We were a bit worried about staying in Wrexham after the various stories regarding their fans beating up away fans. I thought I was going to get a taste of the real football hooliganism of the 1980’s. Nicktor and I discussed where best to stay and were considering Chester. It would mean a train to the ground but we felt it would be safer.
Then Nicktor decided that staying in the heart of Wrexham, walking to and from the ground and keeping our football shirts to a minimum, was a better option. He booked us into The Lemon Tree, (which may or may not have been a nunnery but was never a church) and, this morning, we headed north.
Ironically, it was a group of Aldershot fans that were the hooligan element of the day. They started carrying on like dickheads from the moment the players came on, rushing the security people on the stairs, making rude gestures to the Wrexham fans and, generally being incredibly ugly.
I do wonder why these people don’t join the army if they want to fight. Actually, I read today that Ukraine is looking for people willing to fight to join a militia. Maybe this lot could have been far more useful stopping Russians rather than going to Chester then on to Liverpool in order to start fights for no reason other than they were born without much in the way of a brain.
Our sad loser fans aside, the game was awful, so I’ll not spend much time writing about it. The score was 4-1. Our goal came in the added time at the end of the game. As Biggsy said later in the pub, while we played rubbish for the full 90 minutes and lost to them, we totally dominated the added on time.
And, yes, Biggsy was allowed to join us for this game. What a pleasure it was. He’s always good for a laugh and jolly good company. Especially when Nicktor gets grabbed by fans who want to talk to him because he’s a minor Aldershot celebrity these days. It gives me someone to talk to as well.
The drive up was interesting as Biggsy told us about his career progression. Not knowing what sales was, he decided to work in it. He tried selling tinned fish but he felt scuppered by his posh accent and natty clothes; the people who bought tinned fish were not, he figured, going to buy any from him.
So he wound up selling pensions instead. As you do.
He lives in Marlow and Nicktor had the pleasure of driving across the famous bridge. Actually, his car only just fitted between the rather menacing bollards either side of the single lane across it. No lie, he had an inch either side of the car. According to Biggsy it’s because the people of Marlow hate big, fat cars crossing their bridge. And I can’t blame them. Mind you, reading the Wikipedia entry, they hate 37 tonne haulage lorries more.
And it wasn’t the only test of Nicktor’s distance judging either. When we arrived at The Lemon Tree, we discovered that the way to the car park was via a very narrow bit of path between a big brick wall and the corner of the building. Nicktor slowed to a crawl and very gradually made his way through without a scratch. A very skilled driver is Nicktor.
Having parked and let the staff know we spared their wall, we headed for the pub where we were meeting Bill from the Midlands and Roy for lunch.
Google translate claims that the name of the pub, Plas Coch, is Red Platoon in English. I don’t know about that but I do know it’s a very friendly pub with excellent staff (particularly Megan), good beer and lots of lovely locals.
We talked to Michael, Sarah and Michael’s mum who was on day release from the old people’s home when they sat at the table next to us. Michael, everyone calls him Mick or Mike, but his mum named him Michael, told us about the time that George Best played at Wrexham and how the ground is the only one built around a pub. Sarah is his wife; his current wife, I think is how he introduced her. Something she found mildly amusing.
The pub that Michael told us about, is called The Turf, and, he was correct, it is the only pub built inside a football ground. It even has a Wikipedia entry. We visited after the game for a few pints. Again, it was full of very pleasant, lovely football fans who only wanted to talk about sport, beer and Nicktor’s book writing skills.
We also visited another pub. After the game, we filed out and headed back to Plas Coch, which was packed as football fans changed their jerseys and started supporting Wales in the Rugby (they lost to England). We decided to go and look for a pub that Bill from the Midlands swore was just the other side of the ground.
And so, we turned around and walked all the back the way we had come in order to find the Hounds and Peacock or The Fox and Butter, or something like that. Whatever it was called, we didn’t wind up finding it because, quite by chance, we ran into a couple of the stewards who had been at our end of the stand during the game. In fact, they were part of the force that expelled our hooligan element.
Karen and Stewart (I didn’t catch his name so figured he should be Stewart the Steward for obvious reasons) asked where we off to and when we said we needed a pub, offered to walk us to one, just across the road.
Maesgwyn Hall is actually a function venue that people hire for weddings, coming out parties, funerals, tea dances, daffodil competitions, etc but, on match days, it becomes a pub for the fans.
The bar is out the back.
Karen took the trouble to tell all the Wrexham fans that we were from Aldershot and that they had to make us feel welcome. She then spent ages discussing her pension plans with both Nicktor and Biggsy.
After she left, we sat and chatted to a few of the Wrexham fans and, basically, had a ball.
This now marks my fourth game away with Nicktor this season, and it’s the fourth time we have found only friendly, lovely people to chat to, drink with and generally bemoan our rotten football team. (Actually, at one point during the game, the Wrexham fans were taunting us with the not very original chant of “Aldershit, Aldershit, Aldershit!“) And it’s wonderful. My next one will be Altringham so I’m hoping for more of the same.
Eventually, having drunk our own weights in alcohol, we strolled up the high street, and headed back to the hotel for dinner where a surprise awaited me.
Imagine my absolute and considerable delight when I discovered ramen on the menu. Obviously, I had to order it and, I can happily report, it was delicious.
But our day was not over yet. Biggsy, having described Nicktor and I as Whiskey Wankers, for reasons too mundane to go into, decided to set us a challenge.
He organised with the hotel manager to set the challenge up. Five glasses of whiskey, each with a label but no indication of what, where, or who made them. It was up to Nicktor and I to put them in order of price. Most expensive to the cheapest. I accepted the challenge with the proviso that I could have a glass of chilled water to flush my tastebuds between sips. This was acceptable.
I took my time, sniffed and swirled, sipped and considered. I talked about what they tasted of and how they reacted on my tongue. At some point, I think I may have proved Biggsy correct in his labelling.
Finally, both Nicktor and I presented our conclusions, which were different. They were written on a paper serviette. The manager then did the great unveiling. And, can I just say that was 100% correct? It would seem that the lessons taught to me by both Big Al and the Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh, paid off. I am The Whiskey King.
Then, over a bottle of Fettercairn (generously supplied by Nicktor) we played cribbage. We started in the bar but the staff wanted to go home so we finished in Nicktor’s room.
Biggsy hadn’t played for so long he’d forgotten how so, as well as playing, I also spent a lot of time tutoring and scoring his hands. Nicktor, on the other hand, was far too drunk to help. Mind you, he did win, so I guess being drunk actually helped him.
Then we all collapsed onto our separate beds and were happily snoring within seconds. Well, I was. I can only assume the others did as well.
So, another highly successful day…well, apart from the football which, as Nicktor regularly described, was shit.
Oh, and in case anyone is keeping score, I came last in the cribbage.