Beer and Football

August 17, 2006

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Its always so hit and miss finding a decent pub at an away game. That is, unless you are a regular traveller or you have a plan. The second edition of Gashead Richard Stedman’s Football and Real Ale Guide has just been released and it comes with many improvements on an already fine first edition. Richard lists beer as one of his top hobbies (ahh, theres a new word for it!) and he has spent an age doing his homework on the best pubs for away fans. He has complied three volumes, one for each division, and they are going to prove invaluable guides for away trips during the coming season.

For regular away travellers it gives an alternative to the pub nearest the ground that many look for. Last year it helped us find such gems as Charters at Peterborough (with Stowford Press on tap for the visit a couple of weeks ago!), the Coach and Horses in Boston and my favourite, the Tardis-like Kemble Brewery Inn in Cheltenham.

Richard has changed the order of clubs from the best beer to the worst to a more sensible alphabetical order (vital for last minute pub finding)! In addition far better maps are provided which will help this driver and his associated back seat navigators certainly.

As to the pubs themselves there are more of them, information on food and opening times, plus there is information on the towns and cities themselves. Changes have taken place – for example The Old Red Lion at Barnet which provided us with excellent McMullens for the first game of the 2005-2006 season is not there. However you can find out why a pub has dropped out (or if you have any questions about the listings) through Richard providing both telephone and email contacts for queries.

So what of the Bristol pubs? Well the bars at the Memorial Stadium have been put under real pressure by the improvements to local pubs like the Inn on the Green and the Wellington. For real ale and cider drinkers I would guess both these pubs stack up with anything else in the guide. Rovers have to step up the game in the way many clubs with out of town stadia like Darlington and Chester don’t have to, who have a captive audience close to the ground.

So there are many improvements to the guide this season. The combination of the fact the clubs in each division change each year (there is a guide for The Premiership, Championship, League 1 and League 2) plus the efforts Richard puts in to research existing and new additions to the guide each year make each edition of this guide a must have for the travelling football fan.

And the pub from the guide I would like to visit this year? I think The Cemetery at Rochdale, which would have been appropriate for the away trip last season!

The guide can be purchased through Richard’s website for £3.50 at http://www.footballandrealaleguide.co.uk

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