Brentford Wembley Pub Challenge - A Personal Account
Nick and Rachel Bruzon's Tale
Usually Saturday afternoon sees me watching Brentford football team. However, with the Bees due to play at Wembley on Sunday April 3rd, the day before found Mrs B and myself at a loose end. What better way to warm up for the big match than take part in the TW8 pub crawl, around as many of the area’s pubs as we could be photographed at.
11am – doors open. We’re off and straight to ‘The Griffin’. Cheating, perhaps, as it’s our local but a nice way to ease into the day with a touch of familiarity. For those that haven’t been in there before, you may recognise it from the Elijah Wood film, Green Street, as several scenes were shot in the pub and the surrounding streets. The movie itself is rotten – a Hollywood style take on football violence with accents honed at the Dick Van Dyke school of East End English. However, landlord Ralph (the world’s greatest lover, according to the poster on the wall) and the team were as friendly as ever, So, leaving this safe haven behind, it was off to see what the rest of TW8 had to offer.
First up, the four corners of Griffin Park – a matchday tour in its own right. The Royal Oak put us behind schedule as a game of pool and a chat with the locals made leaving somewhat tricky. A flying visit to the Princess Royal was followed by a chance to put our feet up in the New Inn beer garden. With the lunchtime football game on the TV in the garden (what a great innovation that is) and Brian, who used to run O’Riordans now in charge here, we got pretty comfortable pretty quickly. So much so that the route got redrawn with, sadly, both The Globe and The Nelson being put on the back burner before (shamefully) missing out. Having been to both on several previous occasions, I can wholeheartedly recommend the live music in the former and the Sunday lunch in the later.
With the lap of Griffin Park completed, it was back down Ealing Road to The Royal Horseguardsman, recently reopened. What a welcome surprise! With its frosted glass and front door style front door, it was tough to tell if it was even open. However, it was and the locals were a really nice bunch. The pub is small but cosy, with football on the TV and what is shaping up to be a fabulous beer garden being built out the back. This will be one good spot in the summer. A quick trip towards Kew Bridge took in O’Riordans (strangely quiet, by its normal standards) and The Express Tavern (so quiet it only opens at 6.30pm on a Saturday) before getting to the heart of town and another reopened pub, The Albany Arms, for a quick Becks and a game of darts. Warning: Pub-crawls and treble-twenties seem to be mutually exclusive.
Next up, The Watermans Arms. Another cosy pub and one for the rugby lovers. I have a soft spot for this place, as it’s the first pub in Brentford I took my wife to. We then wobbled down to The Brewery Tap, Brentford’s best ‘secret’ pub, for more bad pool and great single malt. A short stint in The Beehive followed before bumping into Sven and Bjorn, the ex-Sweebees, at The Weir. This pub’s proximity to Brentford Lock means it is probably the only one in the area with a lifejacket in the beer garden. Cracking Belgian beers followed at the Magpie and Crown (along with oldschool teletext Page 303 – who needs Sky sports?) and then an impressive dinner at The Six Bells. I loved this place before the revamp – sticky floors, veteran barmaids and house band, Cry Wolf – but their new look proves that change can work. The menu is great, the décor classy whilst posters reminded us that, although seemingly at odds with the pub’s new style, Cry Wolf still play there. Temporarily bypassing O’Briens until after our next establishment, we hit The George and Dragon. Maybe it was the beer talking but the staff seemed the friendliest of those we had encountered so far, with yours truly ending up behind the bar for the ‘proof of visit’ photo demanded by the crawl’s organisers. Bypassing O’Briens again, largely due to Rachel’s frequent visits there to sing (whilst drunk), a quick in and out at ‘Sessions Bar” (Holiday Inn) meant only one place remained – Stripes Bar at Brentford FC. Not usually open outside of matchday, there was a special charity event taking place that evening on behalf of The Marchant Family Trust (please do check out their website - www.marchantfamilytrust.org.uk). Frankly, after an afternoon of slow, steady, drinking I should have listened to my wife’s advice and NOT taken part in their auction. At least, with such enthusiasm. Whilst it was for a great cause, we are now the proud owners of a signed, and framed, photograph of TV’s Rowan Atkinson.
There was only one way to top this - a nightcap at The Griffin – before rolling back home where, and I blame the beer, I failed to live up to Ralph’s standards.
April 27, 2011