Liverpool had a rare three o'clock kickoff today providing an opportunity to get some special ticks. I took the train to Sandhills and joined the crowds on the long walk to the ground (The football bus is for wimps.)
Once there, I headed for a very difficult target, the Albert. I haven't been here since 2004. Not only is it match days only, but I have seen the doors closed mid match, so I made sure I got here before kickoff, and it was open. This picture was taken later when the crowds had gone in to the ground:
Wow! It is a good few years since I've been in a pub like this. The whole room was packed from wall to wall with vertical drinkers. A rather good singer with a guitar was just starting American Pie, but with locally relevant words (No idea what) I eventually squeezed my way to the counter for a pint of Carlsberg (£4.90) served by the efficient and very busy bar staff.
The fella served just before me paid with contactless and it didn't go through, by which time he had melted into the crowd. Later I saw the poor barman squeezing through the crush looking for him in vain. The order was two shots so they could have been drunk and out in 30 seconds.
I sang along with You'll Never Walk Alone and quickly swigged my beer, I'm getting too old for drinking in a throng like this. Eventually I escaped and finished my drink in the relative calm outside.
Next, the Church:
This wonderful former church has pews for seating in the impressive main room. I have to say when I came across it by chance in 2018 I was of the opinion that it couldn't survive for long as, apart from match days, I couldn't see why anyone would come in. Happily, I was wrong and it's going strong.
The bar staff were busy collecting millions (I think that's called hyperbole) of empty glasses as everyone had departed for the game but they still poured me a Carling, £4.
Everton had lost the early match according to the pictures on the stunning big screen which was clear and bright and I guess about eight metres wide. I imagine they get a good crowd for away games, England matches etc etc
A slow trickle of customers came in, keeping the place ticking over and of course it will be wedged again come full time.
The giant screen moved to Sky Sports News, with appalling lipsync. Someone needs to adjust something, it looks terrible.
Meanwhile I'm off to that rarest of ticks: A pub in the urban Liverpool area which I have never been in, but it's not a new one. Yes, I only learned of the existence of the Old Barn last year (Thanks Steve), so let's see if I can get in...
D'OH! shutters are down.
Back to the ground and the Park:
Although not packed this one was busy enough that all the tables were occupied and I had to stand by the counter.
Knocked through into one room on two levels, the Park is a pleasant enough plain boozer and I enjoyed another Carling, £4 cash only.
We had a radio version of sports news in here, they were announcing Liverpool going 1-0 up as I came in, but I already knew because I'd heard the roar as I approached.
I now have two choices: Dawdle over a couple of pints and try the Old Barn again at full time, or just collect other ticks and head home before the rush. I won't bore you with my medical problems (nothing serious, just a wonky ankle, I'll try not to go on about it too much...) but I think I'll take the easier option today.
I walked past the Albert, and the doors were shut as I expected. I would have thought a gentle flow of beer sales between the two rushes would have been money for nothing, but clearly some pubs around here think otherwise. Dodds Bar was also closed having been open before KO. I expect they know better than me!
On to the Twelfth Man:
A rather fine two sided traditional boozer this one, and after touring both sides I managed to pinch the corner of a table and a chance to sit down and rest my ankle.
We had rugby on the telly in here, plus Sky Sports News on other screens. We, and the crowd at the rugby match, watched what seemed like ten minutes of slow motion while they decided whether Scotland had scored a try or not. They hadn't.
The pub was doing a steady trade which again makes me wonder why others don't keep the doors open during the match. I assume it will be wedged come full time, but I'll try and get away before then.
As I relaxed on my comfortable seat I reconsidered my plans, can I dawdle and then get back to the Old Barn at full time?
I walked back past the Albert, still closed, and Dodds, open before, closed during, and now open again, joining the surprisingly large number of early leavers streaming away from the ground, and back to the Old Barn. (Is it alcohol or the comfortable seat in the Twelfth that means I'm walking at normal speed now?)
That picture was taken on my abortive attempt at a tick earlier. This time the door was open, so in I went.
A beautiful traditional two sided boozer this, the bar side at least is covered in football memorabilia LFC and EFC, it depends which way you look. I was the only customer as we listened to the end of the match, 3-1 to Liverpool.
The "other side" doesn't have a counter, it is served from a hatch at the end of the counter.
I kept waiting for the crowd to come in but it remained two staff and just me for a good ten minutes until finally some more customers arrived, just one group of four. And then a slow trickle of more, keeping the landlady quite busy.
Perhaps I'm biased because this is such a desirable tick, but I think this is a really beautiful pub and it's a cert for pub of the day today!
I noticed quite a few of the customers were heading up the stairs where I believe there is a function room.
Gradually more groups came in, am I the only loner in here? A few minutes later the place was busy, more and more came in, but I'd already got my seat and table, so I was happy! I did wonder if the pal who recommended this place would come in and recognise me, but he didn't. Perhaps he walked past and neither of us noticed. Soon every seat was filled.
I took my time over my pint, of Guinness for a change, hoping the crowds would disperse before I headed home.
Another match came on the telly, with close-ups of players and stewards clearing thrown objects off the pitch. Little plastic footballs and other rubbish. Who's playing? Oh, it's Bayer Leverkusen, isn't there a late match in the premiership?
In conclusion, a wonderful survey, one pub not done since '04 and one brand new - to me - but it's an old pub. I have to confess that in my conceit I'd assumed there were none of those left, but clearly one can never be sure. If you know of more, please tell me.
Beer of the day: Guinness
Miles limped: 3.7
Maybe coming soon: Fazakerley, Bebington, Crosby