The next 24 hours will see New Year celebrations from everyone in the world, except perhaps the Schumachers.
Therefore – as Hairy Fadjeetas become the fourth team this season to sit on top of the table – it’s time to look back on the last 12 months in the Kenna to recognise the best, worst, biggest, most inappropriate and most mediocre of the world’s leading London pub-based fantasy football competition.
“What a year it’s been,” said the chairman, more focused on visiting the Polish mountain town of Żywiec today.
…but Sporting Lesbian’s domineering league success was not enough to overshadow the previous season’s record set by FC Testiculadew. It was the Pirates’ 7-1 walloping of Just Put Carles in the Canesten Combi Cup final – including hat tricks from Kevin Nolan and Romeleu Lukaku – that was the stand out effort.
Worst performance of the year – the PSV Mornington manager
The opportunity to rectify a dire situation at October’s transfer window was shunned, and the Catalan was out on his ear by Christmas, setting the record for the worst ever start to a campaign and the earliest ever Kenna sacking.
The Wally with the Brolly award for most hapless tournament campaign – Bala Rinas
Despite worrying the top three places this term, success comes rarely to the league treasurer. Never was this is in so much evidence as January when yet another disastrous trophy attempt came to a sorry end. Played four, lost four is the worst Canesten Combi Cup group stage performance ever. And he had Gareth Bale.
Captain Mainwaring leadership award – the Still Don’t Know Yet manager
Many will claim his task of whipping a bunch of misfits into into some sort of shape should sew this one up for the Kenna League chairman. But when questioned in February on his decision not to release absentees Drusille Ngako and Anton Ferndinand ahead of the transfer window, the Still Don’t Know Yet manager came out with this corker: “Do you think Napoleon focused on every individual soldier? No, he was looking at the big picture, and so am I.”
Biggest dilemma ahead of a transfer window award – Juan Mata or Demba Ba?
How the outcast PSV Mornington manager must have wished for this doozy in the recent October window? Back in January his side were flying high, but Demba Ba’s move to London meant he either had to jettison the goal hungry Senagalese or the mercurial Juan Mata. His decision to keep Mata was vindicated when the Spaniard went onto be widely lauded as the player of last season, while Ba lost his way. All three of them must look back fondly from their current slumps.
The Dr Evil award for the Kenna’s biggest nemesis – the Catholic Church
Despite his obvious talents at administrating a group of men whose names should be on some sort of police register, the chairman was cruelly overlooked by the Vatican when the big job came up in February. To add insult to injury the chairman was again thwarted by those fools in Rome in October when the farcical timing of his even more farcical marriage lessons meant the transfer window schedule had to rearranged.
The Kevin Keegan ‘I would LOVE it’ award for coping with April pressure – the Woking manager
Natalie Sawyer, Chobham Common, a socket wrench and a Genesis classic. Cue darkness.
The Jack Wilshere xenophobe award – Mo Farrah’s pirate accent
The Two Chairmen in Trafalgar Square followed by a casino visit at the February window and the nine-hour session in the Pakenham Arms at the end of season awards in May were both eclipsed by August’s marathon event. Eight hours of bidding for players in the upstairs bar The Roebuck, followed by another six surrounded by intrepid young Spanish women on a disco boat moored at Temple Pier, left many managers reeling for several days.
The Operation Yewtree award for best youth set up – the Young Boys manager
NEXT Wednesday marks the eighth full calendar year of the Kenna League.
As Christmas turns from work parties to family meals to the creeping burn of stomach acid, it’s time to look back on the last 12 months in the Kenna – the world’s leading London-pub based fantasy football competition.
It’s also time to reveal the top five most popular posts of 2013 on the Kenna site.
“It’s been a roller coaster year,” cliched the chairman, too full of his future mother-in-law’s cabbage surprise to care any more.
The Woking manager faced serious questions from authorities at the February transfer window, held in the upstairs bar of The Two Chairmen in Trafalgar Square. The league leadership is still adamant that after a trip to the casino following the window, he did not fall asleep on the night bus and wake up miles from Kenna HQ in Enfield.
In August, 23 managers convened for a record-breaking auction event at The Roebuck in Borough that saw a clutch of them hitting Club Duvet way past dawn to found The 7.08 Club.
While February’s transfer window enjoyed record attendance, October’s was a reminder of the disappointing turnouts of the late noughties. Just eight were seated around the table in the upstairs room of The Three Stags in Lambeth, and it led to calls for a managerial cull and unsavoury reprisals.
Soon after the October window closed and the heavy cogs of the Canesten Combi Cup group stage ground into action, early-season pretenders Headless Chickens lost their place at the top of the table to perennial underachiever the Piedmonte manager.
There was still time for two more pub crawls – one at the start of November, and one at the end – before the PSV Mornington manager became the first ever Kenna manager to get the sack by Christmas when the club’s board lost patience with the poorest start to a season ever recorded.
ANDRÉ Villas-Boas is to take up a post in the Kenna League as assistant manager at Rapids de Cullons CF.
The Portuguese, who many were surprised to see sacked by Tottenham last week, was snapped up by Rapids de Cullons primarily to help in their bid for the Canesten Combi Cup, the Kenna’s knockout tournament.
“We’re delighted to get André on board to lend his expertise in pursuit of our first piece of Kenna silverware,” said the Rapids manager at a press conference that appears to have been held on public transport.
Despite leading Porto to Europa League glory and leaving Spurs with a 100 per cent record in that competition this season, Villas-Boas was forced to dismiss concerns he will find it difficult to step up to the additional pressure of the Kenna.
“This is definitely the best Christmas ever,” began the former Tottenham boss, who forfeits a considerable payout from Spurs for accepting a new role so soon.
“Managing dressing room egos and boardroom expectations to date pale into insignificance compared to the Kenna. Standing in a London pub while drinking several pints of premium lager on an empty stomach as you buy players without Brambling yourself is the biggest ask of my life.
“It’s a real badge of honour for foreign managers to adapt to this nuance of British life. On the Continent we always sit down in bars and drink halves of shandy. Very slowly.”
A London nightlife veteran, the Rapids manager was quick to point out that as assistant coach AVB would not making any transfer decisions until the end of a probation period. The Catalan confirmed that for now his new recruit’s brief at the February Kenna transfer window would be restricted to buying the beers, crashing the chairman cigarettes and, when the last orders bell sounds, encouraging managers to move on to the Rapids manager’s boat bar on the River Thames.
The Catalan manager failed to make an impact in his only other season in the Kenna League, finishing mid table at the helm of Atletico Temple, but he did manage to reach the latter stages of the Canesten Combi Cup. The team lie second in group B with two games to go.
The latest Kenna table will be published as soon as the chairman tracks down the chaps from charts and graphs.
PSV MORNINGTON sacked their manager last night, citing poor performances and a lack of commitment as reasons.
A week before Christmas the north London club is pinned to the bottom of the table with the lowest points tally of any team at this stage of the season since the Kenna was founded in 2005.
Question marks hang over the manager’s dedication to PSV Mornington after another dismal display on the weekend. Rather than focus on improving team discipline, he was spotted partying into the early hours at the Dolphin in Hackney.
A club statement issued this morning read: “We could say PSV and the manager reached a mutual agreement and we wish him all the best with his future career, but we’d be lying. He was an absolute disaster.
“Since his appointment three seasons ago he’s never finished higher than 10th in the table, and we should’ve cut him loose in December 2010 when we found the club in exactly the same situation. We wouldn’t wish his services on any club. Or his bar bill.”
The Catalan manager has struggled to make an impact from the campaign’s outset.
He was widely criticised by everyone associated with PSV after the summer auction for buying players well known to injury and indifferent form.
The comical strike partnership of Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres has come to be symbolic of his tenure’s steady demise. Charles N’Zogbia the kiss of death.
Leaving the club car park late last night with a handful of personal effects which only appeared to be a tub of arroz con leche, the manager declined to be interviewed. His relationship with the media broke down in April last year after a bitter war of words with a rival Catalan manager.
The club denied rumours the dismissal paves way for newly-unemployed André Villas-Boas to take the helm.
The outgoing PSV Mornington manager has beaten his own record for the least points scored by the week before Christmas. Only once in history has the last-placed Kenna manager finished outside the relegation zone.
GODALMING became the centre of national scandal in 1726 when a local woman began giving birth to rabbits.
Mary Toft raised herself from obscurity by convincing even King George I’s own surgeon she was capable of delivering a bumper litter of 16 bunnies, as well as bits of other animals.
The deception was uncovered when Toft was found to have inserted woodland creatures inside herself before faking the births.
Fortunately, Vicki the bus spotter was not in such capricious mood 287 autumns later when a party of regular crawlers made the day trip from London Waterloo to sample the pubs in her new Surrey home. A deer was spotted in her garden though.
A couple of Binksy’s extremely fiery Bloody Marys were more than enough to warm their house on a Saturday lunchtime and the group – including the Kenna chairman, Palts the Balt, the Spartak Mogadishu manager and of course the irrepressible Sutcliffe in a shirt of questionable taste – ambled down the hill to sample four of Godalming’s ale houses.
The first town in the world to have a public electricity supply in 1881, it was fitting the day of the pub crawl would also see the people of Godalming throng the streets to see their Christmas lights switched on.
Tipplers were made to shuffle through thoroughfares tightly packed with market stalls, carol singers and wide-eyed locals around the town’s centrepiece – the Pepperpot – as Vicki assured everyone it was ‘never normally this busy. Just old people’.
Having fought through the crowd, crawlers filed into the first pub, which according to the badly-punctuated sign outside has stood on the site since the Eighteenth Century, and has retained much of it’s ‘Olde Worlde’ charm.
Inside the pub was a low-timbered place with one of those frustratingly small bar serving areas which cause a pseudo flash mob in one part of an otherwise quiet snug. Table service must have been the norm when people believed women were capable of siring quadrupeds.
Despite its size, the bar served an interesting array of obscure ciders. Sadly, a roll of the dice produced a vinegary snake eyes. The barman was only too happy to point out better choices afterwards.
Sutcliffe was reasonably impressed with the ale on offer, and his hypersensitive pretentiousness-o-meter, which strobes wildly in all but the most down to earth London pubs, didn’t even register. The pub was solid.
Outside the Rose and Crown looked like a charming old building perched on a hill. Inside it was all refitted wooden floors and Jeff Stelling’s face. The cosy bar area makes it difficult to stand somewhere that isn’t blocking someone’s view of the vidiprinter.
Committed lager drinkers looking for something more than Stella Artois or Kronenbourg would be disappointed here. Committed deviants would not – the barman looked like a 10-year-old boy.
Only because the toilets were located in a separate building out the back, was it discovered the boozer has a charming beer patio and a sizeable covered area to delight any smoker.
Christmas is a difficult time for any pub. Striving to maintain tradition while giving punters the flavour for buying a few more festive rounds leaves publicans with the singular choice of decorations. At the Richmond tinsel is bar sales.
After the pokey interior of the Rose and Crown, the Richmond was a red-carpeted grand hall. The front bar is a very welcoming room with a counter bulging out from the wall opposite the entrance. Again it was a trip to gents that afforded further exploration – a large function room at the rear was the find.
One imagines loyal regulars are this pub’s lifeblood. They most certainly enjoy well-kept beer.
Coming from the warmth and care of the Richmond, the Red Lion is in stark contrast. Sometimes it’s immediately apparent crossing the threshold that no one cares about a pub – not the punters, not the staff, not even its website. It’s just a set of numbers on a balance sheet in a brewery HQ hundreds of miles away. The landlord’s cutting his teeth and building his CV in the hope of moving on to a more illustrious tippler. That’s the Red Lion.
As a result this pub lacks charm, the beer’s dreadful and the only factor keeping it in the game is its size and location in the middle of town. There’s live music performed in the evenings, which appears to help give it all the character of a beer stand at the O2 Dome.
While crawlers made the best of the Red Lion’s inhospitable front bar the Godalming Christmas lights were turned on. Everyone doubled back to Vicki and Binksy’s for chilli and gin.
It was widely accepted the first boozer, The Star Inn, was the best. It did mean the rest of crawl was like a slow puncture of quality – with a small rally at the Richmond – ending in the flat Red Lion experience.
As Kenna pub crawls visit and assess more and more pubs, it’s clear that striking the delicate balance between running a business, keeping an imaginative array of beers and building an assembly of loyal regulars not too cliquey so strangers feel unwelcome is a complicated demand, and one publicans approach with varying degrees of success. A Kenna pub rating system is on the drawing board.
Rooney, who has bagged 81 points for the mid-table outfit, missed key training sessions due to the unscheduled rocket ride but was said to have returned ‘in perfect health’.
It’s rumoured that Rooney and St Reatham were approached by the Persians after their first choice cosmonaut overdosed on bananas. It’s thought he was allowed to take his own life after he embarrassed state officials by sending an unconvincing stand-in to a scheduled photo call with the world’s media.
The St Reatham boss was unavailable for comment this afternoon with the club’s press office informing journalists that ‘he has not fled to Switzerland to avoid difficult questions about an incident on Chobham Common – that’s just speculation’.
England manager Roy Hodgson was also unavailable for comment.
DEEP in the bowls of Kenna HQ lies a vast underground record of all the notable, notorious and mediocre football management achievements in the league.
Chronicled for posterity in those dark annals are such guilded histories as FC Testiculadew’s Kenna in the bag season, the time Fat Ladies ended the most dismal of campaigns more than 200 points adrift and perhaps most importantly of all the 2009/10 Judean Peoples’ Front side becoming the most average team ever to compete in the league.
Whispers in the corridors and smoking areas of Kenna HQ maintain that hidden in these depths, amongst dusty artefacts like the March 2007 third transfer window and the mysterious soundproofed door to which only the chairman has the key, is a list of the highest individual weekly scores written in virgin’s blood on a beermat preserved from the first ever auction.
Statisticians are praying this sacred parchment is found soon, as Luis Suarez is believed to have had the best ever seven days in the Kenna.
The Uruguayan’s manager at This is Sparta…Prague is so delighted with the striker’s five goals and four assists he’s had T-shirts made bearing the slogan ‘He’ll miss the first eight games though’.
The jibe is a reference to a popular remark made by Kenna managers at August’s pre-season auction dismissing the player as a poor investment, and which allowed the Sparta manager to cheerfully pick Luis up for just £0.5m.
Suarez’ exploits now see him overtaking £38m KS West Green striker Sergio Aguero as the top performing player in the league. The Still Don’t Know Yet manager can only rue his decision to make Robin van Persie the most expensive Kenna player ever. The glass Dutchman does not warrant his £46m price tag.
Unfortunately for Sparta, the unprecedented individual display of Suarez was only enough to lift them one place in the relegation zone.
At the business end of the league, two goals from Yaya Toure were not enough to stop Headless Chickens relinquishing their nine-week spell at the top of the table to Piedmonte.
It is the Piedmonte manager’s best league position since he came second in the Kenna eight years ago, and all while the Englishman tours a former penal colony in the southern hemisphere.
Now his players have demanded their manager stays away from the club, claiming they can do a better job without him.
“The way we’re playing, we hope the boss never comes back. It’s no secret that the boss is a bit of a xenophobe, and I think certainly for me and some of the lads in the dressing room have got a renewed focus from not having to sing Jerusalem before games or being forced to drink a popular brand of weak English lager on Friday nights,” said Nasri, who’s enjoying his best run of form since joining the Kenna in 2008.
It’s not the first time the Piedmonte manager’s British bulldog mentality has been called into question. Overseeing years of steady decline at former club Thieving Magpies, his decision to pick English-only players was thought to have been vindicated just over a year ago. Lasting legacy was short-lived.
If the Piedmonte manager can tear himself away from hostilities in Adelaide for a few moments this weekend, he’ll be hoping his side can get something out of their Canesten Combi Cup group stage match with Hairy Fadjeetas.
Despite goals from Aaron Ramsey and Yoan Gouffran on the weekend, the Fadges slipped to third in the table.
Both managers are yet to win any Kenna league or cup silverware.
IT HAS never been remarked upon that any team won a top-level football league because they ‘transfer windowed well’.
In the brief hiatus between the end of the season in May and the start of the World Cup in June, whoever the winners are will be noted for their long-term strategy, the conviction instilled into the team by the manager and most of all their luck.
They may have signed a useful player in January who immediately gels with his teammates, but that will only be a footnote in the side’s chronicle of success.
The Kenna League takes pride in reflecting this particular nuance of modern football. In every Kenna season to date, the winning manager’s preparations in the summer, his approach to the auction, the core of team purchased therein and good fortune, has decided the campaign.
That’s not to say that transfer windows are obsolete, despite the Pikey Scum manager’s claim today that his Senderos/Jenkinson swap in the last window was like ‘rearranging the deckchairs the Titanic’. To remain competitive Kenna managers must ensure their peripheral players are making appearances – it’s little surprise that three of the bottom four managers didn’t attend the October window.
Transfer windows are as integral to the Kenna League manager as they are to the Premier League manager, but for the most part of the season they must both rely on the finite resources at their disposal.
Which is why other, much less exclusive fantasy football competitions have got it wrong.
If any manager wants to remind himself of the superiority of the Kenna all he needs to do is enter the ‘official’ Fantasy Premier League.
At this point it would easy to list the many faults of this contest, that everyone ends up with pretty much the same players in their team, the ridiculousness of picking a captain and vice captain each week, the folly and oversight of not giving prominence to manager darts entrance music, but the argument will be kept to one strain – transfers.
The season is one long transfer window. The manager is essentially picking his team from one squad of every player in the Premier League. No player is off limits. How does that mirror the game?
Of course, the banner advertising on each page hints at why the FPL wants ‘managers’ to keeping checking back on their selections for the upcoming week. The Kenna suffers from no such obstacle to improving manager experience, as the trifling amount of visits to these pages testify.
But satisfying sponsors at the expense of sophistication is nothing compared to FPL’s single biggest foible.
The crucial period of the FPL manager’s week is time between Friday morning and Saturday lunchtime, between squads being announced for the weekend’s fixtures and the cut off point for making changes to your team.
So why does the chairman kick himself every week five minutes into the Saturday early game on the Kenna HQ kitchen radio? Because for any self-respecting Kenna manager this 36-hour ‘transfer window’ is dedicated to planning, executing and recovering from a Friday evening’s entertainment after the working week.
Almost exactly a third of the way through the season it’s a welcome reminder of why the Kenna was founded, and why the preferred time for the next Kenna transfer window is a Friday night.
It’s also the best way to explain why the chairman is bottom of every FPL league he’s entered.
Canesten Combi Cup – group stage standings after two match weeks
Taking on the whole network during licensed hours would be optimistic and unnecessary, so on Saturday 2 November 2013 just after 1pm tipplers gathered at Kennington underground station to visit a pub for each stop of the Charing Cross branch.
The route offers excellent highlights of London’s famous landmarks and includes a river crossing. As always, this review is provided to advise and entertain the prospective pub crawler, walker or tourist. Here’s the itinerary:
Kennington – The Prince of Wales
Waterloo – The Kings Arms
Embankment – The Princess of Wales
Charing Cross – The Harp
Leicester Square – The Porcupine
Tottenham Court Road – Bradleys Spanish Bar
Goodge Street – The Rising Sun
Warren Street – The Prince of Wales Feathers
Euston – The Crown and Anchor
Mornington Crescent – The Lyttleton Arms
Camden Town – The Worlds End
Each heading below links through to the pub profile page on the excellent Beerintheevening.com.
A gem anyone would be happy to call their local. The Prince of Wales is set in the corner of a quiet square with a couple of tables and chairs outside, and a cosy snug.
Sutcliffe, Binksy and the Kenna League chairman became the only three crawlers to continue their unblemished attendance record. They were joined by the Young Boys of Vauxhall manager, the Still Don’t Know Yet manager, Lady Norman and sundry others.
One pint down, the short walk to Kennington station was taken for the route’s only tube journey. Unlike the two previous crawls, the sun was out.
Sutcliffe: What can I say? Nice choice of carpet (matched my shirt). Quiet backstreet boozer. I think we shocked the locals.
Dazza: Nice area. Standard pub. Impressive carpet design like Sutcliffe’s shirt, although I think the shirt had more stains. People outside seemed confused why we were taking a photo.
There are many other pubs closer to Waterloo station but they cannot compete with this firm favourite, let down only by the lack of apostrophe in the signage.
The public bar and saloon bar are served by a central counter with a singular recruitment policy. The curious conservatory area out the back was closed and pieces of a fireplace blocked a door onto the Victorian splendour of Roupell Street.
An open fire roared in the public bar where Rounders and Simon were found Kenting it up. The former Wandsworth Window Lickers manager arrived and within minutes was telling his Nurburgring story to the first person who listened.
Drinks finished, the crowd walked back past Waterloo station, alongside the Royal Festival Hall and over the River Thames, where Simon’s story of investigating Kent dogging spots as a local reporter prompted Binksy to enlighten everyone with the phrase ‘seagulling‘. Car windscreens will never look the same again.
Sutcliffe: The ‘back’ was closed due to building work which meant we had to squeeze into the tiny public bar. Nice place with staff who are very understanding when you’re drunk (from experience). Unfortunately it’s usually full of rich local bankers and lawyers who wish they were working class (a la Jamie Oliver) complete with plummy mockney accents and flat caps from Harrods. Some of the team fitted right in here.
Dazza: Small and pokey. Quite dark and bloody hot in there.
The Wandsworth Window Lickers manager: A lovely pub, as always serving up some delicious beer. Shame about having a chimney by the front door.
Sutcliffe: I don’t really remember much about this one which is probably as good a description as it needs.
Dazza: Bit more trendy, very sporty. Expensive drinks. Steep stairway to the toilets, or maybe I was starting to feel drunk at that point, not sure. Michael Buble (not in person I hasten to add, that would be awesome) playing in the toilets which was nice to whistle to while taking a piss.
The Wandsworth manager: I believe that this was the introduction of the first 50p. Well done the chairman for seeing it off. Average pub, nothing to report.
Crossing the Strand, crawlers were treated to one of the West End’s more compelling pubs.
The Harp has a great range of beers, although patrons are made to enjoy them in a narrow, crowded atmosphere. Unusually for an Irish pub, singing is not allowed. The sour member of staff who ordered crawlers to stop made one wonder if, for a place named after a stringed musical instrument, the barmaids should not appear more regularly plucked.
Having claimed the chairman in the Princess, the 50p game struck the Still Don’t Know Yet manager, who was still complaining of a night shift and three hours’ sleep.
Sutcliffe: Cosy, little place (small and over-crowded) with an impressive collection of beer pump clips.
Dazza: Impressive collection of beer mats. Narrow pub with beer-goggle looking staff behind the bar. Lots of portraits on the wall, can’t remember who they were of though.
The Wandsworth manager: Interesting boozer with a seven per cent beer called Black Jesus, not for the faint-hearted, no-one manned up. I was given serious grief for drinking from a bottle. In hindsight I wish I had stuck to these.
The Porcupine sits halfway up Charing Cross Road in a swirl of tourism. Refraining from any jokes about the place being a bit pokey or full of pricks, more crawlers found themselves necking pints of ice cold, gassy lager because of the 50p coin dropped into the bottom.
Being part of the Nicholson’s chain, the décor goes for the ‘Olde London like Jack the Ripper used to take a drink there guv’nor’ that few of that pub franchise manage to pull off. The Porcupine is no exception.
Sutcliffe: Dull, touristy, but a reliable watering hole
Dazza: I think the Still Don’t Know Yet manager 50p’d me in there. I managed to pass it on to Martin’s mate. Sutcliffe has a photo of him holding the 50p. Sutcliffe got rather excited as it was really in focus!
The Wandsworth manager: Another 50p in play, goosed! Here starts the slippery slope, besides that not a bad boozer.
This bar’s website has a whole section dedicated to their ‘pride and joy and centrepiece’ – a jukebox that plays vinyl. As they crammed into the tiny bar area of Bradleys five pints down, many crawlers were rebuked by staff for knocking into the music box and causing it to skip.
Retreating outside to the quiet street just behind Tottenham Court Road station, a pint of Cruzcampo became the first casualty of the day when it smashed into the pavement.
This is a great bar, if you’re one of the five people in it.
Sutcliffe: Nice Spanish back street bar. I imagine it has character but I was getting too pissed to remember at this stage. I remember Dazza getting shouted at for repeatedly bumping into the vinyl jukebox. Someone dropped their pint. I think we disgraced ourselves.
Dazza: Wasn’t this one the Spanish bar? Really small. I fell against the jukebox and skipped the track which the locals didn’t like. Someone dropped a glass outside so I’m sure the regulars loved us frequenting their dark pit of a bar.
The Wandsworth manager: Classic “don’t touch the f*cking jukbox” I believe was heard as someone again made the record jump. First breakage of the night and 50ps flying round all over the place.
Calls throughout the day to watch the football were briefly met when crawlers filed into a packed Rising Sun. Several large screens high up on the walls of this airy pub transmitted events from Ashburton Grove to a sea of upturned faces.
Sutcliffe: Don’t remember this one. I think Dazza didn’t come in due to mounting drunkeness.
Dazza: Really crowded. Much bigger bar. Lots of sport on TV. Took me ages to find the toilets (which were right by the front door). Getting seriously pissed. Eyesight starting to blur.
The Wandsworth manager: Aresnal were on, the beer was a flowing and it was starting to get a little bit messy. Very windy outside.
The third and final pub of the day named after Welsh royalty, the Prince of Wales Feathers is an expansive place. It was still early in the evening and the party largely had the floor to themselves. Finding themselves ahead of schedule, everyone had a second drink.
It was there that the Young Boys manager paid for an ill-advised wager on Australia to beat England at rugby that afternoon. As an Englishman, there are few better sights than a Welshman having to down a glass of pink gin because your country won a match they shouldn’t have due to a controversial refereeing decision that infuriates Australians.
Sutcliffe: Posh and polished but I don’t remember any character. I do remember Dazza having to sit this one out and walk up and down the street outside to try and avoid throwing up. I was talking to him with the aid of a doorway’s support when I was subtly informed by the owner of the flat above to stop ringing his doorbell with my shoulder. Someone wussed out (Martin?) and bought themselves a cup of tea instead of beer. £3.75 for a cup of tea, £4 for a pint of Peroni.
Dazza: Can’t remember much about this one. Really drunk. Had to take a breather outside.
The Wandsworth manager: My usual piss stop on the way home, so good to have a pint in it for a change (the pub not the…). I believe that Barry White made an appearance here. It would have been a good idea to get some food in at this point.
On the other side of Euston Road, the Crown and Anchor offers a pleasant bar area. Apparently the place does good food, but if in Drummond Street it’s better to try one of its amazing traditional Indian restaurants.
A key lesson learned from the number 38 bus route pub crawl was that minimal time between pubs leads to shaky decision making later in the evening. By walking between each boozer, crawlers are given adequate opportunity to take some air and regulate their intake. The tactic was paying dividends at this point in the night. Except that no one remembers what happened in the Lyttelton.
Dazza: Sobered up a bit here. Didn’t take much notice of the pub. Crap report. Hit the lemonades!
The Wandsworth manager: Erm…not sure if I made this one, no memories….hhmmmmm.
The crawl had finished way ahead of schedule and presented the central committee with dilemma. Follow the Edgware line to the superb Enterprise in Chalk Farm or the High Barnet line to The Abbey in Kentish Town where Sutcliffe’s mates were having a party? The bearded wonder successfully pushed for the latter and the crowd traipsed up Kentish Town Road for shooters and dancing.
Sutcliffe: Bonus extra pub to join my friend’s birthday party. After the initial setback of Lady Norman farting (which cleared the room) and then blaming it on me, I warmed to this place. I vaguely remember someone losing a jacket and some very over the top Halloween costumes but I was quite far gone now. The chicken kebab in New Cross Gate made the long slog home worth it.
Dazza: Was this the bonus pub? Lady Norman lost her coat and Tim farted, which caused the back room to clear and many disgruntled people.
The Wandsworth manager: Vague recollections of dancing with the Pirate and attempting to chat to anything with boobs, skirt and a pulse.
Having organised three London transport-themed pub crawls in 12 months, the central committee patted themselves on the back at how simple and entertaining the Charing Cross branch event had been. Everyone was in good spirits, the crawl had finished way head of time and even the weather held out.
But there was something missing, and it wasn’t until the hangover had finally subsided a couple of days later that it became apparent. Blunder, or the lack of it, hadn’t visited itself on anyone. Nothing went wrong. No one truly disgraced themselves. No peculiar locals sharpened their pitchforks. The whole crawl was as functional and unobtrusive as most of the taverns visited. Even Sutcliffe lost interest in taking photos by the end.
Plans are afoot for a crawl of the Croydon tramlink in spring. The central committee can only hope the locale throws a few curved balls. Perhaps dropping into the New Addington pub where an infamous regular once turned up with a machete would be a start.