The pre-match photos
Walton Casuals 1-0 Walton and Hersham (13:04:09)
- click on photos to enlarge -
Next up was The Wellington in the High Street. A pricey Sports Bar with a Harlequins Rugby flag pinned up behind the bar. A bit like a reverse tardis, large on the outside but not all that big once inside.
It's not often a pre-match session gets it's own feature on European Football Weekends but with this being a local derby, we'd thought do something a bit special. Here are the photographs from our cunning plan to start the day at Walton and Hersham's ground and visit every pub between there and Walton Casuals abode. Beer + football + local derby = a winning combination last time I checked.
So as per advertised we kicked off at Stomford Lane, home to Walton and Hersham FC. The ground is located in an area swamped with luxury houses which probably cost an arm and two or three legs. The pitch is surrounded by an athletics track (boooooo!) but the main stand has a bit of character and looks about a thousand years old.
In true EFW tradition we made our way onto the pitch. Here's a snap of me in front of the main stand....
.....and no 'break in' to a ground is complete without the mandatory shot of a couple of lads pretending to be managers on the team bench. Big Deaks (left) and Cynical Dave (right) duly obliged.
So after a successful start at Walton and Hersham's ground it was time to say hello to Mr Beer. We were the first ones through the door at The Plough, 0.2 seconds after opening time. The pub is the nearest - to our knowledge - to the W&HFC. It appeared to us to be a classic old pub that had been refurbished to suit a more high-falutin' crowd. I reckon that they've gone for a change of clientele, preferring punters to spend a few bob on food rather than drink too much and start a fight. Just a hunch mind you. It begs the question; where do old Bob and Ted go for their ale now!?
Just over the road from the Wellington was The Noble Vine where we sunk our third beer of the morning. It's a Slug and Lettuce type pub with the emphasis on food and wine. Complete with fake fire place we figured that all of the interior of this place had been snapped up at the local Wickes.
Purely for the purposes of research, a fourth beer was called for. So down to Bridge Street we jolly well went and into The George Inn in for a swifty. This compact and cosy local served up beer so cheap that even Cynical Dave - who is Scottish I might add - donated a few bob to the local (Princess Alice) hospital that they were collecting for inside.
Don't wake The Bear! I wish we hadn't. This converted hotel had a working mans club feel to it on the inside. It's overly child friendly and a haven for single Mums. Fruit shots sold behind the bar = hyperactive kids. Avoid.
It was high time we had another beer. The Old Manor Inn in Manor Road fitted the bill nicely. A Ye Olde Worldy type boozer with a country feel to it. It oozed the charm of yesteryear and we thought it might be the kind of place that you'd expect to see Will Carling supping a pint of Old Thumper.
We'd made it to the river. Well very nearly, the pub by the river anyway. The Swan is an enormous pub on the banks of the River Thames. If actual Will Carling hasn't pitched up in here before now, I'll eat my sombrero. It's Pimms o'clock in here with sizzling prawn crisps for sale. Imperial Leather (!) soap on offer in the toilets and £2 added to each food order for the location. We had a private bet to see how long it would take for a chap to turn up wearing a jumper over his shoulders....
.....less than 60 seconds as it happened. Sorry old chap!
With the Anglers pub boycotted for fear of bumping into Hugh Grant we headed down the Thames Path.....
.....eased our way past Walton Rowing Club....
....and arrived at our final destination: The Franklyn Road Sports Ground home to Walton Casuals. We'd sunk a beer in pretty much every pub between Walton and Hersham and Walton Casuals. Job done and enormous fun to boot. What next!? Oh yes the match - not before we'd sunk a couple of beers in the Walton Casuals clubhouse though. Cheers!