I like my live sport as much as anyone but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and watch it on the box.
Working in Oakham meant I had to scour the boozers for some live top class action (well Pompey v Blues) and the beauty of the internet meant I knew 453 – The Railway LE15 6QU would be showing this Caraboa Cup classic.
Of course, whilst I was clear this was the game of the week to watch I was well aware the residents of Oakham might not share my enthusiasm for this first round tie, meaning I didn’t need to get there until kick off.
I’ve only visited The Grainstore before in this town and this is only 100 yards up the road from both there and the station, so ideally positioned.
It wasn’t quite what I expected for a Tuesday evening when I entered as there was a stoical bloke at the bar (who turned out to be to class company) but a barmaid who was loud and must have come from Coalville, as she wasn’t afraid to swear whilst a couple of her mates were drinking green pints of something!
I enquired about the football and she said it was no problem even though they were singing (I use that term loosely) along to some song on MTV with suitable manic dancing (I use the term loosely) and it was lively.
I suspect she might have had a few of the green pints herself as she couldn’t work out how to change the channels so, I managed to press the magic buttons and 401 appeared.
Her shift was just ending though and her replacement seemed a lot calmer and he came in, turned up the volume and started talking about all things Leicester City.
There was a music area out the back and it looked as though the lively squad had retired there, as there were some tunes emanating from that zone whilst barfly, barman and I watched plucky Blues fall to a 3-0 defeat against those current giants of football, Portsmouth (that is true Russ/Dave/Dick).
(Here come Uriah Heep)
The barfly as great value and managed to slip on two Uriah Heep tracks in the half time interval (I’ll need to confirm with Mudige what there were) and had been coming into this boozer for night on 30 years.
He documented many changes such as the last gaffer being a massive Leicester fan and running the Oakham supporters club branch and how the new gaffer wanted to turn it into a music pub and there were gigs in the backroom.
However, arguably the biggest point he made was that the pub was much less full now than it was thirty years ago…
I had a 61 Deep (Marston’s) that came in at a whopping £4.05, which was good, but not that good to be over £4.00 in a backstreet boozer.
Although the barman did mention Johns Smith’s was only £2.80 a pint so I eventually succumbed…
Another feller came in and chatted to barfly and barman and the bloke at the bar – out of nowhere suddenly said “I always thought that John Bond was a real ****!” He then proceeded to justify it with a whole host of reasons!
There was plenty of football reminiscing going on, but that line came from nowhere and left me in stitches.
I think it came about as Kevin Bond was watching the game and it started from there …I bet he’s been sitting on the same stool for 30 years and left just before it got really exciting (actually, that’s not true) to go for his curry and his mate then moved to his stool to watch the last ten minutes.
A three roomed boozer, with one being used for music, this is a place that has plenty of history and is definitely a local as opposed to a tourist pub. Does Oakham have tourists?
With around ten people in all night (only three in the main bar for most of it) I guess that isn’t too bad for a Tuesday but The Grainstore up the road was heaving by comparison.
I reckon when Leicester play Newcastle in Round 2, if it’s on the box, then this place will have a few more punters in and who knows, the barmaid might even have sussed out the remote control by that time!