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Perfect for the Reds and the booze; Pubs With Mike Chapple.

FINDING the perfect pub before the match has always been a tricky balancing act involving a number of interrelated factors where for every plus there's any number of minuses.

A boozer establishing a comfortable two-goal lead with close proximity to the ground and a good atmosphere can slump to a 3-2 injury time defeat with the subsequent wait to get served, the difficulty of bringing glass to lips because of the surrounding crush and the ale itself, whose constitution often has all the unsavioury smell and flavour associated with Jamie Carragher's left armpit after a derby day clash.

A real winner, however, has just opened on County Road, Kirkdale - The Thomas Frost.

Situated a mere throw-in distance from Goodison and an optimistic drop kick from Anfield, the latest branch of Wetherspoons - opened opposite Aldi a mere month ago - has already proved a ht with the locals plus Blues and Reds alike.

A certain amount of inverted snobbery has been directed against the newer brewery chains whose attention to standardised effeciency and appearance is as welcome as your average anthrax spore in more traditional circles.

But in an area often starved in the past of pubs serving a selection of cask ales and cheap good quality food this place was more than a welcome diversion for the posse of Boothy, The Stud and yours truly before last week's Dortmund game as we descended for an ale or five before kick-off.

The one exception was Big Frank who had made the initial recommendation about the place.

Being the big-hearted but essentially bitter and twisted Bluenose that he is, he promised to drink his fill until the allotted time came when us Reds would depart for the ground and he would graciously wish us all the worst and head in the oppositie direction back to his lair.

Now, even the most patriotic Kirkdalien/Waltonian would admit that County Road clogged with the acrid smell of scally fireworks and exhaust fumes from tea-time traffic, is not one of the most cheery environments on a dark, blowy late autumn's eve. But once cocooned in the Spoon, there's warmth, space and an atmosphere conducive to good conversation prompted by the array of real ales, nearly tpping into double figures territory.

Not only that but all were staggeringly cheap - pounds 1.29 being the average price for a roster that included Theakston's Best, Shropshire, Spitfire, Summer Lightning etc.

The most expensive tag was rightly reserved for the strongest the Elgood's - and even that was only pounds 1.49.

Just as impressive, for connoisseurs of that sort of thing, were The Bogs.

Brightly lit, spacious, a gleaming clean emerald green machine, there were even framed front and back pages from that day's Times hung above the Gent's urinal to focus concentration during those, er, more trying times.

"There's a new paper in every day, " said cheerful duty manager Helen Cassidy from Kirkby.

Helen from the quick, no-nonsense Worrayavin school of service (that's:

"What are you having my good man?"

to Heswall readers) was assisted by a plentiful staff which assured no more than a minute's wait even as imminent Anfield departure approached.

There was even time for Big Frank's side order of breaded garlic mushrooms electronically despatched by Helen via the till to the kitchen before arriving piping hot at our table in five minute's flat.

"Blooming heck, " I said, or words to that effect to Helen, "that was quick, " who responded with a mock incredulous "Worrayaexpect" before marching off triumphantly to deal with the next order.

A new home ground has been found.

Make it your goal.

THE THOMAS FROST

County Road Pub facts Opening times: 11am to 11pm Monday to Saturdays. Noon until 10.30pm.

Food: Extensive hot and cold menu available from 11am until 10pm from Monday to Saturday and Sunday noon until 9.30pm.

Toilets: Excellent.

Disabled access: Most definitely. Full toilet facilities and even a specially adapted bar section for the disabled.

No smoking: Yes, reasonably large section with restrictions properly observed.

Special nights: Weekly curry nights are proving extremely popular.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 10, 2001
Words:678
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