You’ll recall that the plan was to spend 3 nights in Lowestoft, perform my Man in a Hat duties & entertain the locals to boot.
Well. I’m back & here’s what happened………..
"I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women. Suddenly, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain it would bring." Nick Hornby
Breakfast at the Double
The first challenge was how to safely remove Seafur from under the duvet. Great care needs to be taken if you are to avoid a badly clawed scrotum. No sudden movements. My preferred method is the slow release of - well enough of that for now………
As I pass the pet shop, the owner is hosing down the pavement outside. Ironically, the stuff being hosed into the gutter almost certainly originated from the very same shop.
I’m off to the seaside, spring has sprung, so the winter coat has been put away & the summer coat is on.
As I arrive in Stockport it’s pouring with rain, but my sun hat keeps rain off just as well as it does sun, so all is well.
The guy at the Plaza takes pity on me & lets me in early for breakfast. Cheese & ham omelette & black coffee. I’m well ahead of schedule, so have to decide whether to go to the station for more coffee at Starbucks, or stay at the Plaza.
Now let’s see, one is part of the global corporate axis of evil, along with McDonalds & Nestle, & the other isn’t. I stay at the Plaza. Bacon butty.
I head for the only Platform Zero in the world to get my train. Platform Zero is just the sort of place that you’d embark from if you were off on some sort of magical adventure, which I suppose I am really.
|Platform Zero- Stockport Station .|
The train gets to Norwich early & I’m soon supping a pint of Firebrand American Pale Ale in the beer-mat-less Complete Angler near the station. £3.80!!! Yikes!
So efficient was I at finding the pub & so confident am I at finding the station again, that I’ve time for another beer. I leave them a beer-mat by way of a reminder as to what a great idea beer-mats are.
The train to Lowestoft is very busy, mostly with people who work in Norwich & are now returning home. There is a lot on canals. I think they’re called drains or ditches in this part of the world. They’re all a lot fatter & have lots more swans & boats on than I’m used to. All in all, a lot more poncey than what we have in Stockport.
I find my guesthouse easily enough & decide to explore south after checking in.
So, it’s off to Oddfellows for a meal & some real ale, as recommended by Ursula my landlady. Spicy jumbo sausage topped with chilli. Spicy? Nah. Jumbo? Not really. Very nice nevertheless.
The ale is very good indeed. Oakham’s Citra, one of my personal favourites, is on top form.
Off to the Fisherman’s Wharf to sing. Can I find it? No!
End up in the Harbour Inn & then the Plough & Sail for a pint of Humpty Dumpty’s Railway Sleeper. Looks like there’s going to be plenty of variety of ale in Lowestoft.
For some reason, I sleep very well.
County Take Over Lowestoft
I’m awoken by the sea & the local wildlife.
At breakfast I bump into a chap wearing a CAMRA polo-shirt & then Viv & Peter, the famous County Supporters, pictured here with Ursula.
So I spend breakfast chatting about my 2 favourite subjects, County & Real Ale. Peter’s philosophical outlook is, “win or lose, on the booze”.
As I approach the Joseph Conrad to meet everyone, I spot Ed Keane. Ed’s off to find the most easterly point in England. I helpfully provide directions. Head east Ed.
I haven’t tried anything from the local brewery yet, soon rectified by a pint of Green Jack’s Lurcher Stout. The place is packed with County Supporters.
Anyway, no rest for the wicked, I’m off to the Stanford Arms.
Instead, I find the Triangle Tavern! What went wrong there? I’m not safe to be let out, me!
The Exeter Fletch Crew (EFC) are waiting for me. Yes Fletch, I got lost on the way here.
One of them doesn’t look too clever. Overdoing it in Norwich last night is the explanation.
A rather excellent pint of Green Jack’s Albion Mild is quaffed & I’m soon on my way again.
I find the Stanford Arms this time, run by Gareth, who kindly poses wearing my hat.
How many ales?
Plenty of County fans present........
One local is forgoing watching Norwich play Derby in favour of Lowestoft vs. County, & why not.
Plenty of Lowestoft fans as well, including John & Lucy.
I ask Gareth about the debate as to whether the Triangle Tavern or the Stanford Arms is the real tap for Green Jack.
The debate is over - the Triangle Tavern is now the brewery’s tap.
The Stanford have fallen out with Green Jack & are now a free-house. Both boozers are great, so try them for yourselves. One word of advice though, not both on the same night eh.
More County fans arrive, including local Hatters Jim & Dawn .....
Sandra from the Armoury,Mr. Wilks & the rest......
Sandra’s on her first ever away trip. What a place to start! Hyde would have been a little easier.
Off to the ground now to try the real ale in the club-house. Sunrise out of a box - perfectly acceptable. Full of County of course.
The queue for food was horrendous, so I head off in search of an alternative source. Bingo! Home made meat & potato pies, £1.20 large, £1 small, all served up by the lady what cooks ‘em! Shangri-La!
During the second half behind the goal, occurs one of the most bizarre episodes I’ve ever encountered whilst following County. It’s right up there with the tale of Robert Peat’s trousers, Phil Robbie’s crutches & the police escort to West Ham.
A young lady (Clare as I recall) was bemoaning the fact that County were unlikely to score in a month of Sundays. Clare went on to state that should County score, she would donate £50 to the Supporters’ Co-operative Guardian Account.
As a keen advocate of the Co-op, I hastily noted this pledge in my notebook.
Then I spotted Pete Towey, called him over, introduced him to Clare & explained the situation. Clare repeated her promise.
Within minutes, County were awarded a penalty, routinely slotted home by Scott Spencer.
You could have knocked us all down with a feather regarding what happened next. Clare only handed over £50 cash to Pete Towey on the spot, so to speak.
I don’t usually comment on the game, but I’ve rarely enjoyed a goal as much as Spencer’s second. Went a bit AS in fact. As good as eating 2 giant chocolate buttons at once.
If you can find the highlights on u-tube, you’ll see me behind the goal, to the left, wearing my top hat, stood next to Clare.
North or South?
After the game, I headed for the Oak Tavern for a pint of Adnams Oyster. The local fans tell me how much they’ve enjoyed Conference North, including their trip to EP & hope they’ll be back next season.
The problem is that the Club would prefer to be in Conference South for obvious financial reasons, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out during the closed season.
Mariners Rest next. All ales served on gravity (i.e. no pump, just straight from the barrel), unusual these days. Scarborough Stout - very good.
On my way to sing at the Fisherman’s Wharf, I realise that I’m nearly touching cloth, so I pop into the Joseph Conrad to make use of their facilities. I’ve put enough mullah over the bar at Wetherspoons over the years, to feel perfectly entitled to drop in whenever I like, irrespective of whether I want a drink or not.
Disaster! The place is full of County Supporters, so I’m obliged to stay, drink more beer & partake in the match postmortem.
Finally, I’m off to the Fisherman’s Wharf at last, where surely everyone will follow to see me perform? It’s shut! DOH!
I do find a karaoke though, in the Royal Oak, & perform Stop Crying Your Heart out by Oasis for my new fans.
You old dog, you’ve done it again. You’ve pulled! After some knicker-throwing, I beat a hasty retreat, realising that I’m a little too far gone to be able to perform any duets.
I’m up in time to sample the kippers, & very good they are to.
Exploring Oulton Broad today, which is a decent walk from Lowestoft, but the weather is fine, albeit a bit windy. The sea is really crashing in - fantastic!
After working up a bit of a thirst & picking up my NLP, the first stop is the Waveney. The snug is an interesting place for a drink, a relative shrine to football. The ceiling is covered with football shirts.
No sign of a County one though. Wish I’d known, would have gladly have donated one.
The Lady of the Lake is next, where I find Robinson’s Trooper, known in Stockport as a recipe for disaster, together with County diehards Christine & Tony.
After a few beers with Christine & Tony, I head for the Wherry Hotel (where they’ve being staying) & they head for the Waveney to see if my NLP is still where I’ve left it.
The beer in the Wherry was very good, Woodforde’s Flagondry, but I’ve no wish to drink in a crèche, so I head off to find my final stop, the Broadview.
Nowhere to be seen, so I decide upon an early curry at the Labone, which is in an old railway station & recommended by Christine & Tony.
Duck Tandoori, followed by Tikka Tava - all excellent. No surprise that the place is busy, particularly with take-away orders, & it’s only just gone 5pm.
There’s only one place to finish off the trip - taxi to the Stanford Arms to see if there is any beer left (Gareth told me that they usually have about 2 weeks supply in the cellar, but by the time we left to go the game, there was only 2 days left - disgraceful!).
When I arrive, I’m welcomed by Gareth, who is on the drinkers’ side of the bar holding court with his regulars. The beer is good & plentiful. All is well.
All that remains is the walk back to my Guest House. No singing tonight.
I start the day with more kippers - too good to turn down.
A swift pint at the Cutter Inn near Ely station is the only event of note. All a bit rushed really. Brain’s The Awakening. £3.95 & a short measure to boot! Fairly ordinary as well. The Stanford Arms this isn’t.
Well, that’s me done for another season, but let me leave you with one of my favourite, & possibly pertinent, philosophical football quotes.
"The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life." Bill Shankley
Until next season then………..
Man in a Hat.