Brian Clough Way or the A52 to anyone outside of Nottingham and Derby is the dual carriageway that shows just how closely these two cities are linked.
Top flight titles under their belts in the seventies (that seems a long time ago now) and both football mad, whilst still longing for a return to their respective Clough eras, there is a fierce sense of local pride in all the surrounding suburbs.
A local broadcast presenter in the Birmingham region back in the noughties would always describe local derbies as “Ding Dong Derbies” back in the day and Forest v Derby is up there with the best of them.
Of course, this means areas such as Sawley and Long Eaton, which are on the cusp, will have a foot in both camps, or so you would think.
Sawley is under the Nottingham spotlight in terms of where it’s situated with Alan’s home town of Stapleford (or Stabbo as he called it) nearby along with Beeston, Toton and the smoking chimneys of Ratcliffe on Trent all within touching distance of Sawley.
However, this is one place that is loud and proud in its appreciation of Derby so when a ding dong derby fixture is on the cards then you are left in no doubt which team the regulars of 379 – Bell Inn NG10 3GR will be supporting.
Along with the row of shops on the Tamworth Road, the flag of Derbyshire is fluttering in full view as a statement of intent that this is definitely Colin Todd and Alan Hinton’s manor!
I had a chat with one of the punters outside who was having a swift fag and he told me that council paid for the flags to be displayed… so a line in the sand is being drawn.
The pub itself is a traditional classic and not only did it have a mobility scooter outside and a bloke in a Hi-viz jacket enjoying a pint as well as a pub sign (one for Duncan) it also had a dog on a punters lap resting its head on the bar!
Throw into the mix pool, darts and a retro gaming machine with Donkey Kong, Pacman and Space Invaders…
…and you had a perfect East Midlands local boozer.
(Two massive games on that list…unmissable)
I reckon this area of England does retro/classic/old school pubs as well as anywhere in the country…
…although it did have Sky Sports on with Joachim Low doing a great impression of Anne Robinson with jet black hair.
It was clean and the beer was top notch as I had an excellent half of BG Sips (Blue Monkey) and the barmaid/gaffer was very friendly and welcoming.
The bloke with the performing dog was at the hub of the conversation although his pooch resisted the temptation for his owners’ Carling and was definitely more of a craft lager hound.
(Another map for Martin – plenty of pubs in Sawley)
It wasn’t hugely busy on a Thursday afternoon but with live music, live sport on the box, good beer and plenty of chimney pots nearby then I am sure this little corner of Derbyshire will ensure this Bell enjoys many more ding dong derbies in the future.