- Which one's Wolfie? -
Friday 21st December and our task is to investigate various Wolverhampton watering holes that had thus far escaped our clutches. The Chairman is remarkably punctual for a 12:15pm Stafford Street rendezvous meaning we can proceed past the Molineux as planned, saying hello to Sir Jack Hayward's statue and a cartoon depiction of football mascot Wolfie. Our first pub is just over the road from the stadium, the Leaping Wolf having rebranded itself after a few years as the Lounge 107 bar (before that it was well known as the Goalpost). We appear to have gatecrashed the relaunch day celebrations and are impressed by the new look with Wolves shirts of various vintages displayed alongside historic local photos.
- Seeking Santa in the Stile -
Delving deeper into Whitmore Reans requires Staveley Road to lead us towards the Stile; we have been here previously but it more than merits a revisit as an unspoiled backstreet cracker. It's Banks's all the way as we dig out the darts, D9 Destroyer being determined to claw back the ten leg deficit that had accrued over the course of the year. Sadly for the balding one, a 6-4 D9 victory cannot quite close the gap enough and WME Whirlwind retains his champion's crown for the sixth year in succession. We have to be careful that any stray arrows don't puncture an inflatable Father Christmas, but fear not, Santa does emerge unscathed!
- The Hub action doesn't stop for Christmas -
Whitmore Reans is a fascinating inner-city area situated in the shadow of the football ground. Old terraced houses mix with 1960s developments such as the Avion Centre shopping precinct, and there are a number of features and facilities to keep the WME camera occupied. Ever observant to the hub cause, we spot a banner for a Bereavement Information Hub service then Lowe Street is the setting for some song silliness - the full chart rundown will be unleashed later on although we can declare our Christmas novelty contenders, 'Santa Bring Me Ringo' (Christine Hunter) and 'A Cockney Christmas' (Dick Emery).
- Modelling the 2019 Hub Marketing Calendar -
How's about another couple of pubs? Newhampton Road West gives us two to consider in quick succession so a swift half in each will suffice. The Summer House on Lloyd Street is where we stage the 2019 calendar unveiling, Chairman D9 being delighted by the inclusion of Barrel Singh and Hearty Carty (not to mention a few Hoodwinked robin sculptures), while the Newhampton lurks on the junction of Sweetman and Riches streets for Mud City Stout and a ham cob. Indeed, the Newhampton is somewhat revered in local CAMRA circles and it's great to see it back open after it shut down unexpectedly a couple of months ago.
- Windswept in the Winning Post -
One particular watering hole is top of the Chairman's Christmas wish list so a visit to the Winning Post is essential. As the name suggests, this boozer is handily located for Dunstall Park racecourse (on Gorsebrook Road to be precise) and proves surprisingly presentable - not quite the flat-roof dive the Secretary had feared. We have to linger on the doorstep for 4pm opening but manage to avoid getting too drenched by a sudden shower; a mention too for the Pegasus on Jackson Street as another potentially dubious estate effort that exceeded expectations. Our Christmas caper is certainly going well!
- The Emerald Club -
Wolves are playing Liverpool at Molineux tonight and as we enter evening the pre-match atmosphere is really starting to build. Both the Hatherton Arms (North Road) and the Emerald Club (Cross Street North) are getting into full swing with home fans in fine voice; the Emerald is home to the Wolverhampton Irish Centre and marked its 50th anniversary in June 2018. Given that Chairman D9 claims to be a West Bromwich Albion fan, it must be the Guinness that prompts him to join in the Hi Ho Silver Lining and Sweet Caroline singalong - either that or he's still dazed after tripping over a pothole on the car park.
- A D9 drive with bonus baubles -
The Hubbacini chart countdown is underway as Milly Molly Mandy, Larry Grayson and Pluto Shervington occupy the lower reaches of the top 20. We're also gearing up for our annual meeting with Hub founder Charles Pemberton Rowbottom III, however that must wait until we've picked out a present from Penn Fields. The number 2 bus carefully connects us to Lea Road albeit Mr D9 is distracted from his usual driving duties by the presence of wrapping paper, orange 'baubles' and reams of sellotape.
- Elsie Mo at the Starting Gate -
Our Penn Fields interlude comes at the Secretary's request as Mr WME insists on trying out the Starting Gate on Birches Barn Road. This micropub housed in a former branch of HSBC is already earning commendable plaudits for the quality of its beer; we perform our own control check and the Castle Rock 'Elsie Mo' passes with flying colours - exemplary! Rumour has it that Mr D9 then models a battered sausage while playing with his baubles again, although the photographic evidence has had to be filed away securely so as not to distress anyone of a nervous disposition.
- And the Christmas number one is... -
Back in a now very wet and windy Wolverhampton, we complete official proceedings for the year by declaring the Hubbacini top three ('The Rovers Chorus' at 3, 'The Tiger's Wide Awake' at 2 and Dick Emery taking chart honours with the 'You are awful (but I like you) Conga'). Charles Pemberton Rowbottom is on hand at the Plough & Harrow for the 2018 Hub Awards - the headline news here is that D9 wins the most expensive round gong for his £4.70 pint in Harborne, WME had the Discount of the Year thanks to the Goldthorn, and Hearty Carty is our lifetime achievement recipient. All that remains is for the Hub Marketing Board to wish all readers a very Merry Christmas... Cheers!