Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, June 10, 2016

Drinking ENGSUS00120131113093941

Drinking ENGSUS00120131113093941

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I was interested to see in a recent copy of the Lynn News that our local football club, the Linnets has a new owner. I am a columnist rather than a sports writer and it is fair to say I am yet to be convinced. However, if I am mistaken and King’s Lynn Town do indeed reach the Football League, maybe I will follow the example of Gary Lineker and write a column wearing my pants. Over the last few years I suppose I have seen Lynn play about half-a-dozen games a season, a number that I suspect may decrease whilst the current regime is in place, but let’s be optimistic and consider what may attract the crowds to the Walks. In my experience, a fair number of football fans like a decent pint. Sure, there are those who have been seduced by the sponsorship of the big beer and lager brands to consume endless pints of cold and fizzy and in my opinion, rather tasteless beverages but some fans are willing to seek out decent beer. In my endless trips round the country watching the Shakers (111 different grounds so far), I have made several good friends amongst those that we repeatedly bump into in the nearest Good Beer Guide pub to the stadiums. It seems to me that there is a seam here waiting to be mined. If the Walks could establish a reputation as having a welcoming bar which served excellent beer, perhaps some fans could be persuaded to arrive earlier and spend more money there. It might even become one of those places to which away fans would make a special trip given the promise of a good pint alongside excellent football.

One club which has achieved this is Leyton Orient with its legendary supporters club, famous the length and breadth of the country (and so crowded when we last went, that I had to leave the bar wife as a hostage whilst I nipped in for a pint). It’s far from the only club to go down this route. Dagenham and Redbridge 
and Forest Green Rovers are two more clubs where the quality of the bar makes a defeat on the pitch a bit easier to take.

Another enterprise that has changed hands recently is Woodfordes brewery. Founded in 1981, in what was then a Norfolk beer desert dominated by Watneys and Whitbread, it has grown into a multi-million pound business, and along the way has won numerous awards, the most prestigious in 1996 when Wherry bitter was named the Supreme Champion Beer of Britain in the CAMRA awards.

They have extensive experience in the beer industry, and will be keeping on the current head office staff including the managing director Rupert Farquharson so I guess that there will be no immediate changes as it is clearly a successful and profitable business. However it would be great if they increased the number of their tied houses and opened one in Lynn.

Wherry is pretty easy to come by in West Norfolk, but they brew a whole load of good beers, and it would be great if they could have a flagship pub in town to showcase them. The question that they apparently ask when you join a new company is where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Maybe I will be sat in a Woodfordes pub somewhere in town toasting the Linnet’s promotion to the Football League. Or maybe not.