Saturday 11 May 2024

Last Home Match Of The Season

Everton's last home game of the season, so it's time to head for Kirkdale where I might find some match day only pubs.

I looked into the doorway of the Melrose Abbey as I passed and there's the same friend as I spotted last time, back in January.  So again I had to join him for another chat.  There were eventually five of us, they were all off to the match, of course, so the topics for discussion included VAR, points deductions and so on.  As you would expect, the pub was very full and very busy.

I left the gang and wandered up to County Road where I started in the Chepstow Castle:

It was crowded when I got there but the time I'd got my Carling in a plastic glass everyone was leaving for the ground and I easily found a table to sit at.

My notes for here refer to an island bar but there's no such thing now.  Did I miss the change when I was here in 2018 or has it happened since my last visit, I wonder. 

The crowd rapidly dispersed and the bar staff busied themselves collecting empties and tidying up ready for the post match rush.  Suddenly there were only about a dozen customers, what a transformation!  Eventually the music was turned down to match the levels of customers, thank goodness. 

Now the place was empty I could look round:  Plain traditional decor in one large well looked after room.

At 14:50 there were just three other customers that I could see, perhaps one or two hidden by the columns. 

Next, the closest to the ground of today's targets is the Spellow:

Ouch, match day pricing here, my Carling cost £5, still, on the plus side it came in a proper glass. 

The bar staff were a bit slower here than in the Chepstow, and all the tables inside and out were still full of empty glasses which were slowly disappearing into the dishwasher. 

I sat inside to better observe goings on.  The place has been completely redecorated since I was last here, in 2018.  A rather unusual, and to my taste very good, style with doors and everything below the dado painted black.  Above, Everton memorabilia, brewery stuff and, hanging from the ceiling, five canoes!  Above the canoes the ceiling is covered in random movie posters.  Altogether a rather attractive effect, it's really great to see that someone has put some effort into design for a backstreet boozer.  Well done, whoever you are.

Quite an impressive list of imported bottles on the wall, from Erdinger Dunkel to Singha via Kriek Boon.

I don't want to be the purveyor of negative vibes but I fear this place will be winding down towards permanent closure about a year from now, despite the excellent decor and beer list.  I hope I'm wrong.  Thinking about it, one or maybe even two of the pubs around the ground will probably survive long term serving the locals, it could easily be this one.

The landlord/barman was attempting to get the match commentary on the speakers, but the BBC wouldn't let him, and eventually he gave up and restored music. 

Now, back to County Road and a new one spotted as I passed on a bus a few months ago, JT's Bar.  There was a loud cheer from the ground as I walked up, could Everton have scored?  Yes they did.  

Well I never!  I certainly couldn't have predicted the opening of a new bar on County Road but here we are.  A pleasant plain but nicely done shop conversion, fairly narrow until it widens out at the back where there is a pool table.  Too many scatter cushions on the comfortable bench seat for my taste but other than that very nicely done, a cheerful friendly locals' boozer.

Only four taps on the counter, offering Poretti, Erdinger, San Miguel, and JT's lager.  I selected the house beer which was good.  And cheaper than the others! 

It's always good to get a new pub, that brings my total to 1,479.  The 1,500 milestone is getting closer! 

A delivery arrived, lots of bottles of lemonade and a keg of beer, and three empty kegs were returned.  Saturday afternoon is an odd time for this, I would have thought, and it's lucky it didn't come before kickoff or after full time.  Maybe the bar fetches it from a wholesaler in which case they would know when was a good time. 

The match reached half time, still 1-0.  I should be able to complete my research before full time and beat the crowds on the train home.

Just one more today, a few yards from JT's is the Harlech Castle:

This one is unchanged compared with my 2018 visit, a very nicely done two sided pub around an island servery.  I couldn't see the wooden beams I've noted in the past, perhaps they've been painted over or maybe they are only in the other side.

Cash only said the signs, I've been paying cash all day so no problem. 

Quite busy just after half time, I'm assuming it will be jam packed come five o'clock but I'll be long gone! 

Plenty of non-football customers in here, keeping the staff busy serving in between loading glasses into the dishwashers.  I tried to resist following the Premier League action on the telly or my tablet, but it was hard! 

Five pints, four required ticks, one a new one.  Time for home I think.

Pub of the day: JT's Bar
Beer of the day: JT's Lager
Miles walked: 1.7
Maybe coming soon: Bebington, Greasby

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