Beer and penalties in South Norwood

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Date -Saturday 26th May 2012.

Time – 12-7pm, Venue- Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace Football Club. Crystal Palace football club becomes purely a beer venue for the day!

What for? – The 2nd annual CPFC beer festival 🙂 

A beer festival at a football club, unusual?, yes, but apparently one of the ‘CPFC 2010’ consortium Stephen Browett is a big real ale fan. And it was his idea in 2011 to launch the 1st beer festival at Selhurst Park. A good idea, as it went down very well, and although I didn’t attend, a number of friends told me it had been a good event, and so, the 2012 version was pencilled in the diary, and my ticket was pre-purchased, along with apparently 1400 +others, and off I set.

On a very warm day, I shared a train from Reading towards Clapham Junction with many egg chasing fans heading towards Twickenham for the Premiership play off final between Harlequins and Leicester. But frankly I was much more interested in the outcome of the League One play off final at Wembley between Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town.

Walking down the Holmesdale Road from Selhurst station on a very sunny but breezy day, the streets empty, got me to thinking of how different the atmosphere was on a non match day. It also triggered some memories of other non football events I’d attended at Selhurst Park in the past. Specifically I remembered going to two ‘Reggae Sunsplash’ events, and also making an effort to go and see ‘The Undertones’ play their last gig together as support for Peter Gabriel, all these having taking place in the 1980s.

As a fully paid up CAMRA member of twenty or so years, having attended many festivals over the years, I was expecting to view the CPFC festival with a very critical eye.

Upon arrival, entry being at the top of the Holmesdale Road, I was a little surprised to see prices of 1.90 for a half pint and 3.80 for a pint. Well above the norm at CAMRA festivals, my second thought being, well I guess if the profit is going to Palace, it’s not such a problem.

The club had set up the festival on the three concourses in the Holmesdale Road stand, the lower tier housing more common household name beers, the middle concourse the more rare unusual beers, and apparently the Red N Blue bar (which I didn’t get up to) only had a small number of beers, including the house beer, ‘Palace ale’.  The programme listed 111 beers in numerical order, now I didn’t get round to check that all of this number had actually turned up, but if they hadn’t it wasn’t far short, so a pretty impressive number. Having travelled on a busy train, I was gagging for a drink on arrival, and when spotting one of my favourite draft beers on the lower concourse, ‘Betty Stoggs’ from Skinner’s Brewery, I was very happy to slate my thirst 🙂

I then walked a few yards into the seats in holmesdale stand to take a look at the ground, which I’ve spent much of the last 42 years of my life at. It was a little surprising to see the pitch bare of grass, sand as far as the eye could see, with watering taking place.

Selhurst Park, pitch already being prepared for the 2012-13 season.

Anyway, it was great to meet up with Steve and Ffion (and meet Ffions friend Michelle), Kevin/Dave/Andy/Tim, Mod Paul, and bump into Alan Russell, and many other faces I recognised. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves even though we all thought the beer was a little warm, and some not as well-kept as they perhaps should have been, and did not taste like top quality. What was very good though, was a beer specifically named after an old Palace player from 50+years ago (Tom Barnett) by his son, who is apparently the brewer of the Sawbridgeworth brewery, and has produced a beer called ‘Selhurst Park Flyer’. I made a beeline for this, as my 2nd or 3rd beer, and not surprisingly I heard that within a few hours it’d sold out, much to the disappointment of some of our gang who hadn’t tried it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Barnett_(footballer)

The most popular beer at the festival!

There was live music, perhaps a little loud for some (maybe just me), various food options, and all the screens on the concourses were showing the womans FA Cup final (Chels v Birmingham), which most showed no interest in, followed by the Div One Play off final, which most kept an eye on. Sometime around 5.30 pm the whisper went round that it’d finished nil all and had gone to penalties, this caused a bee around a honey pot affect as most headed under one the TVs. It was immediately clear that almost all the Palace fans in attendance wanted Huddersfield to go through. Reason being two-fold, firstly because Palace cult hero Alan Lee is now a Terriers player, and secondly, probably because most football fans have enormous empathy with Huddersfield for missing out on promotion last season, after having an enormously long unbeaten record in the league, but then turned up at the play off final at Old Trafford and froze against Peterborough, losing three nil!

Well, Alan Lee, who whilst walking up to take his spot kick, received the time-honoured chant of “Alan, Alan Lee, Alan, Alan Lee” as he stepped up from the gathered Palace fans, but he took a howler, as did a couple of others in the designated first 2/3 takers. In fact the kicks improved the longer it progressed. But each time a Huddersfield player took a kick, the beer festival crowd chanted “Alan, Alan Lee etc” Eventually Huddersfield won 8-7 to right the wrong of missing out last season, and become a Palace opponent for the 12/13 season.

My friend Huddersfield Chris got a congratulatory text on the way home, and he called me later, obviously chuffed to bits to finally get out what in old money was Div Three.

A thoroughly enjoyable day out in great company, but would I go again? Hmmm, only perhaps if they made an effort in 2013 to improve the overall quality of the beer.

Ffion, Kevin and Steve. Ffion and Steve trying to hide the trauma of having missed out on the Selhurst Park Flyer!

The beers drank at the CPFC 2012 festival, by programme order as follows, not in drinking order!  ………

5 – ‘Betty Stoggs’ -Skinners Brewery – 15 ‘ Old Bushy Tail’ – Bushey’s Brewery – 29- ‘Festival’ – Dark Star Brewery – 38- ‘Czechmate’ – Enville Brewery – 61 – ‘Kohinoor’ – Windsor and Eton Brewery – 68 – ‘Asylum’ – Oakham Brewery – 80 – ‘Parkers Porter’ – City of Cambridge Brewery – 81 – ‘West Coast IPA’ – Phoenix Brewery – 92- ‘Cascade Pale Ale’ – Saltaire Brewery – 95 – ‘Selhurst Park Flyer’ – Sawbridgeworth Brewery.

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