There are so many great drinking venues around our land that it is hard to choose the best but here are some of my favourites including some real hidden gems.
COOPERS TAVERN Burton-on-Trent
The beer capital of England has this wonderful real ale pub near to the station with Marstons and Bass memorabilia everywhere. There was a beer festival on when we visited, dozens of beers straight from the barrel.This has to be the best pub we've visited for proper beer drinkers. You even sit in barrels to drink your ale
THE HEAD OF STEAM Huddersfield
Huddersfield Station has been described as "A Stately Home with trains in ", and includes this dream pub for train enthusiasts. Accessible from the platform it has railway memoribilia and a range of real ales. It's well worth diverting through Huddersfield for Yorkshire trips.
BURNLEY MINERS CLUB Burnley
It must be 35 years since any coal was dug in Burnley but the miners still have a club, not far from the ground. It celebrates the story of how the East Lancs Pals regiments in WW1 were stationed near where Benedictine was made. They brought it back and it's been popular in the pubs ever since.
We went in The Benedictine Bar, and ordered 2 pints of Websters Pale Ale (not seen that for a while), and 2 Benedictine - £ 6.10 !
A claim to fame of the club, is that there is more Benedictine drunk here than anywhere else in the world. Schofield's impartiality is shown once more by my inclusion of a Dingle venue, but if it is still there, it is a fine example of the unique peculiarity that is Burnley.
PUTNEY BRIDGE Fulham
Not sure the name, but it was just over the river from Craven Cottage, by Putney Bridge. This was rowing country and we sipped Pimms (only place I've ever known it on draught !) as we watched them on the Thames. There was a room in the pub for the Rowers with an honours board.
THE GAS CLUB Huddersfield
Another little gem unearthed by my research. Don't miss this one if you go to the Galpharm. It opened at 10.30 in the morning for breakfast and beer at £1.50 a pint. A short walk from the stadium it was clearly known to visiting Milwall fans, who greeted bar staff on first name terms.
Originally a social club for a local gasworks, one unfortunate former employee slipped into the nearby canal and drowned many years ago. His ghost now haunts the area and there are many tales of gasclubbers, on their way home at night, hearing him slip quietly into the water. One of a number of haunted venues we found on this Tour
The Dove, Hammersmith
This great Fullers pub had ESB and a plaque telling how Rule Britannia was written there. also reputed to have the country's smallest snug. All useless information provided by top tour guide, Mr Kelly.
The Arkles, Anfield
Not quite a scene from 'Boys from the Black Stuff' but packed and full of characters with decent Greene King Beer. After the game we had a bonus hour here as the coach broke down (some things never change for Rovers fans). The scousers were so friendly that one of our party was offered free drugs ! We were happy to linger and enjoy celebrating one of our last Premier highs - a point at Anfield
Leyton Orient Supporter's Bar
Has to be in here as the biggest range of real ale by far at a football ground a local Hackney Brew. Friendly East End locals were happy to chat football and bar staff were informative about the beer.
NATIONAL BREWERY CENTRE bar in Burton, has some great draught beers, well kept and served with care and politeness. If you have longer to spare you can have a tour for £8.50 including 4 free samples. The tour tells you all you need to know about our brewing history in the town that basically invented beer as we now know it
Worthington Whiteshield at the National Brewery Centre, Burton
THE MARKET PORTER is a wonderful real ale venue, just by Borough Market, right next to the Shard. It was used as The Third Hand Book Emporium, next door to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban. Here we had a great social organised by Bernie, prior to Charlton.
MARY DEE'S near the ground at Man city, has a fantastic murel of Main Road. There's a Life on Mars atmosphere and they show City games from League 1. The uncensored and very loud DJ plays songs berating Man United and the Pope
YE OLDE TRIP TO JERUSALEM, named after its Crusader connections, claims to be the oldest inn in the land. Its setting is unusual to say the least, embedded in caves below Nottingham Castle. It has lots of history adorning its caverns, and its own ale.
As for the beer itself, despite one dry year for fitness reasons, I sampled around 200, and liked far too many to compile any sort of favourite list.
I have found some wonderful food, soon discovering it was there if you look for it. Don't settle for a £4 cold in the middle pie !
THE PARMO, short for Parmesan
Without a shadow of doubt, this is the best fast food in the world. It consists of your chosen toppings on a base of deep fried chicken in breadcrumbs. Specific to Middlesbrough, Darlington and Hartlepool, where it tasted delicious after a pint or two of Camerons. In Middlesbrough the top producer of Parmo each year, is given the coveted title of Parmo King
MEAL OF THE TOUR
The hospitality meal at Accrington Stanley was good enough even to impress my mother, on her first visit to football for 65 years - tomato and basil soup, lamb and suet dumpling followed by tiramasu. Even finding out it was shipped in from Turf Moor, did not spoil my appetite.
BEST FOOD IN A FOOTBALL GROUND BY FAR AWARD
Without question this goes to Kidderminster Harriers, where instead of spotty youths banging the same old brands in the microwave, you get men in proper chefs uniforms, serving home cooked food prepared in front of you. The huge Shepherd's Pie was a rare treat indeed.
PIE AND MASH
Enjoyed the Pie and Mash but won't try Eels again. This was at Cooke's in Shepherd's Bush for QPR - proper Cockney Grub, and you are asked if you want Liquor - a kind of white sauce like you get with fish.
A pint and a burger and chips for £10 was enough to fill me so much at the Yellows Diner, that I couldn't fit in a beef and red wine pie at half time.
FISH AND CHIPS
Best value was in Rotherham, Yorks, £2.10 each. It was good in Torquay but quite a bit pricier. The famous Cleethorpes/Grimsby fish was tasty and good value too, but the best was undoubtedly in the land of the Cod Army, Fleetwood
THE FOOD BUS
This seems very surreal looking back, but at Stoke we stumbled upon double decker bus with a buffet laid out. We helped ourselves downstairs and ate upstairs. Being unable to see anyone to pay, we strolled off again. Is there really free food on a bus at The Britannia, Stoke fans ?
Once again I show my impartiality and fairness by choosing, not the much favoured Morecambe one, but Burnley. Now I've heard all the stories about what goes in them but I have to say, Holland's Pies were so good we ate them twice.
CHICKEN BALTI PIE
Football's famous pie went down well on a bitterly cold day in Barnsley.
PLATE MEAT PIE
This was served to us by buxom wenches at the very home of pies, Wigan
Plymouth fans warned us to steer clear of Ginsters. Instead they directed us to Ian Dewdney's, sold from the back of a van near Home Park, and they weren't wrong - very tasty
TOP QUALITY BEEF
Steve C, hosting us for the South Wales Derby, cooked us a beautiful beef in red wine, with fine port to help the digestion
MUSHY PEAS IN THE EAST END
Did this Chippy near Upton Park put them on cos they knew Blackburn fans were coming, or is it a little known fact that cockneys love mushy peas ?
Restaurant at The Barbican, Plymouth
Disappointingly, the much praised Pork Bap at The Pilgrim Lounge, Boston, was sold out, but the Sausage Bap was substantial and great value at £2
Kent guests told us this was a local pudding and remenisced about having it at school
A cold night at the Deva Stadium, Chester, prompted a half time Bovril for the first time since childhood
Lamb Cawl was a Welsh stew I tasted in Cardiff
At Stevenage they had their very own Cup Cakes in the ground including the club badge
Had to have a packet of Lineker’s favourites on the Leicester Trip.
With Colin at Hospitality, Gillingham