I need to thank The Wickingman, or rather his better half for this post, as i lie through my back teeth convince all and sundry that the last post was in fact fake news.
That’s right, Mrs TWM, pubs such as The Bulls Head in Repton are in fact an elaborate hoax and the only pubs that exist in 2019 are backstreet boozers selling Bass and cheese and onion cobs.
When Ian – AKA The Wickingman – and a fully paid up member of the Bass Appreciation Secret Society (BASS to its members) commented on my last post, he was after confirmation that gastropubs are in fact a figment of imagination and only appear on blogs such as Martin’s and Mudgie’s Closed pubs blog.
This is where it’s at: Church Gresley, on the outskirts of Swadlincote and home to Gresley FC and a ground that Duncan surely must have visited during his groundhopping.
It used to be Gresley Rovers but I suspect they are reborn as Gresley FC after financial troubles as that is what afflicts most non-league fallen giants these days.
As the gaffer of the Royal Oak confirmed, this ground hasn’t changed since the early seventies so it is a real timewarp.
Mind you, the car showroom opposite the football ground is modelling a neat line in vehicles to attract the punters…
…although rumours that any damage happened after a visit in the Anglo-Scottish Cup from St Mirren fans are, as yet, unconfirmed.
Within about 250 yards of Gresley’s stadium is a magnificent backstreet pub in an old pit village known as the 476 – Royal Oak DE11 9PJ.
According to whatpub it has a long serving landlord and I have to say he was the epitome of what is great about pub life.
I was in there at quarter to one on a Thursday and there was the gaffer, Nigel, his wife Lynne and myself and whilst she was busy bottling up out the back Nigel was the perfect host.
Old school opening hours from 12:30 – 4pm in the week and then reopening again at 7:00pm on the evening, mean this is a real throwback.
He said he gets in a few shift workers and lads who “go to the pub in the afternoon” before he has his own dinner, a bit of a freshen up and then the 7 o’ clock club come in.”
However, there was a good mix (there’s a Pontoon club) from his description and this really is a place you can fall in love with. Not only is the Bass absolute nectar (one to add to the list Ian) but the gaffer has an absolute multitude of experience and, as Alan Hansen once said, “You’ll never win anything with kids.”
He has run or been involved with some tough old boozers in the Chelmsley Wood area such as the legendary Happy Trooper (worth a check on wiki) and was reeling off all the old favourites such as The Prince Hal and Merrymaker. He was based round there in the eighties and nineties and these were what you would term “lively estate boozers.”
He also reeled off a few he had been involved with in Coventry before confirming that Bass was an infinitely better drink than Brew XI, Ansells, Tetley’s and even Pedigree.
As a former Bass employee he reckoned he had a red triangle “running through him” and I was there for the best part of an hour just chewing the fat.
He keeps Pedigree on as a nearby boozer bit the dust that was a Pedi stronghold and said he has to keep them both in tip top condition as there are connoisseurs in this former pit village.
A commemorative plate on the wall recognises its past and there was nothing Nigel didn’t know about his local patch.
Radio Derby was on in the background and he was tuning into the not very effective teambuilding for Derby County last night that had left Richard Keogh out for the season and whilst there was Sky/BT as an option the TV was off and he was a man who loved to chat.
We discovered a mutual friend – the previous gaffer of The Swan in Milton and I would love to see this place when it’s full as I reckon the banter is fierce.
The boozer itself is an L-shaped classic with bench seating everywhere and a pool table and dartboard in the end ‘room.’
A classic former Bass House was sold to Punch Taverns in 1998 and then on again to Hawthorn Leisure in 2018 who aren’t known for making sure local boozers survive.
This is an absolute classic and long may it continue.
They are expecting The Wickingman and his better half in there for a Bass and a cheese cob before Christmas!