Monday, July 16, 2007
A Day In York (And An Early Night For Sticky)
It’s York Races second biggest meeting of the year today, The John Smith’s Cup, and Dafty has organised a day out. We leave Keyworth early doors and pick up Mad Dog en-route. We’re staying at Sprakey’s and I’m looking forward to a hearty breakfast on arrival.
York has a population of 175,000 and our kid lives up there. Famous people from York include, Guy Fawkes, Dame Judi Dench and Hunter from Gladiators. Dick Turpin was famously hanged on York Racecourse and by 1730hrs today Sticky P was hanging in exactly the same spot!!
The journey up north is incident free and we arrive just after 9am at Sprakey’s gaffe. It’s a three storey Victorian house, over 130 years old; it’s only a 5 minute walk to the City Centre and 10 minutes to the racecourse.
Sprakey has sorted us a first-rate greasy spoon out, just round the corner, (The Hot Pot Café) four full English and a cuppa. I’m dispatched to fetch the morning’s papers, Dafty insists on a Racing Post; what a waste of time, the guy hasn’t backed a winner for 25 years, I’ve carried him all over the country and Ireland.
We’re all suited and booted and visit our first hostelry of the day, The Victoria Vaults, and very nice it is too. There is a framed picture on the wall with raceday badges for every course in Britain spanning over 30 years. I can hear Joy Division’s Ian Curtis on the jukebox. Mad Dog is thirsty, very thirsty!
The second pub is a gem and is called The Golden Ball; I can not resist the Everards Tiger. We cross York Common on our way to the course, I once took an incredible one-handed catch for my brother’s works rounders team, many moons ago, and they still talk about it to this day at lunch breaks at York City Council.
We pay £30 to go in The County Stand, it’s worth every penny. I bump into a lad from work, we exchange small-talk (it’s brief he’s from D**by).
We decide to hang around The Champagne Bar and buy our first bottle of the day (oh dear). We drew a blank in the first race; Dafty trots out his standard quote “Vicious Warrior …. yeah yeah .. was going to back that one” blah blah blah. Sticky opens his account in the second, we are up and running and crack open another bottle.
It’s time for the big one, The John Smith’s Cup, Sprakey backs 1st and 4th, and we re-visit The Champagne Bar. History is made in race four when Dafty backs his first winner in a quarter of a century; I’m well miffed, his horse has beaten mine by half a length and mine was 14/1 .. doh!! More champagne.
Heppers and Geoff have finally arrived; there’s been a bad smash on the A1. We retreat to The Champagne Bar and catch up on the gossip. I’ve been that busy rattling I’ve missed the last two races. I toss Dafty £15 for the last race, we are nearly all on it, and she romps home. This time it’s pink champagne we are into double figures and in my case double vision.
I have no recollection of the walk back to The Golden Ball but I’m now making as much sense as a night out with Shane McGowan and Charles Kennedy. I’m swaying in the corridor of The Golden Ball and refuse a pint of Everards (unheard off). I’ve hit the white wall “I’m gone” I repeat over and over again.
It’s 7pm and Sprakey is having to walk me home. I remember the walk it must have looked horrific. I slump in a chair and fall asleep before The National Lottery Draw and Casualty (where I would have ended up had I stayed the distance).
Ten hours later I’m wide awake and subject of much ridicule. Sprakey was unceremoniously turned away from York’s finest real ale house, The Maltings, “it’s a shit pub anyway” he tells the Yorkshire Brick Shitehouse on the door.
Dafty in true Geraint Jones style, fumbled a Pukka Pie into the gutter with the cheerful Yorkshire Chipmeister refusing a refund. Sounds like I missed a good night out. Thanks for the bed Sprakey but don’t ever send me out again to fetch The Mail on Sunday!!