Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

Doncaster Rovers v Blackpool: Doncaster Pub Crawl

In normal times, Donny away is one of the first fixtures I look out for. You see, I’ve always loved Donny. Why? The warm people, the spooky hotel rooms, the taxis adorned with Christmas decorations – and the magnificent pubbage and Yorkshire ales.

The Journey

It cost £52.60 for an off peak return. I boarded the 1028 from Blackpool North to Manchester Piccadilly and settled back in my socially-distanced seat with my MacBook for company. I’m trialling some new software (Scrivener) which will hopefully make writing (and organising) longer pieces of work much easier. I started writing a novel 18 months ago and got into such a tangle with research, spreadsheets, notes, etc. that I honestly don’t know where to pick it up again now. Mercifully, my football book has popped up in the meantime and is merrily (and now rapidly) writing itself. But now I have an idea for a tv script sprouting – and I want to make sure I don’t tie myself in knots with that…so I’m getting organised and not letting that happen.

Happily the train was quiet (gone are the days of standing in the aisle nuzzling a stranger’s armpit – hurrah!) and I had completed the tutorial by the time I arrived in Manchester. Here I had a 30 minute connection, so I picked up a turkey curry wrap from M&S. Nom.

I caught the 1218 to Donny and spent the remainder of the journey researching the pubs that I intended to visit this afternoon/early evening, plotting them all on a map, so I could maximise my pubbage time during my latest virtual pub crawl (I am, of course, making all of this up from the comfort of my sofa, to give me a break from Netflix).

The Draughtsman Alehouse

I discovered this little gem on the way back from Scunny in 2019. It is situated on Platform 3B of Doncaster station – and of course I couldn’t leave the station without popping in. It’s a cracking little bar with outdoor seating spilling out onto the train platform so you can keep an eye on the departure boards.

The natives are friendly and cask ales are available – but I’m all over the fridge when I visit here. There is no better place for a carry out for the train home. I couldn’t possibly list them all, but here are my highlights:

  • Barrier Kickin Knowledge Strawberry Milkshake IPA
  • Ora Cerbero Tiramisu Stout
  • Pohjala Cocobanger Coffee & Coconut Imperial Stout
  • Saint Mars Of The Desert Babalu Imperial Russian Stout

Frankly, you don’t really need to go any further into Donny to quench your thirst with lush beer. But this wonderfully warm and welcoming town has so much more to offer, so come and join me on the obligatory pub crawl…

It’s been a good few years since I did a proper crawl of Donny – since when there has been a beer revolution. This is why it is so important to keep on top of the new pubs that have popped up in recent years. Whilst these are ‘only’ virtual crawls, they will prove vital research ahead of future awaydays.

Doncaster Brewery & Tap

This place popped up in 2014, so was a new one for me. It looks like there’s a lot going on here, too! They have quiz nights, games nights, a book club, Stammtisch (a German conversation evening) and a ukulele club. Of course I already know I am going to love, love, love this place!

They’ve brewed a lot of beers, too! See if you can’t find one to suit your palate from this little lot:

  • Mansion House (mild)
  • First Aviation (pale)
  • Cast Theatre Ale (blonde)
  • AD71* Pumpkin Porter
  • Sand House (blonde)
  • St George’s Minster Pale Ale
  • Sheffield Diocese Centenary Pale
  • Angel & Royal Vintage Spiced Winter Ale
  • Town Fields (Belgian style pale)
  • Gold Cup
  • Mucky Bucket (black pale)
  • Cheswold (bitter)
  • 1194 Charter Porter

*FUN FACT (from the brewery website): AD71 was the year when the Romans arrived in Doncaster and started building their garrison – DANUM. Danum’s first fort was built from timber to house approximately 500 soldiers. It was demolished in the 2nd century AD and replaced with a smaller fort protected by clay, gravel and limestone walls.

Indeed the beer range is so exciting, I can’t choose between the Pumpkin Porter, Winter Ale and Mucky Bucket (I so love spiced ales and black pales are tasty yet refreshing).

My friend Sally had a name for pubs like these: ‘crawl-wreckers’. I’m only two pubs in already and haven’t wanted to leave either of them. It’s a bit like that in Doncaster, you see (well, Yorkshire, really). I don’t know if it’s something to do with the water over this part of the country, but there’s something about Yorkshire ales that I adore. Indeed ’twas in Yorkshire where I supped my first real ale way back when. But, dear reader, onwards I must continue, otherwise I suspect we might miss some more gems…

Don Valley Brewery Tap

This one is in Mexborough. They pride themselves in combining ‘the ultimate desires for great beer and good tunes’. Nice! Let’s start with the ales, shall we? On cask:

  • Atomic Blonde
  • Don Valley Our House Best Bitter
  • Don Valley Go Your Own Way IPA

I see what they’re doing there! Now onto the craft beers:

  • Don Valley Black Star (stout)
  • Don Valley KraftWerk (crafted single malt pilsner)
  • Don Valley Teenage Dirtbag (wheat beer)
  • Don Valley Zest For Life (pale)

Hmm methinks this was worth the trip! I love the music vibe, too. If the music is good, I’m more likely to remember a place – and want to stay longer (more of that later). That said, I’m bloomin’ starving, having not eaten since I got here, so my rumbling tummy leads me back into town…

Salutation

Thai food! Yeah! I’m straight in for two courses to soak up the beer I’ve had and the beer that’s still to come…

Mmm I want this again now!
I’m feeling brave!

Right, let’s have a look at the beer menu, then. Recent beers checked in on Untappd are listed below:

  • St Austell Tribute
  • Timothy Taylor Landlord
  • Acorn Barnsley Bitter
  • Black Sheep Best Bitter

So perhaps a more traditional beer range in here. To be honest, after that spicy food, I can’t taste my beer anyway. I opt for a Barnsley Bitter, because that used to be a firm favourite of mine before my palate began to crave the stronger-flavoured beers.

The Leopard

Ooh there’s food here too! It’s a more traditional pub grub menu, with pizza, burgers, lasagne, pies and the like.

The Leopard has recently been refurbished and, like the Salutation, is also a live music venue. Oh for a night of live music! I can feel a weekender in Donny coming on…

Recent beers checked in here on Untappd are:

  • Bowland Spooky
  • Ten Eighty Six Citra
  • Acorn Old Moor Porter
  • Great Newsome Sleck Dust
  • BrewDog Nanny State
  • Little Critters Blonde Bear

I’m having this one because I’m a sucker for a gimmicky or seasonal ale, especially this time of year (but I’ll have a green beer for St Patrick’s Day too). Plus I’m also a sucker for a good pumpclip and there’s no way I can resist a witch (being one myself) and a couple of bats (leave it!).

So, a nice range of beers in here – and a must-visit on a Donny crawl.

Marketplace Alehouse & Deli

This is a self-confessed ‘small friendly bar where you can enjoy a drink and time with your friends’. Oh if only!

Nice range of beers in here again. I’m going for half a Jolly Sailor Milk Stout and half a Bradfield Cherry Beer.

I struggled to find a food menu, but there is talk of cheese platters, ‘gorgeous scones’, pies and tapas.

Tut n Shive

Historically THE Pub of Choice in Donny. We’ve had some cracking times in here over the years. There was a time when I would go nowhere else whenever we played Donny. T’Tut was always full of friendly Seasiders – and fans of other clubs, too – and it would be packed out before and after the match. It has a cracking jukebox and the food is ridiculously cheap.

And how could I forget the friendly staff!

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • Greene King Yardbird Pale Ale
  • Greene King IPA
  • Pheasantry Pale Ale
  • Don Valley Atomic Blonde
  • Abbeydale Moonshine

Granted, this place is not known for its exciting beer range – but it offers so much more. This is a home away from home. A nu nu of a pub. And definitely a must visit in Donny. You’ll see why.

Right, now the fun’s (almost) over with, let’s get to the match…

Doncaster Rovers v Blackpool

Ohh do I have to write about this…?

The first half was enjoyable – even comfortable. Gary Madine Goal Machine won a pen – duly converted by his strike partner Jerry Yates. And CJ Hamilton was allowed loads of space on the ball, which was clearly foolish of our hosts – allowing him room to score. It was 2-0 at half time and we were happy.

We’re really growing to like The Goal Machine now for a number of reasons:

  1. We haven’t got any more strikers, so we’re stuck with him.
  2. He really does hold the ball up well.
  3. He’s started scoring goals.
  4. His personality is really coming across in his post-match interviews and he’s likeable.

Regarding point 4, this has been a big issue for me with the football club post-takeover. Yes, we have brought in a lot of (presumably) good people, but where are their personalities? Where is that connection – that engagement – with the fans? The likeability factor? It all feels a bit too corporate and scripted and carefully managed. Which might well be what was intended. But football clubs are community assets and as such surely engagement is key? I don’t FEEL engaged with the club somehow. Something is missing for me since…well, since the Premier League, I suppose, but certainly since coming back after the boycott.

But back to the match…

Donny clearly had a rocket shoved up them at half time and came out like men possessed. They quickly scored (offside) – and again (wondergoal) to equalise – and Blackpool suddenly looked terrified. They couldn’t string passes together and panicked when they had the ball. This was with half an hour remaining of the match. There was no need to panic at that stage. But they never recovered. Donny’s winner seemed inevitable – and so we lost 3-2. We should have had a pen near the end for handball in the box, but we can’t blame the officials. We threw that one away.

Here’s our live reaction to the action as it happened:

I don’t like losing but I love Donny so, if we had to lose to anyone, I’d far rather it was them than, er, Fleetwood? And it’s strange but watching the matches on iFollow I feel even less connected with the club. If I’d actually been to this match, I’d have been wallowing all the way home and well into the next day. But, as it was, I turned off the tv, finished the beer I’d started midway through the second half (White Hag Dark Druid Chocolate Orange), grabbed some comfort food (Lime & Chilli Mini Cheddars and Lebkuchen) and more beer (Monyo Cherry Hero) from the kitchen and buried myself in Netflix (Designated Survivor). And, just like that, the game was gone from my mind.

I’ll do it again on Saturday because that’s what I do. Now we’re consigned to Tier 3 again, we won’t be back at Bloomfield Road in December, despite the good news that fans will be allowed back at some ‘elite’ (I hate that word) matches. Fingers crossed we’ll be allowed back to non league, though. I’ve been promised proper gravy at Atherton Collieries. Watch this space…

#UTMP.

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