Further down King Street from the St Radegund and the King Street Run, you’ll find the Champion of the Thames. Its sign has a rowing theme, but inside it is all folks reading newspapers and talking shite…which is to say it gets my heartiest of endorsements.
Two guys about my age (mid 40’s, I’m guessing, because they looked to be about 70), were doing a crossword puzzle and the barkeep was taking deliveries whilst cricket news from the West Indies/England test match scrolled by on one of the text stations on telly. I saw that is was something like 343-2 in favor of the Caribbeans and asked if that was typical; “it is when England is playing,” replied just about everyone in the place. I got a copy of the Cambridge News and ordered another beer, determined to run the taps (they have Greene King here, so I started with the Abbot, then IPA, then whatever was left).
It was in the midst of that awful cold snap toward the end of January and a conversation started about the previous night’s football attendance. Most games were in the 5-10 thousand attendance, but the barman asked one guy how many the stadium for Everton holds, and it turns out that it was standing room only at around 48,000 souls for the game. I asked if that was the Liverpool game (I had heard about it that morning on the news) and the bar went quiet; one of the crossword guys looks up slowly and behind bloodhound eyes said, “no; it was the Everton game.” The bartender comes over and says, under his breath, “we don’t mention the red team ’round ‘ere, son. You’re new, you get one free one,” as he touched the side of his nose.
I like this place. Did I say that?