Man in a Hat Hits Boston..........





The Plan

You’ll recall that the plan was to arrive in Boston about 8pm Friday, stay for a couple of nights at a real ale pub called the Kings Arms & help Jon Keighren as match summariser on Pure FM again.

I was concerned I wouldn’t have time to check out all the pubs I wanted to, or do the touristy things like the Pilgrim Fathers’ Memorial, Hussey Tower, the Stump & the Maud Foster Windmill.

As it happened, my concerns were unfounded, as the real ale scene was rather boring………Zzzzzzzzzz in Boston.

Here’s what happened………..

Welcoming Party

My grandfather once said to me that the older you get, the more patience you need with your bowels. Safe to say that I’m starting to understand what he meant.

No occasion for patience this morning though, as I’ve a bus to catch. I therefore end up taking stuff onto the bus with me, that I’d really have preferred to have left at home.

Anyway, the less said about that the better. I arrive safely in Boston at 7.20pm, albeit very hungry & with no cash.

During the journey, I’ve failed miserably with most of the puzzles from yesterday’s Times, kindly provided by Steve at Ye Olde Vic, when I popped in the previous evening following a meeting at the Armoury to discuss Supporters’ Co-op fundraising & events with Christine, Phil & Dave.

There must be a shortage of driving instructors in Boston, as no-one seems to know how to drive. However, I manage to survive the 20 minute walk to the Kings Arms, only to find Froggy waiting for me in the bar, who’s also staying 2 nights.  

The room is very nice. It’s the little touches I like. No rubber sheet, a flannel & your own personal cookie jar! However, there’s no toilet paper. Just what I need, 2 days without a pooh! This oversight is soon rectified of course.

I’m starving & the landlord recommends the Bombay Brasserie as I tuck into my first pint of the trip - Batemans Yella Belly Gold (very nice too).

Froggy proceeds to advise me that Boston is a one pub town (the Eagle) & all the rest are very disappointing - Batemans as far as the eye can see. He’s already regretting staying in Boston & wishing he’d opted for Lincoln, or even Nottingham.

However, we decide to explore the Ropers Arms, which is a couple of minutes walk away, before I bob off for a curry & Froggy retires after a hard day researching Batemans ales.

Batemans again. The XB this time - not too clever either. A bit ropey you could say.

On the bright side, there’s a decent looking chippy across the road, so I decide to grab something there & save the curry for tomorrow night.

Drat! By the time I’ve finished my drink, & left Froggy chewing on his final pint of the evening, the chippy is shut. I decide to just go back to the Kings Arms. Don’t want to peak too early.

Let the record show that Froggy sneaked up the stairs at 21.47, whilst I was enjoying my supper (cheese & onion crisps & dry roasted nuts) in front of the open fire. In fairness, he had probably been at it all day!

I find a stray piece of balti pie on my scarf. How long’s that been there? I know it’s balti pie as it tastes of coriander.

Milling With Maud

When I open the curtains the following morning, I’m greeted with the sight of the magnificent Maud Foster Windmill. 


Following a decent breakfast, I head over to the Windmill. Froggy declines the opportunity to go up the Mill & heads off to Wetherspoons to meet the other County Supporters.

I get a nice picture of the Kings Arms, which is now on www.whatpub.com




 The waterway in front is the Maud Foster Drain.

Maud was a wealthy landowner who died in 1581 & also owned part of the merchant ship Mary Anne. The Drain was cut through Maud’s land in 1568, but the Mill wasn’t built until 1819 (the same year as the Peterloo Massacre), & it was simply named after the Drain.

The Maud Foster is a working mill, so I manage to get covered in freshly milled flour in the course of exploring it. 




However, I do get some nice pictures from the top. 






The church you can see in the distance is known locally as the Stump, due to the fact that they famously gave up trying to build it to its intended specifications.

Heavy snow is falling as I wend my way to the Moon Under the Water. I’ve picked up the local papers on the way. Absolute rubbish - no big match build up at all!

Pre-Match

It’s 11:37 before the first County supporters arrive (07:55 train from Stockport apparently). I’ve had a good chat with one of the locals, who advises that we’ve been moved into the Home End (Town End) as they’re expecting a thousand County Supporters!

At 12:30, the EFC arrive (Exeter Fletch Crew).  



 They decided to stay over in Nottingham & have loved every minute of it - the look on Froggy’s face…

Time for me to make my way to the ground via the Coach & Horses. The Fingerpost party arrive just as I’m about to leave.










Boston’s New Community Stadium (eta 2017)

The Ground is a proper old stadium, with huge floodlight pylons. Shame they’re moving to Wyberton in 2017. However, the Boston fans I chatted to in the Coach & Horses seemed genuinely excited at the prospect.

Apparently, Chairman David Newton, who I believe is building houses on York Street, will create the brand new 5,000 all-seater stadium, which will be owned & run by the club’s supporters in perpetuity. The new stadium will be the centrepiece of a huge project, which includes 500 new homes & shops, restaurants etc.

The lease on the current ground expires in 2018 & in any event, the club is unable to generate sufficient income from the site to make the club viable in the long term. In addition, there is no longer enough room to facilitate all of the extensive & wide-ranging community, sports, education & training programmes.

So, the new Community Stadium, which will be built to Football League standards & have a 3G pitch, will also incorporate a sports hall, climbing wall, dance studios & so on. 





What I found interesting, was that despite the significant role Boston supporters appear to be being asked to play once the new stadium opens, there does not seem to be any legally-constituted supporters group at present.

This is happening, i.e. planning permission has been granted & the final funding is being put in place. It will be very interesting to follow Boston’s progress.    

Incoherent Nonsense

After picking up my press pass from the lady I’d just been chatting to in the Coach & Horses, (& noting that Jon hasn’t arrived yet!) I head into the supporters bar to try their real ale - Spitfire (not bad at all).

Whilst I’m acquiring my pint, a couple of Boston fans introduce themselves to me. Vince & Matt  ................



....................................... recognise me from Hedgegrower’s Blog!

We chat at length about the game. Apparently their left-back is suspect & Boston may switch the 2 full-backs over to try & improve things. Anyway, we agree to meet up again after the game for a debrief & more beer.

I eventually find Jon after various stewards sending me to all corners of the ground.



  I’ve managed to procure a pie on the way - steak & kidney (very good).

My efforts as match summariser don’t go too well!

Firstly, I’d planned to sneak in the names of as many of the good real ale pubs within 2km of EP as possible in the course of my contributions.

I dived straight in with “very cold out there Jon, the County Supporters will be glad to be sucking on their Ye Olde Vic-tory Vs this afternoon.”

Jon’s immediate response was “pubs this week then is it Graham?”

Doh! I’ve blown it. Why didn’t I start with something like Midway, Railway, or even Fingerpost? Blimey, I’ve just left the Fingerpost-Flyer mob in the pub. I could have mentioned that. What was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking, simple as that.

Anyway, not to be deterred, I did manage to get in 12 of the 22 pubs on my list, namely Live, Railway (twice - there are 2 you see), Magnet, Ye Olde Vic, Armoury, Fairway, Hope, Nursery, Fingerpost, Midland & Arden.

The ones I didn’t manage to blurt out were, Spinning Top, Cocked Hat, Bakers (Baker was playing, how did I fail with that one?), Swan With Two Necks, Crown, Florist, Royal Oak & Blossoms.

What about that last one! I knew the Blossoms were playing a gig at the Bungalow this Friday. Why oh why didn’t I give it a plug?

So I reckon 12 was a poor effort. Would have been happy with 16.

Not sure I contributed much as a summariser, but I think I got through most of the interesting facts I had written down before the game.

At the end of the game, Jon ambushed me again, but this time I was ready - not that it made any difference.

I knew Jon would ask me about the Supporters’ Co-operative Guardian Account & had some nice notes to read out - important when you lack the ability to think & talk at the same time.

However, it was very very dark in the commentary box by that time & I couldn’t read my notes. So, it just came out as a nonsensical load of hooey!

Incidentally, Jon could see in the dark, so add that to his long list of talents.

The Guardian Account

Anyway, by way of a belated attempt to redeem myself, what I wanted to say was something like this…..

Although Supporters are already the biggest financial investors in the Club via ticket sales etc. it has to be recognised, from the experiences of fans at other clubs, that the only guaranteed way to exert significant positive influence over how the Club is run, is by raising a large collectively-owned lump sum.

The owners of this lump sum, i.e. the Members of the Supporters’ Co-operative, would then decide how best to invest the money in the Club. Although guided by a Board of Directors elected by them, the ultimate decision would lie with the Membership.

Opportunities to invest in the Club could be working with other like-minded investors. In order to ensure that it is the Club that benefits, rather than other investors, this would typically happen when the ownership of the Club changes hands.

For example, if £50,000 had been available back when the 2015 consortium took over, Supporters may well have acquired a 10% stake in the Club & helped determine strategy going forward.

In addition, if the opportunity arose to take EP into community ownership, Supporters could play a significant role in helping to make that happen.

The Guardian Account is a long-term project & what is really needed is for Members to commit to regular contributions, e.g. monthly, as this will not only create a significant lump sum more quickly, but also build up a credible financial track record demonstrating that Supporters are capable of covering significant monthly payments in the future, should that be necessary.

Finally, in the worst case scenario, i.e. the Club being liquidated for some reason, Supporters could have a significant lump sum to help start over & also a device whereby large amounts of money could be raised in a short time.

The Supporters’ Co-operative has put the Guardian Account in place following consideration of positive outcomes at other clubs such as Wrexham & Chester, where such an initiative was the first step towards helping fans to help their club.

Actually, thinking about it, I reckon Jon would have switched off my mike long before I got through that little lot.

After the Game
   
Anyway, back to the supporters’ bar, but no sign of Vince & Matt. Also, the beer has run out, so I have to make do with Guinness.

After taking plenty of pictures..........







.................... including Stephen O’Halloran & Landon Junior posing in my collapsible top hat







....................& the players enjoying their hard-earned post-match scran








.................. I make for the Eagle where I’ve arranged to meet Froggy & the EFC.

The EFC have already retreated back to Nottingham, but Froggy is still standing. Best ale of the weekend - the Eagle is a Castle Rock pub.

2 pickled eggs - Froggy refused to eat his!

Chatting to the local real ale enthusiasts confirms that Boston is a one pub town. The rest is basically all Batemans - a bit like Stockport used to be when I arrived back in 1991, just substitute Robbies for Batemans.

However, whilst Stockport has since evolved into a genuine real ale destination in its own right, Boston seems to be stuck in a one pub, one brewery situation.

We tried the Golden Lion.

Then I headed off for the Bombay Brasserie, but couldn’t tempt Froggy.

Salmon Shashlik & Bombay Fish Jalfrezi, followed by an Irish Coffee.

By the time I’m finished, the only option is to return to the Kings Arms for one last pint of Yella Belly.

No sign of Froggy & no-one at the Kings Arms has seen him.

The Long Journey Home

Just about make breakfast (thanks to the Jalfrezi) but Froggy didn’t. The Landlord tells me that Froggy didn’t make it back last night, so the Police are now dredging Maud Fosters Drain. Must have been all that Screech Owl (5.5%) Froggy was drinking in the Eagle last night?

I decide to focus on my breakfast. Man, this is a great part of the world if you like sausages! What they lack in variety of real ale, they certainly make up for in quality porcine products.

I check out - still no sign of Froggy, living or dead. The Police operation continues outside as I head to Wetherspoons - for coffee!

I’m booked on the 14:45 train, but in truth I’ve had enough of Boston, so I’m going to see if there are any earlier trains.

Froggy is sat in Wetherspoons, alive & well. Well, alive anyway.

Unlimited coffee for me. As I pay, I find my room key in my pocket.

Rats!

I finish my coffee & trudge back to the Kings Arms (15 minutes in the rain) to hand the room key in.

The Police are still searching for Froggy in Maud Fosters Drain, so I let them know I’ve found him. The officer in charge tells me to mind my own business, that he hasn’t had any dinner & to move along immediately, unless I want a good kicking.

How odd. I therefore trudge back to Wetherspoons (15 minutes in the rain).

I’m really paying the price for that Jalfrezi this morning. Why are the toilets in Wetherspoons always so far away!

Whilst I’ve been away, Froggy has come up with a plan. Get the 12:13 train, get off for a couple of hours in Sleaford, get back on, get off for a couple of hours in Nottingham & then finally return to Stockport.

Now, I’ve been told I need to be more spontaneous, so I immediately sign up for this appealing detour.  

I never got to try the Indian Queen & Three Kings, but what the heck.

We visit the Pack Horse Inn & the Beer & Bean in Sleaford. I have to return my ale in the latter as it’s off. A shame really, as it was the Batemans Black & White, which I hadn’t managed to find in Boston. Yes I know - more Batemans!

The train from Sleaford is late & for some the reason the ample waiting room is locked. Everyone is stood freezing on the platform. This has happened to me before somewhere, the old locked waiting room routine, but I can’t remember where.

We eventually reach Nottingham & head straight for the Vat & Fiddle, a Castle Rock pub. The ale is excellent & I also have some sausage & cheese to graze on.

I’m done, but Froggy is committed to a later train, so I leave him to it.

As I’m between buses, I head for Ye Olde Vic upon my return to Stockport.

Get stuck in there, miss my bus, end up in the Crown, last bus home!

First half of the Super Bowl & off to bed. Good job I’m well rested & don’t have to work any more!

So, that’s it for me until Lowestoft.

From what I’ve gathered over the last few months, everyone who is going is staying over for at least one night, so it should be a very eventful trip.

No surprise really as you’re looking at a 6 hour train journey, so the weekend will be a total write-off for any County Supporter who makes the trip.

I do not anticipate being invited back to help Jon Keighren again though…….

Why not join me in Lowestoft?


Man in a Hat.

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