Saturday, April 20

Another April Assortment

April 2024 seems to have developed a liking for double-header blog postings. With Perton and Pensnett already accounted for, I'll now combine two more outings into a single report so settle back and enjoy. First off is a Carling collision around Deansfield with Mr D9, followed by an Acocks Green assignment accompanying Nick and Ken...

- Sir Jack's Statue -
There hasn't been much scope for Hub Marketing action this month with the Chairman and the Secretary both having busy diaries, so squeezing in a quick evening catch-up is about all that we can muster. Tuesday 16th April is the agreed date whereby Mr WME manages some lunchtime photography in the vicinity of Molineux Stadium, home ground of Wolverhampton Wanderers of course. Sir Jack Hayward was club owner and benefactor during the 1990s and early 2000s so a statue of him can be found close to the stand bearing his name; the design recreates Sir Jack's famous thumbs up pose which celebrated achieving promotion to the Premier League after the Play Off Final victory over Sheffield United in 2003. 

- Marston's Smooth in the Merry Boys -
To Hub Marketing matters and 529 buses from differing directions see members converging upon Deansfield shortly before 5pm. A mini Willenhall Road pubcrawl is in the offing, starting at the Merry Boys which is a fairly typical Banks's establishment on the junction with Deans Road. Secretary WME remembers having belly busting brunches here, as well as meeting up for lunches with ex-library colleagues, but today's visit concentrates on Marston's Smooth and some brightly patterned booth seating. Chairman D9 is in good form, regaling all with tales of timetable scheduling meetings and falling off stools in the Great Western.

- D9 'drives' the 529 -
Diagonally opposite the Merry Boys is where you'll find the Cleveland Arms, occupying the corner with Stowheath Lane. Well known as a sporting pub, the Cleveland regularly hosts event nights with personalities drawn from the worlds of football, darts and snooker - indeed, former Wolves midfielder Kevin McDonald is due to take to the stage here in a few days time. We partake of a swift Carling each whilst noting an impressive amount of dartboards and pool tables, then decamp back onto the 529 so that the Chairman can showcase more of his bus driving expertise. A short hop is all he needs to supply some steering action...

- It's A Lovely Day for a Bald Spot Sighting -
A two stop helping hand is all we require to get us to the Beehive, a Coventry Street contender drawn very much from the backstreet boozer category. More Carling here keeps us refreshed - once Mr D9 has figured out which door can get us inside - as we sit under the trophy shelf admiring their Beehive Wolves 1877 flag. A cheeky call into the Glassy Junction (formerly the Malt Shovel) completes proceedings amongst hi-vis workmen and woolly-coated grannies; for a Tuesday evening it's very lively, the curries being part of the attraction. There's just time for the bald spot to listen to some silly songs, including some German rapping nonsense from Die Woodies plus Renee and Renato warbling 'It's A Lovely Day', and the crawl is complete.

- Douglas Road Bird Art -
Three whole days later and Friday 19th April 2024 has Nick, Ken and I meeting up for a spot of Acocks Green reconnaissance. Our resident Bluenose Mr May used to live in the area prior to departing for Wolverhampton pastures in the 1980s, so this outing is dedicated to revisiting a few of his old stomping grounds. We therefore set forth from Acocks Green railway station shortly after half past ten, noting the closure of the Great Western pub (boarded up) and the lack of public helpdesk services at the nearby police station. Douglas Road yields a neat line in avian street art as Nick ponders whether to call in at Jess Phillips MP's constituency office, while Alexander Road offers a former Ken residence as well as a historic fire station premises.

- Summer House, Shaftmoor Lane -
The village centre in Acocks Green is clustered around the main island where Westley Road, Shirley Road and the A41 Warwick Road all intersect, although the Inn on the Green as was is now a Kabul restaurant. We peruse some of the local shops, noting the closure of Haynes Butchers (they had been trading since 1939) and weigh up our pub options which appear to amount to Wetherspoons or bust! We've earmarked Tim Martin's empire for food consumption later on so a ride on the 1 can get us to Shaftmoor Lane, technically crossing into Hall Green. The Shaftmoor pub has been renamed as the Summer House but is still a sprawling suburban edifice; it'll do us fine for respective glasses of Guinness and Worthingtons, trying not to get deafened by Dua Lipa songs being emitted at almost painful decibel levels.

- St John's, Sparkhill -
Needing to give our eardrums chance to recover, we continue along Shaftmoor Lane to the College Arms which remains a fine Stratford Road landmark even with some of its lettering falling off. Union Jack flags in the left hand bar offset some occasional drilling noises and we  rather like the traditional green leather upholstery provided Nick doesn't get swallowed by a devious dip. The Shire Country Park includes 'Blackberry Way', an almost unheralded River Cole footpath which may or may not have anything to do with The Move's number one hit of late 1968. Either way, we emerge via Percy Road into Sparkhill so as to track down another of Ken's previous addresses (32 Blackford Road). The Sparkhill area has become much more multicultural since the 1970s but St John's Parish Church has been a constant presence. 

- A 'Wow' Moment at No 1 DoveHouse Parade -
Sparkhill and neighbouring Sparkbrook are very much Muslim communities these days but do have longstanding associations with Birmingham's Irish population. McDwyers on the Warwick Road is something of a survivor given how many pubs have perished, and proves well worth a look with its redbrick terracotta clock turret not to mention some very creamy Guinness. We round things off with two altogether more modern establishments in Olton, namely Number 1 DoveHouse Parade (our setting for a very hoppy 'Wow' from the Silhill Brewery) and Platform Three (barely a minute's dash from Olton railway station). Cheers all and Happy Birthday Ken!

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