, the now-defunct textile company whose raincoats were worn by the rich and famous, including former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. More recently, several mills have been converte

First Trip to The County....

The County in Huddersfield has just been taken over by the Beerhouses Group, whose other pubs include the West Riding Refreshment Rooms in Dewsbury, the Buffet Bar in Stalybridge, and the Sportsman, also in Huddersfield. So one evening last week I went over to check it out and look in on a number of other places in the town.... The County is situated in a quiet area of Huddersfield, just off the precinct below Wilkinsons and opposite one side of the town hall. It is one of those places that has never been on the real ale circuit and has just quietly seemed to have got on with its own business over the years. I had certainly never been in it before and so I had absolutely no pre-conceptions of what to expect when I visited. The County is blessed with a narrow frontage at the end of a solid row of buildings on a slightly sloping street. The Beerhouses livery is on the signage, with freshly-painted white steps, and an old John Smiths lamp by the door and the Magnet design etched in the wi

New Team Breathing Fire Into Elland Brewery....

I paid a visit to Elland Brewery recently to meet the new team there who are aiming to build on the brewery's heritage and develop the business. Based in the West Yorkshire town of the same name, here's what I found..... There is a buzz about Elland Brewery these days. That was evident when I called in to see the team recently to find out some of their ideas for moving the brewery forward over the coming months and beyond. The brewery, much loved both in the local area and beyond, had been the subject of speculation over recent months as added to the fact that the erstwhile owners had gone their separate ways, other members of the team had left, consequently setting off rumours about the business's future.  The roots of Elland Brewery can be traced back to the Barge and Barrel pub, across town by the side of the canal. In the 1990's a brewery had been set up by the avuncular John Eastwood in the former children's playroom, where he developed beers such as Nettle Thr