Monday 2 February 2015

It's Grim Down South

The Door Hinge in Welling is the licensed trade's equivalent of Craig Hobson.

To say this former electrical shop turned micro-pub divides opinion is an under-statement.

With its no lager, no TV football, no mobiles policy the real ale fraternity regard the place as a breath of fresh air, where brews such as Lemon Adder and hoppy IPA can be supped direct from the barrel in a chav-free environment. In case a reminder is needed, a selection of hand held telephones including a classic Nokia 1100 are nailed to the wall (presumably the offending users are buried somewhere out back). The availability of pickled eggs is a bonus.

To others it's an unwelcome throwback to a drinking land that time forgot, inhabited by rabid beardies who are obsessed with baffling terms such as specific gravity and cuddle up at night with a copy of the Good Beer Guide.

So it was that an hour before kick off the Exiles were in uncharacteristic disarray, spread out along the rather grim High Street.

A senior committee member was to be found sitting forlornly in the window of Wetherspoons, affronted by the Door Hinge serving her wine from a box last season and apparently intent on a one-woman boycott. Further down the road, the dubious delights of Hull vs Newcastle attracted a few more stragglers to yet another hostelry. Meanwhile one lager drinker who was lured to the Door Hinge, in spite of himself, was clearly out of his comfort zone. Tapping disdainfully on a pint of real ale he asked: "Where are the bubbles?"

It was an inauspicious start to the afternoon. Throw in near-freezing conditions, nagging drizzle, a quagmire of a pitch and a sparse crowd this had all the makings of a bad day out.

Going a goal down against the run of play didn't help matters but at least the rain had the effect of driving most of the Blues fans into a covered stand. By my count there were about 150, with the Exiles' ranks swelled by the arrival of a single Hipkiss and a train-load of exuberant drunks. It was a potentially toxic combination but an equaliser - a terrific header from on-loan Oliver McBurnie - lifted the mood.

When we actually managed to convert a penalty the place was bouncing and the late comers from the bar after half time will hardly care about missing yet another Rooney special. Frankly, it could have been six or seven. Craig Mahon hit the post and Gareth Roberts, the season's Mr Dependable, followed suit with a rasping 25 yarder.

After a depressing Christmas and New Year run the Blues have got their mojo back. Three wins on the spin and seven goals in the last two games. It's just like being back in the Evostik.

For Welling things aren't looking so rosy but us south-based exiles will, selfishly, wish them well and look forward to another visit to the Door Hinge in 2015/16.

Update - they are now serving palatable wine from a bottle. What ever next?

Adrian Lee