Kerry Vs. Cork at The Sportsman

Day 8 cntd (13th June 2009)

The Sportsman (Willesden Junction) 2 x ½ Strongbow £3.00

Extreme Amateur Photography at The Sportsman

Extreme Amateur Photography at The Sportsman

Now this one was really unexpected.  We thought we were headed for The Willesden Junction Hotel, but alas this has now been turned into The Amber Grill, which certainly smelled good, but just doesn’t seem to sit right in its big old pub building. We checked it out anyway, and were told by the chap inside that we were free to order some “beautiful fresh juices”, but if we wanted any alcohol we would have to sit down and eat. Surely that’s booze-ist?

Anyway this wasn’t the unexpected bit. About fifty yards further on we found a doorway into The Sportsman, which was a small Irish Bar (let’s face it this bit wasn’t unexpected either). We fought our way through to the bar (it was absolutely heaving), and were just about to order our drinks, when the whole place went deathly silent. That was unexpected.

We looked around in bewilderment, and suddenly realised that every single person in the pub had shut up, risen to their feet as one and listened proudly to the anthems for the Kerry vs. Cork All Ireland Final of Gaelic Football that was being shown on the big screen in the corner. Timing is everything I guess, and we’d timed it perfectly! We had no idea which side the gang in this pub were supporting, but they were serious about it either way. Following a huge round of applause at the end the landlady came straight over and served us with a big smile and a “thank you for waiting, boys.”

It was an extraordinary place. It looked like virtually any other Irish bar we had been in, but it was clearly a proper community local – everybody seemed to know everyone else in there (and there were a lot of people), and all were hugely enthused about the match. We took our ciders and respectfully stood towards the back of the bar as all hell broke loose on the screen in front of us. What a game! We had no idea what was going on, but it made FA style football look embarrassingly soft.  So intense was the game we felt like we had to virtually crawl out of the pub so that no one would shout at us for leaving only fifteen minutes in. Fantastic stuff.


Mason’s Arms (Kensal Green) 2 x ½ Old Hooky £3.00

The New Front Row for The Masons Arms Rugby XV

The New Front Row for The Masons Arms Rugby XV

Eventually, we made it to Kensal Green and were reunited with our Bakerloo Line entourage in the lovely, sunny garden of The Mason’s Arms.  Liz and Rhino were just finishing up their lunch which they had wolfed down fresh from the Barbeque that they run outside all summer (“Excellent burgers”, said Liz).  Very cool pub this, usually with an excellent beer range, although on this day they only had London Pride or Old Hooky on. What there was tasted pretty good though. The Mason’s is all dark paint on the outside, and all wood panelling and furniture on the inside, but wears it all very well. It’s actually owned by the same people who have The North London Tavern in Kilburn that we visited in January, and it had the same friendly, chilled out vibe.

We sat down and sipped our brews as Rhino polished off what looked like an entire cheesecake, and we all tried to ignore the lady at the table next to us, who had a voice like fingernails on a blackboard, and a volume control that was permanently set on eleven.  Of course there was no way we were going to be able to sit in close proximity to her and expect to escape unscathed.

“You alright, you lot? Do ya think I’m too loud?”

“Er, alright thanks. Er, no, you aren’t too loud…”

“Really? My friends think I’m well loud!”

“Oh, really?”

“They all say I’m just like Charlie from Big Bruvva! Only Louder!”

“Er, I suppose you are a bit loud…”

“What’s your name then?”

“Er, Rhino”

“Rhino? Ohmygod! Is that cos you is hung like one?”

That’s the way it happened.  I don’t think Rhino answered her either, he just smiled enigmatically….

Still all good things must come to an end, and after minesweeping all the leftover hummous and pitta bread from the table, we decided we should get moving, and bid a fond farewell to The Mason’s Arms and our new, noisy friend.


The Falcon (Queen’s Park) 2 x ½ Strongbow, 1 x bt Corona, 1 x Lime and Soda £6.50

Cheap Catalogue Models in Training at The Falcon

Cheap Catalogue Models in Training at The Falcon

On to another station where there were two possible pubs we could visit, both in opposite directions.  So we did the only thing we could in these tricky situations and paced it out – finding that one possibility, The Salisbury, was 180 paces away from the station entrance, but the Falcon was a clear winner being only 155 away.  We could see the look of awe on our guests’ faces as they regarded our dedication and professionalism.

And what a marvellous place the Falcon was too. Well entertaining, anyway, as some local lunatic came in and had an argument with the barmaid, who was doing her very best to explain that she was barred.  It just seemed to be the day for loud, eccentric women:

“You sayin’ my money’s no good here?”

“No, I’m saying you’re no good here. You’re barred you see?”

“You sayin’ my money’s no good here?”

“I’m asking you nicely to leave because you are barred.”

“You sayin’ my money’s no good here?”

“Oh God, please leave.”

“You gonna lay your hands on me?”

“No, I’m just asking you to leave”

“I don’t let nobody lay their hands on me. Not even my man!”

This went on and on for the best part of ten minutes before the mad person left.  The pub itself was a sort of wedge shape in the main bar with another smaller bar out the back/to one side, which made Liz happy because it had a wall covered with random clocks (she is something of a clock collector).  The overall look was slightly shabby but not entirely unpleasant, and there were low sofas spread around the bar and a pool table towards the front. The two blokes playing pool were clearly struggling to finish their game since they were giggling so much at the nutter at the bar. Just don’t lay your hands on her ok?


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