…Brummies every *******where la la la la la la la la la la went the terrace chant back in the eighties (that is the correct amount of la’s!)
Of course if you look at the current attendances at St Andrew’s then that might not be strictly true but when did cold hard facts ever get in the way of good football chant?
However, one thing I have noticed on my travels around the Midlands is that there are a few exiled Brummies carving out a living in the pub trade and one such gem is 177 – Smisby Arms LE65 2UA
Having already visited Smisby’s other pub, The Tap House then I thought it was only right I visited this village’s central boozer.
Bearing in mind Smisby has a population of under 300 and is sandwiched between Melbourne and Ashby De La Zouch on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border then to have two surviving pubs is fairly remarkable.
Whilst ordering my pint I was drawn like a beacon to a football badge emblem I spotted behind the bar, that was bereft of its blue and white colours, but there was no mistaking the shape of a Birmingham City badge!
As it turns out, Craig and Julie Reilly run this boozer and have done so successfully for 12 years which means Craig, like many, is now more of a lapsed Blues fan due to work.
But I could tell he was a genuine supporter as he was talking me through how he was optimistic of survival after he listened to Birmingham’s gallant, but ultimately fruitless fightback at Cardiff last weekend which saw them lose 3-2.
It’s the hope that kills you as a Blues fan although his parting shot of “I hope we don’t end up like Coventry” was closer to the mark.
Anyway, as you would expect from a couple who hail from Castle Bromwich/Shard End/Sheldon/Chelmsley Wood side of Brum this feels like a cosy local and they utilise its space well.
Predominantly it is food based and there are two rooms set out for food with a tiny snug in the middle but it feels like the sort of place you can have a drink too.
It had only been open 15 minutes when I went in at 5.15 but there were already four other people in there who were all clearly (friendly) locals and chatting about a host of pub/life issues whilst a couple were going to eat and any review you read on their FB page is glowing regards the quality of the grub.
Its sign outside says village pub and restaurant and that’s a market that is working well for them in 2018.
I was there for the beer and had a pint of Red Rose (Shardlow)
that had reached the end of the barrel and they changed it immediately (after replacing the barrel) and it was then a much better pint (£3.30)
If you are in a pub in a relatively remote location such as this then you need to attract punters with something and food is clearly the angle here but, as the pump clips demonstrate, they aren’t averse to having some top notch cask on to boot.
Martin’s excellent recent post on pubs in Belper, which also contained a fully highlighted (pink) Derbyshire GBG section reminded me that I hadn’t yet visited the Smisby Arms, and I can see why this place has been in the Guide before.
I had this little feller sitting next to me throughout…
…but a chat with Craig was also a reminder of just how important pub gaffers/staff are to the whole pub experience. I also like the fact they were happy to change the beer without any qualms when it had clearly reached the end of its shelf life.
It was also pristine inside with a cracking fire and even managed a bit of Marston’s breweriana for Richard to show it’s a pub that is covering all bases considering its size and generates a warm, friendly atmosphere.
Whilst Birmingham’s season appears to be in terminal decline, the Smisby Arms by way of contrast is looking like promotion material and a top notch village boozer.