I’ve got to start with the big sports story of the day. I don’t mean the news that top pub town Belper crashed out of the FA Cup at the final qualifying round hurdle to top pub city Notts County.
Nor do I mean the news that will have Dutch Paul crowing after Michael van Gerwen won his opening PDC Champions League of Darts (second most watched sport on Sky) game in Leicester against James Wade 10-8.
It’s not the fact that Andy Murray reached his first ATP final for two years in the European Open (how apt that the focus is on Europe today) in Antwerp or even the fact that England absolutely smashed the Aussies in the Rugby Union World Cup quarter final earlier this morning in Japan that surely left bars doing a roaring pre 10am trade (Timbo will be happy) .
No, the big news was that I spent my Saturday afternoon at the Willows Leisure Centre in Derby watching a cracking clash in the Junior Indoor Cricket League. Division One.
My daughter was playing so whilst a birthday party football game was in full swing on the adjacent ‘court’ so an eight-aside game took place ‘next door.’
It was expertly umpired by a young lad who couldn’t have been more that 16 from a huge seat in the upper echelons and an electronic scoreboard that was so fast it made VAR look amateurish.
(Leisure centre in red and pub in change strip of yellow)
One of the positives of watching indoor cricket at this particular venue is that the multi-storey car park in Chapel Street, virtually next door, contains one of the legendary Derby boozers 484 – The Bless DE1 3GU.
It’s just over the road from BBC Derby so possibly (back in the day but I know all journalists are respectable teetotal characters of course) a few of the Derby bourgeoisie pop in for a jar when they’ve finished their shift.
(BBC Derby in the third change strip of blue – map not very clear I know but just showing what a concrete jungle this part of Derby is)
It used to be known as The Blessington Carriage and is home to the city’s longest serving licensee, Tony Williams, who has been the gaffer since this place opened in the 1970s. It’s on the edge of town, very near to the Flower Pot, arguably Derby’s best music venue so it hoovers up quite a few students and I suspect a decent pool of regulars.
Live music, quiz nights, a pool table and indie style tunes appear to be the order of the day and I was there at around 4pm on Saturday in time to look at my phone and see that Birmingham were holding on against Leeds before inevitably, Richard Coldwell’s boys won.
I’m happy to concede three points in memory of Rich and he’d have been happy that this place had (Blue Monkey) Infinity IPA on and it was a very well kept beer.
I know Martin’s not a fan of the dimpled jug effect (steady on Russ) but I like it although the lacings never look quite as good.
It’s a big old boozer that is open plan but has little nooks and crannies segregated off and is a bit of a Tardis, but still has the odd serving hatch tucked away.
Derbyshire beer guru Colston Crawford has given this place his seal of approval and had a great chat with gaffer in this article.
It was fairly quiet to be honest apart from another couple drinking plenty, a girl playing pool on her own and necking bottles of lager, and a couple of student types; as well as a couple of fortysomething who arrived as I was leaving and looked like they were regulars.
Apparently this place has doormen of a weekend so I reckon it could be quite a different animal of an evening and clearly there is a bit of live music on a Friday with a Stone Roses style beermat to advertise this fact.
This is undoubtedly one of the best three pubs in Derby “near to a multi-storey car park,” and with decent beer and a chilled out atmosphere then it’s well worth a visit as a post-match cricket venue.