I spent yesterday evening in the Tollington in Holloway, and what an Arsenalsome night. I came out of Finsbury Park underground, my usual exit from all things Gunner-related, and took a stroll towards Holloway and into the unknown.
I’d not been to The Tollington before, but was reliably informed it was a fine place to drink, chat and be a total Gooner. I wasn’t to be disappointed.
Obviously I was there for the So Paddy Got Up book launch and, arriving quite early, asked one of the members of security personnel where said launch would be. Following instructions, I tentatively tiptoed my tall frame to the rear of the pub and (somehow) found myself at the front of two simultaneous queues that would last for a good three and a half hours.
Arseblogger was unmistakable in tone, and was looking relaxed before he gave a fine welcome and introduced his wife (Happy Belated Birthday, Mrs Blogs), and his brother the Mugsmasher. I was lucky to get my copy of the book sorted early, which handily left the rest of the evening for beer and random chats. Unfortunately, my planned strike partner for the evening couldn’t make it, and so I was on my own in playing forward.
But you’re never really on your own in an Arsenal pub as a Gooner…and certainly not with hundreds of others patiently waiting in line and/or drinking, and/or watching Man U and City exit the Champions League. So very soon I was talking and drinking with two regular away fans; Mark and Joseph.
Once I had established they weren’t contributors to So Paddy got Up (and they that I wasn’t either), I took a seat and we proceeded to watch the confusion in the eyes of people who weren’t sure whether they should ask for our signatures.
We perched on the end of what was to become the book’s contributor table, and managed to remain here throughout. We were asked if we should sign books once or twice but we declined, being honest folk, and went about our business of getting rounds in.
While all this was going on the Tolli was bubbling up nicely. As the United and City situations continued to look unfavourable for the Mancunians, I went in hunt of a few more established Arsenal bloggers so as to put names to faces and tweets to tones. I tracked down one half of Gingers4Limpar who was parched from a fair bit of signing, and then had a brief but enjoyable chat with Arse2mouse…and then Arse2mouse and Gingers4Limpar, and then Goodplaya, each of whom were top company. Then a little later on I introduced myself to the very finely-heeled (top shoes, I have to say) SianyMacalarny.
And, do you know, everyone was happy to chat and chew the fat. Meeting some of the people I regularly follow the blogs and tweets of was a very real treat. I’m not always the most forward of chaps, but in such friendly and relaxed surroundings a fine time was had, beer consumed and results and resulting songs enjoyed.
What’s more, I think I’ve found my new pre and post-match Arsenal pub. The Tolli staff were superb. Not content with having a pub rammed full of Gooners chanting “Thursday Night, Channel Five” at the Europa League bound Manchester clubs, the staff actually joined in! All the while delivering beer at the most impressive of speeds, and keeping smiles firmly on faces.
And actually, just thinking of yesterday evening puts the smile right back on mine. Last night it was good to be a Gooner, good to be at the Tolli, and good to enjoy the company of others just there to soak up the atmosphere.
Alas, I didn’t get to chat to many of the other fine people (bloggers or no) who were undoubtedly enjoying their own nights. But perhaps another time. And perhaps with a post-game pint or two.