I’ve not been in a ‘football pub’ for quite a while. If you watch the movies then every football pub is a den of inequity with fights kicking off all the time. However, they aren’t all like Green Street or The Rock in I.D but, after 11 months without seeing Birmingham win at home, I felt in celebratory mood.
I like to pop down to St Andrew’s as often as I can around work commitments but the last time I saw them win a league game was 13th December 2016, ironically the last game Gary Rowett was in charge. Since then I’ve watched a further eleven games with three different managers before it was twelfth time lucky against Alan Winfield’s favourite team this weekend.
That’s right, eleven months without watching a win and I was intrigued to see how the 99 – Royal George Hotel B9 4PN was looking these days. This boozer is situated on the corner of St Andrews and whilst it has morphed into a hotel it is, to all intents and purposes, a pub.
To be fair to the George, it’s one of the last men standing in Small Heath as even the Garrison Tavern of Peaky Blinders fame has bitten the dust along with the St Andrew’s Tavern, Brighton Arms, Watering Hole, Clements Arms, Bolton Arms, Sportsman, Victoria inn, Oxford Arms, Redhill Tavern, Plough And Harrow to name but a few. I’m casting my mind back to visiting these places and whilst they were highly amusing on match days I’m not sure they all had award-winning décor and cleanliness and all have long gone. Fast food restaurants or religious community centres appear to be the most popular replacements
The Royal George has clearly had a fair bit of cash spent on it recently and it is remarkably smart inside. It is a hotel now and, if you look on their website, the rooms look great but I’m not sure I could tempt Mrs BB to stop for a night as I’m not sure the hotel bar would be quite what she was after!
Nevertheless, I had a great time in there at about 5pm when both the lounge and the bar were absolutely packed with punters and obviously this is when they make most of their money.
Whilst it doesn’t say ‘home fans only’ it is used almost exclusively by Birmingham fans on a matchday although my Forest supporting mate was with us but not shouting it from the rooftops!
This bar reminded me of a lot of pubs I used to drink in Birmingham and its suburbs in the late eighties/early nineties only far cleaner and well kept.
By that I mean it was boisterous and the sort of place that gets livelier and livelier and you could imagine people ‘playing up’ as the evening goes on. I don’t think the Sam Smith’s policy of no swearing would hold much sway here but it was packed full of all ages and genders and a cracking atmosphere with people who were clearly just warming up for the night ahead.
The biggest difference between Brum pubs and pubs in Derbyshire is that the earthy boozers in Brum don’t tend to have ale on whereas the earthy pubs in Derbyshire do.
I had a pint of Worthington on keg at a very agreeable £2.70 and that is just one of those regional differences you tend to find as Martin has noted on his quest for cask in that part of town…
I would be interested to see how this place looked on a non-matchday if I was stopping as a hotel guest but people make pubs and this is a cracking little place to visit on a matchday and is proving that you don’t have to like The Rock in I.D to be a successful football pub.