England Fans to go tee-total in the Summer


While Roy Hodgson recently announced the 23-man squad that will be on the plane to Brazil for this summer’s World Cup hoping to upset the World Cup odds, a large number of England fans will have been planning their trip to South America for the upcoming tournament for months. With the England squad preparing to set off for their luxury base in Rio de Janeiro, the majority of travelling supporters will be lucky to find a spare hammock in a 20-man dormitory for around the same price as a nice weekend in Paris.

In the run-up to this summer’s tournament, much has been made about the costs of accommodation throughout Brazil, in particular hotels in the major cities – especially in Sao Paulo and Rio, where accommodation prices have seen a dramatic increase ahead of this summer. Brazilian cities were already pricey places to visit on holiday – with Sao Paulo ranked the 19th most expensive city in the world.

Perhaps more worrying for England fans than the accommodation prices will be the cost of having a beer. England fans have learned over the years that watching their team is significantly helped by having a beer or two but that might change when they see the prices.

4716279599_e60c9e30d2_bOne survey suggested a pint of beer could cost as much as £21 in some parts of the country during the tournament. Even those looking to save some money by enjoying a Caipirinha – Brazil’s national cocktail – have been warned they could be forced to shell out around £10 in some bars.

As with every country, however, travelling fans will be able to find bars where prices are more agreeable if they aren’t afraid to head off the beaten track. Tourists won’t need to wander into some of Brazil’s rougher areas to find a place where they can have a cheap drink, with some local bars charging as little as £1 for a beer and £1.50 for a Caipirinha.

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Team work makes the dream work


Lewes v Dulwich MaidstoneRemember my article from Tuesday night about The Nowhere Men and the dark secret world of the football scouts?  Well, here comes the litmus test.  Just how good was my intel when it mattered when Dulwich Hamlet arrived at the Pan for today’s game. Firstly we should all raise our glasses to the immense work carried out by the Pitch Team (groundsmen sounds so web 2.0) who once again performed miracles in getting the game on.  In fact, on Thursday it was almost as good as a goner, but then they found a machine in a locked cupboard at the ground which was basically a big sponge on wheels and used that to mop up the water.

We needed to get today’s game on.  Not only would the Dulwich fans be travelling in big numbers to see their table-topping side, but with only one game having been played at The Pan since Christmas, we could have really done with some gate receipts.  Some Premier League fans may not realise that it’s not all Official Partnerships with fizzy drinks companies, or selling media rights to Uzbekistan in the Non-Leagues.  We actually need paying fans through the gate on a regular basis so that we can do little things like pay players, utilities and maintain the ground.  With no chance of any help from our dear leaders at the league, Lewes, like virtually every other club at our level (and below) have had to pray daily for an end to the rain.

Beer-Festival-poster-e1391783221190There was also the small matter of the leftovers from the Lewes Beer Festival that needed finishing off.  Not that football fans need an excuse to have a beer, especially as at The Dripping Pan you can have said beer whilst watching the game.  Twenty guest ales, some of course exclusively provided by club sponsor and world-famous brewery, Harveys had been lined up for Friday night, and whilst the locals did serious damage to the volumes of beer, there would be some left over for today.  Left over beer?  No such thing.  Just beer that hasn’t yet been enjoyed.

So a perfect combination of football and beer was on the cards.  And to celebrate the sun even decided to make an appearance.  Terry had kindly pulled my lucky number out of the monthly Panning For Gold draw so I arrived at the ground £60 better off.  Could the day get any better?  Well if the Lewes side that traveled to Cray last Sunday made an appearance rather than the one that took the field at Grays on Thursday then this could be the best day ever. Continue reading

In praise of Nena and her big balloons


“Ninety nine decisions treat, Ninety nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry, Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we’ve been waiting for…This is it boys, this is war….”

If there has ever been a finer verse of German music written then I’m a Dutchman. Nena’s seminal 99 Red Balloons was a lesson in life, love, war and peace. When you’re 14 any older woman wearing a short leather dress, knee-high boots and fishnet tights on Top of the Pops looks good, even is she is singing a load of tosh and sounds like a strangled cat. Even my Dad remarked upon it back in the summer of 1984. “Remarkable set of lungs on her, young Stuart”…”She’s German, Dad”….”Really? I met a German Girl once. I was in Düsseldorf back in 1952. Hair everywhere. Piece of advice for you son. When you start courting, make sure the girl knows how to use a razor. And with that my Dad sent me out into the big bad world.

Fast forward near thirty years and I was back in Dussers, and Mr Last is fond of calling it. This is fast turning into our new European HQ for Continental operations. From here German footballing missions can be marshalled, with the borders of Holland and Belgium within striking distance if we ever get bored with German football (i.e never). We also had (mid)Field Commander Legg on patrols in the area at the behest of her Majesty (not in a bad way I should add just in case Mrs Legg is reading) and it was at his request that we dropped tools and headed to the land of Beat Uhre and leather trousers.  After August’s visit (see here, here and here), poor Kenny had run out of PG Tips, Marmite and Immac (obviously his Dad gave him similar advice to mine about German girls) so he sent out a distress call.

“Chaps…low on essentials. Please arrange air drop. P.S got tickets for Fortuna Düsseldorf v Bayern München and Paderborn v St Pauli if you fancy hanging around for a day or two.”

How could we resist?

Gatwick may have gone through a multi-million face lift but at 5am it is a soulless depressing place. The thought of people queueing to get a beer at Weatherspoons so early in the morning turns my stomach. But we were on holiday, albeit for 72 hours and so make mine a pint of JW Lees Chocoholic please. Big Deaksy (He’d been able to keep his “Big” title for this trip as even bigger Stephen Deacon wasn’t present) had joined Danny and I for the very short hop over the Channel, down the A1 and then throwing a right over Strasbourg to land at the heart of NordRhein Westfalen before most people back in Blighty had turned off their alarm clock.

It would be tempting to have simply parked our bums in the nearest Brauhaus, sinking litres of Alt beer whilst waiting for Kenny to finish work. Unfortunately, the work of the British Government isn’t a 9 to 5pm role here in Germany. Oh, no on a Friday they finish at 4pm. So we didn’t want to be gibbering wrecks by the time he changed out of his Derndl (well, no more than normal). Therefore a plan emerged thanks to the combined brains of Fuller and Last.

“What about a tour around Borussia Dortmund’s ground? Biggest stand in Europe, most passionate fans, best football tack in Europe?” Said Danny.

“What about a tour around the DAB brewery? 30 minutes of chat followed by two free litres of Dortmund’s Awesome Beer?” I retorted.

“Can we do both?” Of course we could. Add in an evening visit to Bochum versus Hertha Berlin and you have one of the best days ever – well since as a 15-year-old I found a copy of Mayfair featuring Grange Hill’s Claire Scott in the buff on a bus home from Gravesend (the magazine was on the bus, not Paula Ann Bland unfortunately).  God knows what StuPot must have felt when he saw a copy back in the day! Continue reading

Forsake all Alcohol


A couple of weeks ago Lewes played Salisbury City the FA Carlsberg Trophy at the wonderful Dripping Pan.  I am not shy to say there are few places better to watch a game of football than the Pan, with the South Downs shining brightly in the distance, like a new set of teeth just polished by a Polish dentist.

Best enjoyed with Harveys Ale

One of the joys of watching football here is to grab a pint of the local Harveys beer and stand on the terrace and watch the game unfold in front of you.  The match may sometimes not be the best in the world, but the top beer helps ease the pain as does the sparkling company.  But for the game on  Saturday this avenue of pleasure was closed.  The reason?  Well the fun police at the Football Association invoked rule xiv) in the FA Trophy Rules and Regulations 2010/11 which state:- Continue reading

Just your everyday Sunday – 32 beers


What will you be doing Sunday?  Washing the car?  Mowing the lawn?  Dare I say going to Church?

Well that is what we normally do at TBIR Towers, but this Sunday we thought we would do something different.  Well, its the World Cup and all that so we will be drinking 32 (currently 31) beers from the 32 nations playing in the World Cup.  Why? I hear you ask (as well as can I come too) – because we are judging in the Cup of Good Hop.

Devised by Peter Styles, this afternoon long marathon with see TBIR and Danny Last from European Football Weekends (officially now Twinned with TBIR) as well as Peter and James putting on our tasting coats and scribbling notes on our clipboards…..probably.  I could explain what it is all about but I will let Peter have the honours. Continue reading