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Sleaford Mods and a Drugs Tour of Amsterdam

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam

Sleaford Mods

https://www.sleafordmods.com/

Sleaford Mods are an English electronic post-punk band hailing from Nottingham, composed of vocalist Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Fearn.  The duo have been on the crest of a wave recently as their music is seen as the perfect antidote to David Cameron’s ruination of Britain. The “Sleaford” comes from the town Sleaford that is near Grantham, Lincolnshire (where Williamson is from) and the “Mods” is an obvious reference to the subculture that inspired the group. Paul Weller, the Jam and all that!

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Both in their angry 40’s Williamson is the lyricist, Fearn the man with the beats, and years of working in dead end jobs, doing drugs, and getting by, have shaped them into what we have today, a band with something to say about the state of modern day Britain.

Their songs/rants are mostly a commentary on the mundane life of working class life in small town Britain: drinking cheap lager, shit jobs and weekends of nothingness. Also included are many criticisms of other rock groups and pop culture in general. There is a lot of swearing and shouting, ie industrial working class language, all done in their typical East Midlands accent.

Comparisons have been made to Mark E. Smith, John Cooper Clarke and Ian Dury, amongst others, all of which annoys the band no end.

With success comes recognition, and this year has seen them collaborate with the Prodigy, on “Ibiza”, a pish take on modern day superstar DJs, and with Leftfield “Head and Shoulders”, about modern consumerism, and which has a video that is definitely worth checking out.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Along with that, in July they also released their newest album ‘Key Markets’. Their eight album since 2007, and following on from the successes of 2014’s album “Divide and Exit” and 2013’s “Austerity Dogs”, albums which got them a lot of press interest and, with appearances in Glastonbury and in Banky’s DISMALAND attraction, the band have really started to get a lot of attention to date. Key Markets also hit the charts, getting into the top twenty,

I like the Sleaford Mods. In an age where music is generally bland, and with no one having anything of note to say, it’s refreshing to hear a band that cuts through the shite and lays modern life as it really is. Its middle age angst, enough of the shite we have something to say too! And you can tell that Williamson means it. He makes the music we all would love to make, or at least I would.

I also love the fact that Fearn just stands on stage, happy and content, mostly chugging a beer, and presses play on the computer. Brilliant. While Williamson is the prefect front man, the opposite to Fearn, frantic, dripping with sweat looking possessed, slightly mad, slightly manic with the odd tic thrown in here and there. Compelling.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015But its not just shouting and acting the maggot. Williamson’s lyrics do contain some real gems.

“Boris on a bike? Quick, knock the cunt over.”

“I fuckin’ hate Northern Soul / it’s like Motown’s on the dole.”

“Can of Strongbow, I’m a mess. Desperately clutching onto a leaflet on depression. Supplied to me by the NHS.Is anyone’s guess how I got here. Anyone’s guess how I go.I suck on a roll-up – pull your jeans up Fuck off, I’m going home.”

“Cameron’s hairdresser got an MBE, I said to my wife ‘You’d better shoot me”

Or the lines from arguably their best song, “Jobseeker”:

“So, Mr Williams, what have you done in order to find gainful employment since your last signing on date? ‘Fuck all. I sat around the house wanking.’”

This is Rage Against The Machine via Nottingham, and I love it.

As for the concert in Amsterdam, it was pretty good, lively enough, a good set of all the top songs, and a bit of angry banter from Williamson. Small venue which was packed to the rafters,  looked like a lot of English came over the gig. Had one nutter infront of me headbanging like a wally, (keep that for Iron Maiden man!), but overall a good vibe from the crowd……I guess everyone was chilled…….so all in all was good to see the duo live, and set us up perfectly for a night on the town in the dam.

Melkweg in Amsterdam

Lijbaansgracht 234 A

1017 PH   Amsterdam

The Netherlands

http://www.melkweg.nl/

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015The concert was held in the Melkweg (“Milky Way”), a popular night club in the heart of Amsterdam, near the Leidseplein, the nightclub area of the Dam. A huge building that was once an abandoned dairy factory. The venue, founded in 1970, hosts all kinds of music, theatre, and cultural events throughout the year, from the big international acts to emerging talents, they all play here making the venue a popular place for both lovers of mainstream and underground styles. Melkweg is run as a not for profit organisation of artists, and on top of the price for the gig we also had to pay a monthly membership fee which was a tad bit annoying but to be fair the price of the Sleaford Mods tickets were cheap (Something that Williamson of the band moaned about himself during the gig!) so I guess it didn’t really matter in the end.

Rookies Coffeeshop Amsterdam

Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 145-147

1017 PZ   Amsterdam

The Netherlands

http://www.rookies.nl/

So we were in Amsterdam, mulling around after the concert, wandering around when we passed by “the Rookies”, what looked like one of those coffeeshops we have heard about so much. Well when in Rome and all that, why not.

Not sure what exactly to get on the Marijuana menu:, we played it safe and went with the hashcakes. The staff were friendly and gave us some good advice and tips, the cake also came with beginner notes. Not to drink too much alcohol later as it might have a negative effect, etc, well of course that went in one ear and out the other

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Founded in 1992, by at that time Amsterdam’s youngest Coffeeshop owners hence the reason its called “The Rookies” situated close to the Leidseplein area, and not too far off the main drag, past all the nice restaurants (we had some decent food in a Uruguayan joint)

Apparently it used to be a bar but owing to a law prohibiting coffeeshops from selling beer, The coffeeshop didn’t sell beer which for us was a bit of a downer, but nevertheless interestingly enough the vibe felt like we were in a pub. The interior looked like a bar, albeit it had a huge sealed off smoking lounge to the right which can seat over 80 people, and looked pretty packed on the Friday night we were there …… but we decided to stay at the high bar near the entrance, chilling with some coffees, nicely squeezed orange juice, and the cakes, where there was less people and plenty of space

The place was very relaxing, the music was pretty good not too loud and easy to chat over, friendly staff, and the vibe of the place, was great, very relaxing place to spend a few hours and have the chat. Have to say the coffee was great, and I am a tea drinker so…

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015I really liked the place, don’t know if it was the coffee, the cake or what but the ambiance was well chilled…. and also it didn’t have a touristy feel, felt more homely, well laid back, Amsterdam style.

So as for the cakes, they were nice enough. Apparently you are not meant to drink beer and do the cakes, so feck that, but yeah after a long while the affects did kick in. Giggling like a girl at the start, a bit of paranoia to end, but overall nothing a whole lot special. To be honest I am not into this kind of thing, but it was interesting to try all the same……

The Hangover Information Center

http://hangover-information.com/

Could not but notice this place, it was so well lit up and looked like it was selling some kind of hard core liquor. Alas, no, but it did offer to cure our expected hangovers? Intrigued we just had to hear more about this magical cure…..surely not….a cure for hangovers!!

Situated in the heart of the red light district the Hangover Information Center (HIC) offers to Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015help cure your morning afters. When you drink alcohol you dehydrate, you lose water and important nutrients (amino acids and vitamins), you will get that sore head unless you can rebalance the loss. Now the experts always say you should drink some water during the night or before you go to bed, but people rarely do that in all honesty. So the HIC have come up with the miracle cure called RESET

The formula contains specific vitamins and amino-acids that are meant to rebalance the body after a night on the town. It won’t get you sober, but it is meant to cure your next day hangover.

Tried it the night before we were to leave Amsterdam, didn’t taste as bad I would have expected. Found it a little hard to mix the power with the fluid, as the powder was rock hard, but managed most of it in the end.  I woke up early the next day fine, and had no hangover or feeling of grogginess. But I honestly wouldn’t put that down to the RESET. I think the beer in the Dam is clean and very crisp, and I think that it was more to do with the quality of the beer I was drinking than anything I consumed before bed. I guess!

 

The Pint

Oudezijds Achterburgwal 116

1012 DT Amsterdam

Centrum, De Wallen

The Netherlands

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Bar-The-Pint/159680080722533

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015All that walking around De Wallen and admiring the views (or gawking at the ladies!) was thirsty work. Noticed this bar dead centre in the area of the red light district. Had a distinctive big red Rolling Stones tongue on the outside, and sure enough inside there was a rocky feel to the bar. Good music, cozy atmosphere, a nice and relaxing bar.  I liked it as it was like a cocoon to all the crowds and the madness that was happening outside. Was good to escape the craziness of De Wallen for an hour.

Cafe Brecht

Weteringschans 157

1017 SE Amsterdam

SE Amsterdam

The Netherlands

http://www.cafebrecht.nl

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015We had our accommodation just around the corner from Weteringschans, an intersection of trams and streets, near the Rijksmuseum.

Café Brecht caught our eye, it was teaming with people, and looked like a decent place. As it is a café we weren’t sure if they did beers but luckily for us they did. The bar has an amazing décor, decked out like an old fashioned living room with vintage furniture, cool wallpaper on the walls, and a lot of retro lampshades, all very comfy. The small living room style, a nostalgic Berlin café feel, was very cool, and the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015They have a pretty impressive array of beers, mostly German, and all with weird sounding names.  Was lucky to get a seat as the place was pretty packed. Sat down on a lovely comfortable armchair, taking in the nice vibe, sipping a tasty stout, and was able to enjoy the chat. Called after the German poet Bertholt Brecht, the place did have a very arty feel, but it was not at all pretentious or too full on. It was more quirky and laid back than anything. Liked it a lot and if I ever return to the Dam will definitely will return. A good place for a nice beer.

 

Cut Throat Barber and Coffee

Beursplein 5

1012 Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The Netherlands

http://www.cutthroatbarber.nl/

 

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Hidden away in what was once Amsterdam’s stock exchange and very easy to miss, Cut throat is a unqiue experience that’s for sure. Don’t you just hate waiting to get your hair cut, I know I do anyway. Well why not spend that time waiting, by drinking beer, or coffee, or having a decent meal. Have to say, this is a cracking idea, and fuck me why didn’t I think of this! A barber shop that also is a coffee/bar. Brilliant idea.

Mate got the haircut, and a have to say a cracking good cut too.  Was regretting not getting one myself, lord knows I need one as I haven’t had a cut since early summer and presently look like something that crawled out of a cave, but Im not so sure they could deal with my scraggily hair. I am not a hipster and like it messy. So I concentrated on the bar and the beers, I didn’t mind the wait!! Even though it was a Saturday afternoon my mate didn’t have to wait so long. He just put his name down on the board, was called after about ten minutes, which was great. They were busy but they had about 3 or 4 barbers working flat out.

The barber shop area can be seen from the bar so you can get a good view of their craftsmanship, and the interior of the place is bricked which adds a bit of character to the place.  The bar had quite a few craft beers on offer, and with the recommendation of the friendly bar maid I went for Raging Bitch an interesting Belgian-Style IPA.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Didn’t get anything to eat, but heard that apparently the tacos are good. Damn missed that, as the Chinese I had in town later was rank. Opportunity missed. The bar itself wasn’t too bad, a nice friendly chilled atmosphere, the service excellent, was kind of interesting to see the hipsters with their perfectly pruned beards and all, the delicate flowers.  Nice enough bar, but I like the sawdust on the floor, blood on the wall kind of joints, and this is a little too bit too pretentious for me, sorry!

 Prostitution

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, with the exception of street prostitution, and De Wallen is the largest, the oldest, and best known of the three red light districts in the city of Amsterdam, consisting of a network of narrow alleys where about 300 small one room cabins are rented by prostitutes who offer their unique sexual services from behind a window or glass door, usually illuminated with red lighting.

The area is not too far from Amsterdam’s China town and just a few blocks away from Oude Kerk, the city’s oldest church, and is located in the centre of Amsterdam’s old town, criss- crossed by several canals, cobbled streets and utterly charming 14th century architecture.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015The area is an interesting tourist attraction, not just for the lonely man looking for some relief, but is also usually bustling and packed every evening with thousands of tourists and/or punters, gawking at all the scantily clad ladies waving at the passing trade. Apart from the red lights there is also a variety of sex shops, peep shows, two sex museums, and a few coffee shops, bars and clubs. Apparently some men also offer their services but I didn’t notice that! One must note that it is strictly forbidden to take a photograph, and doing so might get you a free bath in the canals of the city, so be careful!

Prostitution is “the world’s oldest profession”, and the history of it in Amsterdam dates as far back as the 14th century and the fact that Amsterdam was always a harbour city where trade brought people into the city, and with it an explosion of bars, gambling houses, brothels, and parlors where women could offer their services for the right price. All illegal but tolerated if kept hidden. In the Napoleonic period, in the early 19th century, prostitution became legal, and French soldiers were the main customers. Regular health checkups were compulsory.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015In the early 20th century religious organizations ran campaigns hoping to end prostitution resulting in a series of laws banning brothels, trafficking, and pimping thus driving the girls underground, and out of sight. But of course this didn’t stop prostitution and by the 20’s and 30’s the local authorities eventually allowed prostitutes to ply their trade as long as they didn’t solicit in doorways, but did allow them to sit behind their windows peeking from the curtains beckoning customers, and so this is how the “window trade” began, first with elegant nice dresses to later and now with no dresses and little else!

By the 1960s, Amsterdam authorities tolerated red-light district prostitution, and the trade became legal in the year 2000. The prostitutes have to pay tax, but their profession is now has better access to medical care and must abide to health and safety government standards. With the Prostitution Information Center, a prostitute led organisation, in the district itself, also offering advice and valuable information and with the Red Light District heavily policed and controlled, you could argue that their profession is now much better regulated than ever before.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015The system is not perfect, there are still issues regarding pimps, trafficking and general criminality, and for this reason there has been a crackdown on the number of windows, that in 2007 the De Wallen lost a third of its windows, closed by the city council. Of course the argument is that by closing legal brothels this will push women out onto the streets, unsafe and unregulated. At least at present it is strictly regulated by the police who carry out regular checks to ensure they comply with the rules, and also on hand are social workers, health workers, tax authorities and civil rights groups.

One thing is that the place in and around the De Wallen at night time was absolutely heaving with people. I am nearly sure I passed the area during the day time, but once it gets dark that’s when the red neon lights go on and the fun starts! It was a little bit seedy, and low rent but what you see is the reality of life. There will always be prostitution and at least Amsterdam doesn’t try to hide this fact, and for that it has to be commended.

Cannabis

Now most people think that cannabis is legal in the Netherlands, but in fact it’s not! So how do they have coffeeshops then? Well the Dutch are a practical people, they turn a blind eye to it. “Gedogen” basically means denying all knowledge, or looking the other way. If you look at their history, through the 17th century when Catholics were banned to practice their religion, yet did in houses and attics by paying taxes to the relevant authorities, or the sex trade down through the ages, yeah the Ditch have a habit of pleading innocence or more precisely not giving a fuck. They are a chilled out bunch the Dutch.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015So coffeeshops can sell cannabis products in small quantities as long as the shop adheres to a number of strict regulations, such as no advertising of drugs, no hard drugs, alcohol, or tobacco smoking on the premises, no sales to anyone under the age of 18, no sales of quantities bigger than 5 grams, amongst other health and safety considerations. If these rules are followed then the shop will not be punished for selling cannabis, which as I said is illegal.

Most of the coffee shops are located in the city centre and they are roughly just over 200 in Amsterdam. As they are not allowed to advertise their ware, you can easily spot them, apart from the unique smell, they are usually decked out in the Ethiopian flag, Rastafarian and reggae symbols or the palm leaves of the plant itself.

Since the early 70’s, Coffeeshops in Amsterdam have been going strong with Mellow Yellow counted as the first one in the city when a group of friends opened a coffeeshop to share their hobby of smoking hashish and marijuana. Surprisingly to the group of friends, the police didn’t bother them too much, as heroin and other hard drugs were creating all sorts of problems in the city, with Amsterdam at one stage having over 500 heroin users! so the authorities quickly noticed that wasting time and resources fighting soft drugs was not going to solve the cities hard drugs problem. With coffeeshops people don’t encounter dealers selling hard drugs, and hence were not open to this side of the industry. The proof is in the pudding as they say, with the introduction of coffeeshops demand for hard drugs has decreased dramatically over the years, in fact the Dutch have one of the lowest rates of hard drugs users in Europe, and also they don’t have prisons overcrowded with drug abusers.  Additionally, It has to be said that the coffeeshops are now licensed by the local council and are subject to stringent regulations, and also pay taxes so it benefits the government’s coffers which is one way to make the authorities happy.

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015One particular reason that the Dutch don’t go the whole hog and just officially legalise the drug is that would more than likely bring it into conflict with its EU partners, so they have decided to tolerate it without excessively restricting the trade.

However there is a rather strange and interesting anomaly with this sytem. Coffeeshops are allowed to buy and sell cannabis; however suppliers and dealers are not allowed to grow and sell to the shops. This grey area works as the coffeeshop owner pleads ignorance to where he gets his supply, ie from the often locked back door, while the police only care what’s going on from the front door! Gotta love the Dutch!

Sleaford Mods n Drugs Tour of Amsterdam 2015In 2012 A Dutch judge ruled that only residents of the Netherlands may buy and smoke soft drugs at coffeeshops tourists, but thankfully it appears that the city of Amsterdam has collectively decided to once again turn a blind eye to this ruling, fearing a loss of tourist Euros to the city since the coffeeshops, whether you partake in the blow or not, are tourist attractions in their own right

“Drugs Tour Amsterdam”

So we were lucky enough to have a 2 hour private tour with Marco from “Drugs Tour Amsterdam”, a tour group who are trying to give the low down on Amsterdam’s drug culture, both the myths and the reality. In fact I think they are the first, if only, tour group that offers this insight into the hot spots of the city including the Red Light District, and where topics include the history of Coffeeshops, what are the purpose of Heroin Users Rooms, how the police and other instutions help in the quality control and testing of illegal drugs, the religion of the Ayahuasca Church, a look at Absinthe and Van Gogh, and basic information of all the rest! Participants will also learn about the positive social implications and effective results in decreasing cannabis and hard drugs consumption of the Dutch drugs policy. The tour is informative, educational and fun. Marco, our guide,  showed us around the centre of Amsterdam pointing out key landmarks and cultural reference points with regards drugs/alcohol/and the sex trade.

http://www.drugstour.com/

BOOK YOUR FREE TOUR TODAY, EMAIL: booking@drugstour.com

The History of the Red Light Zone

Amsterdam was born as a city as an international port, actually there was,  with London actually with the British Empire, was one of the big empire that was going back and forth. Was born as a crossing ways and actually of course there are Sailors, with money started with prostitution.

You remember the church where we found where we met, this is called the Oude Kerk that means Old church and it has been built there in order to stop prostitution

It didn’t work!

(So prostitution was there first!)

Yes, yes the prostitute was here first and they try to make this church in order to bring some decent life and they failed totally

(So they had lots of randy priests running around the place?)

Now is came the best, on the 13th century they decided to make it legal and the prostitutes or the tenants had to go to the priest in order to have the extension from the sin for a certain period for example. You will be free of sin for one week, so for the week they could do everything because they were very catholic and of course they had to pay, yes we are talking about the Catholic Church.

(You kind of have to respect them for that, don’t you really!)

Actually I’m Italian so I have Catholicism in my vein and I hate it! Italy is a wonderful place with a big cancer inside that is called the city of Vatican. I love the pope but the church by itself is not good

(We understand. We are from Ireland so you don’t have to tell us, you don’t have to tell us!)

That’s true, actually I think that we are spoiled as well like you

Ok, ah yes, 13th century it become legal and actually this bring a new wave of using prostitution

First of all its not so bad the scene as in other countries

Here it’s normal, in fact here you can find during the Saturday morning, and the Sunday, and the Friday Saturday morning you can see even school that is passing by in the red-light because they have to spend one lesson about sexual stuff and so they check out the red lights, this within the cities, and they have to spend one lesson talking about drugs in the schools. So you can see sometimes the school

The fact that now its so clean and everything is perfect is because they started to show everything.

All these girls are self-employed, they pay about from 50 to 150 of rent for one day, 8 hours of window, and normally you pay from 50 to 70 euro for what they call Suck and fuck, I mean 15 minutes because they are very good in 15 minutes they are done!

Blowjob and a fuck normally with a brown (?). you have always to contract the price when you get in.

Suck and fuck maybe they are totally covered and you can not take pictures and there is a very intense security system. You see all these windows , at the back of the window there is a corridor that connects with other rooms. If they hear some scream, or she hit a hidden button, arise immediately Two or three giant men, they send you out.

In fact if you pay for the night sometimes you are yahh (drunk and angry), people like that and If they are sent out from here normally they finish in the canal!

(So do they have to pay a tax to the government?)

Yes of course. They pay taxes and actually taxes of marijuana, and taxes of prostitution are two big revenues, especially the Amsterdam city and that’s why these places are not closed. Because they makes a lot of money

There are girls that come here for making 6 to 8 months of prostitution and then they pay 5 years of university because if you think 50 minutes, lets have 3 clients per hour, 8 hours is 150 per 8 hours is already 1000 in a day

(And there is tax on this?)

Yes of course, but even taxes, because as you have costs. Ok you can say I have done ten customers, inside you have 30. Its like the coffee shop, the coffee shop as well, they pay taxes but there is no registry. And I will explain you later how it works. But in the register they can say I just sold one kilos of weed, in fact they sold 3 kilos. Because there is no register of whose coming they can sell whatever they want. But since its working good for the society….

 

(What do the ordinary Amsterdam people think of all this?)

Actually Its normal, its like a a sign on the corner, because its perfectly normal and its normal for example to have a neighbour that is a hooker

Here in fact, this thing I was telling you about that a drug user is not seen as a criminal. It works even for prostitutes. They are making maybe an uncomfortable job, but not a dirty job , like in all the other places. And With the systems, ok you have people who of course here there is lots of noise, people yahha, horny and back, but this way I don’t know how it is on your places but In Italy prostitution is not legal but you find hookers on the road. People who stop on the verge of the road have accident, have public disturbance and everything and this absolutely brings more criminality.

This way of course I think there are some of them are spoiled or exploited by some other people but almost 70% of the prostitutes here are here for their will not because they have been imported and forced to prostitution

(It’s the best of what you can do, I guess)

(What percentage are from the Netherlands?)

Actually from this point of view don’t really know because there is no registry, they have the guilds….but they give you no information

Some ideas in your country, Here are totally normal

(I guess with this kind of system, like with the shops closing, the situation can change very quickly,  all the time?)

Yes, even the windows are under the supervision of the major that can reduce or enlarge the Red light district on his will, just enough that he just when a window finishes a license he doesn’t renew it. So in fact there was a lot more windows around here. Now if you go later will make a round when you come back one of my favourite spots because there are models

(Yeah, yeah, will I stop recording will I?)

You are married??????

Coffeeshops

Meanwhile I smoke a cigarette?

(Only cigarettes, those things will kill you,  tobacco, that’s the worst!)

Yes I know but its one of the things I cannot quit, tobacco, weed and girls

Ok coffeeshops, I told you in 1976 the Netherlands decided to make this division

Hard drugs and Soft drugs and for the soft drugs they created these places that are called coffeeshops, you can in these places was and is allowed to consume and sell weed

While outside in the city is not absolutely allowed or permitted to sell or consume weed

Here In the centre of Amsterdam if you go around with a joint in the street they don’t tell you nothing because you are in the centre of duke

Just go in another place or just outside Amsterdam with a joint, if you cross the cops they stop you, they give you a fine because you are not a criminal you are doing something bad because it is for public nuisance but you are not a criminal they just give you a fine and adjourn

The coffeeshop, since they work outside the law, since cannabis is illegal and this is absolutely true, they work in this so called grey zone, that it means, grey zone, is a grey zone that is between legal and illegal , the police knows but don’t care.

There is a backdoor policy, I mean that of course they cannot buy weed from anybody because growing weed for selling is an offence and is a very big offence. If you can grow by yourself until upto 5 plants in your apartment and the 6th plant you could be arrested. Usually they take you away the plants and they let you go because anyway it is low priority

Weed and hashish seem not to make real damage to society, to other people they are not taking care

If you are talking about hard drugs they find you with a personal dose of hard drugs they take it away and they let you go. Hard dose, about 2 or 3 grams of cocaine or heroin they give you a fine, if you have more they can give you dealing charges

And actually how it works the coffeeshop

There are growers that actually usually connected to the hell angels or to smugglers that grow in apartment a huge number of plants and they sell it to the coffeeshop from the so called back door, this is the famous back door when they call they speak about the back door of a coffee shop it is this system. From the back door arrive a guy, that is called a runner with his bag full of weed, half a kilo of this, half a kilo of this and half a kilo of this

If you are a private you can go around the city with 5 grams of weed, top, without any problem

The coffeeshop can have a maximum of 500 grams in the place and the place related so even the place where the coffeeshop owner is living. So in fact sometimes when they want to close a coffeeshop they make a raid in the coffeeshop in the place of the guy and everything is related and if they find even one gram more, they’re done

Now in many cities outside Amsterdam they are required to be a resident In order to enter into a coffee shop

(Oh, Really?)

Yes, especially in the south because this is intended as a measure in order to stop the smuggling to Belgium, Germany and France

(So we couldn’t enter that place?)

No, no here in Amsterdam they don’t ask you. The minimum that you must be of legal age of 18

The coffeeshop runs with 5 golden rules. No hard drugs. No people under 18

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh

(Ha. No more than 500 grams)

No more than 500 grams in total. No weapons, no I already told that

I’m certainly tired!

(Its ok, No alcohol)

No alcohol

There is a bar.There is the trick for example. There is a bar that has near a coffeeshop, together with the coffeeshop you are going into your bar and have your joint. Your beer, you Jägermeister or..

Actually there is a bar that I have seen that you can have joints as well

This is actually an exception to the rule because they can get a fine, if they come in and we still adhere to the European law that all the places are actually no smoking and you have to have a place for smoking area

There are some bars that don’t give a shit. Sometimes you have to chip in 10 cents in order so when they come they get the fine they already have the ……

And If they fail in any of these 5 rules, the premises is closed immediately. No mercy about that

In fact this is another thing that makes this thing work, you have boundaries in which you can do whatever you want

Just step outside these boundaries they are going to beat you very hard

(Kind of like self-policing then, they know…)

Exactly, but for example even for drug addicts, junkies of heroin some people that are in a certain state that they are really very addicted, old, this kind of stuff. They have no money they (the government) normally give house, and some money for living and the drug and the Heroin for the daily dose. If they are caught in doing something illegal but even if they, I don’t know, sleeping on the street or this kind of stuff, they lose all their privileges

This way they are actually motivated, motivating them in order to behave

(A set of rules, follow them!)

So in this way many of the junkies actually have an active social life, they have a job, they pay the taxes, and some people that they meet, they are kind and normal people and from a point of view this is incredible, its quite a miracle because really heroin is one of the most destructive drugs ever seen, well now there is even worse but………..

Treatment centres for heroin users AND Ayahuasca

And this place is are the first source for help and treatment for heroin user. They have a very high percentage of people that are recovering without falling back

(Are people sleeping up there?)

There are rest room, they cannot sleep overnight because it’s not a hostel, but there are hostels all around the city even for junkies that they have to go here in order for their stuff and then for sleeping they have to go, for example, near the central station

(If something bad happens, I mean, there is medical help?)

There is residence of medical, there is, actually the lady on the first floor that is the one that is handling and sending the people to this room was an ex addict.That After 25 years of addiction She give up and she recovered completely, went to a community in the south of the Netherlands, and came back and she started to volunteer here, and now is 5 years.

(Can I bring that back to the first, eh The church of Acahuasca (Ayahuasca!))

Ayahuasca!

(Sorry I am …)

Ayahuasca, it was difficult for me, its an Inca word!

(So many people say that it’s a pretty good way of getting off heroin and hard drugs, because it’s a shock to the system, I mean I don’t know…..)

Absolutely, there are many people use it but this is not related to the religion because the religion is one thing you do all this kind of stuff

(Yeah I’m just wondering if that idea has been…)

No not yet, they are using a methadone programme in order to escalate it but lately they…

(Because some countries are thinking of that, I know Brazil and America…)

Yes but there is the problem of mental state, usually an addict is not mentally free, in order to have this kind of psychedelic experience you must have an inner balance that is powerful, this is why actually they don’t, ok I want to do Ayahuasca and you are making the rite of two month. It’s the priest that decides when you are ready because he sees you, about yeah, now you are ready, even if you have a problem because many people really they solve the problem during this trip

Actually it’s a sort of very similar to the Rite of the coming of age of the Indians of the Incas of America, that you do this very intense experience that makes you know yourself very well, and actually I think this is the real trick in the Ayahuasca, I mean that you have self-knowledge, and actually I can tell you……….

(A self-humility maybe is it?)

More than humility, you know more, you can except your limits, and honestly everybody takes drugs , me as the first person that has smoked and I did lots of ecstasy , amphetamine, and lot of things in the past because I was not comfortable with my limits , with my, that part of myself I didn’t like it. And the trip, sometimes if its done in a proper way can help you like that

The Ayahuasca treatment that you are talking about is actually is more shocking, and this is why it’s still controversial because it really like if your ice bucket in the face of ……….

(It is a kind of shock thing)

Yes exactly but there is a risk that ok, he give up with heroin, but he give even with social life

In fact psychedelics, some class of psychedelics, LSD, morning glory or Hawaiian baby woodrose that are hallucinogenic seeds and Ayahuasca must be treated very, very carefully

Because if you do the wrong steps you are fucked. Totally!

Be Careful!

They was conning you in an incredible way, even now if you go around there back and forth you will hear someone with their lips…..coke, and this kind of stuff. My suggestion is never take this kind of stuff because they always con you. You can get for coke a lidocaine that actually is an aesthetic, very similar, the same. If you try that, the cocaine is an aesthetic, you do like this (rub into your gums, etc) your mouth will disappear. The same with lidocaine but it doesn’t do nothing.

And there is, I’m going to show you, (rummages through his bag)

Ok, These are one of the most famous pills sold for ecstasy, you see there is an S. They are triangle, they are fake because they are, this one (aspirin) and they are sold even now.

For doing that, you see that because these (the aspirin) are giving by the police, so I can show you the lidocaine as well

This is lidocaine, its used by dentists, for anesthetising your mouth, and is sold as coke. If you are lucky, because if you are lucky you just get this stuff it doesn’t really harms you too much.

If you are unlucky you can……………

(So how much would one of those (lidocaine) be then, if they were selling them?)

10 euro, 12 euro

(ok, wow, for tourists they can have a field day)

1.5 euro expense euro and there are 15 pills inside, so let’s make a calculation. Yeah, there are people here who make a living just coning the tourists

(That would be an easy kind of thing to do, I suppose!)

(Sure everyone is out of their mind!)

(Lot of tourists coming here, I would feel, I mean I see a lot of people walking around completely spaced out!)

(Like do people fall into the canal, on a regular basis?)

Yes, Mostly Tourist and because they are doing psychedelics

I work in a smart shop during the day, and we sell Truffles, psychedelic truffles, these one gives you a lot of hallucination and believe me, and i that strongly believe that 80% of the people who fall in the canal because of these mushrooms

(And do a lot of people die in the canal?)

Not dying but getting bad diseases because actually its not clean this water, you can have from Rats, leptospirosis. Surely for skin disease you can have liver hepatitis. You come inside healthy you came out very, very ill!

(So that stats are good obviously, you are going to show us some impressive stats)

Yes exactly, because checkout, this is In the USA and in the Netherlands

People that used Once or more cannabis or cocaine once in their life

(for cannabis) In the US 14% in the Netherlands 22%

This is half and we are talking about residents that tried at least once

For cocaine 13% against 3 .4

This at least means that this policy keeps away the people that are not really intending to making drugs, starting with the drugs because here you have so many opportunities and alternatives you dont want to take the ecstasy. There are many alternatives that can boost you up, you don’t want to take the heroin. There is a a crouton (?) that has the same affects and is totally legal. And it is Not addictive

This policy gives the people the choice and actually they are making an even a big education in schools about the dangers of drugs. It is very unlikely that someone goes on cocaine, on ecstasy

As you can see even that its working

Check this out. In Europe.This is the number of problematics of drug users in the EU

Actually, The uk are on top

Safety

Here (junkies) have places where to go, you cannot see it. Walk around freely, you are not scared about someone comes up with a Syringe. Besides that, check out everywhere you look there is a camera. For one camera that you see, there is three that you don’t see So here this is the safest place in Europe, After London……………….

Absinthe

(What is Thujone, you mentioned that before ?)

Thujone, yes, Is a active component Of absinthe

(Is it the name of the molecule or something …?)

It’s the name of the substance. Taken out from the worm wood plant that is distilled and it’s a psychoactive component that open your mind, and in high quantities, gives you hallucination.

When he was doing absinthe, whoever was doing absinthe, in the old times, I mean the 17th century, 18th century the distillation was not perfect and was producing another elements that was connecting with your brain cells and was making the stopping with each other, stopping the connection with each other, and stopping the synapses

These are some of the paintings that has been Inspired by absinthe. This is one of the most famous, called the Muse

In fact I make electronic music, when I was making a bottle of absinthe I was making an album in one night. Maybe it was shit but I loved it!

(Yeah, yeah, you had a Lot of energy)

What do the Dutch think?

This is how the Dutch think about the period of danger of drug. They make a scale of 9 points for personal damage and 7 points for damage to society

As we can see Alcohol is the worst, it’s very wide, it’s used by everybody. There is no emphasising and no education about that.

And check out the less problematic is the mushrooms, but that is 6 scale for the society problem because When you are eating mushrooms, the trouffles, you make noise.

Alcohol is the first, heroin and cocaine, and then you have methadone,

Cocaine, tobacco, and these things I don’t know antidepressant stuff

(It kind of makes sense, I think that list makes sense)

Lsd, and this one no personal harm

(Really I would have though,LSD you’d get a bad trip and…)

Mental

This is to show this is working, and this is why these are legal here and while in all over Europe they are not legal and the alcohol which is the worst is legal everywhere.

Its actually Bullshit from my point of view. If the countries just put some more alcohol education, because alcohol is wonderful like any kind of substance it is done in a certain way and the right way it’s a great thing. But if you abuse it then have lots of problems and actually there are lots of deaths for alcohol, not a single death for weed, not directly related. There are  Some accidents, car accidents and this kind of stuff, some people, for example, fall into the canal, people here during the winter they got stoned they fall asleep, freeze to death. And these are related, but not directly related, and this is why its free, and that’s all………..

(Can I ask is there any negatives. Anybody rallying against this in Holland, in the Netherlands, is there any groups that are against all this…..?)

Yes because there are always people that wont like the fact that you have the freedom to do whatever you want. But they are shot down by the results because believe me when they started to apply this policy and did a social study on it. Because its not enough that you divide the market, you have to take care of the people that will anyway will do hard drugs no matter what because they will do it anyway. You can put them in jail and they are going to get the drugs in the jail. You can make them fine and they are going to steal, and besides that with all this kind of stuff there is more crime

(But what about the Local residents?)

The local residents in the area are mostly tourists, not tourists, mostly expats

For the locals actually they have no problem, and besides Amsterdam is one city

The Netherlands is totally different, they are in the south more open, in the north, closed, and very racist, and in fact there is no coffeeshop in every city. Because If the major doesn’t want it, the people doesn’t want it, no coffee shop in the cit.y

But the majority of the Dutch doesn’t give a shit about weed because they are so used (to it)

Everyone smoking, drunk and having a party, and this is strange but it works

In fact, there are for example, In the bars where they sell alcohol there are about 1000 calls a of the police a month, we are about 2 calls a month in the coffeeshops because anyway cannabis can is a drug that makes you more relaxed while alcohol makes you urgh!

Talking about governments, UK and the United States are against and criticising this kind of policy a lot

But here in Europe they are starting to be a change of thinking I mean they are starting to get used to the idea that weed and hashish are not so dangerous as they can think.

That they really are the First steps to the hard drugs If you don’t separate the market

In the US, Colorado, Florida and California and Washington now they can sell weed. Colorado made in one month of Selling weed as many taxes as doing taxes in the city for commercial premises. One month AND they went to the school,I mean just think about that!

The market. The legal market there are some kind of substances that are not harmful so its stupid that they are illegal but not from a point of view from an objective point of view, because if you make the alcohol legal that is very dangerous, you make….Why the weed that is not so dangerous

 

The Tour

(How long have you been doing this tour?)

This now 6 months, and im doing research for 3 months because now we are expanding.

And they give me some materials and I started to expand it and in fact even now its still a growing creature. We are asking for permission from the police and the government In order to have access to more information and to some person, for example we would like to make an interview and make it on paper in order to make it available to our tours, for the drug users Injection room people for example or somebody from the ayahuasca, but in order to do that we need some permission because actually as we really want to do the stuff in the correct way

We have a private tour that as you can see you can ask everything and we can make a different and we have on Friday a fixed tour that is free on a tip basis

We have a group that is just more casual we talk about the coffee shop

A group that is just drinkers, we talk about the absinthes, the hangover information and so on

Actually I can tell you I am very proud of this small creature that is growing

We are telling people how is the real stuff here

(The reality)

Because believe me there are lots of myths about this city, and some are true!

 

http://www.drugstour.com/

BOOK YOUR FREE TOUR TODAY, EMAIL: booking@drugstour.com

 

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UCD AFC football away days

Off to see University College Dublin play Drogheda for another LOI away day trip.

Have seen the students a few times, nice little ground even if they have no supporters….

UCD AFC football away daysFounded in 1854 as the Catholic University of Ireland, later established as UCD, the University College Dublin was where all good Catholics were sent to for further education. The University has over 32,000 students and is easily Ireland largest university. Like a small town, its that big, situated on a 133-hectare (330-acre) campus out in Belfield, not that far from the city centre, south of the Liffey.

Perhaps the best known of all the UCD’s graduates is James Joyce, like myself a Bachelor of Arts waster, and unlike me, a world renowned writer, but I am working on it, ok. Other notable alumni (alumni’s, plural?) include three Presidents of Ireland and five Taoisigh (Prime ministers), Brian O’ Driscoll who is amongst over 70 Rugby Internationals, and, for us football junkies, ex Man United star, Kevin Moran. There are also five Nobel Laureates amongst University College Dublin’s alumni and current and former staff. Pretty impressive I must say.

Pub watch

Madigan’s Pub Abbey Street

Address: 4 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1, Dublin

 http://www.madigansabbeyst.com/

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UCD AFC football away daysAs I was over ten minutes early for the Dublin bus (I took number 11, The Clonskeagh entrance to Belfield, but you could take other options), I decided to sneak into Madigans just around the corner from O’ Connell street, on Lower Abbey Street, just across from the Luas stop. Always a safe option for a good pint of plain.  Quick pint, no problem, good stuff.

Established in 1991, Madigans is run by the Madigan Family. The pub appears lovely from the outside, a real old fashioned bar, and inside it has the hallmarks of a decent looking boozer, with efficient service, and good pints, all in a nice relaxed atmosphere.

Just off O’Connell street with all the hustle and bustle, this is a place you can have a quite pint, the kind of pub that you can have a good chat in, a nice mixed crowd, no music or TV blaring out.

Good pint, and suitably refreshed for my bus journey to UCD, onwards…….

UCD Club House Bar

Address: UCD Campus

http://www.ucd.ie/studentcentre/services/theclubhouse/

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UCD AFC football away daysA bit early for the game, so I went looking for a student bar. Every college has some sort of student boozer, so sure enough, after a brief search I came onto the UCD Club House Bar. was packed to the rafters inside, as it looked like some rugby types were having an end of season do, all booted and suited, and a lot of drink taken.  A very modern interior, with a decent bar, and more importantly they also served food. I had some sausages and chips, soaked in vinegar and red sauce. An unhealthy option but I was hungry!UCD AFC football away days

It has two floors, but with space tight I didn’t venture too far.

Apparently this is the only student bar on campus, so for over 30,000 students it figures that this bar is always crammed to the rafters!

The Porterhouse Central 

Address: 45-47 Nassau Street
Dublin 2

http://www.theporterhouse.ie/bars-dublin-central.php

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After the game, and back in town, I went to The Porterhouse Central,  in Nassau Street, not far off Trinity College, and at the bottom of Grafton Street.

The Porterhouse Brewing Company is a chain of bars that have a reputation for serving craft beers and holding a lot of good time music events. Apparently it has the longest bar in Dublin…

UCD AFC football away daysFounded in 1989 by Liam La Hart and Oliver Hughes, with the first one in Bray, they now have six bars in and around Dublin, and one in both London and New York

I normally don’t like chain pubs but after having visited the original Porterhouse in Bray, which made a good impression on me, sure why not……

If you are a craft beer junkie then this is surely the place to be, they have a huge selection of craft beers on the menu,…also have a lot of their own unique house brews as well, including their alternative Guinness beer called Oyster Stout, which I am kicking myself for not trying as it is meant to be pretty good (a good excuse to return!)

The place was teeming on a Saturday night, but still relatively easy to get a good seat at the bar (well if they have the longest bar….), and also not so loud to have a good conversation. Atmosphere was cheerful and lively. Ordered some strong craft beer, that I forgot the name of, but it was bloody good.  Service was prompt, despite the big crowd.

University College Dublin A.F.C.

UCD AFC football away days

Nickname: The Students, College

Arena/Stadium: UCD Bowl

Location: Belfield, Dublin 4

Capacity: 3,000

Manager: Collie O’Neill

Founded: 1895

Leagues: League of Ireland First Division

Club home page 

Email: diarmuid.mcnally@ucd.ie

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UCD AFC, or University College Dublin Association Football Club, play in the second tier of League of Ireland football, and are a semi pro team that mostly use players who also attend the university. Many players avail of the opportunity to earn a degree while playing top class, or relatively top class football. UCD’s claim to fame was running an Everton team close in the European Cup Winners Cup in the 1984/85 season, a team that had the calibre of Southall, Sheedy, Sharp, Reid and Gray in its line-up, going down just 1-0 in aggregate.

AUCD AFC football away dayslso more importantly it is said that Socrates, the legendary Brazilian chain smoker and sometime footballer, played for the team when he was a student of UCD back in the day.

(Even though I love to dream, that’s unfortunately more than likely an urban myth)

Founded way, way back in 1895 as the Catholic University Medical School Football Club, and in 1908 they became University College Dublin when the Catholic University merged with University College Dublin. Over the next few decades they played in university competitions,  and other various non league competitions

But it wasn’t until 1979 that UCD were elected to the league proper. Dr. Tony O’Neill, affectionately known as “The Doc”,  had a huge hand in getting UCD on board, and was the man who was instrumental in getting sports talent to the university, be they soccer, rugby, athletics or GAA performers. He introduced the sports scholarships scheme, at that time a pretty radical and unique concept to Ireland. He was general manager when the club joined the League and remained in that role until his untimely death from cancer in October 1999.

UCD AFC football away daysStruggling in the 80’s and not really making much of an impression, the club decided by the end of the 1982/83 season to turn semi-pro, and players outside of the college were allowed to represent the first team, a practice that is still maintained today, albeit with still a heavy emphasis on graduates playing for the for first team.  This seemed to have the desired effect as UCD wont their first piece of real silverware, winning the FAI cup in 1984 (sorry Leinster Senior Cup doesn’t count!), beating Shamrock Rovers 2-1 after a replay.

UCD AFC football away daysOf course winning the cup saw UCD qualify for European competition – the old European Cup Winners Cup – for the first time. They were drawn against Everton. As hard as it is to believe now, they were once a top class team and had a pretty decent side, a team of illustrious players such as Andy Gray, Peter Reid, Kevin Sheedy and Neville Southall, amongst others. Drawing the home leg 0-0, a heroic display for the part timers, they bowed out at Goodison Park, losing 1-0 win, despite hitting the post late on. The rest they say is history, as Everton went onto win the entire competition (they also won the English First Division that season). Small margins!

With financial difficulties, UCD had to sell a lot of their star players, this resulting in a relegation, and so this began a trend for a few years of promotion followed by relegation as the club was yo-yoing between the two divisions,  but it did include a 9 year stint in the top division.

Another amazing European adventure was just last year when the students, qualifying via the Uefa fair play spot, progressed past the first round of the Europa league against Luxembourgers F91 Dudelange, a full time team with considerably more resources than lowly first division outfit UCD. No one gave them a chance, some said they would embarrass the League of Ireland, yet there they were holding on to progress into the second round. For a small team it was some achievement and luckily enough I was there! Read it here

Away days in the Duchy

Since March 2015, UCD have competed in the First Division, the second tier of the League of Ireland.

From the 2008 season they have played at the UCD Bowl, also home to the college’s rugby team. ‘The Students’ play in sky blue and navy.

To the game

UCD 2 – 2 Drogheda United

Attendance: 300

UCD AFC football away daysCracking first half, it really was. Four good goals, end to end action and all round good football.

Ryan Swan scored the opening goal, running on from a lovely through ball from Watts right onto the on running Swan, who slotted it home beautifully, what a well taken goal. Not soon after Swan had a similar chance but this time the Drogheda goalie McGuinness was onto it.

But the lead didn’t last too long, as the Drogs were level as Kirwan tapped home from a spilled shot from the UCD net minder, Corbet, who did well to block the original shot.

UCD got back in front from a Gary O’Neill free kick that took a bit of a deflection, leaving McGuinness with no chance in the Drogheda goal, hitting the back of the net.

But just before half time Drogheda got the equalizer, Sam O’Connor with plenty of space manged to drill home to put the teams level before half time.

Four goals, cracking first half, game on, or so I thought, but sure enough the second half had no goals. Thank Christ I didn’t manage to go all in with 5 or more goals with some internet bookies.  It still was a very entertaining second half, lots of end to end chances for both teams, with Swan in particular going close on a few occasions.

It ended 2-2, a fair score for two teams that played good football and showed a lot of heart. A good enjoyable game. Enjoyed it.

Interview

Short chat with Stephen from the supporters group, UCD AFC supporters club.

My name is Stephen and I’m secretary with the UCD AFC supporters club and we were created in 2010 just to give a bit of a structure and direction for UCD fans going to matches.

UCD AFC football away daysAnd did you attend UCD yourself as a student!

I never did, no, in my teenage years I looked at the league of Ireland senior division table, it was only one long list at the time and I thought ok well I am got to have to start supporting a Dublin team here and Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers were at the top and I thought no they were too successful for me so I looked right down and it was all names of country towns, Drogheda, Athlone, and Dundalk, and right down at the bottom was UCD and Shelbourne, and Shelbourne I thought, just in case Shelbourne are really, really bad, I better just support the team ahead of them, that’s UCD. So I started supporting UCD.

Ok, and how long ago was that?

That was in ’83, I was watching them from the paper let’s say and from radio, and I started going to matches in ’87, 1987

And what kind of crowds do you get to support UCD? Do you get any students? Do they actually bother coming down, do you get them out of the bars?

Well yeah, it can be tricky, especially on Fridays nights. First of all supporters do come, from the campus to support players who are studying in their own faculty so you will have little groups of 2’s and 3’s and that, all the time coming down, and then occasionally especially when the pressure of exams are off you’ll get more groups coming down and maybe a singing section as well, coming through in the summer.

And I want to ask about the team, is it semi-professional or is there a few professionals or is there some students or what, what is the structure?

In the recent past it’s been mostly students and then the odd players who are especially returnees who had a connection with a club and the university before so we would say we are kind of part time graduates, students and then graduates, we even have leaving cert students in our squad as well

Ok that’s pretty cool. And all those years, the best season?

Well it probably would be a premier division season, there has been little good spells, I think I’m going to say a period of time, we were 9 years in the premier division from 85 to 94 and so that was my best time supporting UCD, and I’d like to go back there. Now we do consider ourselves a premier division team even though we are in the first division this year because we spent I think only three seasons in the first division in the last 21 years, so we do consider ourselves definitely premier division, but yeah that spell of matches, there was one year in 99/2000 where we finished fourth and qualified for the InterToto cup and then we played in Bulgaria, and then the following June, that early, so June 2000 was a good time.

And the European adventure last season?

That was amazing, that’s was 4 matches in July, was incredible, especially we were granted access to the Uefa cup very late, in March through Uefa’s own fair play calculations so Ireland got a place and that was given to UCD, and just the preparations and the amount of work that the club had to put in to prepare for that, because we held two home games here at the UCD bowl and that was very special for us that people would say no, no outside of UCD and the LOI they would insist it would have to be moved but we showed we can hold them here

You did the league proud I think, for a small club really…

I agree with you, there was a bit of negativity saying why should they, they are only first division, and its UCD and they are going to embarrass us, but we won our first game against a Luxembourg team here and then we travelled away a week later and it was just an incredible emotional match in Luxembourg because the players were out on their feet by the end of it but we went through into the next round.

And what about this season so far, how do you think its panning out?

It’s slow at the moment, Limerick have set their stall out, they have won six games out of six , and they look like they will completely dominate the league, so it’s for the lesser places, 2nd of third or play off places so we will really be fighting for that but it’s not over yet for the first place but we have Limerick next week, but at the moment the signs are they will dominate the league, but we will look to get off into the play off places again and hopefully we will get up through that.

And just one or two players to look out for, we should note?

 We have a centre back Maxi Kouogun, and it’s his second season here

He is very strong!

He is strong at the back, and he is scoring up front, he is our leading scorer at the minute with 4 goals and they have all come from headers from corners from Kieran Marty Waters, so Maxi as a centre back, and maybe a new player for us is Georgie Kelly, he came to us from Derry City, and he always looks lively, and hopefully he will be a good player for us this year, he is a new player.

How did you manage to get Kieran Marty Waters?

Well he would be one of the lets say part time professionals if you like rather than just graduates, I think we just gave him traction

Because he came from Shamrock Rovers, didn’t he?

He did come from Shamrock Rovers, he was having a quiet time there and he wasn’t getting much off a game, I think there was a few people ahead of him, so we just obviously gave him a package, and invited him to say what we are doing here and he was attracted to it.

So why do you think people should pop along to their LOI team?

Cause its local, you are going to meet people that you probably didn’t know, went to games from other circles in your life, you are supporting players who are playing at the top league in the country, and this is the best that is available, there is great friendliness and hospitality at ALL LOI grounds, I mean you go anywhere, and yet there is still a kind of a solidarity as well between us as well because we feel we are up against it with even other sports in the country as well as football in neighbouring countries as well.  We fell there is a lot of emphasis on other football but not Irish football, so we have a solidarity there between ourselves and also then at the matches themselves you have small groups singing and chanting right through the game and there is a lot of colour and you can be part of the noise or you can sit and watch the noise.

I mean the package is ok too, I mean tonight’s game, it was good I thought, a good game

Yeah we had 4 goals in the first half

A lot of chances as well

Exactly, yeah Drogheda equalised twice, and we are a bit disappointed about that, but that’s how tough the first division is, there is about 4 teams that are all about similar standard and they are looking for two play off places.

Ok thanks, that’s grand

Ok thank you

 Overall impressions:

Always like going to see UCD, two reasons, a nice little ground, and they always entertain, always play decent football, on the ground the way it should be played.

Was good to have the chat with Stephen who gave me all the low down on the club, and for joining me for a few pints after, was good.

By the way its ace that you can get good broadband at the ground, one of the definite advantages of playing within UCD!

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Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city,

Galway United, football away days

So on this occasion I am heading for the first time to see Galway United play against the Bohs.

Galway (As Gaeilge:  Gaillimh), out in the West of Ireland in County Galway, is arguably Ireland’s fun capital, a smallish sized city of about 75,000 people where there is some kind of festival going on every week. Yeah Galway is always cool. Used to spend many a family holiday as a kid out in Salthill in a cold caravan overlooking Galway bay. Ah the memories.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, The city was first constructed in the early twelfth century by the King of Connacht, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair,  and bears the nickname “The City of the Tribes” because “fourteen tribes” of merchant families led the city during the middle ages.  Then city was a bastion of international trade,  with French and Spanish merchant ships passing through, and even the famous Christy Columbus stopped off here once en route to Iceland.

Now its known as Ireland’s Cultural city and is renowned for its vibrant lifestyle and numerous festivals, celebrations and events. The largest of these annual events begins with the Galway Film Fleadh and the Galway Arts Festival in July, the Galway Races in August, and the Galway International Oyster Festival in September

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Also its a student town, with University College, Galway (U.C.G.) having an enrollment over 15,000, all adding to the general feel good vibe of the city.

Coming from Dublin, I could have got the train from Dublin Heuston, but it was a tad bit too expensive, so I went with the cheaper option, taking the bus from Busáras Bus Station, a three hour plus trip but at least it had good wifi to keep me amused.

Pub watch

Garavan’s Bar – Galway City

Address: 46 William Street, Galway

http://www.garavans.ie/

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Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Just off the bus, and after a bloody long journey, was just itching for a good pint. First port of call was Garavan’s, for no reason other than it was fairly central in the pedestrian zone, and looked decent from the outside. Inside it was all traditional, and very cozy looking, with a lot of great comfy looking snugs around the pub which is always cool to see.

 

The bar, as I was told by a regular, is famous for its whiskey, and on show in the many whiskey cabinets located throughout the bar there was a pretty amazing selection of whiskeys from Ireland and afar, certainly dazzling to the eye. Apparently they have whiskey samplers, on a wooden platter tray of three tasting glasses, for anyone who wants to try out some of their whiskies.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Good friendly service, and a top barman who kindly let me charge my phone, which was near dead. Pint was good, went down a treat. Local’s friendly, easy to have the chat here, good atmosphere was building up. Not a mad crowd of craziness, more like a good place to have a quiet chat in good company.

The bar also offers traditional music over the weekends.

One of the oldest bars in the city, has been trading here since the late 1930’s and still remaining in family hands for three generations, the building itself has stood on William Street since the 17th Century.

A lovely pub, really enjoyed my pint here, another one to further check out when I am back in Galway in the future.

Hole In The Wall Bar

Address: 9 Eyre Street, Galway, Ireland

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Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Was meeting the supporters group in the Hole In the Wall pub. First impressions, it had pretty cool horse racing murals at its side, and was also bloody difficult to find the entrance. Door tightly shut, and not very welcoming!
Inside, the horse racing theme continues as the walls adorned with all of the greats of the past in the four legged variety. I guess this pub would be a cool place during the Galway races, if that’s what floats your boat.
Interior was rustic, bit old fashioned, a lot of room out the back, and apparently there was another bar around the other side.
Has a thatch roof, the pub is over a hundred years old, and legend has it that it got its name due to having a hole in the back garden of the pub which was adjoined to the back of the Garda Station. The old boys in blue were known to slip in through the hole for a quick pint without getting seen by the public. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit that story!

Apart from the supporters there appeared to be no other customers

Tigh Fox Trad House

Address: 2 Forster Street, Galway City

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Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, (After the game) Since it was lashing down, and I didn’t fancy waiting the 40 minutes or so for the next bus back to Dublin, popped into this bar, right across from the station, and located just off Eyre Square, in the heart of Galway.
This bar is well known for its twice daily trad sessions, 5.30p.m and 9.30p.m, seven days a week.

Sat at the very small but cozy bar. There was a nice hearty open fire lit, and many people relaxing, a mixed crowd of locals and tourists, chatting away over good pints.
Friendly service, and a cracking pint of Guinness. Just popped in for the one, but would have liked to have stayed for more.
Intimate and small.

Galway United F.C

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city,

Arena/Stadium: Eamonn Deacy Park

Location: Dyke Road, Galway

Capacity: 5,000 (3,300 seated)

Manager: Tommy Dunne

Founded: 1937

Leagues: League of Ireland Premier Division

Club home page 

info@galwayunitedfc.ie

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Founded way back in the 1937, and originally known as Galway Rovers, they pretty much did nothing for over 40 years as it wasn’t until 1977 that the club were finally invited to join the then League of Ireland. It wasn’t long after til they reached their first senior final in 1981, losing the League Cup final on penalties to Dundalk, in Oriel Park.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, The following season they changed their name to Galway United and it most have been a good omen, as the club went on to compete in two cup finals in successive seasons. United made their first appearance in an FAI Cup final in 1984–85 but lost 1–0 to Shamrock Rovers. With Rovers doing the domestic double this meant that Galway United qualified for European football, a first for the club. Playing Lyngby BK from Denmark, in the Cup Winners Cup, they certainly didn’t disgrace themselves, exiting the competition with a very respectable 4-2 agg. defeat.  The second cup final I mentioned was against Dundalk in the League cup in 1985–86 defeating the “Lillywhites” 2–0 to win the clubs first major piece of silverware. A good season all round as they came second to Shamrock Rovers in the league, their highest ever placing in the top division.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Galway United finally landed their hands on the big one, the FAI Cup.  At Lansdowne Road, and with five minutes remaining on the clock, Johnny Glynn tapped home a late goal to beat Shamrock Rovers 1–0. Victory and forever remembered in the hearts of the Galway faithful. Also remembered for jumping the advertising hoarding, to embrace the fans, one of the more memorable goal celebrations in a cup final.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, But the fans were brought back to earth with a crash, when the next season, Galway United inexplicably got themselves relegated to the First Division. It was for only one season, but this became something of a pattern for a good few years, promotion and relegation the main themes from the 1990s to the 0000’s.

They did win another League Cup in 1997 though, so it wasn’t all bad.  Until that is the 2011 season, where the club found themselves rooted to the bottom of the Premier Division, heavily in debt and somehow having Nick Leeson involved with the club. Yes THAT Nick Leeson, the guy who brought on the collapse of Barings Bank, at that time United Kingdom’s oldest merchant bank.  That was never going to work out too pretty for the club, and sure enough the club was not granted a licence to compete in the League of Ireland owing to its debts and the unlikelihood that it could seriously finance a team for the next season.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, But Galway is too big a city not to have a LOI team, so with the help of the FAI (cough, spit), GUST (Galway United Supporters Trust), Salthill Devon, Mervue United and the Galway Football Association, all working together to form a unified club for the city, a team to play under the new name of Galway F.C., starring in the 2014 season and in the newly renamed Eamonn Deacy Park (ex Terryland Park).

They got off to a magical start as they won promotion to the Premier straight away via a playoff, and before the start of the 2015 season Galway F.C. were re-named Galway United, going full circle on the history of the club and where we are at present!

To the game

Galway United 1 – 0 Bohemians

Attendance: 1,170.

Not the greatest game ever, entertaining in parts, but to be fair with gale force winds it was hard to get any rhythm to the game for both teams. Galway played the better football, created more chances and deserved to win.

Stephen Cantwell got a goal in the first half but it was correctly adjudged to be offside, a little unlucky as I dont think the Bohs defence knew a whole lot about it.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Ayman Ben Mohamed was doing a lot of good work for Bohs down the wing, and had a chance that Galway net minder Conor Winn comfortably caught..

And that was more or less the first half.

Galway playing more attacking football in the second half, with the, as always, lively Vinny Faherty taking a few pot shots at goal.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, The goal eventually came, and it was coming, when in the 77th minutes Padraic Cunningham played a suburb weighted pass from the wing onto Faherty who, with a deft touch, turned the ball past Dean Delaney in the Bohs goals. Lovely goal, particularly as many in the stand were wondering was the pass a bit of luck with the wind, or was it really a weighted pass. It was extremely windy and I guess you have to give Cunningham credit, a suburb pass considering the conditions.

Bohs had a goal waved off for offside near the end, another correct call, and Galway easily enough held onto the three points.

Was impressed with Galway, they had moments of good linkage play, and looked lively upfront. It was a difficult day to play football but any football that was played was all from Galway. Bohs were a real disappointment, just expected a bit more from them. Didn’t looked like a cohesive team at all, very disjointed.

Interview

Short chat with Brian from the supporters group, the Maroon Army

My name is Brian and I am involved with the maroon army and we are around for the last couple of seasons now, basically we are just trying to improve the atmosphere at games, trying to have displays, but most of all its just try to get a better atmosphere at the games, and try, including away games as well, try to get more support going to away games and we have seen an increase in away games as well.Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city,

What would you say is the size of the group, is it getting bigger all the time?  

It’s getting bigger all the time, it depends on the home game, but for the last couple of games, at home and towards the end of last season there was certainly a big group I’d say maybe 150, 200 ,and it’s always increasing, especially for away games as well

What got you into supporting Galway united, because a lot of young fellas don’t think of the LOI?

Well I’m a supporter now for 15 odd years, or more, it was actually when I was at school the manager at the time Don O’Riordan came to the school and they were handing out free tickets for the next home game and I went along and I was hooked. And I supported a bit of English football as well but to be honest I had more affiliation with my home team and just more passion and because I am from Galway, and Galway city, it means just a lot more to me

I was going to ask what’s the best season in those years, but of course this is a new Galway team!!

It is a new Galway team but it still is for the majority of the supporters it still always been Galway United, we fought to keep it there, the name change, obviously they were gone for a few years, but we always treated it as Galway united, and the name was still there and eventually it just came back in. so to be honest for most supporters it’s always been there, and a lot of people have worked to keep the name there.

Did you get worried that those 1 or 2 or 3 years that it looked like there would be no team…

Yeah there was definitely a lot of concern, certainly there was a few local teams like Mervue and Salthill that participated in the LOi , but for a lot of people because they are just suburbs of Galway city , I am not from Mervue or Salthill so they have nothing to do with me really, so yeah there was definitely concern that they wouldn’t come back but there was a lot of hard work from people behind the scenes that kept it going.

So its good to be back

Oh it’s great to be back

In those years that you have been following, what has been the highlight for you?

Mm I mean…..

Not a lot of success…

There is not a lot of success, there certainly hasn’t been many trophies in my time. I just came onto the fold just after they won the league cup in 1997, which was our last trophy. We had a couple of good games like where we had relegation play offs, and things like that

I suppose one that lives in the memory was when we played away to UCd and we beat them 1-0 and it kept us up for the season

That’s online, the video

Online yeah, and Jeff Kenna was in charge, there was just a real good feel around the club at that time we had about 700 or 800 travel up from Galway for that game

 

Were you at that game?

I was

The atmosphere at that game looks amazing

Yeah it was really amazing, just around at that time things seemed like they were picking up but Jeff Kenna left then so….

He didn’t really go anywhere but that moment in time it certainly felt that there was a lot there to work on

But you are getting off to a good start this season

 Yeah we look very strong this season I have to say, strongest squad in a few years I think we will be top 5 or 6 this season I reckon, we look at lot stronger and fitter and he has brought in more players and more bodies

Overall there is a good squad there, and if we are missing a couple of players I don’t think we will be stuck, we have a good depth in the squad

And 1 or 2 players to look out for?

Yeah John Sullivan came from Bray, he looks very, very good, real strong holding midfielder, which I think we were missing last season, and

Bray miss him this season

Yeah Bray are missing him by the look of things as well,

Stephen Folan returns to Galway, he hasn’t played for Galway united before, but he is a good Galway city man, and he looks very, very strong at the back

There is a good spine to the team

And if you are looking for a younger player Pauric Cunningham, striker from Hedford, scored a hat trick there against Mayo League in the league cup during the week, and he looks like a guy with a lot of potential, I think he possibly could start today against Bohs, and I wouldn’t bet against him scoring against them either.

So what about today’s game then?

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, I think we will beat Bohs, I think it will be tough, Bohs have had a poor start, they won during the week, in the league cup though, so they probably have a little more confidence though, and they have couple of players back, I know Anto Murphy is back for them, he is a strong player for them, I think it will be tight but I think  Galway united will be good enough tonight

What’s your prediction for tonight?

I reckon 2-1

What would you consider rivals to Galway United?

Sligo Rovers would be the biggest rivals I suppose, I mean the Connaught derby for us is a big game, Athlone used to be, whenever we play them, it’s because they are, I think they probably are the nearest club, to us, nearer than Sligo or limerick

Even with Longford there is a bit of a rivalry there, even though they are a bit away

You have to say that, poor old Longford!

Who would you consider Cult hero?

For me Billy Cleary would be my cult hero, he is from the Claddagh, a good Galway man, he was a just gun-ho kind of solid defender, no one would get past him really, he had a bit of a reputation for been in refs ears and stuff like that but he was always a solid player

And if you had something to say to people that are in Galway who are not quite sure about hoping upto Terry land what would you say to them?

I’d say if you are anyway interested in football you should be making your way upto Eamon Deasy Park at the moment

So they changed the name?

Yes it used to be Terryland park, its Eamon Deasy Park now, because Eamonn Deasy I don’t know if you have heard of him would have been a Galway united legend, he played for Aston Villa, he passed away a couple of years ago, so they changed the name of the park a few years ago

They deserve their support, there is a good solid structure up there now, good team, good manager, and as well as that there is a good atmosphere, it’s a bit of banter even if you’re not enjoying the football, there is a bit of crack to be had,  you know Friday evenings what else would you be at you know!

It’s a good place to be, a good atmosphere and you get to know a lot of people from different backgrounds, with different politics ,different you know,  I think you go will go up there I think you will learn something more than anything

What will I learn today?

Today you will learn that Galway United could possible win the league this year, ha!

Really

You never know, you never know

Ok thanks Brian

 

Overall impressions: really enjoyed hanging out with the guys from the Maroon Army, for a few pints, a chat, etc. as they say, “a great bunch of lads”. Nice guys who have their heads screwed on.

Also enjoyed Galway, good town with a lot of good boozers. Didn’t think Galway was so far away from Dublin, cunt of a distance on the bus, so it was a pity I couldn’t really hang around too much. (I had to head back to Dublin to see Blood N Whiskey!)

Was good to finally get Galway United off my to do groundhop list. Nice little ground, friendly fans, and the team try at least to play some football on the deck.

Yeah Galway is a cool city!

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Longford Town, football away days

Longford Town, football away days

Next game in our LOI round Ireland extravaganza was to the bad lands of Ireland, the Midlands, Longford, to see Longford town play Bray Wanderers. Since I don’t live that far away, I have seen De Town play a few times, so this wasn’t a new one for me at all.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandLongford (An Longfort) is a smallish town, with a population of about 9600 in the centre of Ireland in the county of Longford, easily accessible from Dublin and beyond by train, bus and road. The town is most known for its St Mel’s Cathedral dominating the skyline of the metropolis.  And a certain famous Mr. Gibson was called after the Cathedral, his mother hailing from the town.

The town has seen better days, and one could argue that the recent upturn in the economy has yet to fully trickle down to Longford, but the town certainly has a lot of characters, and its still better than Athlone!

 

Pub watch

Andy Byrne’s Pub, Longford

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Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandFirst pub ventured into was Andy Byrne’s Pub, a good mid-day crowd in, watching the horse racing and the early afternoon football on the box, good bit of banter from the bar man, decent atmosphere and noticed that they had St Mel’s Pale Ale on tap. St Mel’s, of course, the local brewery that has proved a bit of a hit in the midlands and beyond. Good pint in great surroundings, enjoyed my brief time here. Recommended.

Kavanagh’s Bar, Longford

Address: Earl St, Longford

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Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandThe next beer was in Kavanagh’s Bar, which had a bit of life in it, had a nice long bar to spend the time in good company. Looked like a decent boozer, and had a good atmosphere for that time of day, just buzzing along.

Kane’s Bar, Longford

Address: 27 Ballymahon St, Longford

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandKane’s Bar had some strange frontage, doubling up as a travel agency, and easy enough to pass by if in search of a pub.  Not really a whole lot happening in this bar, was very dead. Got another St Mels beer, and left not long after that.

Roy’s Bar, Longford

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Don’t really know what to make of this bar. Certainly was one of the weirdest bars I have drank in for a long time. Was so mad I did two stints in the pub, before and after the game, just to check to see if my senses were not playing tricks on me.

Great location, and looked decent from the outside, not too bad inside either, nice décor alright. Having the beers and a bit of a chat with the bar girl, all good fun. Bar manager starts shouting at his punters, not sure if this was some kind of “Longford style banter”. One fella left due to it, shouted out the door. Either way it wasn’t my business.
He eventually tells the bar lady to go home, she wasn’t needed for the day. A bit of a shock not just for her, but for us as well, as she was a good bar lady, chatty and fun, and there was a Saturday trade building up.
Had two pints, which were fine.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of ireland
Returned later, place was busy. But for a small bar, with a mixed crowd in, the music was tuned to the last, hard dance blasting out which was kind of out of place for the crowd that was in it and the setting.
And that wasn’t the end of it. The bar manager decides to start mopping the floor in a busy bar for no apparent reason. Getting in the way of people trying to have a drink. Was funny anyway, what I can I say. Must be a Longford thing. Lol

J P Reilly’s Bar Longford

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Richmond Street, Longford

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandPre match pints were to be in J P Reilly’s Bar, where Section O, the Longford supporters group, managed to get a really good deal, all pints for three euros, and a free bus to the ground. Top job.

Nice bar, very good bar man who was quite friendly, played a few games of pool on a very dodgy table, was a good bar to sink a few good pints before the game, Enjoyed it.

Longford Town F.C.Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of ireland

Arena/Stadium: City Calling Stadium, Longford,
Location: Strokestown Road, Longford

Manager: Tony Cousins

Founded: 1924
Leagues: League of Ireland Premier Division

Club home page 

ltfc1924@gmail.com

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Longford Town or, as the locals lovingly call the team, “De town”, play in the LOI Premier Division. The club play their home matches at the imaginatively titled ‘City Calling Stadium’, which has a capacity of about 7,000, and are usually decked out in red and black.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandFounded way back in 1924, the club were only elected into the league of Ireland in 1984, 60 years later! A history of not much happening, usually a low feeder team at the bottom of the first division. That was until a certain Stephen Kenny took the reins of the club in 1998. Kenny was an unknown, having virtually no playing career to speak of (just 4 games for Home farm) and at just 27, it was a gamble I guess a team like Longford, with no real expectations, could afford to make.  His three season stint at the club transformed the club, as they won promotion to the League of Ireland Premier Division, reached an FAI Cup final for the first time (losing out to Bohemians), and subsequently, qualifying for Europe in the Uefa Cup, another first for the club. Leaving in 2001, he didn’t win anything but there can be no doubt he laid the foundations for what was to come.

Taking up the reins from Kenny was Alan Mathews, a Dub who had made over 80 appearances for the club. Again another novice manager thrown in at the deep end, but he eventually became the most successful manager in Longford Town’s history, delivering their first senior trophy, the 2003 FAI Cup (a 2–0 win over St. Patrick’s) and retaining it the following year, winning a cup double of the FAI Cup and League Cup.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandThe club will be particularly remembered for a quite simply awful fuck up in the Uefa Cup, 3-1 up in the tie and with an away goal away to the mighty Carmarthen Town, they let in four soft goals in the second half to exit Europe 5-3!

Relegation in 2007 to the first, was a disappointment as they struggled there for 6 barren years before returning to the top league last season, finishing in a very decent sixth place.

Playing out of the City Calling Stadium, what was for a long time called Flancare park, built in 1924 but getting a major face lift in 2001 the stadium today can hold about just under 7000, all seated.  The club though struggle to get fans out there as the stadium is not in the town and located three miles just west of Longford town centre.

LongfordTown 1 – 1 Bray Wanderers

Attendance: 700

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandThis game was pretty much ninety minutes of pure boredom, offered up by both teams in a wet and cold night. I had brought a friend who hates football, his first time at a LOI game. I think he hates football even more now!

As far as I could tell there were only about two shots on target in the first half alone

Second half Bray came out a little stronger, with the wingback Douglas catching my eye, but I am not sure if that’s because of his striking read hair, but anyway they finally got the first goal when Dean Kelly scored shooting from inside the box to put it past Skinner in the Longford goals.

I did get to see a laughable goal though. The Dundalk net minder, Cherrie, a goalie I have long been a fan of, totally made a hames of a back pass, kicking the ball off the body of David O’ Sullivan, who I am not so sure knew too much about it. It rebounded high over the goalkeepers head, straight back into the empty net. Comical!

Late on Longford’s O’Connor was sent off for a bit of a rash tackle on Creevy, but Bray didn’t really capitalize with the extra man and the game eventually fizzled out for a dour draw.

 

Interview with Kieran from  “Section O”, Longford Supporters Group, and who also runs his own brilliant blog “Between the Stripes” on all things Longford Town FC, well worth checking out……

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Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of ireland

 

So what’s your name?

Kieran Burke

And Section o?

Yes, Section o, we are going for our 15th year now, since 2001 the group was set up, I haven’t always been over to that side of the ground myself but 15 years overall now so…

And why Longford Town, why the LOI?

Kind of strange actually cause I was born in England myself, but I am Irish, my family is Irish, so we moved here in 2003 and Jesus I thought when moved here I thought it was fantastic that the local area had its own football team and I thought Jesus this is something I can really get behind. Went to my first game in 2003, think it was a league game at home against cork city, I think we lost but, ever since then I have always been passionate about the town and heavily involved with it the last few years

What got you into section o, what was the setting up of that?

Well section o kind of went away for a few years, there was always a few lads that stuck loyal to it but when we were in the first division they were dark days, the attendances were poor, and there wasn’t many sticking to it but then for I think it was for 2013 or even 2012 when we were making a push for the first division title one of the lads said maybe we can get this going again and made a big push to get as many people over to that side of the ground as possible, ever since then I have been hooked, I just love the whole atmosphere to it.

Since you have been following them, what has been the best season, the highlight for you?

It has to be 2014 winning the first division, three days in a row out celebrating after that it was absolutely fantastic. It’s hard to know whether anything like that will be matched again but even if we got relegated and people say it would be great if we went down and won it again, but it would never be the same again, seven years in the first division struggling to get back and finally doing it, so that definitely

What do you think of tonight’s game anyway, it was a 1 all draw with Bray?

Am I allowed to swear on this?

Yeah of course, ha, it’s a drinking website you can say whatever you want to say!

My eyes are bleeding after that game, that was absolutely SHITE

It was pretty even though?

Pretty even because both teams were absolute dross. I have never seen so much long ball played in my life…I don’t know what type of shape the team is playing in …. It’s going to be a long season I think…

So what do you think about 2016 then, what would be considered a good season?

Oh anything about 10th place I will be celebrating like a league title because I don’t think compared to last year’s squad….I don’t think it’s there at all

So what players….I know its 4 games in, but what players should we look out for Longford anyway?

Kevin O’Connor definitely, he is getting on a bit now, but he still is only 30, still young enough in LOI terms but he is just a fantastic midfield player, so good on the ball, he wasn’t great tonight, but I don’t think he is fully fit, injured last week, so maybe not fully back at it, Josh O’Hanlon is on loan from England, from Bournemouth, so he should pick up as the season goes on and then Jamie Mulhall is a very talented player

So just a question. Rivals, it must be Athlone town

Athlone town, yeah that’s a big rivalry, a lot of people don’t think it when they talk about LOI rivalries, they talk of Shelbourne, or they talk about Bohs-Rovers …but when the two teams are going well, which isn’t that often,  but when the two teams are going well and when a derby game comes up ..there isn’t an atmosphere like it, its unbelievable…

Is it hard to get people out to the Town,

Yeah its very hard

Ye guys I thought were pretty impressive tonight, you made an effort

We made an effort, I suppose the numbers weren’t great, but we did make a lot of noise, you can probably tell from my voice but we are trying again to get another big push on this year and try to get people out to games but it really isn’t easy especially when the team isn’t as going as well as people might have hoped …..its not easy so….

So that was Longford. Bit of a strange one alright. Longford is a town that is just getting by, silently doing its own thing in the middle of Ireland. If WW3 started tomorrow, dare i say Longford wouldn’t take notice, or be affected too much. Keep on keeping on…….

As much as I really admire Kieran and what he and the boyz in section O are doing, and with a bit of unnecessary hostility from the Longford FC board too, but sorry to say I did back Longford pre season to be relegated at 11/2. Just figured replacing an already threadbare team with a lot of youngsters is a tough ask.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of ireland

Bit trippy but fuck it i was bored!

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, cork

Cobh Ramblers, football away days

Away day number two.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkWorking all week, just time enough for a game on the weekend. Only feasible fixture was in Cobh, to see the Ramblers take on Drogheda. Never in the town before, I travelled down from Dublin, Heuston station. It took about 3 hours and a bit.

Cobh (Gaelic form of Cove), previously known as Queenstown, is a lovely seaside town on the south coast of County Cork.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkThe town is probably most famous as the last port of call for the ill-fated RMS Titanic, and has a long association with seafarers and seamen thanks to its natural harbour setting, with the Irish Naval Service setting up its HQ in the vicinity.
These days Cobh is set up a large tourist hub, with cruise liners stopping by each year with people flocking to experience all the Titanic history in the town.

Overall I liked Cobh, a nice picturesque town to while away a few hours.

Bar watch: Plenty of good bars in the town, very easy to meet people, have the craic, great pints of Murphys and Beamish all day.

The Quays

Address:17 Westbourne Place, Cobh, Co. Cork

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkRight beside the train station, I actually walked past this bar at first, but then I smelt some cod emanating from the side of the bar………..and boy did it smell good, so did a quick u turn, and followed my nose. Decided I might as well get the breakfast/dinner and lunch sorted.

The pub has a large outdoor seating area, a good location in the heart of the harbour, but, as I like to do, I drank at the bar, which had a nice and smart décor.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkWasn’t sure what to drink. I had Murphy’s before, and hated it……….but to be fair it was in Dublin so……after some consultation with the bar lady she convinced me to give it another try……..and I have to say the stout was fantastic. FANTASTIC. Drank it down quick enough. Just had to have another one. It really was THAT good.

Ordered some cod and chips, was very tasty, and wasn’t waiting too long for it at all.

Liked this bar, could have spent the day here, great location, very welcoming staff, relaxed and cosy atmosphere. Recommended. I did leave a tip for the staff…………not something I do too often, ha, but that was tip top service.

 

Kelly’s Bar

Address:Casement Square, Cobh

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Walking more into the town, first pub that I came across was Kelly’s bar………..looked like a decent pub from the outside…………nice frontage…………and with the rugby on the box was teeming with people.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkGood friendly vibe in the bar, and with a few Welsh visitors in the bar, was a lively atmosphere especially as the Welsh were getting a tanking from the English.

Friendly staff. Fast and efficient. Bar lady served a decent pint.

In the main bar it was really standing room only, which wasn’t a problem as there were a lot of big screens to watch the sport on.

Lovely traditional interior, wooden floor with an authentic bar counter. Outside has perfect views of the harbour.

Good pub, liked it, good for watching sport, and had a laid back local feel to it.


Rob Roy bar

Address: 2/3 Pearse Square, Cobh

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkIn the centre of the town, was recommend as a place for some good music on a Saturday night. Music didn’t start when I visited, but what was there was a lot of good chat and a very lively atmosphere. Bar was pretty crowded, so it was easy enough to chit-chat with people, nice pints, and I regret not staying there longer. Has a real local feel to the bar. Pity there was no music on.

 

Titanic Bar and Grill, Cobh

Address: Casement Square, Cobh

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Since I am in Cobh it would seem a shame not to drink in the Titanic bar!

This gastropub has a direct link to the past as the location actually was once the ticketing offices for White Star Line, owners of the “Titanic” Ocean Liner, and where passengers gathered to be collected and transported to the Titanic anchored nearby. The Passengers on that tragic day consisted of 123 passengers, mostly steerage passengers for the lower decks.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkTitanic Bar was officially opened in August 2000 by Millvina Dean, the youngest Titanic Survivor who was nine weeks old when Titanic sank

The interior is pretty impressive, decked out a bit like a ship, quite spacious, luxurious, spotless, and very well designed, with a lot of history everywhere for the buffs to get excited about.

Was pretty dead when I was there, not much of a crowd, and the bar staff seemed more interested in chatting up some females at the bar than anything else, which is fair enough I guess!

Pint was fine, service fine, but no atmosphere or ambiance

Good location, overlooking the harbour

If you like some cool history as you sip your pint then this is a great spot, but I prefer somewhere with a bit more life…….

 

Connie Doolan’s

Address: East Beach, Cobh

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkWandering around the city, stumbled upon this small pokey old fashioned looking pub. Small pub, an old fellas kind of bar. Walked straight to the bar, immediately into conversation……also a small dog was jumping at me while another one was reading the paper!

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkGood conversation with the bar man and punters, good fun,

Easily my favourite pub of the day, had a lot of character.

Décor is very dated but who cares when the company is so good.

 

Cobh Ramblers Bar and Lounge

Address: St. Colman’s Park, Cobh

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkKnowing that the club had a bar, I made the longish walk past the Church up the hill towards the club grounds.

Always love a club that has its own bar. Really don’t know why all clubs don’t get this going in their grounds, it’s a good way to earn extra revenue.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkHad a few pints in here. Good banter from both sets of fans. Drogheda youth were a bit biting but it was all in good spirit. The bar man had to tell them to calm down a few times, but he was well in control. Good barman. And lady. Served everyone quick enough, which was great as they were busy between the front bar and the lounge at the back.

Missed the start of the game, wasn’t aware of the 7.15 kick off time……….

Good to mingle with fans before the game. Some of the Drogs fans were sound enough, hopefully will get to meet them again when I hit Drogheda.

 

Cobh Ramblers F.C.

Arena/Stadium: St. Colman’s Park, Cobh
Manager: Stephen Henderson
Location: Cobh
Founded: 1922
Leagues: League of Ireland First Division

Club home page 

cobhramblers2@eircom.net

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Cobh Ramblers, “The Rams”, from County Cork, are an Irish football club in the League of Ireland First Division. The club, founded in 1922, play their home matches at St. Colman’s Park. The club’s colours are claret and blue.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkTheir only senior silverware is the First Division title that they won in 2007, when Stephen Henderson guided them to the top division for the first time in 12 years. Sadly they were relegated the next season, and then after failing to get a first division license they languished in the A championship (third tier) for a while…a four year hoodoo, only getting a license to play again in the first in 2013.

Nothing really else to talk about in terms of success, there was a cup run in 1976 that saw the club reach the last four, bowing out to Sligo after three replays……….

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkI guess when people talk about Cobh they usually make a reference to Roy Keane, as it was here that the bold Roy started out in the senior game, and eventually making that transfer to Nottingham Forest. A transfer that got the club a paltry £47,000 was struck with Cobh Ramblers in the summer of 1999. Significant as not long after, in 1992, he moved to Manchester United for a then British transfer record of £3.75 million.

Another hot headed Corkonian, Stephen Ireland also started his career with Springfield Ramblers, the clubs underage outfit.

Home games are at the 5900 (1,350 seated) capacity St Colman’s Park.

In Oct 2015 Stephen Henderson signed a new three-year contract with the club, and the club have high hopes of returning to the top division again sometime soon.

Train watch: Get to Cork first, from Heuston Station in Dublin, takes about 3 hours. Then from Cork Kent to Cobh, a regular commuter service, taking about 20 minutes.

Cobh Ramblers 1 – 1 Drogheda United

Attendance: 497

Not the greatest game I have ever seen. Took a while for the game to settle.

Drogheda got a soft penalty at about 30 minutes, dispatched by Sean Thornton.

Second half was much better as Cobh went in search of the equaliser. I thought Cobh looked pretty good, particularly on the wings, and definitely deserved the goal when it came from Shane O’Connor.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkDrogheda had a man sent off for a bad tackle, and with the extra man Cobh got the equaliser. A nice passing sequence ended up with Mylod making a header, that seemed to stay in the air forever, back across goal, where O Conner headed it low past the Drogheda goalkeeper. Nice team goal.

Cobh had a lot more of the ball in the end, but without doing too much with it. I think a draw really was a fair enough result.

First half dour, second pretty good. Overall an enjoyable game, good atmosphere from both sets of fans, plenty of chat, and a was good to finally knock Cobh off my to do groundhop list.

Interview with Thomas from the “Cobh Ramblers Supporters Trust”

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkSo my name is Thomas and I’m nineteen years of age and I’m a member of

Cobh Ramblers supporters trust, so they were set up the end of last season to help the club off the field and we all pitch in a tenner a month just to help out the club

So for the last 3 or 4 years I have been involved in the club, before that I was a fan since I was about 7 or 8 and so that’s basically it!

What got you into Cobh ramblers, why did you get into the LOI, cause a lot of people don’t really follow the LOI?

Yeah, I don’t know cause I always liked football, English football, or playing myself, I don’t know something just clicked. I liked the idea of representing Cobh on the national scale and it was something different, like not every town has a league of Ireland team and I thought its something you should be proud off

And you get involved with the people, there are very nice people involved with the LOI

There hasn’t been a lot of success for Cobh!

No it hasn’t been great the last couple of years, I mean there has been a few small things, like the under 19’s won the cup, the national cup, so things like that give you hope for the future that the club is going in the right direction, but I think this season will be different

(Two very curious young lads) What’s your name?

Jake

What’s your name?

Nathan

And why do you like Cobh Ramblers?

Because I have been following them since I was three

And what about you?

My dad used to be living in Cobh Ramblers (sic)

How do you think 2016 will go?

I think they will win the league

Really, are you sure?

I think they will win the league too!

Who is your favourite player?

Adam O ’Sullivan and Jimmy Griffin

Jimmy Giffin! (sic)

Why is he so good?

Because Jimmy Griffin is my dad’s friend and Adam O ’Sullivan is my favourite player for the summer camp

And he is so cool!

(Back to Thomas) And what about yourself then, 2016?

Yeah I definitely think it will be a good season. Based on the first game anyway, based on the Shels game. I wasn’t at it but I heard good things, and with the players signed they definitely can compete in the division this year I think

You got off to a good start against Shelbourne (won away, 0-1)

Yeah Shelbourne are a handy side now and to get a win against them its not an easy game, could be a good start.

And what about tonight’s game, what do you think, against Drogheda?

They only beat Waterford 2-1 last week and no disrespect to Waterford but they are not the best team around so they are there for the taking to be honest,

Even when Cobh were not having the best times, this place isn’t easy to get 3 points

Of course Cork City must be your rivals I guess

Yeah they would be, but we don’t really play them other than friendlies so there is not much of a rivalry there

So the First division then who would you consider…

Probably Waterford, now we have Limerick in the league this year, but Waterford would be more of a Derby

And for this season players to look out for

Eh, I think the two Galvin Twins that come over from England, Evan and Cory

Twins?

Yeah they are twins, they are very good so far, so I’d definitely keep an eye on them, they’d be moving on from here I’d say, going onto bigger things, the two of them, definitely.

And what would be considered a success this season?

I think play offs are a kind of a minimum and that’s what Hendo has set for the players, that’s his aim, Top 3, and if they get promotion that’s unbelievable. I think play offs are something steady to build on.

And what’s this Roy Keane, Cobh connection, explain that….

Actually he didn’t start his career here, he started his career with Rockmount up in the city and then, obviously he wanted to further his career, so he signed for Cobh to play league of Ireland

He was only down here a season, a season and a half, before he was spotted by Nottingham Forest

Yeah he still comes down, he was down here just a couple of weeks ago for one of the friendlies so he keeps in touch

Well who is a real legend of the team?

I suppose a lot of the 2007 team like of John Meade, Kevin Murray, Davon O’Neill, they are players that are fairly historic

And have you travelled to Dublin to support Cobh, have you travelled far and wide?

Oh I have been to Salthill, Waterford, Athlone, Dublin, yeah I have been all over the place, really

What was the best place you have been to?

Athlone was good, yeah Athlone back in 2013, a few weeks back into the season, it was brilliant, yeah

What can I expect tonight, my first experience to see Ramblers play?

It’s a good place, it’s a nice club, it’s a nice atmosphere, everyone gets on well

It’s a nice club, its great to be part of it and I think you will enjoy it

That’s great, thanks.

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Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, Porterhouse

Bray Wanderers, football away days

So here we go. We have decided to try and get to every League of Ireland ground this season (2016). Can it be done? Who knows, but I will give it a bloody good try (just don’t tell the wife!)

Opening day of the new season, we decided that Bray would be a good place to start. Easy to get too, a nice enough town, the ground close to the station and, more importantly, a town with a lot of decent boozers.

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseBray (Irish: Bré, meaning “hill”), with a population of about 32,000, is a long established seaside town in Wicklow, close to Dublin, and popular with tourists and day trippers who like to get in some good cliff walking along the coast line (7km), enjoy the beach views, or hang out in the numerous hotels and guesthouses, shops, restaurants and evening entertainment dotted along the extensive promenade.

Bray is also home to Ireland’s most favourite Olympian, Katie Taylor, the boxing champ who won Gold in London 2012, and has won countless World and European titles. I guess they will build the statue after she wins gold again in Rio.

Ok Pub watch: Overall enjoyed all the bars I drank in, no problems, good vibe and all were pretty decent establishments. Bray definitely is a good place for a beer crawl, and hopefully will be back again in the near future.

Hibernia Inn, Bray

 Address: 1, Royal Marine Terrace, Strand Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow

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Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, Porterhouse

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseFirst bar of the day, handy location and in close proximity to the Dart, kind of hard not to have a pint here! Very enjoyable pint, good service, nice and clean décor. Not much of a crowd in. Menu looked a bit pricey, or at least too pricey for us…..

Great views of the Bray seaside tough, and have been in this bar before so it can get a good atmosphere and not a bad place for a few beers.

 

The Porterhouse Bar, Bray

Address: Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, Strand Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow

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The porterhouse are a chain of bars that have a reputation for serving craft beers and holding a lot of good time music events.

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseBray was where it all started, having the first Porterhouse way back in 1989

Since then they have opened up bars all around Ireland, London and in New York. And have even started to brew their own range of popular beers

Just a few minutes from the station and on the promenade, looked pretty inviting from the outside. A lovely view of the Bray seaside, and with plenty of room to sit outside, but we decided to sit at the bar, as we usually do!

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseHad a German beer, and ordered some food, fish n chips. The meal was pretty good, albeit a bit pricey for the smallish portion I got, but hell it did the job as I was full and didn’t have to eat again for the rest of the day/evening.

Interior looks fantastic, homely, a welcoming cosy vibe going on with a decent sized crowd in.

Good friendly service, and didn’t have to wait too long for the food and pint

I enjoyed my food and pint here, busy but plenty of secluded spots for a quiet chat. If am ever back in Bray again I definitely will return.

 

Shillelagh Bar, Bray/Stacks Sports Bar

Address: Quinsboro Rd, Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland

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Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseNot a bad place, good lot of cool sports and music memorabilia on the walls, had the horse racing on the go when I was there, good pint, friendly bar man, nice and relaxing place.

 

Boomerang Bar, Bray

Address: Quinsboro Rd, Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland

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Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhousePerhaps my favourite bar of the day. Lot of sport going on at the time on the many Tvs dotted around the pub. Was German and English football, horseracing, some gah…..the world is your oyster, fantastic. Good atmosphere in the pub. Lively crowd and all good fun. Nice pints too. Liked it.

 

Ardmore Bar, Bray

Address: R761, Bray, Co. Wicklow

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Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseThis place was buzzing, of all the pubs that we visited this had the biggest crowd in. Very jovial atmosphere, nice pints, good craic, has a nice décor going on, not a bad place with a good friendly vibe to it. Liked it.

 

Goldsmiths Pub, Bray

Address: 3 Quinsborough Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow

FacebookBray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, Porterhouse

Final pre match pint was in Goldsmiths, a fancy looking pub from the outside anyway, decent atmosphere with a good sized crowd in, good pint, nothing to complain about!

 

bray wanderers

Bray Wanderers F.C.

Arena/Stadium: Carlisle Grounds
Manager: Mick Cooke
Location: Bray
Founded: 1942
Leagues: League of Ireland Premier Division

Club home page 

carlislegrounds@eircom.net

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Bray Wanderers F.C., who play in green and white and are otherwise known as the Seagulls, are a Wicklow team playing out of the Carlisle Grounds in the lovely seaside town of Bray. You will often find the club propping up the back end of the League of Ireland Premier Division for most of the football season, yet somehow always surviving relegation. But it’s not all doom and gloom, the club have won two FAI cups, in 1990 with a 3-0 win over non-league St Francis FC, and in 1999 over fellow perennial strugglers Finn Harps 2-1, in no large part to the talents of their legendary manager Pat Devlin, who guided them on both occasions to silverware, and who has managed the club on five separate occasions.

Bray made history with that 1999 win. The first team in the league of Ireland to win the cup and also to get relegated in the same season. Yeah, it’s hard to be a Bray Wanderers fan!

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhousePlaying out of the small but quaint Carlisle Grounds (7,000/3,185 seated), the team were founded in 1922 but in its present incarnation it really all began in 1942. The Carlisle, is situated close to the Dart station, and is one of the coldest grounds in the LOI, its closeness to the seaside, an Irish sea making it cold throughout the year, Costa del Sol this aint. The ground is also used for international rugby league games and had a bit part as a “body double” for Croke Park, in the Michael Collins blockbuster, where the Bloody Sunday scene was shot.

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseRecently there has been a lot of shenanigans going on as new directors and ex directors fight it out in the press and behind the scenes, and this was evidenced at the club last season (2015), where Bray had not one, nor two, but actually five managers (including caretaker manager) taking over first team affairs, before finally settling for Mick Cooke, the present man in charge. Despite this the team did relatively well, finishing a very respectable 8th, four places off the bottom, considered a success for the Wanderers!

Train watch: Bray is easy enough to get to via the DART, best thing is to go to Pearse Station or Connolly and work it out from there. The DART goes to Bray every 15 or 20 minutes.

By car: take the N11 from Dublin

Ok so what about the actual game we went to see?????

Bray Wanderers 1 – 3 Dundalk

Attendance: 1,702.

Good start from the champions Dundalk who looked like they were in second gear, going through the motions at times, didn’t really have too many problems dispatching a pretty disappointing Bray team.

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseFor Dundalk Ciaran Kilduff scored within five minutes so Bray were already on the back foot early on. Kilduff got another in the first half while Ronan Finn finished it off late in the game with a shot outside the box that took a slight deflection. Finn looked lively all game.

Dean Kelly got one for Bray from a smart free, but that’s about all the Seagulls did in this game. Bray had a man sent off as well, for a silly tug,so that didn’t help matters.

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, PorterhouseWas with the Dundalk support first half. Great fun, a bit of pyro which is always welcomed, and some good colourful chants as well. Went over to the Bray side for the second half, a bit quiet which was fair considering how the game was panning out.

Overall, decent enough game, Dundalk looked good, and a good first start to a new and hopefully exciting LOI season 2016.

Interview with Jake from the “Na Fánaithe”

Bray, Bray Wanderers, Na Fánaithe, League of Ireland Premier Division, Porterhouse

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My name is Jake

Well I was kind of dragged down here as a 5 year old

And I have been here ever since, I have been here 18 years for my sins

And I wouldn’t miss Bray, Friday or Saturday, its just something I do every week

And the group that you follow, the ultra-group, what’s it called?

Na Fánaithe, well we are kind of struggling a bit at the moment

The last couple of seasons numbers have been down

There is just not an awful lot going to the games anymore, like, so it’s kind of been difficult, we are not really active as much as we’d like to be

But look hopefully with time that will change

What brought you into the League of Ireland?

Well Growing up my da was a Rovers supporter, cause he is from Dundrum so the Milltown thing and when they left Milltown and all the trouble that went with them

He said he would never go back to see rovers again and

Him and my mother moved out here and its kind of this is the way its been ever since

He is a season ticket holder 20 odd years now himself, but he’d never go back to Rovers

What was the Best season since you followed them all those years?

It was probably…….see we are not used to success, so ’99 (Cup win) was good

Now I was only very young when it happened but to win something was obviously very good

Apart from that I don’t really remember…….Last year was probably the best, I know there was stuff off field, but the season we had…..Cup semi-final, mid table finish, we couldn’t complain too much, but that’s what we are kind of looking at most seasons

And 2016, what you think?

Squad of players, now I know tonight didn’t go to well, squad of players you’d be looking kind of higher mid table, pushing for European places and maybe a decent cup run………………….hopefully!

But you were playing the champions tonight though

Yeah, I know, I wouldn’t be too harsh, a lot of new players, you know gelling them and stuff

The champions who got a beaten, a good beaten last week (lost in Presidents Cup) so they were always going to bounce back and be a different side this week and we were just unfortunate that we were the team that were facing them

Bray player to look out for?

Two, two of them. Drew Lewis, striker, and Dylan Connolly, Winger, the two of them came on, but they obviously didn’t get a lot of time

But they are definitely two to look out for the rest of the season

Last year was a bit hectic off the pitch, is it a bit more solid this year?

To be honest, I wouldn’t say it was too hectic off the field

There is a group of people who used to be involved in the club and, obviously with new owners coming in and new people running the club, they didn’t like the changes that were been made, and all changes that were made there was a complaint so you know what it is with the way we went last year and the players we signed, it just sounds like they are a kind of bit jealous that they are not fully involved as much as they were

That’s my opinion, but I said it before, and I’d say it again, the right people are in charge of the club at the moment

Who would you consider rivals, what’s the club you hate?

There are a few!

For years we had this kind of rivalry going with Drogheda, but now its died down a lot, but we did kind of have a rivalry with Drogheda but I HATE UCD

Why?

I don’t know! We never really get a result against them, and they are probably the closest club to us, but I don’t like UCD!

Don’t like Rovers

Nobody likes rovers!

Don’t like rovers at all, actually can’t stand them!

But I prefer bohs any day of the week to Rovers

Don’t like Cork, either

Very few teams I do like!

Any team you do like, apart from bray?

I like Bohs to be honest, I do like Bohs

And to be fair, I actually have a soft spot for Galway, there always kind of there or there abouts you know, and its good to see them back up in the Premier Division

So what would be considered a good season, 2016? My last question!

A good season? An extended cup run, like last year and push on for Europe

Push on for Europe?

To be fair, listen, for the squad of players you got there we should be doing alright but hopefully, we will see!

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Bad Manners under the bridge, London

Bad Manners under the bridge, London

Bad Manners are an English ska band, from North London, fronted by the larger (extra-large?) than life Buster Bloodvessel. Big in the ‘80s, during a period when ska was popular, Bad Manners spent an amazing 111 weeks in the UK Singles Chart between 1980 and 1983 and the band had 15 hit singles in the U.K. with such classics as  “Lip Up Fatty”, ” Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu” (Yeah, really!), My Girl Lollipop”, “The Can Can”, “Special Brew” and “Walking In The Sunshine” and were up there with Madness, The Specials and The Selecter as the leading Ska band of the time.

Bad Manners under the bridge, LondonFormation:  A group of six school friends in 1976, from North London, formed the band. Fronted by Buster Bloodvessel (born Douglas Trendle), the band were mostly made up of self-taught musicians and a lot of energy. After becoming popular in the pubs and clubs of their native surrounds with their unique stage performances and huge leading man they quickly gained a following, which got them a record contract (without even recording a demo tape) with Magnet Records in 1980.

Where did the name come from? Buster Bloodvessel is a name taken from the bus conductor off the Beatles’ movie Magical Mystery Tour.

TV work Growing up in the 80’s, Bad Manners were a stable diet on TV, from Saturday morning Breakfast shows like Tiswas, Cheggars Plays Pop and the rest to evening appearances on, of course, Top of The Pops, over 30 in fact. Sometimes manic, always fun, the more noted appearances included that Can Can dress with the big fuck off Doc Martins, and on Tiswas with lots and lots of flying custard pies! The TV work and colourful performances gave them a chance to showcase their music to a huge audience and endeared Bad Manners to the British public.

Eventually they got banned from TOTP, when Buster, unannounced, painted his head red, which messed up the lightning and view from the TV screens. Not the worst thing in the world, but there you go.

Ban Manners and more specifically their eccentric front man, were always good fun to watch on TV. Buster with his really long tongue, big shiny bald head, even bigger belly, and always wearing something mad, was a sight to see

Bad Manners under the bridge, LondonIn 1985 Buster mooned (indecent exposure) the POPE! Yeah you read that right! In Italy, for the San Remo Festival, wanting to outdo Barry White, who was just coming off stage, and shock the crowd, Buster dropped his pants, and his rather large and not that hard to miss bum was picked up live on state TV. Unfortunately for Buster this festival was a favourite of his Holiness Pope John Paul who was watching the whole spectacle back in the Vatican. This resulted in a lifetime ban from Italian TV, and perhaps eternal damnation in the next life as well.

Buster is a big man with big ideas…….so it was only natural that if he was to have a Hotel called “Fatty Towers” for big people, it makes perfect sense (I Guess!). The hotel located in Margate, opened in 1996, and catered for the larger clientele, or at least those with huge appetites, had massive beds and baths, held annual Belly of the Year contests, and more importantly had extra-large food portions on its menus. Apparently the St John’s Ambulance were on speed dial in the event of misfortune!

Alas the venture didn’t last, as touring whilst running a hotel was too demanding, and Fatty Towers closed in 1998.

The legend of Buster’s eating habits…..eating 28 Big Macs, had ate a shark and once on the Isle of Wight ate 15 lobsters. So Buster was always a fat bastard, but when his weight topped 31 stone (197kg) and he collapsed during a show, then things had to change as his life was clearly in danger. Buster underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2004 and now he weighs in at a very respectful 13 stone. He lost roughly 18 stone (114kg) in just over 10 months, which is about the size of many a man! This new lease of life now means that the Hackney-born crooner has even more energy to bounce around the stage, Lip Up Fatty no more!

Bad Manners under the bridge, LondonTouring Bad Manners are a hardworking band, permanently gigging which takes them all over the world, from as far afield as Japan, Australia and New Zealand, the Americas, all round Europe, and the length and breadth of Britain. Yet despite the years the band still packs out venues, albeit small sized venues such as leisure centres, pubs, theatres, festivals.

To really appreciate Bad Manners you really have to experience them live. Their live concerts are legendary. A lot of sweaty dancing will be involved, a huge amount of fun, and a decent slice of good time Ska. This is one reason why the band still gig and are still popular even after all these years…..nights full of skanking

Seeing them for the first time, in Under the Bridge, London, I can definitely confirm that they are a great live act. Brilliant, and without a shadow of a doubt one of the best gigs I have ever attended. Great fun, friendly crowd, and a good set that was well over an hour where by the end everyone was hopping around like crazy. Top stuff…….

 

Under The Bridge

Address: Stamford Bridge | Fulham Road, London SW6 1HS, England

http://underthebridge.co.uk/

The concert was set in Under the Bridge, a very fancy purpose-built music venue in west London, just under Chelsea football club’s stadium, Stamford Bridge, hence the name!

The place holds about 500 people, and cost Mr. Chelsea, Roman Abramovich, a cool £20 million to refurbish what was the Purple nightclub

I have to say the venue was fantastic, really was.

Bad Manners under the bridge, LondonThe band were illuminated with great bright LED lightening, the sound was perfect, and it was dead easy to get a view no matter where you were in the room, as the stage was raised, no looking between people’s heads and awkward glances over peoples shoulders. Also plenty of room to sit, lots of bar stools around, toilets impeccable, everywhere all clean and tidy. Perfectly designed, and very classy, but not in anyway pretentious.

As for the workforce, friendly door security, and the bar staff were ultra-friendly, chatty and quick to get your order.

The Sheephaven Bay

                                 Address: 2-3 Mornington Street, Camden, London NW1 7QD

                   http://www.sheephavenbaycamden.co.uk/

Sheephaven BayMaking my way from the tube stop on Mornington Crescent, and just off Camden Town High Street, I went to meet a few old friends at The Sheephaven Bay, a good Irish style back street boozer. I have had beers in this pub before, always has a cracking atmosphere, feels homely, and even though it’s an Irish pub, it’s definitely not an “Oirish” pub, this is the real deal, warmth and charm, and none of your “O’Neills” plastic shite here!

Plenty of space, good beer on tap, lots of banter, and football on the box, but not so loud that you can’t hear yourself think……..great pub to spend a few hours in. Recommended.

 

Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners

49-51 Black Prince Road, Lambeth, London SE11 6AB, England

Southwark, Vauxhall

http://zeitgeist-london.com/gastropub/

Was meeting a friend here who is part of the whole London St Pauli thing, and as this bar is German run and is the place to see all German national games and Bundesliga I and II games, we decided to meet here.

Bad Manners under the bridge, LondonHave to say I completely missed it at first as it still retains the old name of the previous pub, “The Jolly Gardeners”, with “Zeitgeist” written in much smaller signage, so was very easy to pass. Think it’s officially called “The Zeitgeist at the Jolly Gardeners”. Clever, eh? Hmmm! This Victorian pub is just behind Lambeth Bridge and about 10 minutes from Vauxhall station. It was what looked like an old style British boozer on the corner of the street.

Inside though there is a Germanic feel to the bar, German flags, and a range of authentic German beers (or biers) on draught and in bottle covering most styles, from Warsteiner, Paulaner, Jever, Kolsch. Bitburger, Holstein, Krombacher, etc. Food is also available, schnitzels and sausages and all the rest. The bar’s popular with German expats, who gather to watch Bundesliga matches on two big screens.

Bad Manners under the bridge, LondonService was on the slow side, very slow, snail’s pace. Average time waiting for beer was about 20 minutes. Happened to loads of customers, ended up as a running joke, was actually quite funny how bad it was. One St Pauli fan had enough, got up and left!! Bar staff didn’t seem too bothered about all the thirsty customers, not rude or anything just they looked a bit stoned to be honest or perhaps that’s a German look? They looked a bit clueless and didn’t seem to be upto the job. I do know that they would be out on their ear if this was in an Irish bar, can’t be that slow when people need a drink!

Not much of an atmosphere either in the bar, bit dull, but to be fair St Pauli were getting beaten so I guess that put a dampener on things.  Either way won’t be going to this scheisse hole again. One of the worst………..


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Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg

Away days in the Duchy

As it was summer and I had a bit of time on my hands I decided to head over to Luxembourg to get in a new ground and see UCD of Dublin play F91 Dudelange in the Europa League First round. The first game in Ireland ended 1-0 to UCD so the stage was set for an exciting second leg to see if the Students could hold out and progress.

Here is my trip in video form

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in LuxembourgUCDAFC, or University College Dublin Association Football Club, play in the second tier of League of Ireland football, and are a semi pro team that mostly use players who also attend the university. Many players avail of the opportunity to earn a degree while playing top class, or relatively top class football. Before this game UCD’s claim to fame was running an Everton team close in the European Cup Winners Cup in the 1984/85 season, a team that had the calibre of Southall, Sheedy, Sharp, Reid and Gray in its line-up, going down just 1-0 in aggregate.

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg

Also more importantly it is said that Socrates, the legendary Brazilian chain smoker and sometime footballer, played for the team when he was a student of UCD back in the day.

(Even though I love to dream, that’s unfortunately more than likely an urban myth)

 

 

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg

F91 were formed in 1991 from the amalgamation of three clubs, Alliance Dudelange, Stade Dudelange, and US Dudelange, who all had varying degrees of success, but it was hoped that a new club would be financial viable and more successful on the sporting field. Which was proved right as F91 have won 11 national league titles since the year 2000.

In European competition they will be remembered as the plucky Luxembourg team that knocked out Austrian champion’s Red Bull Salzburg from the 2012–13 Champions League. A result that was quite unexpected considering the relative sizes of both nations leagues.

Had organised a good deal with two bars before the trip. Justin from the Tube Bar had offered me a cracking deal on shots and draft pints, and he got in contact with the Irish bar for me, PYG bar, who also offered bottles at a discount.
Now the sad thing is I wasn’t able to visit both bars at all over the day/night. Which was a pain in the hole.
I simply couldn’t find the Tube Bar, and the PYG looked closed when I passed it in the middle of the day, and later was far too much of a walk away to check it out. Virtually no signage or street maps at all on the streets of Luxembourg.
Thanks to Justin anyway for the effort
And I will definitely check it out both bars next time I am in the Duchy
Check out the Tube bar and the PYG

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in LuxembourgBistrot Le Journal Bar n Café
31 Avenue de la GareL-1611 Luxembourg 

On arrival in Luxembourg City, the first bar and the first beer (first draught!) was in Bistrot Le Journal Bar, just around the corner from the train station. Was early afternoon, but had a good lively crowd in the bar. Nice décor, old floor, and a bit of chat with some of the customers. Had my first pint of Bofferding, the local brew. Truth be told it was disgusting. I figured that it was a bad pint, as later on in the day I found that Bofferding wasn’t that bad.
Just had the one, but heh sometimes you can get an unlucky pint.

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in LuxembourgAs time was of the essence, I decided to see if I could have one in the Irish bar PYG, an early scouting session for later on in the night.

Now this was before I know how hilly Luxembourg City was. After what seemed like well over an hour, I eventually came upon the bar. But it was closed, or at least it looked that way! What a disappointment.

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in LuxembourgMaybe Not Bob’s
107, rue de la Tour Jacob, Luxembourg City                                              L-1831,Luxembourg
http://www.maybenotbobs.lu/
Facebook page

Noticed that just a small walk up the way was an interesting bar called Maybe Not Bob’s. Again the front door was closed, but I heard some noise from inside. I checked it out and yes it was open! Which made me think that perhaps the Irish bar was indeed open as well. WTF with closed doors, hardly a way to entice customers!

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg Anyway asked for the local brew, got another Bofferding. But thankfully this one was prefect, no bad aftertaste, and was exactly what I needed after my long haul to this side of the town. Got chatting to the barman who was an Ethiopian called Addis (like the capital!), nice friendly guy who gave me the low down on life in the Duchy. Place was busy enough, with people eating what looked like pretty tasty food. Had a gander at the menu, and tried to order something off it but was told the kitchen staff had just left for lunch! Yes, they left for lunch at lunchtime, most be a Luxembourg thing. Indeed I saw them heading out the door, a couple of Chinese fellas. Pity as I read later that this place does the best burgers in the city. Damn!

As for Dudelange, the town is located in the south of the country, and a short 30 minute train journey from the capital. The town itself is a small “city” of about 20,000 people (3rd largest in the country) and is straddling the border with France.
As I didn’t have a whole lot of time, I managed to just visit the one bar in the town.

THE SYNDICATE BAR 33, avenue Grand-Duchesse Charlotte, Dudelange Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg                                     Facebook
I popped into the first bar I came across from the train station, and that was The Syndicate Bar
The Syndicate Bar is an old school bar, nothing pretentious about it, with good classic rock music playing away from the juke box. I liked the bar, wasn’t full at all, but it was the middle of the day, on a Thursday in Dudelange.

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in LuxembourgGot talking to the (bar owner) Assia and (staff) Mandy, who were very chatty, and fun.

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg

 

Had a nice bottle of Strongbow, cold from the fridge which went down well. I liked this bar, and would have easily stayed for more than the two ciders I had if I wasn’t pressed for time.

 

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg

Bofferding
www.bofferding.lu
The beer I was mostly drinking on my short trip to Luxembourg was the local brew, Bofferding.
Bofferding is produced by the Brasserie Nationale, founded in 1975, which is the largest brewery in Luxembourg. A small brewery, but they export to their close neighbours, Belgium and France, and their not so close neighbours, China!
Without giving a full detailed review, the beer was fine. Certainly did the business over the few hours I was in the Grand Duchy.

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in LuxembourgLeffe
www.leffe.com

Another beer I was drinking over the few hours was Leffe, a beer from Belgium. The beer, is known as an Abbey beer, which means it has a close connection with a real Abbey where real monks develop real ales! Using knowledge passed down through the ages and ingredients found in the wild near the abbey, the canons developed a unique ale, brewed only at the Leffe abbey.
Now all Leffe brands are brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven. But the connection remains with the original Leffe abbey, who collect substantial royalties to this day from InBev Belgium.
The beer was decent enough, a bit hoppy, but did the business.

The Game

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg

It took me over 4 hours to get home, via 3 trains, 3 long trains!
But it was worth all the effort, as UCD held out to go through on an aggregate score of 2-2, winning on the away goals rule.
Cracking start to the game for UCD as they got off the mark first , with a def header from Swan (2-0 on agg.), but the game plan went astray once Coyne was sent off. His tackle was a bit reckless, but I think a red card was very harsh. With him UCD would have coasted this game, without him it was a struggle.
Both goals near the end of the first half for F91 were very disappointing. The first Dudelange goal was like in slow motion, he got so much space and got to pick his spot, the second was comical, from a throw in where everyone for UCD fell asleep, a simple free header.
Wasnt looking good for the second half, as the aggregate score was now UCD 2 F91 2, with the Luxembourgers only needing one more goal to go through against the ten men of UCD.
Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg

But UCD held out, I don’t know how they did, but they did. The stats might show how much of a colossal effort it was, 27 shots on goal for F91 to 4 for UCD
The UCD support were great too, for a small bunch they made a lot of noise.
The moment the ref blew the final whistle was fantastic, great craic, immense joy and what a relief. That was a very long second half, plus the 5 added on as well!

Overall the trip might not have had as much beer or shenanigans as I would have liked, but the game made up for all that.
Met some of Swan’s family after the match as well which was cool, nice people, and overall Luxembourg was a fantastic city. Must remember to bring the wifey there some day! As for UCD, they went out in the next round to Slovan Bratislava, a team of pros, but heh, thanks for the memories,.

Herein I give you some really fun and cool facts about little old Luxembourg

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg Luxembourg, and its capital, Luxembourg City.
Luxembourg officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a landlocked country in Western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south.
Another small country, another tax haven, another country in Europe run by a family of wealthy Royals. This time little old Luxembourg, with its amazing capital city, imaginatively called Luxembourg City. The city is truly magnificent, covered by hills and valleys all around, divided by rivers, and all surrounded by the many fortifications, bridges and viaducts dotted all over the city, it’s a city I fell in love with. And it’s no surprise to see that UNESCO gave it World Heritage status.

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg

According to the OECD (2010) Luxembourg sold the most alcohol in Europe, per capita. Yes Luxembourg! But before you get your knickers in a twist, a large proportion of this alcohol is purchased by customers from neighbouring countries contributing to a statistically high level of alcohol sales per capita. So blame the French and Belgians, and perhaps the occasional Irish visitor (well what can I say, I do try!!)

Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg Luxembourg is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. Headed by Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the world’s only remaining grand duchy (don’t ask I am still confused about that one!) who has the power to dissolve the legislature, but he doesn’t as he is a good lad.

  1.  Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and ranking 179th in size of all the 194 independent countries of the world; the country is about 2,586 square kilometres (998 sq mi) in size, and measures 82 km (51 mi) long and 57 km (35 mi) wide, with a population of 562,958. (2013 World Bank)
  2. The people of Luxembourg are called Luxembourgers.
  3.  Luxembourg is a secular state, but most Luxembourgers, including the Royal family, are Catholic.
  4. Not a nation that produced a lot of major sports stars, but in Marc Girardelli they had an Alpine skier who was World Cup overall champion five times, and with Nicolas Frantz (1927/28) and Andy Schleck (2010) they bagged three Tour de France wins.
  5.  General George S. Patton, “Old Blood and Guts”, is buried in the Second World War Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial at Hamm. This cemetery is also the final resting place of 5,076 American military dead.
  6.  Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in LuxembourgLuxembourg is sometimes called “Little Switzerland” for all its hills and valleys, and not, I repeat NOT, due to its vast wealth and somewhat questionable dodgy banking transactions. Other names we can use for Luxembourg is the “Green Heart in Europe” and the “Forest and Fortress”
  7.  Speaking of tax havens, according to one British newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph Kim Jong-Il’s had some $4bn hidden away in secret accounts in Luxembourg banks. Make of that what you will!
  8. Three languages are recognised as official in Luxembourg: French, German, and Luxembourgish. Luxembourgish is the language that Luxembourgers generally use to speak to each other. Most official business and legislation, and the language of the government is carried out in French. German is usually the first language taught in school and is the language of much of the media and of the church.
  9. They are rich buggers with a stable economy, low inflation and unemployment, and a highly educated populace, money is what they are good at making. In 2011 the IMF put them as the second richest nation in the world. Banking, insurance and finance is the major sources of wealth in the nation but recently the Luxembourg government has started to attract internet companies to set up base in the tiny nation, with Skype and Amazon being two of the many internet companies that have shifted their regional headquarters to Luxembourg.
  10. Since the country is so small it only has an army of about 800 soldiers and no navy (landlocked) or air force, but that’s all A.OK as they are in NATO so if ever attacked they can get the big boys to bail them out.
  11. Away days in the Duchy. Following UCD and their Europa League exploits in Luxembourg But who would want to attack such a small nation? Well quite a few have: Utilising its natural strategic location it was the Romans in the 10th century who fortified and used Luxembourg city as a base for trade and defence. Over time Luxembourg city was one of the strongest fortifications in Europe as a long list of conquerors arrived and continually strengthened the city walls. Build a big wall with a nice city inside and it’s just natural that someone’s armies will attack, so a long list of attackers have conquered Luxembourg: the Burgundians, the Spanish, the French, the Austrians, the Prussians, and the Germans in both World Wars. So I guess one can understand if Luxembourg was eager to join NATO and align itself with one of the world’s strongest military alliances.
  12. As mentioned alliances were important for Luxembourg. They also were a founding member of the United Nations in 1945, and were also heavily involved in the setup of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, a precursor to the European Union. Luxembourg City is the seat of several institutions of the European Union, including the European Court of Justice, the European Commission, and the European Investment Bank. As an aside Schengen is in Luxembourg, giving its name to the Schengen Agreement, which a lot of travellers know only too well helping with the freedom to move all around Central Europe!

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Moz, Manchester and United

Moz, Manchester and United

One day I stumbled across an interesting article in the Guardian (as you do!). The DJ Dave Haslam was writing about the time he went to Manchester to check out another DJ, who had built up a bit of a local reputation doing Morrissey and Smiths nights. Dave Cotrill has done his disco nights since 1994 in The Star and Garter, just behind the Piccadilly train station.
Reading the article set the imagination running. Sure why not? So I decided to book the flights, arrange the accommodation and just check out Manchester for myself (and mate).

The article that set it all off is here: “A tale of two disc jockeys”

Moz, Manchester and UnitedJust passed through Manchester before so wasn’t sure what to expect, but boy the accommodation was a classic. Once again I didn’t disappoint!

Here follows some of what we got up to
I can’t remember all the bars and clubs we went into since the days and nights of drinking were long and hard. Nor can I remember a lot of what I was drinking either.
I did enjoy the weekend though. Manchester is a rough and ready city, people are mostly friendly, and it’s a town I would like to visit again. All in all it is a decent place. And yes, they do walk around with a “Manchester swagger”

Here is it in video form

                                    

The Star and Garter
18-20 Fairfield Street
Manchester
Piccadilly
http://www.starandgarter.co.uk

Moz, Manchester and UnitedThe Star and Garter is a pub in Manchester, but not any ordinary pub. It is a bit of an institution as it hosts alternative music events. The SnG puts on rock, punk and indie nights, they showcase new and upcoming bands, and more established crews (The Ting Tings, Badly Drawn Boy, Status Quo, UK Subs, and more…, have all played here), and on the first Friday of every month they host a Smiths disco dedicated to all things Morrissey. The nights are such a hit that the venue has become synonymous with the Smiths, attracting Morrissey fans from all over the world. Liverpool got the Beatles and the Cavern Club, Manchester has Moz disco nights at the Star and Garter!

The SnG is situated slap bang in the middle of nowhere really. Behind Piccadilly railway station, down a side street under an iron bridge, and on the very edge of the city border. Pass the pub and you wander into what looks like a less than salubrious part of town. Apparently this is near Manchester’s red light district. God only knows where they do business, perhaps the bushes and side streets? Didn’t see much life around here. In all this wonderful isolation stands tall the Star and Garter, a Grade II listed building here (or here abouts, was moved brick by brick a 100 yards) since 1803. It looks the part, at any moment you expect the building to come crashing down on top of you. Go early, as we did, and you will find that the pub doesn’t do business in the day time, it was closed.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedGetting there before the disco gave us a chance to have a few beers, shoot some pool, and have a good chat with some of the Morrissey fans.
The interior looks like your old style traditional British pub, no frills. The carpets were sticky, the chairs and tables were timeworn, the alcohol came in cheap cans, and the atmosphere was all relaxed.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedTalking to Craig and Deb, a nice couple who travelled up from somewhere out of town for the Moz night. They have been here a few times, so I guess you could call them regulars. They first came here “because it’s funny, not the biggest fans in the world but, this sounded hilarious”. Before going out with Deb, Craig didn’t really know who Morrissey was, but now he loves the music, and has now pretty much got every album, “Before, I knew who they (the Smiths) were, but could only name about 2 or 3 of their songs, but now can’t I get enough of them!” Deb, on the other hand is a long-time fan. “Basically when I was 11 someone gave me a bunch of tapes, most of them were rubbish, but the Smiths were interesting, there was something there really”, and so that started a love for the quiffed one.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedMet Tim, from Leeds but now lives nearby, who certainly looked the part, who has been coming to the Moz nights for ten months or so.
On what we can expect tonight, Tim told us we were in for a good night, “What can you expect from tonight, a lot of Morrissey fans and some news ones as well. It’s absolutely amazing. You kind of spend the whole month listening to Morrissey mostly on your own, then you come tonight and you’re listening with a load of people.”
On why he likes Morrissey, “He just gets its, he just gets life, he just gets it. I have tried and have tried to explain why Morrissey resonates. No one quite hits it like Morrissey, and Johnny Marr as well, is just an amazing guitarist. Life isn’t a bunch of gladiola and he (Moz) takes that and he makes it beautiful, he acknowledges it and he makes it beautiful with his words. I have liked the Smiths for a long, long time, I don’t think you can describe it with words”
On what Morrissey would make of all this hero worship, “I think he secretly likes it” Indeed, I would think he does too!

Moz, Manchester and UnitedWilliam, who travelled up from West Yorkshire, about two hours away, told us that he was born in 1994, the year that these Moz Disco nights started, showing that Morrissey also appeals to a younger crowd, and not just to us old softies. William has been coming to these nights for the last year, and loves Moz, “I like the sound of the music, and that’s a very superficial way to read the Smiths. I started thinking about Morrissey like he is some kind of poet, but you know, I love Morrissey with all my heart and soul and honestly he is quite an inspiration to me”

And after a few more pints, we eventually decided to take the stairs and follow the music. The disco had started!
Upstairs is the dance floor, a decent sized room, dark with bright lights.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedA small crowd at the start, but by the time things got going into full swing, the floor was packed with happy punters, all dancing and singing along to all the songs. I did dance, I admit that. Not a great mover, but it was one of those nights that no one cared, the atmosphere was fun and friendly, everyone united in their love and appreciation of the Moz.
A good night, and one that I would love to repeat again in the future.

 

Manchester United Football Club
Sir Matt Busby Way
Old Trafford
Greater Manchester
http://www.manutd.com/

Moz, Manchester and UnitedSo since we were staying in the area we decided we might as well toddle off down to Old Trafford and see what all the hype is about. Apparently Man united are meant to be one of the biggest teams in the world.

Nicknamed the “Red Devils”, even though I like to refer to them as Manure united, they have legions of fans from all over the world. From Asia to America they all know of Manchester United, the brand. And we could see this. Outside the ground were busloads of Asian fans, taking photos like crazy.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedThey have won a record 20 English league titles, and have 3 European cups in the bag, so I guess they deserve some begrudging respect.

Looking at it from the outside, Old Trafford certainly looks like a decent stadium. The “Theatre of Dreams”, was opened way back in 1910, and has a capacity just under 76,000. Bombing in the Second World War destroyed much of the stadium; which meant that during the reconstruction Man Utd had to play its “home” games at their rivals Manchester City’s Maine Road ground; Interesting.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedMoz, Manchester and UnitedA nice statue of Matt Busby stands at the entrance to the ground
Busby won the League in 1952, a first league title for 41 years, and of course won back to back titles in 56 and 57 with a squad of young ones, “The Busby Babes” (average age of 22)

Also there is a clock showing time standing still. The time when Manchester united suffered its greatest tragedy, the Munich air disaster, when 23 people lost their lives (8 players) returning from a European cup tie in Belgrade.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedThe plaque nearby is in memory of those who died in the Munich air disaster, including the eight players’ names.Moz, Manchester and United

Busby rebuilt the team, and we can see this in the statue of the trilogy, Best, Law and Charlton, the trio that helped Man Utd win its first European Cup in 1968, the first English football club to do so.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedSeen the Alex Ferguson Stand, which looked good
Alex Ferguson was some manager, good old red nose. Did the business though, 13 league titles and 2 Euro Cups. Can’t argue with that, even if he was a grumpy bastard. Grew up looking at this team win all around them, and to be fair they always played great football, and played right up to the death of a game. God only knows how many goals they nicked in the last minute/second minute/third minute/forth/fifth/sixth minute of injury time……….

Moz, Manchester and UnitedWe were thinking of doing the stadium tour, but at £18.00 a pop for the full tour, and £14 quid for a quick walkthrough and gander at the pitch, we decided against it. For fecks sake that’s the price of a ticket for a non-league team, or a team here on the continent. Just so we can say we saw the pitch, or were near the dugout. Feck off!

Moz, Manchester and UnitedThe Red Café was decent though, had a beer there and they show re runs of classic games on a screen, which was good.

We did have a good chat with John though. John sells scarfs outside the ground for about 7 quid. He was good fun, and told us about the new hotel, “Hotel Football”, that ex-players Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville own nearby, that had a plastic pitch on the roof. So naturally we had to have a look, and yes, there really is a pitch on the roof. How cool is that!

Salford Lads’ Club
Ordsall, Salford,
Greater Manchester.
http://salfordladsclub.org.uk/

Moz, Manchester and UnitedMoz, Manchester and UnitedAfter checking out one famous Manchester institution we decided to head onto another icon of the city, Salford Lads Club. The club is famously associated with a 1986 Smiths image on the “Queen is Dead” album cover, showing the band looking moody hanging around just outside the club. The band also included the club in a few of their music videos. At the time the boys clubs were not too happy about it at all, but over time they eventually saw sense.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedSo famous is the image that Smiths fans from all over the world visit the club to copy the famous iconic picture.

With all the fans, the club eventually decided to tap into this demand and in 2004 a special Smiths room was opened showing messages from fans and a lot of memorabilia of the band. There is also a small store room that sells Smiths t-shirts, badges, postcards, and even chocolate!

Moz, Manchester and UnitedThe actual boys club was established in 1903 as a recreational club to help out local working class boys, and get them off the street and up to no good. Now open to girls as well, the club still continues the fine tradition of helping out local youth through sport, exercise, and various other activities, with people volunteering their help and time to keep the club running along.
Moz, Manchester and UnitedThe building is listed and remains virtually unchanged since its foundation.
I am not sure how many fans actual venture into the building but it was good that we did as we met Amber , a volunteer at the club, and who does all the designs for the Smiths memorabilia they sell. Amber gave us a brief potted history of the club, showed us around the building, and was very helpful. Amber was so chatty and fun that it put us in a good mood for the rest of the day. Perhaps she could try some of her charm on the moody Morrissey, but then I guess that’s why we like him so much, the thick bastard!

Moz, Manchester and UnitedI bought a tee which I found out later is one of the limited editions that is only on sale for one year only. Made me up knowing that! The tee-shirt features the famous picture of the group outside the club, and Stephen Wright the photographer has allowed it to be reproduced from November 2014 to November 2015 only, to help raise vital funds for the club. A generous gesture that is going a long way to helping the club meet its many upcoming charitable commitments in the next year and beyond.

 

Charlie Veitch
All over Manchester,
https://www.youtube.com/user/cveitch

Moz, Manchester and UnitedSo for the Saturday we were to meet Charlie Veitch and have a friendly chat with him, and a few beers, nothing too mad. No lizards or Mossad drills.

Without going into the ins and outs of it all, basically Charlie is one, or at least was one, of the leading internet conspiracy theorists. I say “was” as he had an epiphany on a BBC TV show (“9/11 Conspiracy Road Trip”) and turned his back on the 9/11 “truth movement”.

Once a friend of the mad David Icke and the bad Alex Jones, this u turn caused a shit storm in the movement, and resulted in Charlie getting a lot of online hassle, and been branded a “traitor” to the cause. Whatever the feck that is.

I respect Charlie for this. It takes big balls to hold your hand up and say that you think you might be wrong about something you were once so passionate about.

I have followed Charlie for a long time on YouTube, from the old days of the Love Police, and even seen him in action with the shenanigans he got up to in London (kettling the police was gas craic!).  I don’t always agree with what he says, or sometimes how he goes about making his points, nevertheless I do watch his videos, for better or for worse, but always engaging, always entertaining, and sometimes quite bold.

Anyway after all the beers and the chat, Charlie seemed like a decent skin to me, top bloke and good fun (And his two friends). So suck it haters.

Watch the video anyway, and remember I don’t work for the BBC, and had a good few pints, so go easy on the hating, it’s not good for you!

 

The Lost Dene
Deansgate
Manchester
http://www.thelostdene.co.uk/

Moz, Manchester and UnitedWe decided to jump into this pub to have a look at the CL final. From the outside and the décor it looks like a Wetherspoons’. Certainly has a similar sort of clientele.
Had a pint of Korev, a Cornish lager that I acquired a taste of over the few days. A good crowd in for the game, with many TVs and chances to watch the game.
Was a nice reasonably priced pint, in good company with everyone enjoying the game.
The kind of bar that is a must if you want to see some football, with a beer and some atmosphere.

 

The Sawyers Arms
Deansgate
Manchester
http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thesawyersarmsmanchester/

Another drop in bar, and again for football. Wanted to have a look at the Ireland V England game so we saw that they had it on in this pub, so why not.
A nice traditional looking pub, which is apparently a grade 11 listed building, and is said to be Manchester’s oldest pub having first gained its licence way back in 1730!

Moz, Manchester and UnitedHad a decent pint of Korev, and a packet of Tyrrell’s English style crisps (that’s considered lunch) which were delicious. And I thought the English didn’t know how to make decent crisps!
Anyway a nice pub, a lot of history on the walls, good service, and friendly staff. Got very comfortable, so we decided to have a few pints here, and why not, the pints were perfect. Not a big crowd in, perhaps due to the early kick off time, and the TV had no sound on which I kind of appreciated. Rather not listen to the inane chat that passes for commentary these days.
Nice place for a good chat in the middle of the day, a good place to while away a few hours.

  Bulls Head
84 London Road
Manchester
http://thebullsheadpiccadillymanchester.co.uk/

Moz, Manchester and UnitedAs we were a bit early for the Smiths night and the Star and Garter wasn’t open we needed to booze up. It looked like the SnG was on the edge of nowhere and nothing to be found beyond so we walked back and came across the Bull’s Head, right across from the train station.
Looked decent so we ventured in. Nice cosy atmosphere. We went straight to the bar, and immediately mingled in with the chat. Met the landlords, Brendan and Paula, who were both good fun, and very friendly. In fact all the staff were chatty and good fun. Of course my mate was instantly attracted to the retro arcade games, and it took a lot of effort to get him off the damn things. Children shouldn’t be allowed into bars!

We were starving for some good food (real food, not pub grub), and decided to leave, but promised Brendan and Paula we would be back the next night. With great regret we didn’t make it back as we ran out of time, but it’s definitely a bar I will check out again if I am ever in the vicinity. Beer was very good, and the company excellent.
Also it’s worth noting that this is another of Manchester’s oldest bars, a bar on this site dating back from the late 1800’s.

The Wharf
6 Slate Wharf
Castlefield
Manchester
http://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/thewharf/homepage/

Moz, Manchester and UnitedWalking in from Salford, we were a bit tired and thirsty. My mate pointed out this pub out to me as we walked by, I wasn’t so sure, looked a bit too posh for me, but we sat down outside and ordered some beer and a bit of food to boot.

And you know it wasn’t that bad, with the sun making a brief appearance and beside the canal and its locks, it was very enjoyable just shooting the breeze in wonderful surroundings. Inside, the bar has some old style wooden décor, very spacious, and has a lot of cool antique pictures pottered around the place showing all manner of history and old alcohol advertisements.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedStaff were extremely friendly, very efficient service, and the beers and food were top quality. I had a Lowenbrau. I know I really should have tried some British beer, but…..

Location makes this bar. A really great place to be on a pleasant hot day. Nice relaxed crowd too, with no music or TV blaring out, no wonder we stayed for more than the one beer. Very relaxing! Of course since this is North England, time to go and move on was when the dark clouds appeared, with the rain starting the terrace emptied out and that was the end of the Wharf!Moz, Manchester and United

Oh before I forget, the rug. The rug inside is amazing! Yeah, the fecking rug!

The Knott,
374 Deansgate,
Manchester
http://knottbar.co.uk/

Moz, Manchester and UnitedFrom the Wharf, walking back into the town, we passed “The Knott”, which was recommended by some beer bloggers I Know.

We went up to the balcony which was pleasant enough, doing some people watching and all. But if truth be told the place was filthy! I am not one generally to complain and maybe it was cause we just came from the immaculate Wharf, but Jesus it was the middle of the day, not nearing 12 after a busy night. When I say filthy, I mean puke in the toilet bowl, empties all over the place, stale and uneaten food on tables. Perhaps we arrived when the cleaning staff were on a break?Moz, Manchester and United

The décor is pretty cool, music prints and beer posters and it had a chilled vibe going on. Was quite busy.
I ordered some Shameless Pale Ale. It was very bitter, very hoppy, and quite hard to stomach to be honest, even if it looks magnificent in the pic.
Drank it down quick and decided to move on!

 

Brewdog
35 Peter Street,
Deansgate,
Manchester
https://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk/manchester

Moz, Manchester and UnitedBrewdog, another recommendation from some of my contacts, those Scottish chappies and their extra strong beers.

When you walk into a bar first impressions matter. This looked like a fecking darkly lit supermarket, we were very close to just doing a quick turnaround out the door, not that the bar man gave a shite. The atmosphere wasn’t much better, a lot of wankers around the place, and what is with all the high stools.Moz, Manchester and United

Anyway stayed and ordered beers, their own brew, which wasn’t too bad at all. Decided to leave the drunken fools, and sat down outside. Good decision, much better company, and at least could have a decent chat(A big hello to Michael and Siobhan).

Moz, Manchester and UnitedToilet was banjaxed, had to use the disabled. What is it with Manchester and toilets?
Pretty sad when the best part of the décor is the toilet area, and who the feck plays board games in a pub?

Regret not having a burger here though, from what I have read subsequently, it’s meant to be top class. Ah never mind, at least the beer was good.

Mr Thomas’s Chop House,
52 Cross Street,
Manchester
http://tomschophouse.com/

Wanting to have a good talk with Charlie V. we decided to pop into the nearest pub which just so happened to be a Mr Thomas’s Chop House.

A grade 11 listed pub, Mr Thomas’s Chop House first opened way back in 1870. It shows, the interior is all Victorian with tiled walls and a dark wooded bar, and pictures of historical Manchester dotted all over. Old fashioned surroundings and tradition, all adding to the atmosphere of the place.
Moz, Manchester and UnitedIn the middle of the day the pub was heaving with customers, and after quite a long time we eventually got served and brought our drinks to the outdoor area out at the back.
When the weather turned we decided to have a pint inside. The place is so small that no cats would be swung in this pub. Standing room only, belly in, this is a great advantage as in close quarters you have no choice but to meet and chat with strangers, they are literally in your face! We ended up meeting loads of people, all great fun.
A Mr Liam Donnelly from Warrington who got a bit upset with me when I told him he looked like Jimmy Summerville and not, as he had thought, Jimmy Saville! It took me a while to figure why he was talking about Michael Jackson!
Great craic, place was buzzing, I don’t mind admitting I had a good time at this bar.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedDon’t know what was going on with the drinks, but I was drinking Heineken, which again wasn’t probably the best choice what with all the great British beers available (probably, I couldn’t see the bar!), but hell, I didn’t have time to discuss options at the bar. With so many people crammed into such a small narrow bar, it was a case of order something, anything, fast! Had a few beers here.
Cosy and friendly boozer, full of character, the best bar on this short trip hands down, and as we were leaving also had a good chat with the bouncer at the door, full of chat and very friendly. Strongly recommended!

Vina Karaoke Bar
34 Charlotte Street
Manchester
Chinatown
https://plus.google.com/103868918018477381681/about?gl=ch&hl=en

Moz, Manchester and UnitedAnd as you would know it we ended up in Vina Karaoke bar, a place that has a bit of a “reputation”. Apparently it can get “hairy” at times, and I aint talking about some of the women. I am not surprised what with some of the clientele, the set-up of the place, and the bouncers on heat.

But otherwise it was good fun, enjoyed the music, some of the karaoke efforts were not bad, and beer was cheap enough. As long as you don’t forget to take off your cap, and don’t wear a bollard on your head, everything should be fine!

La Tasca Tapas Bar and Restaurant
76 Deansgate
Manchester
http://latasca.com/venue/manchester-deansgate/

La Tasca Manchester is an “authentic” Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurant. They say on their website that if you close your eyes you might just be in Spain. Yeah sure, but this is a place we ended up in twice over the weekend. A good central location, good pints, and a nice chilled place to have a quiet talk and unwind.

Moz, Manchester and UnitedHad the tapas here. They don’t sell tapas in the bad lands of Ireland, so never had it before. Was tasty and hit the spot.
Service very friendly, always smiling, chatty, and checked a few times to see if we were ok, which is a nice touch.

Even though the beers (Mahou) looked quite strange, with a head that mushroomed out, in fact they were damn tasty.
I liked this bar/restaurant, had a nice ambiance, all surrounded with a Spanish décor. It’s a shame we didn’t know at the time that they don’t close till 4 am on the weekend, playing Latin style music downstairs long into night. God dammit, that would have been fun!
A very nice relaxing place, with good beer. Recommended.

 

Moz, Manchester and UnitedOne final thing: Had some cider in an Italian restaurant that I cant remember, but by god it was lovely cider. Aspalls Suffolk Cider, very tasty.

 

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Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

St Pauli and Astra Bier: A football special

Next up for a review is the famous Astra beer from Hamburg.

But I can’t write about Astra unless I also write about St. Pauli football club. The two are synonymous.  A football special and a soccer club that’s often described as the most left-wing team in the world. Unique.

St. Pauli

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

Since 1910

Fußball-Club St. Pauli was founded on the 15th of May 1910, based in the lively St Pauli quarter of Hamburg, an area known for its docks, its left-wing activism and for the infamous neon-lit strip clubs of the “Reeperbahn”, Europe’s largest red light district. Nicknamed the ‘Brothel of the League’, the club represents the dockers, punks, prostitutes, anarchists, and all the rest who live and toil in the city’s working-class St Pauli enclave.

The club is widely recognised for its distinctive left-wing culture and has a large popular following as one of the country’s “Kult” clubs.

The history bit

Before the Eighties, St Pauli was just your regular lower-league club averaging crowds of less than 2000, and living in the shadows of their hated neighbours, HSV Hamburg.  It was in the mid-1980s that St. Pauli’s conversion from a traditional club into a “Kult” club began.

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

The docks

With Nazis and hooligans ruling the terraces all over Germany, St Pauli was seen as an alternative.  Through the local dockyard losing workers and the district falling into dereliction, squatters, artists, anarchists, prostitutes, students, punks and other alternative types all flocked into the district to fill the void. And they started going to the football!

FC St Pauli suddenly became swamped, with the terraces of their old dilapidated Millerntor Stadium full of the disenfranchised roaring out anti-fascist and anti-capitalist chants. But unlike other teams, St Pauli embraced them reveling in its new found ‘underdog’ status. By the late 1990s they were frequently selling out their entire 20,000-capacity ground.

Skull and crossbones

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

Loyal fans

The Skull and Crossbones (the Jolly Roger flag) is a symbol which had long been associated with the district of St Pauli on account of legendary pirate Klaus Störtebeker and his statue. It became the club’s unofficial emblem.

The emblem first appearing after a few squatters from the docks brought it onto the terraces. The idea stuck and now it’s very closely connected to the club and the area.

You will see the emblem pretty much everywhere in the district, from every corner and on every street. So it’s no surprise to learn that the German media like to call the club the “Die Freibeuter der Liga” (“Buccaneers of the League“).

The team

For a team with such a huge following, their on the field exploits are nothing to write home about. With a virtually empty trophy cabinet and a team that’s regularly seen mid table in Germany’s Bundesliga 2, it’s quite amazing that they have such support at all.

A stint in the top tier in 2002, saw them finish a distant last after winning only a handful of games and the resulting relegation nearly bankrupt the club.

That relegation led to another worse demotion down into the less-lucrative Regionaliga Nord (III), where they remained for four years. These two relegations, back to back, almost killed St. Pauli.

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

Party atmosphere

With the club almost bankrupt, the supporters began its fund-raising activities. They printed t-shirts with the club’s crest surrounded by the word Retter (rescuer) with well over a 100,000 sold. They also organized a benefit match against perennial German champions, Bayern Munich, and staged fundraising events such as ‘Drink for St Pauli’, with local publicans donating 50 per cent from each beer sold. Their efforts to save the club worked and also furthered strengthened the bond between club and fan. The club could not survive without its special fans.

In 2007, St. Pauli were promoted back to the 2. Bundesliga and in 2010, FC St. Pauli clinched promotion to the 1.Bundesliga, made even sweeter given that 2010 was the club’s centenary. But that also didn’t last too long, and for the 2013–14 season they were again playing back in 2. Bundesliga.

A quandary

One reason for their lack of on field success is that St Pauli sees itself as something more than just a football team. It has certain responsibilities to its fans and to the ethos of the club. Lucrative player contracts and huge corporate revenue streams are frowned upon, with many fans preferring to remain a small club that can be run within their control rather than a large one beholden to forces outside their neighborhood. They are very unusual in that many of their fans didn’t get too irate when they were relegated. For most St. Pauli fans only one thing is important: to remain as true to its progressive principles as possible. St. Pauli is a way of life, and just like in life, you have your ups and downs. Win, lose or draw, there will always be a St Pauli to support.

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

“FCSP Stay Political”

Still though it can be a challenge. This leaves the club with an obvious financial disadvantage. On the one hand staying loyal to your roots and culture while on the other hand be competitive as a professional sports club and trying to hit the heady heights of top class football. It’s a hard balance. Small reforms had to be made, if anything to save the club from going bust again. There are now VIP seats at the stadium, and the club shop sells as much expensive merchandise as any club on match days. But the soul of the club is still intact with some of the alternative fans from the Eighties now running the club and occupying senior positions on the board. The club is in safe hands.

The Millerntor

The home venue of FC St Pauli is the Millerntor- Stadium, in the heart of the St Pauli district. The very old style stadium has a capacity of 29,000 with the club getting higher attendances than most Bundesliga 2 teams. The stands are basic, with a concrete and unaesthetic feel. It gets as real as this, it’s not the Emirates or the new Wembley. Supporters, like in a lot of clubs in Germany, have standing room only areas, beer is allowed onto the terraces, and shouting obscenities at the ref is expected! This is a throwback to the good old days of football: beer (Astra, naturally), football and dodgy haircuts (that would be the punks!).

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

The Millerntor

“Hells Bells” by AC/DC, greets the teams on their arrival onto the pitch and every home goal is celebrated with “Song 2″ by Blur.

After consultation with the fans, it was decided that the club would never sell the naming rights of their stadium. Take note Mike Ashley and his “SportsDirect.com@StJamesPark”.

It’s also important to stress that St. Pauli have more season ticket holders than many Bundesliga teams, proving that fans can be loyal if their wishes are respected, even when the team is not a success on the pitch.

But what about the fans

Visitors to St. Pauli are assured of having a good time, as long as they share the same ethos of the club and its supporters.

Most supporters have a politically left-wing stance and regard themselves as anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-homophobic and anti-sexist, and this has brought them into conflict with neo-Nazis and hooligans at away games, and also the boys in blue on occasion.

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

Dedication

The club has also taken the step to incorporate a set of Fundamental Principles (Leitlinien) to decree how the club is to be run. The Leitlinien not only reflects what happens on the pitch, but also takes into account their social and political responsibility in relation to the district and the people who live there.

The fans have also been active. They organise charity events, protest on local issues, and have also set up the Alerta anti-fascist network, a collection of football supporter groups from all over Europe.

One recent report estimated that the team has roughly 11 million fans throughout Germany and the wider world, making the club one of the most widely recognised Bundesliga sides out there. The club boasts roughly 600 worldwide supporters’ groups’, and that support seems to be growing all the time.

The bars

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

Entrance to the JR

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

Inside the JR

The Jolly Roger, the legendary supporter’s-owned bar near the stadium.  Founded by St. Pauli Fans for St. Pauli Fans. It’s a non-profit enterprise with all monies going into supporters projects. It’s located at Budapester Straße across the road from the Millerntor stadium and a 5 minutes’ walk (or 10 depending on how many Astra’s consumed) from the Reeperbahn.

Not so sure of the opening times, but when I was there there was a little crowd waiting for it to open at 8.00 in the morning. But don’t worry the small shop beside sells the Astra Red Light which was 6.0% vol. for 2 euros (3 Euros in the JR!), and you can easily sit outside on the bench awaiting for it to open.

Really liked the bar, the staff were ultra-friendly, and the bar had a nice chilled out vibe going on. Around match time the bar is the place to be, before and after the game, and at night it can get very crowded.

St. Pauli Eck

Simon-von-Utrechtstr. 87

20359 Hamburg, St.Pauli

A small place, very easy to pass, but when I was there I had a great time, lots of singing, some very generous locals who bought me a few schnapps, and the landlady, who appeared to be a little gruff, but was in fact very cool, and gave me a few old style St Pauli stickers. Friendly and convivial.

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

Outside the Shebeen

Shebeen

Hein-Hoyer-Str. 78

20359 Hamburg, St.Pauli

Another top class bar, really enjoyed my few days of drinking in this establishment. The staff were really chilled, great fun, and always up for a bit of a talk, some even hanging round after their work shift. Plays some good music and the owner is very friendly and chatty. Recommended.

Astra Bier

Fußball-Club St. Pauli, Astra Bier, Reeperbahn, St Pauli, Hamburg, Bundesliga, soccer, football, The Jolly Roger,,

Astra red light (alc 6.0% vol..

Astra Urtyp

http://www.astra-bier.de/de

Brewed by Holsten-Brauerei (Carlsberg)
Style: Pilsener
Hamburg, Germany

Deep in the heartland of Hamburg’s St Pauli district and the Reeperbahn, and not too far from the docks, with a very loyal following, Astra (Bier) is a cult beer brand name that has on offer a series of pale lagers, and is produced by Carlsberg’s German division.

Astra Urtyp with its iconic brand of a red heart and an anchor, and its logo of “With Love brewed in Hamburg, St. Pauli“.

The beer with over a hundred years under its belt, is similar to the football club, also has a long history of strife and struggle. The brewery has seen many take overs, was close to closing on more than one occasion, and was also rescued from going out of business by the City of Hamburg.

But now the beer is back, and with its new logo, and close association with the football team, its achieved cult status amongst the many beer drinkers, of not just Germany, but further afield.

Review: Can of Astra Urtyp Pilsener 4.9% ABV

beer beer beer 006Astra Urtyp is the drink to be seen with on the Reeperbahn, the cult beer brand that is extremely popular around Hamburg. If you visit St. Pauli then you drink Astra. Simples.

Aroma of lovely sweet smelling malts and grains. A beery smell!

On pour a nice clear pale golden colour appears with a decent sized frothy head, looks good. The head and a lot of lacing both stick around, making this to be a fairly good looking beer, a typical Pilsner look.

beer beer beer 012The beer is very smooth, which would be expected if it is to be a football special. This isn’t a craft beer, this is to be drank by the gallon! For that reason the beer tastes smooth and very drinkable, perfect for a session. There is low bitterness and the overall feel to the beer is of a little bit of malt, a little bit of hops with a tinge of acidity. A nice beer, tastes fine, goes down well, and something to enjoy the football with, and that’s all you really want from a session beer.

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